Could this Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid become the Buick plug-in crossover announced last year? Signs point to yes. The story and spy photos inside.

Spies in Michigan managed to secure a new set of photos featuring the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid prototype.  The vehicle looks to have a plug-in port covered up in tape right in front of the left-hand side door, and features a Saturn grille; something we thought would be long gone on test vehicles.

If it comes to market, the crossover will most likely be sold as a Buick.  Buick and Saturn parent General Motors previously announced they were working on a plug-in hybrid crossover for Buick, and sent out a few teaser photos in August.  Those pictures show a vehicle that looks identical to the Vue, but with Buick's traditional grille.

As the spy points out, the Saturn vehicle features one tailpipe, likely due to a smaller engine.  Six months ago, GM announced that the Buick version would use a four-cylinder 2.4-liter direct-injection engine instead of the 3.6-liter V6 originally planned for the Vue.  The Buick model has been announced with a floor-mounted 8-kWh lithium-ion battery to allow for all-electric drives of up to 10 miles (16 km).

GM is expected to begin sales of the Buick-badged Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid beginning in 2011.

Gallery: Saturn Vue-Based Plug-In Hybrid Prototype/Mule Spied