2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Saturn Aura Hybrid Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 164 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid

  • The word "hybrid" may elicit environmental warm fuzzies, but the 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid is a weak attempt at cashing in on the green craze. It may cost a lot less than other hybrid sedans, but you also get a lot less in terms of performance and fuel economy.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Attractive design inside and out, low price, roomy seating for all.

  • Cons

    Electric motor provides negligible fuel economy benefits, mediocre acceleration, some ergonomic gaffes and subpar cabin materials, no rear center armrest, lifeless steering, high emissions rating for a hybrid.

  • What's New for 2008

    The Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid now comes with standard satellite radio and an instant fuel economy gauge.

Full 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Review

What's New for 2008

The Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid now comes with standard satellite radio and an instant fuel economy gauge.


Thomas Jefferson may object, but all hybrids are not created equal. They are each endowed by their creators with different unalienable capabilities, which affect emissions, fuel economy and the pursuit of green envy. The 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line wears a hybrid badge and features a gasoline-electric power plant, but its capabilities pale in comparison to other hybrid-labeled sedans. Acceleration, emissions and most importantly, fuel economy, are far below average. This Saturn is the cheapest sedan (not counting the Prius) to wear a hybrid badge, but like so much in life, you certainly get what you pay for.

To prove this, let's look at some cold facts. At the heart of the Aura Green Line (and its underwhelming performance) is an electric motor/generator that provides only 4 kilowatts of electric boost to the 164-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The motor is capable of motivating the Aura on electricity alone up to 3 mph, but it's mostly used to start the engine when it automatically shuts off at traffic lights and other stopping situations.

By comparison, the Camry Hybrid features a 30-kilowatt electric motor that can power the vehicle by itself under light acceleration to speeds of almost 30 mph. This difference is key in city driving and stop-and-go traffic, where the Camry and other "full" hybrids like the Prius and Nissan Altima Hybrid rely heavily on electric propulsion. The Aura's electric motor doesn't have enough juice to sufficiently boost acceleration or fuel economy, resulting in disappointing results for both.

Independent of its hybrid system, the Saturn Aura is an attractive family sedan that provides plenty of space, features and style. Its interior quality is a little hit or miss, but in general, most buyers will find it a pleasant way to get around. Sadly, most of the regular Aura's European-bred handling capabilities have been sapped out of the Green Line. Smaller wheels and tires can be blamed for this, along with the lifeless electric power steering (versus hydraulic) that makes driving it as much fun as taxation without representation.

With a base price of a little more than $22,000, the 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line makes a compelling value argument, as it undercuts its principal competition (the Camry and Altima hybrids) by about $3,000. However, those vehicles are more impressive than the Aura even when their vastly superior gas-electric powertrains aren't considered. If purchasing a hybrid at a low price is a priority, the Toyota Prius is even cheaper than the Aura, and offers an impressive amount of passenger and interior space inside its midsize hatchback body. It's also a tad quicker and gets much better fuel economy.

There is hope, however. A full-fledged Two-Mode hybrid system similar to the one found in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids is rumored to replace the Aura's mild gas-electric system in the future. We'd suggest waiting for that, or buying the base four-cylinder Aura if you want one that's easy on gas. Otherwise, the 2008 Aura Green Line is a hybrid that, in the course of automotive events, leaves much to be desired.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid is a midsize family sedan available in only one trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch wheels, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, full power accessories, a trip computer and a CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Preferred Package adds an eight-way power driver seat, steering-wheel audio controls and heated mirrors. A sunroof is a stand-alone option.

Powertrains and Performance

The Aura Green Line features a small electric motor that starts the 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and adds small amounts of power under high load conditions. The gasoline engine produces 164 hp by itself, and a net 169 hp when aided by the electric motor. Unlike other hybrid setups, the Green Line offers full electric propulsion only up to about 3 mph -- the Altima and Camry hybrids can get up to almost 30 mph. Subsequently, city gas mileage is unimpressive. Revised fuel economy ratings for 2008 stand at 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. By comparison, the four-cylinder Aura XE returns 22 city and 30 highway, while the Camry Hybrid gets 33 city and 34 highway.

