2008 Saturn Outlook Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 5, 2008

The 2008 Saturn Outlook puts a spacious, family-friendly interior above all else, and it doesn't look too much like a minivan.

TheCarConnection.com's automotive experts have brought you some of the most useful information available on the Web in this review covering the 2008 Saturn Outlook. Where applicable, the editors at TheCarConnection.com have added their experience with the Outlook to make this review especially insightful.

The Saturn Outlook was an all-new model for 2007, a large crossover utility vehicle about the same size on the outside as GM's truck-based SUVs like the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy, but much roomier inside. The Outlook is closely related to the new GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.

The 2008 Saturn Outlook has a carlike unibody design and standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional across the line. All models come with a standard 275-horsepower (270 hp in the AWD), 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, which together bring more than adequate acceleration and responsive performance. The Outlook steers and handles more precisely and nimbly than most vehicles its size, and it has a smooth, absorbent ride and an interior that's very quiet, even on coarse surfaces.

The Outlook comes with a simple, uncluttered instrument panel design and nice, upscale materials inside that feel just as good as some vehicles with luxury brand names. Cloth upholstery is standard, while leather is optional. The seating arrangement in all versions of the 2008 Saturn Outlook includes second- and third-row bench seats, but the optional seven-passenger seating arrangement brings so-called Smart Slide second-row captain's chairs, which slide forward and fold down to allow easy access to the third row. The second and third rows fold flat to allow a very impressive 117 cubic feet of cargo space or, with all the seats up and in place, nearly 20 cubic feet--enough for a large load of groceries.

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Various interior details make the Outlook's cabin a more passenger-friendly vehicle, with an AC outlet in the center console, a power rear tailgate that can be controlled by the key fob, and an especially roomy center console.

The 2008 Saturn Outlook is offered in base XE and upscale XR models, both with either front- or all-wheel drive. The XE comes with power heated mirrors, power windows and locks, cruise control, rear air conditioning, and a sound system with three months of XM Satellite Radio service. XR models add larger wheels, variable power steering, fog lamps, a power driver's seat, automatic climate control, and wood grain trim. Major options include a DVD-based navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a sunroof, and projector-beam headlamps.

Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags covering all three rows are standard on the Outlook models. The 2008 Saturn Outlook has some of the best crash-test results of any vehicle in the federal government's program, with top five-star ratings for frontal and side impact; however, it hasn't been tested by the IIHS.

7

2008 Saturn Outlook

Styling

The 2008 Saturn Outlook has the styling to appeal to the SUV crowd and a practical, attractive interior.

Anything resembling a minivan in the U.S. today has to overcome a certain stigma that is virtually impossible to surmount, so designers have begun to disguise their minivans as SUVs. Such is the case with the 2008 Saturn Outlook, which features SUV styling and minivan practicality, minus the minivan-traditional sliding side doors.

The Saturn Outlook was completely new for the 2007 model year, and it enters 2008 virtually unchanged. Edmunds describes the Saturn Outlook as "a large crossover SUV with seating for seven or eight passengers" that is available in "two trim lines: XE and XR." Both versions share the same exterior styling, which Cars.com says "garners enthusiastic responses, and it's never confused for anything but an SUV." Edmunds remarks that the Saturn Outlook "immediately stood out as something to pay attention to" when it debuted last year. Kelley Blue Book reviewers report that the 2008 Saturn Outlook is "taller than a wagon and sleeker than an SUV," part of "a growing number of crossover vehicles that actually look like crossover vehicles." They add "the Outlook's grille is dominated by a thick chrome bar that represents the new face of Saturn." For those wanting to differentiate their 2008 Saturn Outlook, ConsumerGuide points out that Saturn offers "Special paint" and "Premium paint" options on the XE and XR Saturn Outlooks.

The interior of the 2008 Saturn Outlook also receives praise for its clean styling in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide is impressed that the "gauges are large, clear, and conveniently backlit even with headlights off." They add that the "controls are logically placed, including an intuitive audio deck." Kelley Blue Book reviewers find "the 2008 Saturn Outlook's passenger cabin attractive and comfortable," and note that the "Outlook XE models get metallic trim," while "XR models get a wood-like trim." Edmunds also appreciates the styling of the Saturn Outlook's interior, praising it as "both functional and pleasing to the eye," although they say that "many of the buttons on the dashboard are a bit too small and similar-looking, making them hard to find and operate."

7

2008 Saturn Outlook

Performance

The 2008 Saturn Outlook offers more carlike manners and acceleration than a truck-derived SUV.

The 2008 Saturn Outlook is far from a performance machine, but it is by no means incompetent on the road.

