2007 Saturn Outlook – Lambda Crossover SUV2
The Saturn Outlook is a large Crossover SUV based on the General Motors’ Lambda platform. The Lambda platform is shared with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia and also with an upcoming Chevrolet large Crossover.
Has GM Nailed Crossover SUV Execution?
First, you might be asking “what is a Crossover SUV”? For years, we at VehicleVoice have been avoiding using the “crossover” word because, frankly, our research shows that consumers are not yet using the term widely. In our eyes, an SUV is an SUV is an SUV. Our chief industry oracle, Jim Hall, always referred to Crossovers as “mongrelhalfbreedbastards”. But, with vehicles like the Outlook hitting the market we’ve decided to use the Crossover moniker.
Basically, a Crossover SUV takes the basic SUV theme and civilizes it. SUV drivers have for decades been asking for more maneuverable, more economical, more easy to live with SUVs. Crossover SUVs are the answer and the GM Lambda vehicles are the latest examples of Crossover SUV design and execution. We think GM has pretty well nailed it.
Pricing Makes Outlook a Persuasive Proposition
The Saturn Outlook XR that we evaluated is a mid-priced model listing at about $33,250. When you check the boxes you really want – like all wheel drive and a navigation system the price slips over $41,000. When you check ALL the boxes and add a moonroof and rear seat entertainment system you can touch $45,000. For a Saturn!
While you might think that is a high price, the base, base, base price of the FWD Outlook XE (the lower model) is about $28,000 including destination. This puts it mid-way between the base price of a Ford Explorer and Expedition. Given that Outlook is about the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe – priced about $4,000 more with a V8, the Saturn looks like a good deal.
Michigan Assembled – UAW Workforce
The Outlook, Acadia and Enclave are assembled at General Motors’ new greenfield assembly plant in Delta Township (Lansing), Michigan. Asked why GM did not use the old Oldsmobile plant in Lansing, Anna Kretz the Lambda program Vehicle Line Executive explained that it is cheaper and more efficient to build a plant that uses all the most modern assembly philosophies than to modify an existing facility. General Motors kept its assembly in the Lansing area because of their respect for the experienced UAW workforce that had previously built Oldsmobiles and even Chevrolet SSRs (Lansing Craft Center).
Outlook Style – Contemporary and Tasteful
The Outlook is not overdone like some SUVs. It has a sense of strength and restraint. It has a purposeful stance with the tires out at the edges of the vehicle. The 255/60R18 Goodyear Fortera tires communicate excellent capability and the machine-like wheels of the XR model reinforce that message.
With three (and, later, four) Crossover SUVs to differentiate on the same platform, General Motors uses a graphics trick on its greenhouses. The Outlook has the D-Pillar covered with wraparound blacked out glass. The Enclave has a rising character line in its quarter panel and a distinctive D-Pillar. The Acadia has a relatively conventional SUV-like D-Pillar. So what do these various designs say? Saturn – modern and contemporary. Enclave – upscale and premium. Acadia – SUV-like capability in a Crossover package.
Living with the Outlook
Powered by a 275HP 3.6L V6 engine, the Outlook has acceptable performance with adequate acceleration. Not an enthusiast’s Crossover, the Outlook come across as competent – no surprises. It is pleasant to drive, quiet at around-tpwm speeds, has flat handling with too much understeer, good braking and pretty good maneuverability. Really nothing not to like. But, it’s not a Touareg V8 or an XC90 V8. Biggest complaint is that wind noise at freeway cruising speeds is much too high. High NVH overwhelms the otherwise excellent audio system.
Ergonomics are excellent with easy to read dials and gauges (this with a yellow/orange tone rather than the blue graphics seen on the Buick). This example has the General Motors new corporate radio that insiders refer to as the bowtie radio. Nice unit.
As with all the Lambdas, Outlook has three rows of seats. The driver and front seat passenger compartment is spacious. The second row seat is easy to get into and out of. The third row seat easy to access and giving reasonable room for smaller humans. The 3rd row manually folds flat and is pretty easy to actuate leaving a large rear cargo area for the inevitable trips to Costco.
Outlook (like Enclave and Acadia) has a spacious storage area under the rear load floor. This is a good place to hide valuables when on a trip. It would be nice for it to be lockable, but the feature is very worthwhile even without a lock.