The Saturn Aura is a four-door, mid-size sedan manufactured by American automaker General Motors between the 2007 and 2010 model years. The Aura is available in several versions, including as a gasoline-electric hybrid. While the Saturn Aura received generally positive reviews, especially when compared with earlier Saturn models, it has been known to experience several common problems that owners and potential buyers should be aware of.
One of the most common problem areas for the Saturn Aura has been its brakes. Besides the normal wear that necessitates new brake pads as part of regular vehicle maintenance, Aura drivers have reported brakes that require a strong application of pressure before the brakes fully engage and stop the moving car. The Aura comes standard with an electronic brakeforce distribution system, which theoretically distributes stopping power to the wheels more efficiently than standard braking systems, but in some test and real world scenarios, this system fails in its intentions.
Other problems with the Saturn Aura relate to its drivetrain. With the standard four-speed automatic transmission, some drivers have reported lagging acceleration and excessive engine noise at high rpms. A loud noise as the transmission downshifts is also common. Transmission complaints are especially likely among drivers used to a car with a five- or six-speed automatic transmission (which includes many of the Aura's direct competitors). With the optional V6 engine, the Aura may not achieve the advertised fuel economy, especially during its initial 5,000 mile "break in" period.
The Saturn Aura's steering system has been another site of problems for the model. While outright failure of the steering components is not common, difficulty turning the steering wheel under normal conditions has led some drivers and testers to consider repair or replacement parts even in the case of relatively new models. The gearing of the transmission also causes the Aura to experience torque steer at high speeds, in which the front drive wheels are less responsive to subtle steering maneuvers such as lane changes.
The Saturn Aura has not been free from General Motors recalls for repair of faulty factory equipment. In March of 2009 some Aura models were among nearly 300,000 vehicles recalled to fix a known issue involving the column shifter linkage for the Aura's automatic transmission. While the problem could have causes some cars to engage a different gear than the one selected, making them prone to roll away while parked on an incline, no such issues were immediately reported. This recall applied only to 2009 models, most of which were as yet unsold.
Some critics have complained about the interior design of the Saturn Aura. Though mostly free of mechanical problems or major oversights, the absence of certain features, such as a rear seat armrest and rear vents, may make back seat occupants less comfortable on long drives. In addition, the quality of materials used on some trim levels of the Aura are unimpressive, with uncomfortable cloth seats and faux wood trim on the instrument panel. These problems, however, are absent from more up-level Aura models and may or may not matter to an individual buyer.
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