2008 Saturn Aura Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Saturn Aura 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 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 169 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Saturn Aura

  • Although not without a few rough edges, the 2008 Saturn Aura is a well-rounded midsize sedan with sufficient levels of style, comfort and performance to please most families of four. If you're looking for a domestic-brand alternative to the import standbys, this is one of the best choices for 2008.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Potent and refined powertrain in XR model, balanced ride and handling, attractive design inside and out, roomy seating for all.

  • Cons

    Some ergonomic gaffes and subpar cabin materials, no rear center armrest, lifeless steering.

  • What's New for 2008

    A four-cylinder version of the XE slots into the 2008 Saturn Aura lineup as the entry-level model. Stability control becomes standard on V6-equipped XE models. All Saturn Auras come with satellite radio this year, and the trip computer gains an instant fuel economy meter. The Convenience Package now includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Full 2008 Saturn Aura Review

What's New for 2008

A four-cylinder version of the XE slots into the 2008 Saturn Aura lineup as the entry-level model. Stability control becomes standard on V6-equipped XE models. All Saturn Auras come with satellite radio this year, and the trip computer gains an instant fuel economy meter. The Convenience Package now includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror.


Introduced one year ago, the Saturn Aura was, and is, widely regarded as the best thing to happen to the Saturn brand since its inception. This midsize sedan took North American Car of the Year honors and has proven to be a modest sales success thus far. It's not hard to see why the Aura has found favor with both consumers and members of the automotive press: It offers all the room, comfort and performance of other General Motors family sedans, but does it with more panache.

As is the case with most GM products, the Aura's mechanical underpinnings are shared within the family. It utilizes a stretched version of the Epsilon platform employed for the Pontiac G6 and the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. Like those cars, the Aura is front-wheel drive and features a fully independent suspension with struts in front and multiple links in back. Compared to its cousins, though, the 2008 Saturn Aura has sportier chassis tuning. Ride comfort is still among its strengths, but should you find yourself on a back road, Saturn's midsize sedan might surprise you with its agility.

For 2008, Saturn is offering three different engine options on the Aura. An entry-level four-cylinder with 169 horsepower is new this year, and it joins a pair of V6s -- a 224-hp 3.5-liter and a 252-hp 3.6-liter. In our editors' views, either of the V6s offers a better compromise between performance and economy: The 3.5-liter is almost as fuel-efficient as many four-cylinders on the highway, while the 3.6 is as smooth and refined as most import-brand six-cylinders. The bigger V6 is also the only one of the Aura's engines that can be had with a six-speed automatic transmission. An Aura Green Line hybrid model is also available, however, it provides very little fuel economy advantage over the base four-cylinder engine.

Inside, the Aura has a sharper, more contemporary design than many GM sedans. Materials quality is still hit-or-miss, but the accommodations are spacious and quiet whether you're seated in the front or back. Overall, the 2008 Saturn Aura is an appealing middle-of-the-road choice in the midsize family sedan segment. However, it faces stiff competition from the more refined Toyota Camry, the more athletic Nissan Altima and the redesigned Honda Accord, which is apt to be a jack of all trades. Buyers shopping in this class would be wise to try all four sedans before making a decision.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A midsize family sedan, the 2008 Saturn Aura comes in two trim levels -- XE and XR. The base XE comes with 17-inch wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer and a CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The XR is more of a luxury sport sedan, as it includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated front seats, remote vehicle start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded stereo with an in-dash CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and rear-seat audio controls. Notable options include a power front passenger seat, power-adjustable pedals, a sunroof and wood-grain interior trim. Regular leather upholstery is optional on the XE, while Aura XR buyers can opt for two-tone "Moroccan" leather.

Powertrains and Performance

Three drivetrain options are available on the front-wheel-drive Saturn Aura. Standard on the Aura XE is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated for 160 hp and 169 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Fuel economy for the base XE is 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

Optional on the XE is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 219 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque. It, too, is coupled to a four-speed automatic. The upscale Saturn Aura XR comes with a 3.6-liter DOHC V6 that sends its 252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic that can be shifted manually via paddles behind the steering wheel. In performance testing, the Aura XR went from zero to 60 mph in a very quick 6.4 seconds. Mileage ratings remain impressive on the V6-equipped XE, which has figures of 18/29, while the XR has 17/26 estimates.


