By on November 20, 2006

saturn_outlook_2007_1d.jpgSoccer Moms who adopted fossil-feasting truck-based SUVs for their parental duties know the truth: the genre is falling from fashion faster than Sony’s PS2. Style-conscious sprog schleppers now want a spacious rug-rat mover that doesn’t drain tanker trucks or scream mommy-van. For them, crossovers are The Next Big Thing. They’re eyeing vehicles like the new Saturn Outlook, the first of GM’s all-new Lambda platform-based crossovers (the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave are set to follow). The Outlook replaces the TWAT-winning Relay minivan– which isn’t exactly a tough act to follow. Still, will the Outlook break a leg?

It’s immediately obvious that the Saturn Outlook is more of a pseudo-SUV (a.k.a. soft-roader) than a bold moving crossover. Although the Outlook rides four inches lower than the latest Chevrolet Tahoe, it’s just as wide and sits on a wheelbase that’s three inches longer. GM’s designers have done an excellent job disguising the vehicle’s mass, using muscle-bound curves and a hidden D-pillar (creating wraparound rear glass) to make the Outlook appear light and sleek. The result falls right into the genre’s sweet spot: a handsome, rugged-looking vehicle bereft of the bluster blighting traditional SUV’s.

x07st_ot019.jpgThat said, the Outlook’s mean mugging schnoz doesn’t convey the new Saturn (Opel) design language as well as the Aura or SKY. The Outlook's cliff face front end contains far too many design elements– creases, folds, bumps, lighting elements, etc. — to form a coherent whole. The Outlook’s back end ends just as abruptly, with very little overhang or bumper protection (GM will sell lots of replacement lift gates.). But the rear's design, complete with an up-tilted butt in the grand French tradition, is far more effective.

The Outlook’s interior is replete with pleasing plastics and padded door panels and armrests (with honest-to-god stitching). The materials are deployed judiciously, creating a calm, quality feel; at night, amber LED lighting (a la Audi) bathes the center stack and shifter in a warm glow. Unfortunately, the Outlook’s fake wood fails to blend with the elegant polymers (those of you with a satin-nickel addiction will find less than a nickel-bag of fix here). Available touch-screen DVD navigation, heated memory seats, dual moon roofs, xenon lights, remote start and power liftgate are sure to please the Coach purse crowd– and push the Outlook's sub-$30k starting price well into the low-40’s.

x07st_ot008.jpgGiven the Outlook’s relatively svelte-looking sheetmetal, the interior packaging is exemplary. The middle and rear seats comfortably accomodate normal-sized adults– not just bi-lateral amputees. Even better, GM’s innovative Smart Slide system ensures that the center row moves out of the way faster than Paris Hilton facing a bar tab. Even with all eight passengers aboard, the Outlook's got more useable rear cargo capacity and legroom than the new[ish] GMT900 SUV's. Unless you need to tow more than 4500lbs., the case for height flight is compelling.  

The Outlook pits GM's 3.6-liter VVT six against 4936 pounds of SUV (all wheel-drive). As you might imagine, the 270-horse (275 in XR trim) Outlook isn’t exactly what you’d call fast; zero sixty takes over eight seconds. But neither is it particularly slow. The six-speed clutch-to-clutch automatic makes excellent use of the Outlook’s 251 ft.-lbs. of twist. In-gear grunt is always available for ambling, [well-timed] passing and highway cruising. You can find a little extra oomph by shifting manually with the up/down thumb rockers on the console-mounted shifter, or just go easy on the go-pedal and wait your damn turn. 

