In case you haven't been paying attention to GM's once-neglected brand that for the past few years has been forced to rely on superior customer service to motivate sales, Saturn is back, this time with a full product revitalization plan, including five new-for-2007 models (Sky, Sky Red Line, Aura, Vue Green Line, and Outlook) and two more coming for '08 (Vue and Astra).
Among the new-for-'07s is Saturn's largest and most expensive vehicle ever, the Outlook: a three-row, seven- or eight-passenger people-hauler that will replace the forgettable Relay minivan in the lineup.
Cheapest in the Family
Underpinning the Outlook is an all-new, front-drive unibody architecture, dubbed Lambda, shared with the GMC Acadia, the upcoming and upscale Buick Enclave, and an as-yet-unnamed Chevy version. The four-wheel-independent suspension consists of a strut-front and multilink-rear arrangement.
On the Saturn's side is price, however, which, at $27,990, starts $2000 lower than the next-cheapest mechanical-twin, the GMC Acadia. Why the price difference? That's a good question, one even the Saturn reps on hand during our drive couldn't explain away with feature disparities. One thing the Acadia gets is a standard dual exhaust and, therefore, five more horsepower than a base Outlook XE. Big deal. Other distinctions are more a matter of taste. The Outlook gets unique front and rear sheetmetal and a slightly different interior. We can't really complain about these big utes' clean and elegant exterior or the handsome interiors. In fact, we preferred the Outlook's interior to that of the last Acadia we drove, as the GMC version seems to have gone a little crazy with chrome, which surrounds each vent. In both vehicles, though, the hard-to-the-touch interior plastics whisper "cheap."
Powering every Lambda SUV is the "high feature" 24-valve DOHC 3.6-liter V-6 that's been spreading throughout the General's ranks of late. In base Outlook XE models, the smooth V-6 makes 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Uplevel XR trim adds dual exhausts, which increase those numbers to 275 horsepower and 251 pound-feet. The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic with manumatic control.