Best and worst Saturn Vue years — which to avoid
Our guide breaks down the worst and best Saturn Vue years, using in-depth research and authentic feedback from owners to assist your decision-making process.
Saturn Vue is an affordable family crossover that received a lot of mixed impressions on its reliability. Based on the positive and negative impressions of former and current owners, our team tried to compile a full guide on the best years to buy and worst Saturn Vue years to avoid to help you make up your mind when buying one.
To do that, we had to only consider trustworthy sources and information, so we relied on renowned Saturn Vue ratings by brands like KBB, and safety ratings listed on NHTSA among others. So, we’ll go over all of our findings together with you to provide you with precise instructions on the best picks among the Vue model years, and the Saturn Vue model years to avoid.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
How we rated the best and worst Saturn Vue years
As we were making this guide, we’ve gone through the databases of various prominent automotive agencies and organizations to give you factual pieces of info. So, we based our research on NHTSA reports and recall details, as well as driver reports derived from Edmunds and similar sites.
We only used credible sources and included information based on consumer reports made by real Vue owners, past and present. Finally, we also had to consider driver complaints and issue reports, so we used the numbers from Car Complaints and dug a bit deeper through Vue owner forums.
|Saturn Vue Generation
|Best Saturn Vue Years
|Worst Saturn Vue Years
|2003, 2004, 2005
Most common Saturn Vue problems
Based on all the common problem reports on Car Complaints and NHTSA, the Saturn Vue isn’t the most reliable SUV out there. We’ve encountered driver reports with complaints on numerous different vital components of the car, so let us guide you through them all:
1. Transmission issues
One of the worst issues that Saturn Vue drivers had to face over the years is faulty transmission, especially on models equipped with a CVT transmission. Besides transmission-related problems, there are also reports on power steering fluid leaks and problems with the power steering pump.
Along with these issues, some specific Saturn Vue engines proved to be less reliable than the others, and there were some issues with the steering knuckles. All things considered, the Vue only had six recalls based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, which makes a pretty good reliability score.
2. Problems with the automatic transmission
For a car that started production in 2002, it’s no wonder that some drivers reported issues with slipping transmission or harsh shifting. After all, modern-age automatic gearboxes are much more durable and precise than the earlier versions.
Still, one of the most problematic versions of an automatic transmission installed in a Saturn Vue is the CVT transmission. There have been numerous reported CVT transmission problems and it’s once again an issue that can perhaps be prescribed to the moment in the automotive industry when CVT was introduced.
3. Power steering fluid leaks
While discussing the most common issues of Saturn Vue as a model, we can’t overlook the power steering fluid leaks that plenty of drivers have complained about. Even GM acknowledged this issue and scheduled an official recall in 2008.
The good thing is – it was mostly in the nut that connected the power steering line with the power steering pump. In most cases, simply tightening the nut solved the issue and you can entrust your mechanic to do this as well in case the model you are considering buying hasn’t gone through a recall.
4. Engine troubles
The engine is the heart of every car and it’s no wonder that some drivers tend to skip buying a used Vue equipped with a particular engine. We’ve seen numerous reports on different engine problems like rough idling and misfires, or even harsh rattling noises coming from the engine bay.
These were mostly centered on a few engines such as the 2.4-liter hybrid engine or the 3.0-liter V6 engine. On the other hand, the 2.2-liter EcoTec engine made by GM and the 3.5-liter V6 engine made by Honda were quite reliable options with little to no reports of engine troubles. So, it also depends on the engine option of your choice.
5. Problems with the steering knuckles
Finally, we come to the matter of the steering knuckle that was prone to separating from the control arm and triggering steering issues. The vehicle could drag to the side and even tie rod fractures were commonly caused by the steering knuckle issue.
Luckily, GM noticed this issue and there was a recall that mostly included solving the issue on older first-gen Saturn. Steering issues can be quite serious and this type of problem makes it difficult to control the car properly on a straight road, so make sure that you check the steering system before the purchase.
