North American Car of the Year's Hybrid Version

Earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Saturn Aura was named as the 2007 North American Car of the Year. This distinction gave the Saturn brand a boost in terms of popularity among car buyers. This award also leads to Saturn using a new marketing campaign which pits the Aura against the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

The distinction shows that General Motors is serious in its effort to revitalize the brand. And recently, the North American Car of the Year winner was given a hybrid version called the Saturn Aura Green Line. This hybrid version of the Saturn Aura competes directly with the Nissan Altima Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The introduction of the hybrid version of the Saturn Aura is aimed to give the brand an environment-friendly reputation. This is of utmost importance in a market where fuel-consumption conscious buyers are increasing. The call for cleaner vehicles has also reached a lot of car buyers which are now looking for vehicles which produces less greenhouse gases. The Saturn Aura Green Line is more fuel efficient than all other variants of the midsize sedan which are all equipped with V6 engines.

One of the most notable advantages that the Aura Green Line has over the Nissan Altima Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid is its exterior design. Thanks to General Motors' relationship with European car manufacturer Opel, the Aura exhibits an exterior styling that one can normally find in a European car. The low roof profile and aggressive stance gives it a look that younger car buyers are more often than not attracted to.

Based on the Opel Vectra, the Aura boasts of adequate interior space which according to its manufacturer is better than that of the Camry and Altima Hybrids. With Honda announcing that they will discontinue production of the Honda Accord Hybrid, these three fights a three-way competition in the midsize sedan hybrid segment of the North American auto market.

Another strong selling point for the Saturn Aura Green Line is its price. With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $22,045, the Aura Green Line is the second least expensive hybrid vehicle available in the market today. The hybrid vehicle with the lowest price today is the Honda Civic Hybrid which is much smaller than the Aura Green Line.

A drawback with the Aura Green Line is that it uses General Motors' "mild hybrid" powertrain. This means that it uses the same hybrid components, complete internal combustion engine parts even to the Saturn fuel tank cap but it cannot run on pure electricity. This is a disadvantage since the Camry Hybrid shuts down its internal combustion engine on low-power operations and uses only the electric motor to produce the power needed.

With the Camry Hybrid using its electric motor to drive the car during low speed operations means that it can save more fuel than the Aura Green Line. But compared to the other variants of the Saturn Aura, the Green Line is more fuel efficient. With its inexpensive price tag, the Saturn Aura Green Line would surely attract the attention of hybrid car buyers looking for inexpensive hybrids.

About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.