The Shock of a Hondafied VUE.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    GM quietly slips a Honda motor into a Saturn and promptly confuses everybody.

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    BY ALEX LAW
    July 2003

    For people who like a little zoot in their rides, the most important part of a 1999 deal between General Motors and Honda is that it has resulted in a “sport-cute” that could be hot, or at least hottish.

    The fact that there's a barrel full of corporate intrigue, speculation, and posturing going on around the deal is a bonus. But before that, the new vehicle.

    That would be the Saturn VUE with the 3.5-liter V-6 designed and built by Honda that will supply 250 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 242 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm and is supposed to deliver a 0-to-60 time of about seven seconds through a five-speed automatic transmission. That's 10 more horsepower than Honda lists for its own Pilot sport-ute and 10 fewer than the Acura MDX sport-ute can claim, although both use the same powerplant. This won't make you the terror of your intersection runoffs, but it should make you the Wyatt Earp of sport-cutes. It's also a smoother, more powerful engine (by 69 hp) than the GM 3.0-liter V-6 it replaces.

    This engine will be available as an option with regular versions of the VUE and as the heart of Saturn's Red Line performance package, pictured here. In all, GM thinks it will be able to move every one of the 50,000 engines per year it will get from Japan.

    If you think this deal was done when GM phoned Tokyo one day and ordered engines like so many pizzas (with variable valve timing, please), then you live a sane and sensible life.

    When GM and Honda announced this deal in December 1999, it was billed as a “powertrain cross-supply arrangement” that would see Honda getting diesel engines from GM's Isuzu division for use in Europe in exchange for an unnamed V-6. The original agreement also called for GM to purchase about 90,000 V-6s. For now, though, the VUE will be the only GM product to use the motor.

    The agreement was also billed as “the first step in a new relationship that may lead to future cooperation in other areas,” which seemed to bear fruit when the companies announced early in 2000 that GM would supply Honda with its OnStar in-car safety/guidance/concierge service.

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    It was hard for traditional gearheads to imagine one of the world's great engine makers giving up a primo powerplant in exchange for something as ephemeral as directions to the best Italian restaurant in Omaha.

    Since then, OnStar has developed into the premier service of its kind, with growing appeal for consumers, but that hasn't slowed the rumor mill regarding the V-6 going to Saturn. Some are sure that it's simply GM buying technology it couldn't make itself; others insist it was the management team at GM trying to light a fire under GM Powertrain; still others are convinced it's a way for Japanese beancounters to make extra Yankee dollars in case their home market tanked (it did); and the niche nuts are sure it has to do with someone having pictures of someone else with farm animals.

    GM's official story is that the deal with Honda was not caused by deficiencies in its own engine lineup, citing a new DOHC 3.6-liter V-6 that will debut in the CTS and Buick Rendezvous Ultra this fall, and a 3.5-liter OHV V-6 coming in the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu that will add the fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology shortly after. Why neither of those GM engines was used in the VUE the company will not say.

    Some within Honda of America say there never was an engine-sharing deal, and they simply did all the engineering on the 3.5-liter engine (GM denies that) and sold it for a good price, that the Isuzu engine deal had nothing to do with it, and neither did OnStar.

    No matter the motivations behind the deal, one thing is certain: It's a thorny issue for Saturn marketing types, who clearly want to promote what is, by any measure, an excellent engine without calling into question the quality of GM parts or crediting the name of a competitor, in this case Honda. You'll remember that Saturn was created to compete directly with the likes of Honda. At the New York auto show, where the VUE Red Line was first displayed to the public, Saturn chose not to have any sort of press conference. And the five pages of information and specifications handed out to journalists mention Honda not once.

    Whatever. If the Vue with the Honda V-6 does 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, we don't care if farm animals were involved. —Alex Law

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  2. mucky

    mucky .

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    That front airdam = :ugh:
     
  3. aznboi320

    aznboi320 OT Supporter

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    it has the mdx engine... noooo :(
     
  4. mucky

    mucky .

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    It's ironic, the GM 'import-fighting' division using an import brand powertrain. :eek3:
     
  5. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Room for a big intercooler. :yum: Throw on an HKS kit.
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'd like to drive one and see what it's like.
     
  7. mucky

    mucky .

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    At least they changed the UGLY traditional 2 spoke steering wheel for one from the Cadillac CTS next year. Now if they can only do something about the plasticy interior door panel. :hs:
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I find the look of the Red Line appealing in a way.

    It would probably look pretty cool in black, and with some VTEC stickaZ y0!
     
  9. rommon_1>

    rommon_1> Guest

    OMG. A GM with VTEC. The Honda boys are gonna shit thier freaking pants :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     

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