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342 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Beauty at a Price
By Mike Hudson
Date posted: 08-02-2006

At the age of 11, before the 2007 Saturn Sky was a twinkle in Bob Lutz's eye, a young soon-to-be writer was hauled by his father to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. With dad, older brother and the young upstart fighting 100-degree temperatures, the adventurers trudged along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in search of beauty.

Here it was: a sight of crashing waves, striated stone and unblemished flora existing as one entity in a display of brilliant, haunting confluence. A symphony hall and art museum had arisen in the woods miles from anywhere, performing a hypnotic, never-ending improv for anyone who cared to visit.

Filled with hope for mankind, we headed back to the car — a day-and-a-half hike. Beauty faded with a lack of water and dozens of horsefly bites. Fellow hikers grew tiresome. Needless to say, running out of toilet paper had us thinking, "Disney World would be a fun vacation."

Somewhere between then and now, Lutz twinkled and the Saturn Sky convertible was born. Pictured Rocks had been turned into convenient garage-able form.

It is a beautiful sight — beautiful enough to steal customers away from Mazda MX-5 Miatas and Honda S2000s. But as hours in the Sky turn to days, beauty again fades into questions. Why is this ride so rough? Why is the shifter dancing like a novelty Coke can? What is that rattle? Where can I put...anything?

She has an ugly side
When you first jump in and turn the key — no doubt still smitten with its looks — the Sky seems to be just fine. It makes a grumbling exhaust note. It's rear-wheel drive. The 2.4-liter Ecotec DOHC inline-4 revs pretty high and pushes pretty quick. Above all, everyone seems to be looking at you, which makes up for a lot in Southern California.

It makes it through the standard commuter slog with ease. With 177 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 166 pound-feet of torque at 4800, power really isn't a problem as long as you're comfy driving in the noisy 5000-and-above rpm range. At the track, it went zero to 60 in 7.5 seconds — equal to the Miata Sport's numbers despite 400 more pounds, with a curb weight of 2933 pounds.

While not a comfort cruiser — it's hard to hear the stereo over the engine at highway speeds — the Sky's suspension is a bit more refined than its Pontiac Solstice sibling, as Saturn had a few more months to tweak it after the Pontiac version debuted. It's still the same independent front and back design, but rejiggered to allow more movement before the shocks kick in. The result is a somewhat softer ride in highway conditions, while maintaining composure in light curves.

Push the Sky toward its limits, however, and it starts to show some weaknesses. This first comes through in the transmission, where our 5-speed manual (there is an optional 5-speed automatic available) stifles performance-minded desires with tricky gates, syrupy acceleration and a shifter that bobs and weaves like a prizefighter.

And if you do happen to catch a perfect shift, 2nd gear reveals itself as somewhat short and 3rd quite tall, hampering canyon-country fun in the territory between 30 and 40 mph — the kind of thing roadsters are made for.

GM apparently tinkered with a few other things in the suspension that it didn't disclose. Our tester surprisingly rubbed its rear wheels on the fender liners during launch at the track — a major engineering failure. Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot reports, "Our speculation is that there is a bushing deflection. The bushings are softer in the Sky than the Solstice, which allows some forward-backward motion you don't get in the Solstice. When you combine with a squat, it rubs. Anything that compresses the back suspension and at the same time causes the drive wheels to pull forward, those two forces combined are when we experienced the rubbing."

Handles like a driving range
The Sky's handling is also a bit of a mixed bag. The power rack and pinion delivers somewhat mushy messages about what's going on — the kind of thing that's fine for normal driving, but disconcerting in a pinch. Approaching a corner in the Miata is an exciting challenge, with the driver sizing up speed and gear, knowing basically how the car will respond and preparing to engage; like you might feel walking into a batting cage and waiting for a pitch. Approaching a corner in the Sky is a more unpredictable challenge, where the car might stay lovely or it might suddenly let go of the road in a fit of understeer; like the nervous thrill of walking onto a driving range in hopes of dodging balls.

