2009 Saturn Outlook Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 14, 2009

The attractive 2009 Saturn Outlook is a large, comfortable utility vehicle built with families in mind.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Saturn Outlook in order to give you an expert opinion. And to help you make a decision and make sense of conflicting information, TheCarConnection.com researched available road tests and has outlined the most useful information.

The 2009 Saturn Outlook is part of the family of large crossover utility vehicles that includes the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave; it’s slightly more rounded than traditional SUVs like the Chevrolet TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy and has a lot more passenger room inside.

The 2009 Saturn Outlook crossover features a new 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 engine with variable valve timing and direct injection, along with a host of new enhancements, including a maximum towing capacity increase from 4,500 pounds to 5,200 pounds. The new V-6 engine is rated at 281 horsepower on the XE model and 288 horsepower on the XR model. Its Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission features clutch-to-clutch shift operation with a tall overdrive sixth gear to rev at freeway speeds.

The Outlook steers and handles more precisely than most vehicles its size—although "nimble" wouldn’t be the right term, as it’s a heavy vehicle and feels that way. It has a smooth, absorbent ride and an interior that's very quiet, even on coarse surfaces.

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The seating arrangement in all versions of the 2009 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. Cloth upholstery is standard, while leather is optional.

The design of the Outlook’s instrument panel is simple and uncluttered, and the upscale materials inside feel just as good as some vehicles with luxury brand names. 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.

Front- or all-wheel drive is available on both the base XE and upscale XR Outlook models. The 2009 Saturn Outlook 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. For 2009, OnStar 7.2 with a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection (standard on XR and available on XE models with Preferred Package) is offered, as well as an available backup camera for all models.

The 2009 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. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags covering all three rows are standard on the Outlook models.

7

2009 Saturn Outlook

Styling

The 2009 Saturn Outlook appeals to the style-conscious SUV crowd, while functioning like a practical minivan.

Designers combined SUV styling with the practicality of a minivan to create the 2009 Outlook. This somehow avoids the bad connotations attached to minivans, yielding a vehicle that’s attractive but can still get the kids to soccer practice.

Basically unchanged from the 2007 model year, the 2009 Saturn Outlook’s appeal continues to be an attractive crossover in a market with increasing options. Edmunds remarks that the Saturn Outlook "immediately stood out as something to pay attention to" when it debuted in 2007. Kelley Blue Book reviewers report that the 2009 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 2009 Saturn Outlook, ConsumerGuide points out that Saturn offers "Special paint" and "Premium paint" options on the XE and XR Saturn Outlooks. 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."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the 2009 Saturn Outlook for its clean styling. 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." Kelley Blue Book reviewers find "the 2009 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." Consumer Guide 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."

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7

2009 Saturn Outlook

Performance

If you’re looking for a roomy vehicle that behaves more like a car than an SUV, consider the 2009 Saturn Outlook.

A performance machine the 2009 Saturn Outlook is not, but that doesn’t mean it can’t pull its own weight against its competitors.

2009 Saturn Outlooks are available with a new direct injection 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 engine with variable valve timing. ConsumerGuide proclaims acceleration is "surprisingly strong for a large, heavy vehicle with a V-6 engine," and they note the 2009 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 2009 Saturn Outlook ranks among the most satisfying" crossovers 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 2009 Saturn Outlook is fit for towing, and Edmunds states that when "properly equipped, the Outlook is capable of towing up to 5,200 pounds." The new V-6 outputs 281 horsepower with 253 pound-feet of torque in XE models and 288 horsepower with 270 pound-feet of torque in XR models, an increase over last year’s "3.6-liter V-6 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,” says Edmunds.

Regarding the Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission, reviewers appreciate the transmission on the Saturn Outlook, and ConsumerGuide reports 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."

The 2009 Saturn Outlook boasts only 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."

Good handling and smooth road manners characterize the 2009 Saturn Outlook. ConsumerGuide reviewers call the ride "firm, but comfortably composed and devoid of sloppy motions." Edmunds agrees, deeming the ride quality "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."

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8

2009 Saturn Outlook

Comfort & Quality

GM’s new higher-quality approach shows in the comfortable, refined 2009 Saturn Outlook.

The quality of the 2009 Saturn Outlook is a noticeable improvement compared to older models, and it provides roomy comfort to its passengers.

The 2009 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 "good room behind the 3rd row," along with "generally good cabin storage," which "includes a large glove box, 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.

The 2009 Saturn Outlook crossover also offers a spacious cabin that can "seat up to eight passengers," according to Automobile, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that it does so in impressive comfort.

Cars.com finds that buyers "can option second-row captain's chairs," which lowers total seating capacity to seven. Even the backseats of the 2009 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." 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,

Kelley Blue Book best sums up reviewer sentiment regarding the 2009 Saturn Outlook’s interior, saying, "although there are some larger expanses of plastic up front, the quality is such that it isn't a distraction." Automobile contends 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, remarking 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."

An extremely quiet cabin is one of the Saturn Outlook's most frequently mentioned characteristics. Motor Trend notes that the 2009 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 the 2009 Saturn Outlook is "extremely quiet inside at speed."

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9

2009 Saturn Outlook

Safety

If safety is high on your list of concerns regarding a new crossover, you’ll want to consider the 2009 Saturn Outlook.  

The 2009 Saturn Outlook scores incredibly well in crash tests, and it offers some tantalizing safety features—important factors for a vehicle geared toward families who rate safety at the top of their lists when considering the purchase of a new vehicle.

In both driver- and passenger-side front-impact tests, the 2009 Saturn Outlook scored a perfect five-star rating from the federal government. 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 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. From the IIHS, the Outlook garnered a top "good" rating in both the side-impact and seat-based rear-impact tests.

For such a large vehicle, the 2009 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." Though the view directly to the back is a bit compromised, the Saturn Outlook makes up for that with "sonar rear parking." Then again, Cars.com points out that the sonar "pales in comparison to a rearview camera, which some competitors offer."

The 2009 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 2009 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 2009 Saturn Outlooks.

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9

2009 Saturn Outlook

Features

The 2009 Saturn Outlook offers a generous list of standard features, but options can really drive up the price.

Saturn has endowed the 2009 Saturn Outlook with a compelling list of standard features and a host of desirable options—proof that GM vehicles are offering more and more in the way of the latest and greatest features and options.

Available in a choice of either the standard XE model or the upgraded XR model, a "bare, unadorned Outlook is reasonably well-equipped," especially for the price, says Cars.com. Edmunds states 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 points out 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."

A long list of options helps consumers personalize their vehicle. According to Kelley Blue Book reviewers, the "2009 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 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."

For 2009, with the addition of OnStar 7.2 Bluetooth hands-free phone connection (standard on XR models and available on XE models with Preferred Package), Saturn has addressed the complaints of reviewers regarding last year’s model.

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Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 9
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