2008 Saturn Outlook

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Review: 2007 Saturn Outlook

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2009.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 9
Pros:
  • Surprisingly pleasant road manners
  • Nicely proportioned and styled
  • Well laid-out interior
Cons:
  • Highest starting price ever for a Saturn
  • Weighty vehicle
  • Shop carefully for what's standard, what's not

General Motors Corp.'s friendly car brand, Saturn, is on a roll.

Known for its no-haggle new-car sales, Saturn today has more vehicles than ever for shoppers to choose from, is poised for record sales and has more vehicles with top, five-star safety ratings than ever in its history.

It also has a new, largest-ever Saturn in showrooms.

The 2007 Outlook is the brand's first crossover sport-utility vehicle.

With good proportions, attractive styling, commendable handling and V6 power, five-star safety rating and standard seating for eight, the Outlook is designed for families eschewing truckish SUVs and less-than-glamorous minivans.

Be prepared for the price
But note that the Outlook has the highest starting retail price of any Saturn production model—current or past.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price is more than $27,000 for a front-wheel-drive Outlook and more than $29,000 for an all-wheel-drive Outlook.

Indeed, an up-level Outlook XR with all-wheel drive and options can top out at near $40,000, which is a price unheard before at Saturn.

But the Outlook pricing is about on par with competing crossover SUVs, which are today's trendy darlings of the auto business.

For example, a Toyota Highlander with three rows of seats and a V6 starts around $27,000. And Mazda's CX-9 crossover SUV with three rows of seats and a V6 starts at more than $28,000.

Crossover SUVs are hot now because the bubble has burst on the traditional SUV market. Shoppers are turning away from the truckish ride and poor fuel economy that traditional SUVs can deliver.

Thus, Saturn's parent company, General Motors Corp., introduced the Outlook as well as two sibling crossovers—the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.

And, if you can believe, at introduction, the Outlook had the lowest starting price of the trio.

One engine, two sets of power stats
There are two trim levels of Outlook—XE and XR.

Both get the same 3.6-liter four-cam V6 mated to a new, 6-speed automatic transmission.

But the engine develops 5 more horsepower and 3 more lb-ft of torque in the up-level XR.

The reason? Primarily, it's because the XE has a single exhaust system, which restricts engine breathing. The XR has a dual exhaust to help develop a tad more power.

The engine performance numbers may not sound like much difference. But the Outlook XR can feel noticeably stronger in its acceleration. So it's worth comparing when shopping for an Outlook.

Specifically, the base engine in the Outlook XE develops 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm, while the XR engine generates 275 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.

The transmission worked smoothly in the test vehicle, and both XE and XR models use regular gasoline.

The test 2007 Outlook XR with front-wheel drive had a government fuel economy rating of 18 miles a gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway, which puts it in the upper half of SUV rankings.

Note that these figures fall to 16/24 mpg using the federal government's more stringent fuel economy formula for 2008. But since other passenger vehicles are going to show decreased fuel economy ratings, too, the Outlook is likely to maintain its place in the upper half of SUVs.

Bigger than it looks
The Outlook can be deceptive. It doesn't look particularly large on the outside.

But at nearly 17 feet long, this crossover is just 1.4 inches shy of a Cadillac Escalade SUV in length, and there's a roomy feel inside.

Everyone sits up nicely above the pavement in the Outlook. Yet, even at 5 feet 4, I didn't have to climb upward to get inside. I just lifted up just a bit until I could set myself on the seat cushion.

The test Outlook traveled with poise over many kinds of road bumps. Passengers mainly felt as if they rode atop the bumps and road imperfections, though on some concrete pavement with expansion joints, I noticed a slight jiggling of my body.

The suspension is an independent MacPherson strut at the front and a five-link design at the back. The latter, with shock absorbers placed low, allows for decent room for a flat cargo floor that's wide.

Saturn officials say an Outlook owner should be able to fit a 4-foot-by-8-foot piece of wood or sheetrock back there.

Perhaps more importantly, the Outlook's third-row seating can be quite usable for adults, not just children, in part because second-row seats can slide forward and back to help allocate legroom.

Just watch that small items or food from little tykes don't disappear into these highly visible sliding-seat slots in the Outlook floor.

Rear-seat legroom, by the way, is 33.2 inches vs. 30.2 inches in the Highlander.

Total cargo room, with second- and third-row seats folded down, is 117 cubic feet vs. 80.6 in the Highlander.

Odds and ends
A nice feature in the Outlook is that head restraints on third-row seats fold down and out of the way on their own in preparation for the seats to go down. In some other SUVs, the head restraints must be manually removed and stored somewhere.

All safety equipment on the Outlook is standard. This includes frontal airbags for the front seats, side, seat-mounted airbags for the two front seats, curtain airbags, stability control and traction control.

I advise buyers to get the Outlook's rear park assist, because it can be difficult to see what's behind the vehicle while backing up. This is a beeping warning system, not a rearview camera, however.

And note that while ads show the Outlook with side roof rails, these are standard only on the up-level XR.

In preparation for the Outlook, Saturn last December ended production of its minivan, the Relay.

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BB02 - 7/31/2014 8:57:01 PM