Braking — 4-wheel discs with ABS — isn't anywhere near the standards of the Miata. At the track, the Sky stopped from 60 mph in 134 feet, substantially worse than the Miata's 117-foot mark.

Beauty can be worth everything
Just as the cinematic Jeffrey Lebowski suffered the misdeeds of his trophy wife, consumers will abide the Sky simply because it looks better than anything in its price range.

Saturn designers opted for sharp lines in contrast to the Solstice's smoothness, giving this sibling a more sophisticated look with interesting angles from stem to stern, and mounted on a sporty stance with 18-inch wheels dominating the sides. Decorative chrome hood vents write a few checks the Sky can't cash, but pump up the already aggressive look. In back, Saturn used a slightly different design for the taillights, while the gorgeous trunk bumps behind the head rests were left untouched.

Unlike the Solstice, the experience continues on the interior, which is a well-planned compartment in terms of appearance. Our tester had the leather package and optional metallic foot-pedal cover plates, giving the Sky a slick appearance with smooth curves and chrome accents aplenty. The controls are logical and easy to use, giving driver or passenger access to radio and HVAC comforts. Our tester had optional audio controls on the steering wheel.

With the top up, the car is attractive. With the top down, it's downright gorgeous, unmasking the trunk lid bumps as a major design element. And beware to the Mercedes SL driver — the Sky looks better than cars four or five times its price when your hair is blowing in the breeze.

That's easier said than done. Top operation is Soviet design all the way, requiring a key fob button punch, a twist of a handle, an exit from the car, a lift of the hatch, a shove down, an inspection of a tiny hook that can get bent if you're not careful, a second shove for the lid and finally a return to the car. By comparison, you might see a Miata owner put the top down with one hand while stuck in traffic.

And if you have any baggage — a lunch bag, even — putting the top down destroys what little space the Sky provides. While the Miata offers some actual trunk space — enough for an overnight bag, at least — the Sky offers a space where the top is supposed to be stored. So if the top is up, you've got a luxurious 5.4 cubic feet of space. With the top down, you've got 2 cubic feet.

Or you can just cram it in the passenger seat. Got a passenger? Try the cubbyhole next to your right shoulder between the seats. Unless you've got something bigger than a stapler...then politely ask your guest to hold the item.

Love is blind
The 2007 Saturn Sky has a ways to go until it catches the competition. It's not the easiest car in the world to live with. And at times — like when trying to recline the seats, which requires exiting the car; or stowing a drink behind you (in an auxiliary cupholder that accidentally pops out when you bump it with your elbow during shifts) — it can feel like the Sky is working against you.

Survey after survey shows consumers want great-looking cars and affordable cars above all else, so the Sky is sure to be a hit. And Saturn will tweak a few things here and there, hoping you won't launch the car in a track test until the new version comes out. Chances are, you won't. And the Sky will work out just fine, earning gawks and compliments from all you pass.

Again, life lessons come clear. For a little effort, beauty can be yours. And in the case of the Sky, you can even bring a friend if they promise to carry something.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle Tested:
2007 Saturn Sky 2dr Convertible (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
MSRP of Test Vehicle: $25,355 Price It!!

What Works:
World-class design for a bargain price, fittingly attractive interior.

What Needs Work:
Choppy transmission, imprecise fit and finish, poor roof retraction and fit, unrefined driving feel.

Bottom Line:
Stunning looks dulled by a rough and unrefined ride.