Standard safety features for the 2008 Saturn Aura include antilock disc brakes, traction control and the OnStar emergency communications system. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are also included in every Aura. Stability control is standard on all V6 models. 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 -- but they must go without a center armrest. It's similarly roomy up front, although it's hard to get in and out of the cockpit 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. The design is attractive, though, and a pleasing mix of simulated wood and metallic accents gives the cabin an upscale ambience, while acoustic glass for the windshield and front windows contributes to the serenity. There's too much rough plastic, fake stitching and rubbery vinyl trim for a car in this price range, but opting for the Moroccan leather in the XR helps camouflage these missteps. Trunk capacity measures just under 15 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

We'd steer most 2008 Saturn Aura buyers to one of the V6s, as acceleration is sluggish on the four-cylinder model. The 3.5-liter in the XE isn't as refined as we'd like, but it provides capable response in traffic and above-average fuel economy. Performance is much smoother and swifter with the 3.6-liter, and for consumers who aren't counting every mpg, it's the more satisfying choice.

Overall, the Aura's European handling is capable and confident. Minimal body roll and a smooth, hushed highway ride make the Aura a great long-distance companion. However, the steering is devoid of feel, hurting the car's sporting credentials, while a lack of assist at low speeds can make parking maneuvers labor-intensive.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

2007 saturn aura owner

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XR 4dr Sedan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

I have 07 Aura XR with 88,000 miles on it and transmission went. GM said nothing they can do 5 year/100,000 warranty is up. In shop now for 2 days bring diagnosed. I will never buy another GM vehicle as long as I live. Probably will have to sue for replacement and that GM known defect

3,5,r wave plate

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XR 4dr Sedan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

We bought our Aura used with 44k miles on it. We currently have 66k. I really love this car. However recently the wave plate went out in the Transmission while I was on my way to work. So I stopped at this repair shop right across the street. I had them look at the car. (keeping it over night) They informed me that the wave plate was the issue and my car was undrivable. So my Fiance go a hold of GM and let them know the issue. They got back to us saying its a known issue that they fixed with the 2009 version but basically since we were past five years even though we are under the 100k for the warranty we are out of luck. So by admitting fault but are leaving us stuck with a 4k bill.


by on
Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

Nothing bur problem after problem with this Car. Doors wont always open. Locks on rear doors dont work. Nothing but electrical problems. On top of tht ems computer needs to be taken apart every cpl months and add dielectric grease. Car will randomly wont start due to vacuum leak caused by ems computer.it will pulsate and stahl out. Temper gauge freaks out to. and thts just the start of the problems. All in all worst car out there. Extremely cheaply made

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Best car i've owned

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I've owned many cars, trucks and suvs. But the 3.5L version of the Aura rocks ! Lots of space, plenty of power for a luxury sedan which surprised me, and just the defined look of the Aura catches you off guard. My Aura has 106,000km on her now and the only thing replaced so far was the driver side strut which was a quick fix. Very reliable car and is high enough off the ground to go on gravel roads into the woods without sacrificing any comfort at all ! Handles turns, and bumps beautifully. Also if your worried about a V6 eating gas... Don't be worried. I get at least 500-550km in the city with full tank and over 700km on highway but that's going around 120+km/hr..

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

Frustrated & deperate!

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Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

I just started having steering problems. The steering wheel jerks hard while driving down the road and it feels like the steering is going out and I am going to loose control. When I come to a complete stop and let go of the wheel it starts shaking all by itself. It seems to only happen when I am driving it. I have taken it to a shop 2 times and both times they say there is nothing wrong. I am not imagining it and I am scared to death to put my kids in the car. Has this happened to anyone else and what did you do?

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Great used car for the

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Saturn Aura XE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

The Saturn Aura is a very well put together vehicle. It has great handiling capibilities but the steering lacks feedback. Power is adeqaute but more would be nice. The gas mileage is fair in the city I average around 21-23 mpg in the city and on the highway 30-32 mpg. The ride is very smoth and it feels like a cadillac compared to a honda with road and wind noise. Overall it is very nice and drives well for 71,200 miles and I hope to get it over 150,000 miles. They are quite a bargin compared to used malibus and accords.

Talk About The 2008 Aura

2008 Saturn Aura Discussions See all Started By

Does anyone have any info on any changes to the 2008 Aura.....IE:Colors...Possible Nav system...

Just curious. So many people that own Saturn Auras have had really bad transmission problems. Is this part of the recall or that is why we have had some many comments on transmissions going out? Mi...

I have a 2008 Saturn aura xr with 127k miles and I believe I have the failed wave plate issue. It was shifting hard from passing gear back to normal gear at first but last night it wouldn't shift pas...

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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