Saturn Vue prices start at $16,835

Saturn Corp., stung by the poor launch of the L-series sedan two years ago, says it has priced the Vue sport wagon to lure customers.

The base price of the vehicle will be $16,835, including a $510 destination charge. The base model will have a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Production begins in November.

In other Saturn news, the company said it will call the S-series replacement, due in 2002, the Ion.

Saturn said three models with the most popular option packages will range from $18,600 to $23,400. Customers can order such features as all-wheel drive, a 3.0-liter V-6 and a continuously variable transmission, which Saturn calls VTi.

The top-of-the-line model, with all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and a V-6, will have a base sticker of $23,085, including the destination charge.

"The compact SUV market is expected to grow by 33 percent (in four years), approaching the 1 million sales-per-year mark by 2005," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's vice president of sales, service and marketing.

For contrast, Saturn launched the

L series in a static market for mid-sized sedans in summer 1999. The company was expecting sales of at least 200,000 per year. Through nine months this year, the company sold 75,371 L series.

The Ion will be derived from General Motors' global small-car platform, called the Delta. It will debut in the fourth quarter of 2002. Saturn will produce a sedan first and then a coupe.

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