Available in limited numbers for 2009, the Saturn VUE Hybrid V6 combines two 55-kilowatt electric motors with a 3.6-liter gas-powered V6 engine. The powerplant operates in two modes. In the first mode, which drives the SUV at speeds under 40 mph, the two-mode CVT (continuously variable transmission) shifts power between one of the electric motors, the gas engine, or both the gas engine and an electric motor, while the other electric motor recharges a 300-volt array of 22 nickel-metal hydride batteries, located under the cargo floor. In Mode 2, which takes over at higher speeds, the V6 gas engine provides the primary power, assisted by the electric motors when additional power is required, such as when towing a trailer, passing, or climbing steep hills. The gas engine shuts down when the SUV decelerates or idles, and the electric motors alone provide the power to drive the SUV in reverse mode. With its hybrid engine, the compact SUV achieves fuel economy numbers of 25/32 city/highway mpg. As with the other VUE SUVs, antilock brakes, traction control, and the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system all come standard. The VUE Hybrid V6 rides on lightweight 17-inch wheels with low-resistance tires.
Like the base VUE Hybrid, the VUE Hybrid V6 has exterior enhancements designed to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, including a lowered stance, which reduces drag, and a rear spoiler, which helps improve airflow. Other exterior features include power-adjustable heated outside mirrors, chrome door handles, and chrome dual exhaust tips. Inside, the Hybrid V6 comes with a hybrid-oriented instrument panel, including an efficiency gauge (replacing the tachometer), which displays the current engine operating mode and informs drivers when they're achieving maximum fuel efficiency. Other standard interior features include a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, and a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with a CD player, MP3 input jack, and three months of XM satellite radio. Options include a navigation system and a power sunroof. Six airbags come standard, including seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted head side-curtain airbags.