The Aura Green Line succeeds in its mission statement of being a cheap hybrid. It uses the same Belt Alternator System hybrid-lite technology that we first saw in the Vue Green Line last year. While its stripped-down cabin will disappoint gadget lovers, its entry-level drive train technology delivers decent fuel economy gains over the V-6 gasoline model.
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The Aura's standard stereo gives drivers a very useful interface with which to navigate digital audio discs. Using the multifunction hard buttons, drivers can select full ID3 tag information for song, artist, and album.
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The same interface is used to adjust the stereo's basic EQ controls. With its six speakers, the Aura Green Line's audio system sounds adequate at low to mid volume but starts to distort at higher volumes, particularly at the low end of the acoustic range.
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With its battery pack stored in the trunk, the Aura Green Line has 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space, compared with 14.9 cubic feet for the gasoline-only Aura.
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In contrast to other hybrids, the Aura's cabin is conspicuously low-tech with very few obvious gadgets to play with. Interior materials are plain but tasteful: beneath the black plastic cowl, the Aura features a strip of metallic, matte plastic trim, which brings some welcome brightness to the dash.
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As with the Vue Green Line, the Aura Green Line relies on a system called Belt Alternator Starter (BAS), which replaces the car's alternator with an electric motor. This motor can be used either to assist the 2.4-liter gasoline engine when accelerating from standing and with increased load demand, or to charge the battery by turning the car's braking and deceleration into electricity.
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While its hybrid drive train may not be as sophisticated as that of other manufacturers, the Saturn Aura Green Line does succeed in its mission of delivering significantly improved gas mileage over its award-winning gasoline counterpart.
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On the right-hand side of the instrument cluster, the assist/charge meter indicates the status of the battery, and whether it is being used to assist the engine (a swing of the needle upwards), whether it is being charged up by the regenerative braking system (downward swing) or whether there is no engine-battery exchange.
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The Aura Green Line's Autostop gauge indicates when the car's gasoline engine is cut during idling. Finally, a green backlit ECO fuel economy indicator illuminates when the car is meeting or exceeding its average EPA fuel economy.
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