Saturn began as a concept different from any other in the automotive industry. GM created the brand as a wholly owned subsidiary, meant to operate independent of its parent corporation. The brand was designed to focus on people, creating the cars and service experiences the average consumer expects out of a brand. The simple and straightforward nature of most Saturn dealerships meant early success in both the consumer market and the critical world. In 1990, Saturn’s debut year, Popular Science magazine named the company one of “The Year’s 100 Greatest Achievements in Science and Technology.”
Since its inception, Saturn has become less and less independent and more a part of the overall GM line of vehicles. Many would argue this has been to the detriment of the brand as they produce less and less unique vehicles and focus on the platform oriented models of GM. The Saturn Aura, which saw great critical acclaim, was only a moderate success, likely as a result of the lackluster advertising campaign that preceded the model’s release. As GM continues to struggle against import manufacturers we may yet see a return to the Saturn of yesteryear.
Sites worth visiting
You can see the push-pull of independence vs. GM ownership in Saturn’s own site. The page is a subdued mix of retail advertising and personality. The ‘About Us’ page is thin, and could do a lot more to utilize the brand loyalty that has made Saturn infamous. The page also hosts a section for enthusiasts that, again, feels more like a retail ploy than an investment in the loyalty of the customer. Come on Saturn, we want you back.
Saturn at Wikipedia
The Saturn page at Wikipedia is pretty small, but with a decent amount of information. The page details the shift in GM’s plans for Saturn, from an independent subsidiary to just another part of the GM line. The most interesting part of the page is a discussion of the proprietary platform originally developed for Saturn vehicles.
Around the Blogosphere
Saturn at Autoblog
GM has certainly shifted its focus to providing smaller cars with less environmental impact. The guys at Autoblog keep us on the forefront of the mini-car invasion, with the Saturn Astra expected to do big things. Flop or fly, this is where you’ll hear about it first.
Saturn at Consumer Reports
The Saturn lineup changes often enough to keep the folks at Consumer Reports reasonably busy. They take a close look at the good, the bad, and the ugly coming out of the GM superstore. With regular updates, this is a good spot to see if the General can follow up some disappointments with solid vehicles.
Saturn at Motor Trend
We’ve knocked Motor Trend for their lack of attention to smaller carmakers, but they do a decent job with Saturn. As with Consumer Reports, the rotating Saturn lineup makes for plenty of news stories. This page updates just about once a month, so check back from time to time.
This site is a testament to the loyalty Saturn spawns just by being Saturn. With almost 40,000 forum members and their very own news stories, it’s no wonder this fan site is so popular. The site also hosts classifieds, member photos, and real-time chat room to keep you busy on lazy Saturday afternoons.
This is another nice forum to stay connected with Saturn fans of the past and new converts alike. The page has model specific threads and a section dedicated to performance upgrades for your Saturn. The Red Line label from Saturn was a weak attempt to inject some intrigue into bland models like the ION. These guys can tell you how to really get more from your little fourbanger.
The Saturn Sky gives Saturn enthusiasts another reason to keep buying from Saturn. The success of the 2-seater, alongside platform sister the Pontiac Solstice, has bred a great forum at SkyRoadster.com. This is where you’ll find all the tips and tricks to fix the quirks and get the most from your Sky.
Saturn Vue Green Line Gets 2 Modes
The new buzz from the hybrid world is the Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode. Instead of just stopping the engine when the car is at a standstill, the new Vue relies on 2 electric motors that will hopefully push mileage above the 30mpg marker. The fact that GM has adapted this system from the existing Yukon hybrid has all the greenies asking, ‘which GM model is next?’
Is the Saturn Astra Good Enough?
When the auto world found out that the Saturn Astra was just the Opel Astra marginally tuned for the US market, the excitement was overwhelming. Finally a manufacturer was porting a popular Euro model without making ridiculous changes for the ‘American consumer.’ But is the Astra enough? It’s pricier than lighter or more powerful cars in the exact same class, so wouldn’t it be wise to drop the price and just let the thing sell?
The New Vue
John Stein at the Chicago Sun Times has the latest look at the new Saturn Vue. The best part of his article is his treatment of the design choices that went into the new Vue’s body. Saturn has always been different, and that’s been a good thing. The new Vue gives us a little more of the same old different.