Avg. Price Paid:$10,625 - $12,910
Original MSRP: $28,625 - $33,035
MPG: 16 City / 24 Hwy
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2008 Saturn Outlook Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Saturn Outlook was new.

The Saturn Outlook offers performance that's among the best in the class, thanks to quick acceleration, respectable fuel economy, solid braking system, impressive off-road capabilities, and car-like handling. Car and Driver reports that it "never feels clumsy, remaining composed and without excessive body motions over every bump and through every turn we flung it into," Nevertheless, transmission woes detract from its overall performance.

Kelley Blue Book adds, "As far as people movers of the 5,000-pound, eight-passenger variety are concerned, the 2008 Saturn Outlook ranks among the most satisfying we've driven." The Boston Globe adds, "Sitting in this SUV, with its front section feeling like a cockpit, you'll feel as though you are driving something far smaller. Even on the highway it doesn't seem large, though the turning radius in parking lots was lacking."

Acceleration and Power

The Saturn Outlook XE is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) -- which alters the timing of the intake and exhaust valves in order to maximize power and fuel economy, while reducing emissions -- and churns out 270-horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. "We appreciated the engine's variable-valve timing for its ability to offer a good shove of torque in the low-rpm range and found the high-revving characteristics and double-overhead cams provided a surprisingly sporty engine note -- a welcome surprise," says Edmunds. Car and Driver adds, "The acceleration [is] more than ample for merging and passing."

The Saturn Outlook XR is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine with VVT that makes 275-horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. While the Outlook XR delivers five more horsepower than the XE, Kelley Blue Book explains, that it only "represents a power increase of less than two percent and [is] a bigger advantage for the vehicle's marketers than its drivers."

Auto writers seem generally pleased with the Outlook's acceleration. The Detroit News says, "Even when driving 70 mph, it had enough pep left to easily pass those annoying gravel trucks along Interstate 75 that pepper everyone with paint-chipping pebbles." Car and Driver adds. "Expect the trip to 60 mph to take about eight seconds -- not painful, but well behind that of the Honda Pilot, which GM sees as a key competitor."

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Outlook's fuel economy to be 16/24 miles per gallon (city/highway). The all-wheel-drive (AWD) version, however, makes 16/22 mpg. While Car and Driver boasts that "the fuel economy was far better than expected," the Chicago Tribune explains its "acceptable for a machine that can hold up to eight people and their luggage or groceries and offer AWD for security." MarketWatch reports that they "got 15 mpg consistently in city and country driving. That is only a mile per gallon or so worse than the Pilot." Unlike some of the Outlook's competitors, only regular-grade gasoline is required.

Every 2008 Saturn Outlook comes equipped with a Hydramatic six-speed automatic transmission. For those who prefer to switch gears themselves, this transmission system offers drivers the option of shifting manually. "Our biggest grumble -- and it's a small one -- is that the economy-tuned transmission can be reluctant to shift to the lower gears when you need a little extra acceleration," says Kelley Blue Book. In fact, many reviewers generally agree with the Boston Globe's assessment that although the automatic transmission shifts "up too quickly and down too late," its manual-mode offers drivers "more specific control."

According to a "Transmission update" by USA Today, Saturn began recalibrating the Outlook's six-speed automatic transmission in February of 2007 in order to alleviate driver woes. While USA Today reports the change as being a "big improvement," it still warns that "the transmission is quick to unlock the fuel-saving lock-up clutch and downshift on modest grades." Saturn dealers are required to provide this service free-of-charge.

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally agree that the Outlook driving experience is one of overall ease and comfort. In fact, many liken it to driving in a family sedan. "The Outlook drives much smaller than it actually is," says Car and Driver. Motor Week adds, "The result is a driving experience comparable to that of a tight medium-size sedan. Though you still feel its mass, the Outlook responds quickly and handles with little body roll. The ride is comfortable and compliant, more European than American."

While Automobile Magazine describes the Outlook's rack-and-pinion steering design as "numb," others generally disagree. In fact, Consumer Guide asserts that it is "accurate...with natural feel." Car and Driver adds, it's "well weighted and readable."

On and off-road, the Outlook's four-wheel independent suspension "goes a long way toward giving these vehicles a soft carlike ride, something you won't find on the truck-style SUVs," says the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Chicago Tribune adds, "You don't suffer the pounding and gyrations on uneven roads typical of some truck-based SUVs. Very respectable handling and able to take twists in the road without slowing down."

The 2008 Outlook is capable of towing 4,500 pounds when properly equipped with Saturn's Trailering Package -- which includes a heavy-duty engine cooling system, trailer harness hook up, and trailer hitch. "And while the 4,500-pound towing capacity is well shy of the Yukon's rating (7,500 pounds to 8,200 pounds), the Saturn and GMC can outpull their rivals, which are typically limited to 3,500 pounds or less," says the New York Times.

Standard on every Outlook are four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and dynamic rear proportioning -- which make it "hard to gripe" for USA Today. Edmunds explains, "The Outlook's four-wheel ventilated-disc brakes offered excellent feel, feedback and heat resistance. Despite the Outlook's high curb weight [4,700 lbs.], we recorded three ABS stops from 60 mph in under 140 feet, with the best being 135 feet."

All-Wheel Drive

Both the Outlook XE and XR are available in a FWD and AWD configuration. While reviewers, like the are generally pleased with the AWD system's handling on wet roads, drivers should be warned that the Outlook is not a genuine AWD vehicle.As the Chicago Tribune explains, it "operates in front-wheel-drive until wheel slippage is detected and then the anti-lock brakes are applied to supply needed traction or the engine reduces power to keep the vehicle from slip, sliding away."

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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