If you havenít driven a Saturn lately, youíre missing out on a great automotive success story.

In the past year and a half, the GM division has launched four all-new models ó each featuring the brandís new design character and performance.

This week I had the opportunity to spend time behind the wheel of the all-new Vue, Saturnís five-door, five-passenger crossover offered in front-, or all-wheel drive configurations.

Available in XE and XR trim lines (as well as the performance-oriented Red Line and the hybrid Green Line), I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the new Vue XR.

One of the most significant changes is the European-inspired design.

Throughout the division, the brandís new design character is a marked change from Saturnís early years of producing consumer-friendly ó yet Spartan ó vehicles that delivered outstanding functionality but fell short on excitement.

Make no mistake; the new Saturns are extremely exciting. And yes, the division still prides itself on delivering functional, consumer-friendly vehicles with outstanding customer service in haggle-free dealerships.

Bottom line, I expected the ride and handling to be impressive. But I was completely blown away by the new Vueís styling and level of standard features.

One word sums up the Vueís styling: WOW!

This is truly a comfortable, extremely well equipped vehicle.

Letís talk safety for a minute. The new Vue features a high-strength steel structure to protect occupants in the event of a collision, as well as a number of safety features to help the driver avoid accidents.

One of the new features is Electronic Trailer Sway Control, which detects trailer sway that may be caused by improper trailer weight balance or excessive high speeds. When detecting trailer sway, the Vueís StabiliTrak system begins to apply the brakes, independent of the driver applying the brake pedal, to assist the driver in stabilizing the vehicle.

Other safety features include dual-stage front seat airbags, front seat side thorax airbags and head curtain airbags covering front and rear seating rows, disengaging collapsible pedals, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system, automatic power door locks and side turn signal lamps ó as well as GMís OnStar safety and security system, including a one-year subscription to the Safe & Sound plan.

Buyers also have their choice of three engines, ranging from the 2.4-liter I-4 in the XE FWD and the Green Line; the 3.5-liter V-6 available in thee XE and the 257 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 for the XR and Red Line.

Models equipped with the I-4 engine are mated to a four-speed automatic, while V-6 equipped models are mated to a six-speed automatic. Both feature a manual shift mode option.

As I mentioned before, if you havenít driven a Saturn lately, itís well worth a trip to the nearest dealership to see what all the excitementís about.

The new Vue is just part of that excitement. For those in the market for a crossover, the 2008 Saturn Vue is highly recommended for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.