One of GM's minivans that attempts to look more like a rugged SUV than a bland family shuttle, the 2007 Saturn Relay shares the ups and downs of its brethren. Marketed as a crossover sport van, the Relay has a longish nose, aggressive front fascia and a roof rack to give the impression of an SUV, while the basic body architecture remains that of a minivan, meaning a space-efficient box. To our eyes, it still looks more like a minivan with a big snout, but there's no arguing that it has a more distinct style than the average snub-nosed people mover.
More upscale than the typical Saturn, the Relay has a number of attractive family-friendly features, such as a split-fold third-row seat and a 40-gigabyte "PhatNoise" digital media system that allows owners to store and play thousands of MP3s and/or several dozen movies. Notably missing on the spec sheet, however, are three-row side curtain airbags and a rear backup camera. Saturn did decide to make stability control standard equipment this year, however. It has also dropped the smaller V6 engine and made last year's optional 3.9-liter, 240-horsepower V6 standard across the board, meaning that the Relay now packs as much standard horsepower as segment leaders such as the Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest.
We give Saturn credit for making improvements to its minivan, but the reality is that it still doesn't match the top dogs when it comes to overall driving dynamics, luxury and safety features. True, the 2007 Saturn Relay is a decent choice for family transportation, and if price is an issue (as it typically is in this class), one could probably get the minivan for at least a few thousand dollars less than the comparably equipped class leaders. More demanding buyers who don't mind spending the extra bucks, however, will likely be happier with the aforementioned rivals or the Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona twins.
The 2007 Saturn Relay minivan comes in three trim levels, named simply 1, 2 and 3. The Relay 1 has air-conditioning, full power accessories, an eight-speaker sound system with an MP3-capable CD player and the OnStar communications system. Upgrading to the Relay 2 adds cruise control, keyless entry, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, deep-tinted side and rear glass, an interchangeable overhead console (that allows one to arrange storage compartments as needed), heated mirrors and a rear wiper. The top-of-the-line Relay 3 adds dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, rear air-conditioning, a power driver seat, alloy wheels, a 115-volt AC outlet, power rear vent windows, power-sliding passenger side door, second-row captain's chairs, alloy wheels and upgraded storage.
Major options include the PhatNoise 40GB digital media system, a remote vehicle startup system, dual power-sliding side doors, rear park assist, satellite radio, a navigation system, leather seating and a sport-tuned suspension. Depending on the trim level, most of these options are available either Ã la carte or bundled with other features as part of various packages.
The Saturn Relay seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split. A pleasing two-tone color scheme with faux wood accents dramatically brightens the cabin and lends an upscale ambience. Folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row seats are available. An overhead rail system provides rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and can be outfitted with various storage containers. Springing for the PhatNoise digital media system saves you the hassle of juggling DVDs on road trips, while an optional remote vehicle start system makes it easy to warm up the van on cold mornings.
All Saturn Relays are front-wheel drive, as the all-wheel-drive version has been dropped, and all come with a 3.9-liter V6 with 240 hp and 240 pound-feet of torque matched to a four-speed automatic transmission.
The stout V6 offers brisk performance around town and when merging and passing on freeways. The Relay's suspension is on the soft side, yielding a plush ride and average handling for this class. Upgrading to the optional sport suspension does provide tighter handling, though maneuverability in tight spaces is still compromised by the van's large turning radius. Braking capability is average for the class.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control are all standard. Side-impact airbags for first- and second-row occupants are optional, but there's no protection for passengers seated in the third row. In NHTSA frontal crash testing, the 2007 Saturn Relay scored five stars (the highest possible rating) for the driver and front passenger. In side-impact tests, the Relay earned four stars for protection of front occupants and five stars for the rear occupants. During IIHS crash testing, the Relay scored a rating of "Good" (the highest of four) in frontal-offset testing. In that agency's side-impact test, however, the van received a "Marginal" (the second lowest of four) rating even with the side airbag option and a "Poor" (the lowest) when tested without them. (Most of the newer minivans on the market are rated "Good" in the IIHS side-impact test.)
For 2007, the 3.9-liter 240-horsepower V6 is now standard in every Saturn Relay, as is stability control. The all-wheel-drive version has been discontinued. A more basic version called the Relay 1 debuts, forgoing luxuries such as a rear DVD entertainment system, cruise control and keyless entry for a lower price tag.