Saturn Outlook - The Power of General Motors
GM has been criticized for building uncompetitive and overly trucklike multi-passenger vehicles, and the Saturn Outlook is proof that someone was listening. The Outlook marks a dedicated effort to package the eight-passenger seating, cavernous cargo capacity and carlike driving character of a minivan into the more fashionable shell of a full-size crossover SUV. Compared to traditional body-on-frame full-size SUVs, the unibody Outlook provides advantages in terms of ride, handling and fuel economy. Its advantages continue inside, where an attractive interior boasts seating for up to eight passengers or more than 100 cubic feet of available cargo space.
The Saturn Outlook is mechanically related to the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia crossover SUV family. There are two trims, XE and XR. Included Saturn Outlook Accessories on the XE are 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, power accessories, cruise control, front and rear climate controls, a CD/MP3 player with satellite radio and GM's OnStar service. The XR adds dual exhaust, a power driver seat, a trip computer, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth and wood trim. Standard safety features on both models include antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags protecting all three rows.
All Outlooks are powered by a 3.6-liter V6. In the XE, it makes 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The XR model's dual exhaust boosts those numbers to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission, and all-wheel drive can be ordered in place of front-wheel drive on either model. Key options include 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a rear parking sensor, a power liftgate, keyless engine start, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a back-up camera, a rear-seat DVD player, Bose audio, leather seats and second-row captain's chairs that reduce seating to seven passengers.
On the road, our editors have found the Saturn Outlook to be a pleasant drive. GM's modern direct-injected V6 gives the Outlook decent acceleration and fuel mileage, while the Outlook's unibody construction and all-independent suspension give it ride smoothness and handling ability superior to GM's previous SUVs and vans. The six-speed automatic transmission could be more responsive, and its near 5,000-pound curb weight is heavy even for this segment, but the Outlook's overall sophistication is definitely up to class standards.
Unlike many competitors in the crossover SUV field, the Saturn Outlook can accommodate adults in all three rows. Granted, comfort is only adequate in the third row, but the fact that grandparents can sit back there at all is a feat in this class. In addition, the Outlook's "Smart Slide" second-row seat feature is advantageous, as with the pull of one obvious lever, either of the captain's chairs (or 64/40-split bench halves) easily tilts, slides and sandwiches up against the first-row seats to ease access to the third row.
The Outlook's slightly bigger shell also enables it to swallow up to 117 cubic feet of cargo while most others take around 90. Its 5,200-pound towing capacity rates higher than most crossover SUVs as well. Despite subtle hints of interior cheapness and some buttons that are either too small or hard to find, the Outlook's dashboard is also among the more attractive in this segment. For families seeking a truly functional alternative to a minivan or full-size, truck-based SUV, the Saturn Outlook deserves serious consideration.
The Saturn Outlook debuted for 2007. In the XE, the standard 3.6-liter V6 -- without the benefit of direct injection until 2009 -- made 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque; the XR model's dual exhaust boosted those figures to 275 and 251. Towing capacity for pre-2009 models was 4,500 pounds. Satellite radio joined the standard equipment roster for 2008, and the back-up camera became an option. Bluetooth, Bose audio and real-time traffic were not available until 2009.