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JohnRW1621 PowerDork
8/11/13 9:48 p.m.

300k is even more than 275k !!!!

I would avoid 3.0L V6's. They have an interference timing belt and they seem to be known for cooling and trans issues.

corytate SuperDork
8/11/13 10:51 p.m.

I'd recommend either the Honda Vue or the 5spd/ecotec vue. I would think the honda vue would probably be a little out of the range you're shopping for, but a pretty much bullet proof car.
That 3.0 saturn motor is a weird one. I believe it's a cast off from opel? Kind of like the 1.8 ecotec they randomly placed in the astra, it's a lot more annoying to work on than the regular old 2.2 or (of course) than the honda motor. (I always hated working on them, at least)
even doing an oil change on the 3.0 can be a major pain in the ass because every once in a while the oil filter housing just comes loose from the block and decides to start twisting with the cap. very exciting.

ProDarwin SuperDork
9/3/13 12:03 p.m.
JohnRW1621 wrote: Don't be jealous, they can be had everywhere. Unlike vehicles such as the Mazda5 or CX-5, it seems that Saturn sold quite a lot of manual versions. For most the years, the lowest trim model, which is what you had to take to get a manual, only came in Black, Silver or Red. There are two interior colors, light tan and light gray with gray seeming more popular.

I'm seeing these quite often on CL right now. For like $2000 I can get an 02-05 5spd with roughly 100k miles. Its crazy how cheap they are. I'm having bad thoughts of lowering one 4" and tossing a 17x9/255 setup on there.

JohnRW1621 PowerDork
9/3/13 2:54 p.m.

Since this got brought back up, I will update.
I have owned for a month now and there have been no surprises. In addition to what I posted earlier about parts that had to be replaced, I also replaced a rear wheel hub. I bought the better Moog part and it was $130 (that was w/o shopping around, could have been less if I tried.) Instal was easy with the hardest part being just getting the rear drum off (lots of hammer banging.)

The car has been returning 28 to 25 mpg combined. As I have read and as I agree, hyw speeds over 65 mph really drops the mpg. At speeds over 65, the little 2.2L turns 3,000 rpm +. The thing has some really boxy aerodynamics. In regular (unspirited) around town driving, rarely do I ever get the car much over 3,000 rpm between shifts.

I re-read this thread and all the advise is solid and true to my experience. Stay with a '04 or newer engine if possible to avoid the early oiling issues. Older engines can be preventatively retro fitted if buying an older one is needed.
Totally avoid any AWD version; complex, breakage prone and little AWD advantage (only when fronts slip.)
The combo of 2.2L and manual 5 speed seems to be the ticket.
In '05, the 4 cyl fwd auto was changed to a traditional 4 speed auto and is as reliable as any other typical GM ala Cobalt, Grand Am, Alero, Malibu.
The Honda 3.5L V6 of '04 and newer has a reputation of needing trans fluid changes every 25k miles as the way of avoiding trans issues like those that plagued the early Oddesey.

Junk yards really are full of early models with bad CVT's or 3.0L V6's that have thrown the belt.

No one goes looking for a manual trans, cute-ute. Slow sales can mean good prices.

Javelin MegaDork
3/17/14 10:02 p.m.

My local area is covered with these things (2.2/MT5) for cheap. The back seat is properly wide and flat enough for three car seats. Is there 3 LATCH anchor sets? (I did notice 3 tether hooks for forward-facing)

Any aftermarket bolt-ons for more power? Lower suspension?

The0retical HalfDork
3/17/14 11:00 p.m.

The 2.2l l61 is the same motor as the supercharged cobalt. The Vue has a retunless fuel system unlike the Cobalt and I believe there is a difference in the way the ECU pins out so a custom solution would be hacked in. I've seen the full supercharger systems from the Cobalt on eBay for under a grand in the past and thought it would be something interesting to try, as have a lot of others, but to date I've seen a lot of talk about it on the ecotec forums but no documentation.

FWIW there wasn't much support for the VUE in the aftermarket. I wanted to turn mine into a project but didnt have the time. On the plus side with the 2.2L engine you can house a family of 4 in the space left over in there so there's plenty of room to work something out.

Not sure if things have evolved with the suspension. I put KYB GR2s on mine when they went since there wasn't a better solution. I couldn't find any springs to put in it to lower it or a trick suspension besides airbags.

I believe the latch was mandated in the US after 2000 but I can't find a quick and dirty reference.

gofastbobby Reader
3/17/14 11:36 p.m.

FWIW, I believe My L200 saturn has the same engine as the Vue. I sold it running like a champ at 280,000 miles. It's still on the road today and has been put to the ultimate test, being driven by a teenage girl.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/18/14 3:39 a.m.
Javelin wrote: My local area is *covered* with these things (2.2/MT5) for cheap. The back seat is properly wide and flat enough for three car seats. Is there 3 LATCH anchor sets? (I did notice 3 tether hooks for forward-facing) Any aftermarket bolt-ons for more power? Lower suspension?

