It was the signature line of comic Rodney Dangerfield: “I get no respect.” Respect was also the commodity most highly prized by Don Vito Corleone. Even the word “dis” comes from ‘disrespect,” a more overt way of denying respect.
Saturn seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the automotive world, and one need go no further than the Car and Driver website to see the problem exhibited.
Car and Driver has just released their newest annual “Ten Best” list. (Here’s the list, should you be curious: BMW 3 Series, Caddy CTS, Corvette, Chevy Malibu, Accord, Honda Fit, MX-5 and Mazdaspeed 3, Boxter/Cayman, and VW GTI.)
The Chevy Malibu is on the list.
It’s not just that this is a car of which GM has produced exactly 3000 vehicles, one that your friendly local Chevy dealer probably doesn’t have in stock.
It’s that the Malibu is the Saturn Aura with a different grill and somewhat less luxurious trim and interior appointments.
If the Malibu is one of the 2008 Ten Best, then why wasn’t the Saturn Aura one of the 2007 Ten Best? (It wasn’t. The 2007 list was pretty much the same as this year’s, with the addition of the 300C and G35, both no longer top ten material, apparently.)
The Saturn deserves more respect.
First, by now you can actually find one at the Saturn dealer. Back when the Aura was introduced to very favorable reviews in the automotive press, the dealers didn’t have them in stock. So, you couldn’t even see one, much less take a test drive.
And, of course, there’s the face on the Saturn: it’s exactly the same as the front end of a Honda. Not distinctive. Chevy grafted a front onto the Malibu derived directly from the Silverado. No question about what brand that is, from two blocks distant. Lots of people that saw an Aura in traffic probably had no idea it was a Saturn . They probably wandered into the Honda dealer and were sent out in an Accord. That might explain the Aura’s sales, which a GM executive termed “disappointing.”
But, still, the poor Aura could be forgiven for having an inferiority complex. Here it is sitting there in the showroom waiting for a buyer to come and take it home, and all of the hoopla goes to the prodigal cousin that stole its clothes.
You could understand why the Saturn would be sad.
So, screw the Top Ten. If you were thinking of a Malibu, go shop your Saturn dealer.
Of course, being a Saturn, it’ll probably depreciate more than the Malibu, so you’ll have to factor that into your negotiations. But, no one will think you’re driving a Chevy and most people will assume you’re piloting an import. In some parts of the country, that’s an advantage.