Besides fuel economy, another environmental concern is air-pollution emissions. The Aura Green Line is considered a Low Emissions Vehicle, four steps below its competitors, which score the Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle rating.


Standard safety features for the 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line include antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control and the OnStar emergency communications system. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are also included. In frontal- and side-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Aura earned a perfect five stars across the board.

Interior Design and Special Features

Even by the generous standards of the midsize sedan class, the Aura treats rear passengers to a lavish amount of space. It's similarly roomy up front, although it's hard to get in and out of the cabin gracefully in spite of the wide door openings. The shape of the dash and B-pillar obstructs ingress, and it's a little difficult to wriggle behind the steering wheel, particularly if you're taller or large-framed. Rear-seat passengers must also do without a center armrest.

The overall design is attractive, though, and a pleasing mix of metallic accents and available simulated wood gives the cabin an upscale ambience, while acoustic glass for the windshield and front windows contributes to the serenity. Unlike the regular Aura, however, there is no available leather upholstery to dress up the cabin, and we feel that there's too much rough plastic, fake stitching and rubbery vinyl trim for a car in this price range. Trunk capacity measures 13.1 cubic feet, which is a few cubes larger than the Altima and Camry.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Saturn Aura Green Line doesn't offer the regular Aura's level of European-quality handling, due to its smaller tires and uncommunicative electric-assist power steering. The Aura Green Line also trails its fellow hybrid midsize sedans in terms of acceleration, braking and general driving involvement. Although most hybrid drivers aren't expecting zesty acceleration, the Green Line's 0-60-mph time of 11 seconds is 2.5 ticks slower than the Camry Hybrid and even a bit pokier than the Prius. On the upside, the Green Line provides the same quiet cabin and comfortable ride of its regular Aura siblings -- in fact, its smaller wheels translate into an even cushier ride.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Very disapointed with aura hybird

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)

I have bought my last American car! I am so disappointed with this vehicle, it has been at the dealership over thirteen times for repairs, some items three times, and now it has a recall on a $2K hybrid battery. The interior quality is junk! The gas mileage is terrible for a hybrid, and the performance stinks. I really wish I bought the Honda! What irritates me the most is thinking this is the best American engineering can do!

Should not be called a

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)

This gas mileage is AWFUL! I can find a 4cylinder camry or accord gas engine that gets BETTER gas mileage. This car gets around 20 city and 27 Hwy. THATS IT! I calculate my mileage EVERY time. On the positive end....car looks great, is comfortable, and has a great interior setup as far as the center console and radio goes.


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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)

Very disappointed with gas mileage. Only 10-15 percent better than non hybrid Saturn. Honda Civic and Toyota Prius hybrids get 40% better gas mileage than non-hybrid Civic. Chevrolet dealer calls Saturn hybrid system the "Half-Hybrid" because it is only belt driven from the heavy duty alternator-generator when the gas engine shuts off at intersection red lights. Will only run 2mph on battery after stopping, compared to 20mph for Toyota Prius. Saturn Hybrid battery is much smaller. Also, only qualified for one-half the tax credit compared to a Honda Civic hybrid. Also very disappointed in General Motors restricting their dual stage hybrid to their large SUV gas guzzlers and pickup truck

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Good value

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)

We are happy with our Saturn Aura. Combination City/Highway is in the low 30's. Not bad for a car that comfortabley seats 4. If you drive it right on the highway, you can get close to 40 mpg. I'd buy it again.

Gas mileage could be better

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)

This car drives nicely, is solid, and quiet. I am getting an overall average of about 29 MPG. My main observation is that the battery and electric motor are not contributing enough to the task of moving the car. The battery gets charged easily; the gasoline engine stops when you come to a stop saving some fuel; the discharge of the battery in highway driving or accelerating is enemic. For the price it is a reasonable value but the efficiency balance does not seem correct (electric motor vs gasoline engine).

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Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

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