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Saturn Revives Tow-Friendly Design

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

For years, the Saturn line of automobiles was generally accepted by RVers as the ideal
choice for dinghy towing behind a motorhome. Though other vehicles offered manual
transmission models that could be towed with all four wheels on the ground, Saturn was one of the few manufacturers that offered both manual and automatic versions that could be transported in this fashion. That changed in 2002, when Saturn introduced its new small
SUV, the VUE, along with the VTi Consistently Variable Transmission (CVT). In addition to a
smoother ride, the idea behind the transmission was greater efficiency and improved fuel
economy. However, VUEs equipped with the VTi transmission were not towable, leaving the
two-wheel-drive, manual transmission VUE as the only plausible dinghy choice. That trend
continued through the 2004 model introduction as Saturn pared down the number of
automatic-equipped cars that could be towed to just two models.

For 2005, however, Saturn is returning to its tow-friendly roots, although the change had little to do with catering to the RV sector. After a couple of years in production, some concerns over the VTi CVT’s reliability and longevity had surfaced, prompting Saturn to remove the VTi from production, along with the (also nontowable) Aisen five-speed automatic. The replacement for these transmissions is the tried-and-true 4T45E four-speed automatic. Four-cylinder versions of the VUE will use the 4T45E, while six-cylinder models will continue to use the towable Honda-built five-speed automatic. The return of the 4T45E four-speed automatic transmission means that every automatic-equipped model in Saturn’s lineup for 2005 is towable, except for the 2005 Relay “crossover sport van.”

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