At speed, the Outlook’s helm weights-up nicely, with admirable on-center feel. The massive 255/60-19 tires [XR Touring] will outgrip the seats (lateral bolstering and super-size-me American physiques don’t mix). The Outlook’s aluminum intensive suspension– coil over strut (front) and linked H-arm (rear) — delivers a competent compromise between corner control and the need to keep the kids’ Big Gulps from spilling. Obviously, the Outlook’s weight does it no favors in the bends, but SUV refugees will enjoy the inherent advantages of the vehicle’s stiffer chassis and lowered ride height.

x07st_ot018.jpgThe Outlook’s 13” vented four wheel disc brakes are perfectly sufficient for stop-n-go urban assault duty; use them in anger and they fade faster than K-Fed’s fame. More importantly for the Outlook’s target market, the crossover offers standard OnStar, Stabilitrak, side airbags and three-row head curtains– providing the passive protection kiddy chauffeurs have come to expect. And the front-drive Outlook’s 18/26 mpg (17/24 for all wheel drive) keeps more in the college fund than the Yukosubtaholade, Aspango or Exploragator.

The Outlook is an excellent choice for SUV refugees seeking a vehicle with better mileage and more efficient packaging that stil isn’t afraid to get its feet wet (with optional all wheel-drive). Or people who just can’t bring themselves to buy a minivan.

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122 Comments on “Saturn Outlook Review...”


  • avatar
    JJ

    Right…Just another SUV then…

    Btw, I can see a lot of Opel in the nose. It looks like an inflated Astra. Not so terrible I think.

    Also, when I saw the picture of the rear I thought…1st gen Porsche 928. The real American Porsche.

    I guess Europeans like me just don’t get this sort of car. It just doesn’t fit in with the urban scenery. I saw an Sclade EXT driving down the village yesterday and it just looked hideous.

    Anyway, according to the review it seems that GM America finally built a reasonably competitive product again, albeit a SUV.

  • avatar

    It’s nice to see that GM can design a nice vehicle when they want to. Let’s just hope they can bring those skills to bear in the lower end of the market.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    oh boy another suv

    yawn

  • avatar

    Good review.
    This Outlook looks nice. The Acadia and Enclave even more so. The only criticism I have is that it’s a bit late…specs look similar to the Toyota Highlander which came out years ago.

    GM arguably has trumped Highlander’s styling, but they are a full model-cycle behind on technology; Highlander Hybrid is available right now.

  • avatar
    ash78

    As a substitute for the larger GM SUVs, I can definitely see this working. Not my cup of Starbucks, though. My wife’s little L200 has been as reliable and fun as any competing small Japanese car, for as long as we’ve owned it (and still a year to go at 0%, woohoo! Depreciation hasn’t been too bad over the long run.)

    It really looks vaguely similar to the awful Trailblazer, but mellowed with some Acura MDX cues — right down to the cliche letterbox exhausts.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Eric,
    Good review. This is the first one I’ve seen — are you in trouble for breaking an embargo? Of course, I’ve seen dozens of reviews of the Edge, and it’s been delayed…

    As the family is outgrowing our MDX, my guess is we’ll be replacing it with either one of these or an upscale Odyssey.

    This looks like a great size for families of 5-6 who don’t need to haul a giant trailer across the Rubicon. The 3.6 seems fine, although I’d love to see a small diesel V-8 up front.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    ThriftyTechie,
    I’ll say this in GM’s defense: The Outlook/Acadia/Enclave are a generation ahead of the Highlander in terms of size. This is the first vehicle I’ve seen which is a true alternative to the minivan.

    All the other SUV/CUVs like the Highlander may have a third row in theory, but in practice, it is small and inaccessible. Young kids can’t get back there on their own, and older ones feel squished.

    Yes, the Highlander comes as a hybrid, but is otherwise thoroughly outclassed by the RAV4, amongst others.

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    The only criticism I have is that it’s a bit late…specs look similar to the Toyota Highlander which came out years ago

    Except it’s a full class larger than the Highlander, has a full-size third row suitable for adults instead of a kludged-in afterthought, and has more power. I’m not sure what specs you’re drawing your comparison from, but they’re as different as a 4Runner and a Tahoe.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    No Satin Nickle? I’ll buy it!

  • avatar
    ash78

    Whenever I hear “alternative to minivan,” I just glance at the unnecessary ground clearance and wonder why they forwent all the extra interior room. I still have yet to ride in an SUV that has the vertical interior space and roomy feel of a minivan, and the ground clearance is always the culprit. Nobody who uses their vehicle exclusively on-road needs more than 6″ of ground clearance, at most. For dual use, maybe an air suspension option would be in oder (5% of buyers?)

