As a registered tree hugging mobile veterinary type, I don’t have a lot of money. I’m looking at the Saturn hybrid as a cheaper answer to hybrids, than the toyota highlander. Is this a dependable car? I do about 35,000 miles a year highway and city driving. I’m wondering if for dependability I should just stick with a used honda CRV or a toyota Rav 4
You’d likely get the same mileage from a Honda or Toyota small SUV as you would from a Saturn hybrid, because the Saturn is a ‘cheap’ hybrid - the gas engine never turns off, and the electric motor creates power for the accessories in the vehicle, is I recall correctly. Plus, a Honda or Toyota SUV will likely be more reliable than the Saturn any day, unless you get a convention Saturn SUV with the Honda V6 in it… even then, you’re still better off with a CR-V or RAV4.
I own one. In general, I like the car. It is comfortable and has a lot of nice features for its prices class.
Its engine DOES, in fact turn off. When you stop at a light, if you are stopped for more than a second or two (I don’t know the exact trigger for this) the engine turns off and as soon as you take your foot off the brake it instantly restarts.
It never operates on the battery with the gas engine off, however, that is true.
It’s hybrid system has dynamic braking, so it charges the 36 volt battery when you touch the brake or push the coast button on the cruise control and the electric motor kicks in to help accelerate when you need it.
But the mileage is disappointing. It is advertised as 27 to 34 mpg and I have never gotten over 27 mpg, though I am a very energy conscious driver. The average mileage is around 26 mpg.
Why are you looking at hybrids? Before choosing a hybrid, take a good look at non-hybrids. Hybrid does not equal greener or better mileage. It only means one form of technology that MAY give better mileage, and their for reduced emissions. Then again you may well be able to find another non-hybrid car that will do better.
As has been said already, you would be better-off with a slightly used small SUV from Honda or Toyota, both in terms of gas mileage and in terms of reliability. And, despite the advice to get one of the Saturn SUVs that comes with a Honda V-6, those vehicles have proven to be very troublesome–with the exception of their engines.
And, as has also been said, GM took a “quick & dirty” approach to the hybrid equation with their Saturn design, and has also been pointed out, this vehicle does not get very good gas mileage. IMHO, this is a vehicle for those with a guilty conscience regarding the environment, but without the wallet to bankroll the purchase of one of the better hybrids from Toyota. Thus, one winds up with a hybrid that accomplishes little in an environmental sense, and in fact, may be damaging to the environment when those hybrid batteries are ready for disposal. Not a very good bargain, IMHO.
In my opinion, even the best of the current hybrids are merely transitional vehicles until the new Clean Diesel technology becomes widely available in this country (~2 yrs.?). Once you can purchase a small SUV with a Clean Diesel engine, you will enjoy mileage far better than what any of the current crop of small SUVs can achieve, and that includes (obviously) that Saturn hybrid.
Most likely, you would be able to get something in the high 30s mpg range with one of the small SUVs equipped with a Clean Diesel engine, and a small sedan with one of those engines would probably be able to achieve mileage in the low 50s range. And, of course, with the Clean Diesel technology, you would not be looking at the eventual multi-thousand $$ cost to replace the batteries on a hybrid that is inevitable, some years down the road.
So–if I were you, I would purchase a slightly used CRV or Rav-4 (making sure to have it inspected by a trusted independent mechanic prior to purchase), and use that vehicle for 2 years or so until you can buy a small SUV with a Clean Diesel engine. That would be your best solution in terms of current finances, gas saving, and eventually, a vehicle that puts current fuel-saving technology to shame.
I predict that hybrids, at least in their current form, will cease to exist once the Clean Diesel technology (and the fuel!) becomes widely available.