The Saturn Outlook lineup comes with just one available engine, which Edmunds says is "a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 270 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque" on the Saturn Outlook XE, while "the XR model's dual rear exhaust boosts those numbers to 275 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque." They represent respectable power numbers, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Saturn Outlook moves even quicker than its powerplant would suggest. ConsumerGuide proclaims that acceleration is "surprisingly strong for a large, heavy vehicle with a V6 engine," and they note that the 2008 Saturn Outlook is "particularly impressive in highway merging and passing." Motor Trend observes that the V-6 "pours respectable torque on any acceleration occasion," while Kelley Blue Book feels that "the 2008 Saturn Outlook ranks among the most satisfying" crossovers that they've ever driven. In terms of acceleration, Car and Driver advises drivers to "expect the trip to 60 mph to take about eight seconds." Other reviewers point out that the 2008 Saturn Outlook is a very capable tower, and Edmunds states that when "properly equipped, the Outlook is capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds."

The single engine option on the 2008 Saturn Outlook is mated to just one available transmission, which Automobile says is "GM's willing new six-speed manu-matic." Reviewers appreciate the transmission on the Saturn Outlook, and ConsumerGuide reports that it offers "smooth, quick shifts" that "contribute to the powertrain's polished performance." The only real mark against the transmission comes from Edmunds, which claims "the economy-minded six-speed automatic transmission can be sluggish with downshifts."

Speaking of economy, the 2008 Saturn Outlook boasts better-than-average fuel economy for its class. The EPA estimates that an all-wheel-drive Saturn Outlook will return 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, while the front-wheel-drive versions should get 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. In reality, ConsumerGuide reports that a "2WD XE averaged 16.0 mpg in mostly city driving," while an "AWD XR averaged 17.5 mpg with more highway use."

The Saturn Outlook crossover also represents a step forward in road manners, providing a smooth ride and decent handling. ConsumerGuide reviewers call the ride "firm, but comfortably composed and devoid of sloppy motions." Edmunds agrees, characterizing the ride quality as "forgiving without being wallowy." Automobile reports that there is a "slightly numb rack-and-pinion" steering setup on the Saturn Outlook, but the "incredibly stiff chassis and good wheel control almost make up for any shortcomings." However, ConsumerGuide notes that the "Outlook's sheer size is a hindrance in close-quarter maneuvering." When it comes time to stop, Edmunds credits anti-lock brakes for help in reining in the Saturn Outlook.

8

2008 Saturn Outlook

Comfort & Quality

GM has made leaps forward in terms of interior quality, and the 2008 Saturn Outlook reaps the benefits.

Not only is the 2008 Saturn Outlook spacious and comfortable, but its overall quality is a welcome improvement for a GM vehicle.

The 2008 Saturn Outlook crossover can "seat up to eight passengers," according to Automobile, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that it does so in impressive comfort.

Up front, ConsumerGuide reports that the Saturn Outlook features "supportive seats," and "among the largest midsize SUVs, Outlook's cabin feels especially roomy." Edmunds says that "the first- and second-row seats should be comfortable for almost anyone," and Car and Driver declares "all three rows of seats offer near-minivan levels of space." On the XR trim of the Saturn Outlook, Cars.com finds that buyers "can option second-row captain's chairs," which lowers total seating capacity to seven. Even the backseats of the 2008 Saturn Outlook, traditionally the bane of anyone who's undergone puberty, are roomy--ConsumerGuide attests that "third-row accommodations are far better than even some large SUVs, and there's adult-size room for even mid-distance trips."

In addition to great people room, the 2008 Saturn Outlook offers impressive amounts of cargo room. Edmunds reviewers are impressed that "luggage capacity is 19.7 cubic feet with all seats up and a class-leading 117 cubic feet with all rear seats down." ConsumerGuide agrees, awarding the Saturn Outlook a perfect 10 in the cargo category and reporting that there is "good room behind the 3rd row," along with "generally good cabin storage," which "includes a large glovebox, multilevel console bin, and roomy door pockets." Practicality is further enhanced by the "Smart Slide second-row seat that flips and slides in one motion to provide exceptionally easy access to the roomy third row," according to Kelley Blue Book.

Improved materials and build quality are clearly visible on the 2008 Saturn Outlook. Automobile says that interior quality "is along the lines of the new Chevrolet Silverado -- which is to say, much better than past GM offerings but still not as refined as we'd like." Cars.com is a bit more forgiving, saying that the Saturn Outlook's "surfaces aren't all soft to the touch, but they are low gloss and look more expensive" than previous editions, though they mark down the Saturn Outlook for "some rough seams on the molded plastic parts." In terms of the other materials, Edmunds reviewers feel that "the faux wood in XR models is convincing enough, and the overall quality of interior materials is impressive." Overall, Kelley Blue Book best sums up reviewer sentiment: "although there are some larger expanses of plastic up front, the quality is such that it isn't a distraction."