Worst Saturn Vue years to avoid
Now that we have gone through the toughest part with the common Saturn Vue problems, it’s time to get straight to the point regarding the buying advice. The common question we get a lot is – which are the worst Saturn Vue years to avoid? The worst Saturn Vue years include the 2003 and 2008 models, but there are several other model years with poor reliability scores:
So, let’s take a look at it based on Saturn Vue generations to help you decide on the most reliable model year.
First-generation Saturn Vue (2003-2004 and 2006 model years)
The first-gen Saturn Vue had quite a few issues more than the second generation which was a more reliable one overall. There are several model years to avoid here, and the worst-rated Saturn Vue from the first generation is the 2003 model.
It received more than 900 complaints and these were mostly revolving around harsh shifting of the automatic transmission, equipment labels, and the check engine light coming up on the dashboard. The 2006 model comes right after in terms of reliability issues, so it’s best to avoid these models.
Second-generation Saturn Vue (2008 model year)
The 2008 model was the first one in the second generation of the Saturn Vue, and it was sadly the worst-rated second-gen model. The good news is – it was the only Saturn Vue with such a bad reliability rating and the following models were quite better. With more than 600 complaints, it comes right after the 2003 year in that sense.
This model was based on the Opel Antara SUV and the second-gen model had significant exterior improvements when compared to the first one. It was also more reliable, but we can’t recommend the 2008 model due to transmission issues commonly discussed on Saturn forums and steering problems that were commonly reported.
What are the best Saturn Vue years to buy?
Right after getting to know about the common problems and Saturn Vue years to avoid, there comes discussing the best model years. Still wondering about the best Saturn Vue years? Here’s a list of the best Saturn Vue models based on their reliability ratings:
- 2002 Saturn Vue
- 2005 Saturn Vue
- 2009 Saturn Vue
- 2010 Saturn Vue
We’ll address the reasons why these models proved to be more reliable than the previously listed ones to help you with buying advice.
2002 Saturn Vue
The 2002 Saturn Vue received positive consumer ratings and didn’t have any major complaints reported by the drivers to NHTSA. Among the low number of those that were filed, we mostly found transmission problems which were common for automatic-transmission Vue models, but no recalls were issued due to a low account of complaints.
2005 Saturn Vue
As for the 2005 model, there were just a few complaints more when compared with the previous one, but luckily they weren’t that serious. While A/C issues aren’t pleasant, they are easy to repair and didn’t cause any major issues for Vue owners, so it’s a good thing that this model year only received such reports.
2009 Saturn Vue
The 2009 Vue didn’t face many issues either, and it’s one of the best-rated model years reliability-wise. It still had over 100 complaints, but most of these were related to A/C, steering, and electrical malfunctions of internal accessories, so at least they were easily fixed.
2010 Saturn Vue
Out of all these, the 2010 model received the least complaints and it’s considered the most reliable Saturn Vue out there. It’s not much of a surprise, since the latest or facelift versions of various car models have proven to be the ones with the least issues.
Is the Saturn Vue worth buying?
Ultimately, we can say that the Saturn Vue is worth buying due to all the features it offers for a pretty affordable price tag on the used car market. However, not all of these were made with the same level of reliability, so we have to advise you to avoid certain model years.
Our team strives to do just that through this guide, so we hope that you will have an easier time picking a used Vue after reading it.
What year was the best Saturn Vue?
The 2010 Saturn Vue was the best model in terms of reliability and it had the least amount of complaints.
Which Saturn Vue has transmission problems?
Saturn Vue models with a CVT transmission had transmission problems and these were most prominent with a 2006 model.
What is the life expectancy of a Saturn Vue?
The life expectancy of a Saturn Vue is around 120,000 miles with proper maintenance.
Do Saturn cars last long?
Saturn cars are in the average range of automotive life expectancy and that’s a decent deal considering their fairly lower price when compared with the closest competitors.