2008 OUTLOOK New Car Test Drive
The Saturn Outlook is a smooth-riding crossover SUV with a powerful 3.6-liter V6 engine and a smooth six-speed transmission. It seats up to eight. It comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for more stability in foul weather.
Called a crossover because it straddles the line between car and truck, the Outlook offers the passenger and cargo capacity of a big SUV, but ride quality and fuel economy more like that of a car. While a Chevy Tahoe is built on a pickup truck platform, the Outlook is built with a unit-body chassis like that of a car. As a result, it offers a smoother ride and nimbler handling. And because its structure is much lighter than that of a truck (by about 800 pounds), it gets much better fuel economy.
Outlook is only one inch shorter than the Tahoe, but offers much more legroom in the third row, thanks to its front-wheel-drive layout, as well as its long wheelbase with short overhangs and wide track.
Outlook gets an EPA-rated 16/24 miles per gallon City/Highway with front-wheel drive and 16/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. That's significantly better than what many truck-based SUVs get.
We found the Outlook offers good acceleration performance, its transmission is smooth and its ride is solid and comfortable. The Outlook benefits from GM's latest 3.6-liter V6 engine with variable valve timing; it's rated at 270 horsepower in the XE and 275 horsepower in the XR, thanks to its dual exhaust. Its six-speed automatic transmission provides good flexibility for good fuel efficiency and responsive performance.
The interior shows attention to detail, and the standard cloth seats are of a high quality and look stylish even in gray or black.
All the latest safety bits come as standard equipment, including large curtain airbags that protect the outboard passengers in all three rows of seating.
For 2008, there are few changes. XM Satellite Radio is standard equipment and a 115-volt power outlet is available to provide house current for accessories. Also, a back-up camera is available that displays an image of what's behind the vehicle whenever the driver shifts into reverse, an excellent safety feature for its ability to help the driver spot small children.
The 2008 Saturn Outlook comes in two models, XE and XR. Front-wheel-drive comes standard, all-wheel drive is optional ($2000).
Outlook XE ($29,360) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, eight-passenger seating, cruise control, power locks, power windows, keyless entry, OnStar for one year, driver information center, XM Satellite Radio for one year, AM/FM/CD/MP3 with six speakers, 18-inch painted alloy wheels.
Outlook XR ($31,770) upgrades with dual-zone automatic climate control, wood grain interior trim, power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, universal garage door opener, 18-inch machined alloy wheels, foglights. Options include leather-trimmed seats for the first two rows with heated front seats ($1275), and a navigation system ($2145).
Options for both models include a 10-speaker sound system ($880), HID headlamps ($500), captain's chairs with center console for the second row ($495), Preferred Package ($505) including power adjustable driver's seat and chrome roof rails, Trailering Package ($425) including heavy-duty engine cooling system, harness and hitch, DVD entertainment system ($1295), sunroof ($1300), 19-inch chrome wheels ($2029), crossbars for the roof rails ($213), remote starter ($235). Also available: a power liftgate and rearview back-up camera.
Safety equipment on both models includes the dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags in front, full-length side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, ABS, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The optional rearview camera enhances safety when backing up. All-wheel drive improves safety in wintry conditions. The Outlook has earned a five-star crash rating from NHTSA.