2008 Saturn Vue

Sam Smith
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Its name may sound like some sort of African veldt-dwelling wild animal ("Watch as the Antara mauls its prey! Don't get too close, kids-it just might bite yer 'ead off!"), but the Opel Antara is nevertheless a significant vehicle. Opel's latest small sport-utility (remember, Opel is owned by GM) shares the platform of the next Saturn Vue. And while the Vue hasn't ever been anything we've lusted over, if past Opel-GM product sharing is any indication, the next Vue, the Antara-based Vue, ought to be pretty good to drive.

A 3.2-liter, 227-hp V-6 provides motivation, but a 2.0-liter, 150-hp, common-rail diesel is also available. While the diesel is likely to be the most-chosen engine option in Europe, it probably won't make it to our shores. (The V-6, a version of GM's most common corporate engine, most likely will.)

An electronically controlled, electro-hydraulic rear differential helps distribute the power to both front and rear axles, and both ABS and stability control come standard. Under normal conditions, the Antara is a purely front-wheel-drive car, but power is claimed to be instantaneously transferrable to the rear axle when needed; the torque split can rise as high as 50:50 if needed.

Like most Opels, the Antara has its share of nifty features. The so-called "Flex-fix" rear carrier is essentially a bicycle carrier with space for up to two bicycles, but get this: it actually slides back under the bumper and conceals itself completely. And a unique, net-and-partition storage divider allows the rear cargo area to be divided into practical segments in minutes.

Front air bags, front side air bags, and side curtain air bags front and rear are standard.

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