While zippy and relatively fun when headed in a straight line at speed, the jostling and hostility of the 2007 Saturn Sky in city or performance conditions can take its toll in the long haul. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Powered by a 177-horsepower inline-4, the Saturn Sky has a decent amount of power hampered by a dismal transmission. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Decorative hood vents give the Sky a sporty appearance the car can't quite back up. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Eye in the Sky: Beautifully shaped headlamps give an aggressive sneer to the Saturn Sky roadster. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

The interior of the 2007 Saturn Sky speaks a language similar to the exterior — graceful lines, chrome accents and slick, pleasing design. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

One of the weak points of the Sky is the roof, which is neither easy to operate, well made nor capable of keeping water out of the car. Keep it down whenever you can. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Rain, rain go away. No guarantees with this roof, as our tester's roof leaked in the car wash. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

The chrome accents around the gauge cluster are part of an overall sporty scheme dreamt up in Detroit for the Sky. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

The 2007 Saturn Sky is powered by a 2.4-liter 177-horsepower DOHC 4-cylinder with variable-valve timing. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Behold. The best reason to buy the Saturn Sky is in front of you. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)


342 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)

Two-tone upholstery with optional leather inserts and standard leather seats make the interior of the Sky a pleasant place to look at. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

The 2007 Saturn Sky is one of the best-looking cars to come from GM in recent memory and is a branding revolution for this particular marque. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

The Saturn Sky arguably does a better job of melding the front and rear design than the Pontiac Solstice, but both are beautiful from any angle. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Green Sky at night. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

There is also a three minute video on the site.


420 Posts
Edmunds Shmedmunds...

thanks for posting!

nice pictures but when the review said "a rough and unrefined ride." that has got to be a typo!

The Sky's ride is smooth like butter!!!

Compared to my Miata, the Sky is more comfortable over long trips and is a better cruiser on the highways. It feels more solid and the ride quality is awesome.

Anyone else disagrees with his statement on the ride quality?

128 Posts
Much Better

I've also had expirience with the miata and from the demo sky that I drove it was much better than the miata hands down

what is with everyone making such a big deal over how hard it is to drop the top on the sky, I think its MUCH easier than taking the top off my delsol here's the procedure: unlock 2 locking pins in the cabin (driver and passenger), pop the trunk, get out of the car go around to the passenger side open the door (unless you can wiggle it out from the wedge between the glass and the roof seal), go to the back of the car and open the trunk, go back to the middle of the car and take the fifty pound (unless yours is carbon fiber like mine then its a bit lighter) roof off and bring it to the trunk, lay the roof in the holder (wiggle it to make sure it seats right), lock roof to the holder via two locking pins, then close the trunk and passenger side door get in a drive off.

Come on its definitely not this hard to do in the sky but people make it out to be this huge procedure and its not, the procedure for the sky: unlock the 1 locking lever,pop the trunk get out, fold down the roof, close trunk, get in and have everyone stare wishing they had your car (sky of course)

1,677 Posts
I've been told many times from several people/engineers at GM/Saturn. The bushings are NOT different between the Solstice and the SKY (with the FE2 suspension code).

Here's some more description of suspension stuff:

Base car vs. RedLine answer:

And, if you look at the part numbers for the lower control arms in service, they are identical (between Solstice and SKY). This means they have the same bushings. I hate when people who don't know what they are doing or could merely ASK (like Edmunds doesn't have the ability to ASK GM) come up with BS "theories". :nonod:

The wheel well plastic liners, if anyone bothered to compare, ARE, in fact different part numbers. The number of complaints on Solsticeforum of wheel liners rubbing vs. here are at LEAST 1:5..., (and not even really difficult logic needed here), since the rear sheet metal, and wheel plasting liners are different, and GM says they only changed the shocks.... one MIGHT conclude that it MIGHT, MAYBE, COULD POSSIBLY be the parts that are different?

No, GM is making "undisclosed" changes. Jeez - I'm not even a writer for edmunds, and my simple phone skillz are enought to figure this one out... :rolleyes:

crack reporting, there...

Don't forget, these WERE the guys that claim, and I quote the oh-so-objectively backed up statement that:

Edmunds said:
...the MX-5 is ten billion times more fun to drive [than the Solstice]...
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