One of the Saturn Outlook's most frequently mentioned characteristics is its superb noise suppression. Motor Trend writes that the 2008 Saturn Outlook is "hush-quiet," so much so that "with the Outlook at speed, you can almost hear your fingers rubbing against the leather steering-wheel rim." Car and Driver also says that the 2008 Saturn Outlook is "extremely quiet inside at speed."

9

2008 Saturn Outlook

Safety

Drivers can take comfort in the 2008 Saturn Outlook's superlative crash-test ratings.

In the world of family cars, safety generally rates among the most important vehicle characteristics. Fortunately for Saturn and prospective buyers, the 2008 Saturn Outlook scores incredibly well in crash tests, and it offers some tantalizing safety features.

The 2008 Saturn Outlook has been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of the two major crash-testing authorities in the United States, and the Saturn Outlook's scores are impressive. In both driver- and passenger-side front impact tests, the 2008 Saturn Outlook scored a perfect five-star rating. In addition to the impeccable front impact ratings, the Saturn Outlook also earned a perfect five-star rating in both side impact tests conducted by the NHTSA. The only category where the Saturn Outlook didn't earn a perfect score was in rollover protection, where the Saturn Outlook received four out of five stars. The 2008 Saturn Outlook has not yet been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). TheCarConnection.com will revisit the Outlook’s safety score when the IIHS data is available.

As impressive as the crash ratings are, they tell only part of the story. The 2008 Saturn Outlook also comes equipped with quite a few safety features, including standard "antilock brakes, rollover-sensing stability control," and "GM's OnStar service," according to Edmunds. Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2008 Saturn Outlook offers a wealth of airbags, which Kelley Blue Book says include "front, front-side, and three-row side-curtain airbags." ConsumerGuide also mentions that "daytime running lights" come standard on all 2008 Saturn Outlooks.

For such a large vehicle, the 2008 Saturn Outlook offers impressive visibility, with the notable exception of parking maneuvers. ConsumerGuide says that the Saturn Outlook offers "fine outward visibility thanks to big mirrors and unobtrusive rear headrests," and Cars.com adds "rear visibility is fair, especially if the third row's head restraints are folded forward." However, the view directly to the back is a bit compromised, but the Saturn Outlook makes up for that with a "sonar rear parking." Then again, Cars.com points out that the sonar "pales in comparison to a rearview camera, which some competitors offer."

9

2008 Saturn Outlook

Features

The base 2008 Saturn Outlook offers great bang for the buck, and the options aren't particularly expensive either.

Saturn has recently undergone an impressive transformation that has seen its vehicles offer more and more in the way of the latest features. The 2008 Saturn Outlook offers a compelling standard features list, along with quite a few desirable options.

The standard features on the 2008 Saturn Outlook vary between the two trim levels, but Cars.com says that even a "bare, unadorned Outlook is reasonably well-equipped," especially for the price. Edmunds says that both versions of the Saturn Outlook include "18-inch wheels, full power accessories, heated exterior mirrors," and "cruise control." Kelley Blue Book adds that the Saturn Outlook boasts "a CD/MP3 sound system with an auxiliary audio jack" and "XM Satellite Radio" as standard. On the more expensive XR trim, Edmunds says that the standard features list grows to include "roof rails, foglights, variable-effort power steering," and "a leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote audio controls."

The 2008 Saturn Outlook also has plenty of room for personalization, in the form of a long options list. According to Kelley Blue Book reviewers, the "2008 Saturn Outlook's alluring options list includes a DVD-based navigation system with rear backup camera, DVD rear entertainment system," and "six-disc CD/MP3 premium audio system." On the XR, Automobile says that the second row can be "outfitted with a bench seat or captain's chairs." ConsumerGuide reports both trims of the Saturn Outlook can be equipped with a "power sunroof" that includes a "rear glass panel," while an available Convenience Package brings a "rear-obstacle-detection system" and "remote engine start."

Unfortunately, the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the available navigation system interface doesn't include any sort of Bluetooth compatibility, which will be especially missed in states where hands-free cell phones are now required by law.

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November 8, 2016
2008 Saturn Outlook AWD 4-Door XR

At 180,000 it still is a great SUV

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  • Interior/Exterior
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  • Comfort and Quality
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Yes, It has had a few issues - Leaking sunroof, transmission issues but for it's age it still runs and looks great. The electronic features are still up to date with most cars.
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8.0
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Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 9.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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