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2007 Saturn Outlook

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San Francisco:  Saturn showrooms are bursting with new products, including this week’s feature car, the Outlook. As an eight-passenger crossover SUV, it’s the largest Saturn ever, and an entire new market segment for this rejuvenating GM brand.

The Saturn story is pretty well known. The brand was launched in the mid 1980’s with a mission to build a compact sedan, wagon, and coupe to compete with the Japanese brands. The first cars debuted as 1991 models. They were built in a brand new factory in rural Spring Hill, Tennessee. The cars were restyled a couple of times and were renamed the Ion, which is still sold today (but not for long). The LS series midsize sedans and wagons didn’t sell as well as hoped. The Vue small SUV, however, has done well.

Now, Saturn also sells the sexy Sky two-seat convertible, the award-winning Aura midsize sedan, the Relay minivan, and this intriguing new Outlook. It’s all quite different from the original Saturn vision, but life is filled with change.

The Outlook wears the new Saturn style, with a wide chrome bar in the grille and sharp facial styling with slim, sparkly light units. The sides feature squared-off wheel well bulges above 18-inch alloy wheels. The tail lamps have chrome-look detailing, another Saturn design cue. The bottom line, handsome, and it fits right into today’s crossover market.

My Red Jewel Tintcoat colored test unit was a top-level XR model. The XE is the entry point, coming in at $2,300 less, and is slightly less well equipped. For example, the XR features dual exhausts, good for five horsepower and 3 extra lb.-ft of torque, machined alloy wheels instead of painted, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

All Outlooks come with GM’s 3.6-liter V6 engine, with 270 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque (XE) or 275 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft. of torque (XR). This is a strong puller, and that good, because the Outlook weighs nearly 2-1/2 tons. A standard six-speed automatic helps in the driving chores. And you can order all-wheel drive for extra traction.

Official and optimistic EPA fuel economy numbers are 18 City, 26 City. I averaged 16.1 mpg in mixed driving, using regular fuel. The EPA Green Vehicle Guide gives this new Saturn a 6 on the Air Pollution scale and a 5 on the Greenhouse Gas scale, right in the middle.

Driving the Outlook is easy and comfortable. You get that nice “above it all” feeling that makes SUVs popular. Saturn claims their car is built on a “body-frame integral structure,” which blends the strength of a truck with the driving manners of a car. With a fully independent suspension, it doesn’t bounce you around on old freeways or dive and squat in the urban cut-and-thrust.

The Outlook’s interior is much more attractive and stylish than in the old Saturn’s, which have featured solid but plasticky interiors. The Outlook offers a pleasing, easy-to-live-with design, with plenty of storage and easy-to-use controls. My tester had a substantial supply of artificial wood trim, which was not especially well grained, but helped create a warm feeling.

The soft cloth seats in my tester turned out to be less supportive on longer trips than I’d like. The map light button took a concerted effort to operate. On the positive side, generous storage included a sliding console bin & armrest above another compartment with a roll top cover. The steering wheel offers infinite positions of tilt and telescope, along with controls for the audio system. One odd item, when we visited a Sonic drive-in, the food tray wouldn’t stay in place, the partially rolled down window isn’t level with the ground.

The Outlook has a generously proportioned third row, seat. With one motion, the second-row Smart Slide seat’s lower cushion pops up while the seatback slides forward, allowing more entry and egress room. With the second and third rows folded, the Outlook can haul a cavernous 117 cubic feet of cargo. With the third seat upright, there’s still nearly 20 cubic feet back there, more than most car trunks.

Every Outlook has power windows, locks, and mirrors, and a CD/MP3-equipped sound system with six speakers. The Stabilitrak stability control system and six airbags protect you all the time. My tester also included a handy, but slow, power liftgate, ultrasonic parking assist, and heated windshield wiper fluid (great in icy climates). The fancy red paint cost $395 exctra. My tester had XM Radio, too, which provides a variety of favorites, from rousing 60’s rock to crystal-clear classical.

The Outlook starts at $27,990 for the front-wheel-drive XE model. Add $2,300 to jump to the front-wheel-drive XR, or add all-wheel-drive to either model for an extra $2,000. My tester came to $31,929 with its options and a $735 delivery charge.

Saturn has come a long way from its humble origins. With a fat portfolio of new products, on top of the brand’s built-in goodwill from years of good customer service, Saturn is ready to take off again.  By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco


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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:
Saturn is ready to take off again
The 2007 Saturn Outlook
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The 2007 Saturn Outlook
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Saturn Outlook Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 33

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