I have had 3 true adults in the back on a number of occasions with no complaints and much surprise to how much room there is.
Yes, there are 3 full sets of LATCH attachments in the rear as well as child safety doors which can be switched so they will not open from the inside.

Power bolt-ons:
I am not aware of any.
I did buy my winter tires, mounted on 16" steel rims used from a guy who had a Redline version. He told me he had added Ford Mustang brake disks and calipers. Due to this addition, he had to run the factory 18" alloys because he could no longer fit the 16" rims over the larger brakes.
I did not actually see this setup in person.

I did add a K&N panel air filter in the factory box. I cam across this filter in a JY and it was worth the $5 since I knew I had a re-oil kit at home.
I can not say that it has made any noticeable difference but I do like the durability and longevity of these products.

I have had my Vue for 8 months now and have added 30k to it. Bought with 146k on body and 40k on engine, it is now at 176k which would be 70k on engine.
It has been a non stop trooper over the roughest, coldest winter we have seen in decades.
It has really needed nothing since I bought it and addressed its then immediate issues (like fresh brakes, hub, sway links, etc.)
I have $3k into it and have gotten 30k miles out of it.
At that rate, for a $25k car, I would have to get 250k repair free miles???
I feel this Vue has been a winner for me. The car will easily see 200k plus.

It is not an exciting ride but it is also not a complete penalty box either. It's attraction to me is its value.

Here is the link to my Fuelly page. I try to record all of my gas purchases. I am returning 26 mpg for all driving (combined driving) over the past 25k miles. True winter tires (and maybe winter driving) seemed to hurt mpg by as much as two points. I am back to summer tires and hope to see some increases.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/18/14 4:10 a.m.

Here are two quick finds on CL out your way: Both are '05 models. These are a good year which would certainly have the improved chain guides and oilers which came in '04.
Grey '05 w/103k asking $4,450
New tires mentioned (good if they are not some crap brand) but also AC not working. I would try to drive another $500 to $1k off for the AC issue (covering retail priced repair) and you could have a good car priced at less than $4k.
The grey is a popular color for that year. Seller notes a side scratch but remember, these are plastic panel cars so that scratch is in plastic. It will not rust or get worse. If you really care, you could get a JY replacement panel in the same color and just replace it.

Lt Blue '05 w/ 110k asking $4,300
This blue is a "one year only" color. About the color of blue painter's tape and sort of a matte finish. The only downside is replacement panels would be hard to find (but likely not needed.)
Seller says new clutch but needs tires and windshield. Seller seems quick to offer at least $300 more off the price and I bet he would go $600 off. If purchased for less than $4k this too is a good price. Of course, drive the price as low as you can!

Javelin MegaDork
3/18/14 8:13 a.m.

John, Thank you for all of the information! That blue one is at the top of my list, I'm a sucker for unusual colors.

Anti-stance UberDork
3/18/14 1:32 p.m.
ProDarwin UltraDork
3/18/14 4:51 p.m.

RE: Power

Its an Ecotec 4-cyl L61 (it is NOT the same motor as the Supercharged version). There is LOTS of support for these things. You could take it easy and do a few bolt ons and get normal bolt-on gains, you could swap to a 2.4 LE5 (later Vues had these), or a 2.0 LSJ pretty inexpensively + bolt ons for 250+whp, or go nuts and swap an LNF for 350+whp.

My understanding is that the Ecotec handles bolt-on boost rather well and tossing an LSJ supercharger setup on there is not out of the question.

I don't think the Vue is supported by HPTuners so you'd probably want to swap the ECU/harness with something that is. I'm sure there is more info on this out there.

I just want to see what it takes to lower one of these 6 inches, then I'm sold.

Javelin MegaDork
3/18/14 8:40 p.m.

I test drove a thrashed 02 4cyl auto today, and it still had potential. The idea of an S/C swap onto a 2.2, way lowered, and with a Redline body kit sounds really good.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/18/14 8:52 p.m.

What? You drove an auto?
You want nothing to do with an '02-'05 4 cyl, CVT auto.
These transmissions are a disaster. The CVT has a reputation of failing at 60k miles (or less.) There is no improvement. A traditional 4 speed auto can be swapped in but it a complex swap.
The manual is darn reliable.

ProDarwin UltraDork
3/18/14 9:33 p.m.

Yes, do NOT purchase the CVT auto (or the V6).

IMO, the standard bodywork looks way better than the Redline crap.

Javelin MegaDork
3/18/14 10:00 p.m.

In reply to JohnRW1621:

It was at the super skeezy buy-here, pay-here lot across the street from my work, and I had 10 minutes at lunch to kill. I figured I could at least get an idea of the suspension and interior. The howling banshee rear wheel bearings made for an interesting test drive.

