I have an '03 V6 auto and an '04 4 cylinder stick, and no problems with either except for a squeaky steering wheel on the '03. Dunno if I was lucky twice or you were unlucky, and I've never had a problem with the Saturn service folks. Since the 4 cylinder gets 31 mpg that will be around for a bit, and the '03 just keeps rolling along with well over 110K on it.
Now I'm no Saturn cheerleader, as they don't seem to listen to consumers, but isn't that what's wrong with upper level management? They know what you want, or think they do? I would buy another if they made them look distinctive again and in this country. There were a few niggling ergonomic items and some standard expectations to adjust, but no need to make it look like a KIA. Unfortunately what was a decent American icon is all over the map now.
But I'm fine with the two I have... when the wheels fall off them I'll reevaluate everything, but another VUE will probably be out of the question.
I am sorry to here that you had such a terrible experience. Before I even read your comments, I have been experiencing the same thing regarding the transmission of the 2002 Saturn Vue V6. Even the gear of the slippage that you mention is the same! I am going to see if replacing the transmission fluid resolves this problem. If not, I will keep you posted.
REALLY sorry to hear of all your woes, and so sorry it's set you against the vehicle.
I have a standard trans 2002 Saturn Vue, it's 2013 as of the date of this posting, and it has been a great vehicle. Looks like only a 2-3 year old vehicle, I've only had to replace regular wear items (bushings, brakes). The rear wiper did go when my MIL owned it (she turned it on while the wiper was frozen to the glass, and it stripped the gear) and replaced the clutch in 2012.
It's been a great rig.