The0retical HalfDork
3/18/14 11:43 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin:

You are correct on the not the same point. The s/c cobalt was a 2.0 and carried the LSJ designation rather than the L61. My understanding was both engines had the same overall architecture including the same compression ratio but the Vue utilized a coil pack, unlike the Cobalt, and had an electronic throttle control. I pulled a bunch of that info from memory which I suppose just amounted to a fuzzy surface knowledge.

From Wikipedia:

The supercharger and inlet manifold from the 2.0 Ecotec LSJ engine can be purchased as an official kit from GM and along with modified software in the ECM, can create a 2.2 supercharged version of this engine. That's where my wires got crossed forgetting that the LSJ existed.

The kits were still being sold new 2 years ago when I got rid of the Vue I was driving. Things may have changed since then.

I assume the biggest obstacle is going to be the return less fuel system. I was operating under the assumption that if you can even find the software it'll have that adjustment but I never did the research to find out.

Again I've never seen documented proof of it being done to a Vue but there a number of s/c L61s running around out there.

93EXCivic MegaDork
3/19/14 8:04 a.m.
ProDarwin wrote: Yes, do NOT purchase the CVT auto (or the V6). IMO, the standard bodywork looks way better than the Redline crap.

Why not the V6? My wife's has zero problems with the 3.5 V6 drivetrain.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/19/14 8:46 a.m.

The V6 Honda trans has a reputation of trans shudder.
This does not incapacitate the car but rather makes driving annoying (from what I hear.)
Here is a smaple thread of the issue:

The dealer warranty "fix" for the issue has been extended to 2015

ProDarwin UltraDork
3/19/14 10:39 a.m.

In reply to The0retical:

Yes, all correct. I think the big difference is that the LSJ has a tougher bottom end. I understand the L61 rods are good to about 280 crank HP (thus people keep power output down to 220ish), and the LSJ is good to more like 350whp (400 crank?) - although the supercharger wont push it that far anyway. Guys making big power from the LSJ are running turbos.

Regardless, the correct answer is LNF :)

93EXCivic wrote: Why not the V6? My wife's has zero problems with the 3.5 V6 drivetrain.

Well, remember there were 2 V6s.

The GM v6 is a turd and a pain to work on. Totally not worth the trouble for 40hp over the 2.2. The auto its coupled to is reliable though.

The Honda v6 is a great motor, but coupled to the same trans as the Odyssey and suffers the same trans problems. Not guaranteed, but a much more likely failure than the 2.2 Manual or the 2.2 4T45E Auto. I thought the problems resulted in a complete failure, not the shuddering noted above. I'll have to read up more on that.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/19/14 11:04 a.m.

Your thoughts of 3.5L failure may be that the timing belt is interference design so neglect of that part will result in the car getting scrapped by many owners.

Javelin MegaDork
3/27/14 8:54 a.m.

Is this the official Vue thread now?

As mentioned in my other thread, I bought one! 2005 Ecotec/5-Speed manual with 103K miles on it from the original owner. Moonroof, heated seats, cruise, CD, power seats, etc in the gray color (Black Silver they called it?) for $3800 bones. Pics:

Initial impressions after having driven it for 150 miles? Favorable! It actually steers better than a Mazda5, and the short wheelbase makes it feel more nimble. The 5 was more sportily tuned for sure, but the Vue has serious potential. I was surprised at how well the brakes worked, especially for rear drum. The suspension is way too tall and floaty, but stay tuned as I already have it figured out.

Things I really like coming from the 5: The sunvisors telescope, the wipers have intermittent settings, the radio is better, the cruise is better, and the engine has a lot more torque. Things the 5 did better: Stock suspension was way firmer, lower, and sportier, the driving position and seats were better, and the shift action was much crisper.

dj06482 Dork
3/27/14 9:09 a.m.

Congrats - that looks like a good one, for very little money!

ProDarwin UltraDork
3/27/14 9:49 a.m.

Nice. I like that color.

Interested to see how you solve the suspension tall & floaty problem.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
3/27/14 10:47 a.m.

Looking back up in this thread, it shows me that the grey one you bought was originally listed on CL for $4,550.
I commend you on your ability to drive the price down by $750 even on a well cared for example.

To others, though this was a good buy, this was not a rare buy. It really surprises me how many MT version of these were sold when new. Also amazing is how slow they are to re-sell. So few people (other than odd characters like us) go looking for a "cute-ute" with a manual trans and no 4wd from a brand that no longer exists.
Open up your own CL and I bet you can find similar.

As can not be mentioned too many times, avoid the 4cyl CVT trans regardless of price. They are crap, they will stop working and there is no repair.
Sure, you can try the difficult swap to 4speed auto but even then, you are left with a car that has little resale and a horrible reputation.

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