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Tirerack.com doesn’t list any 255/60/19 tires, but their cheapest all-season 255/55/19 tire is $203 each. With mounting costs, a new set of tires is going to cost $1000 on this crossover. Ouch.

  • avatar
    ash78

    bfg9k

    Glad you mentioned that. I predict a massive consumer backlash against silly, huge rims in the near future. All of these pedestrian vehicles with 18″-20″ OE rims are going to damage the sensibilities of the majority of people who flock to the “$39 tires” specials at their local Sears*

    *(price quoted for 155-75R-13 size. Other sizes may incur additional charge)

  • avatar
    GasGuzzler

    The Outlook’s back end ends just as abruptly, with very little overhang or bumper protection.(GM will sell lots of replacement lift gates.)

    That rear bumper/lift gate in the last picture has to be a worry for anyone interested in this SUV/CUV/Alterna-minivan. It seems completely irrational – you create an unsightly line across the bumper, and any slight rear end mishap means a jammed rear liftgate and some serious $$$ to fix what should otherwise be a minor bumper issue.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    It looks like a good effort. Do this for the Malibu, bump up the years the warranty is in effect and we’ll talk.

    Still, it’s awful heavy; that weight could be mistaken for the weight of a body-on-frame SUV. Are they really going to achieve 26mpg highway with the FWD version and 24mpg highway for the AWD?

    bfg9k and ash78, you are right… Rim sizes are spinning out of control. More reaonable size rims on this thing would save you a penny a mile, maybe more, and, yes, I find that a significant cost. And if the vehicle turns out to be tire-hungry, the cost escalates further.

  • avatar
    1984

    Stand next to it and you would be surprised it only weighs 5K lbs. The size of this vehicle is enormous (for a x-over). It makes the Trailblazer look tiny.

  • avatar

    I badly want to drive one of these. Hopefully soon. Handling sounds better than I expected.

    For those interested in how the pricing compares:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Outlook.php

    I hope to start collecting reliability info on the Lambdas ASAP. Aiming for initial results in May.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Good review, interesting vehicle. I only wish manufacturers put a little more emphasis on the “U” in SUV/CUV since I’d be willing to bet this thing doesn’t have a completely flat load deck. A flat load deck and removable seats (a la the Honda Element) makes for a very versatile vehicle. Most minivans have flat decks and removable seats (although how “removable” a 100+lb seat is, is probably worthy of a separate discussion) but the other drawbacks to minivans are limited ground clearance, poor MPG and let’s face it, they’re ugly.

    Ash78: Re: Ground clearance, it depends on where you live and what kind of recreational activities you engage in. There are lots of forest service/BLM roads leading to great campsites, riverside boat launches, hiking trails, etc, that are closed to vehicles with too much crap hanging from the undercarriage. It’s one of the reasons I drive an Outback with AWD and 7+” of clearance. You don’t see too many minivans out there for exactly this reason.

    In any case, if GM can coax 24mpg out of a 5000 lb AWD vehicle and keep it under 30k, they deserve kudos just for that. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the “real world” numbers are, though.

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    It seems odd that Saturn would venture into this large of a size class. They gave a version to GMC, why not Chevy instead of Saturn? Has Saturn’s market niche become “whatever”?

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “[in re remote camp sites, roads and ground clearance] You don’t see too many minivans out there for exactly this reason.” – Martin Albright

    Plenty of people camp and own minivans. Like us. We’re just a bit careful off the paved roads and are willing to compromise on where we actually camp. Too rocky or muddy? Go to plan B.

    And how many of these Outlooks will ever go on a Forest Service road? How many of their buyers will even camp?

  • avatar
    1984

    Martin Albright,

    The Outlook load deck is flat like a minivan (with the third row removed) but obviously not as low.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “4936 pounds of SUV (all wheel-drive)”

    Oink, oink.

  • avatar
    1984

    It seems odd that Saturn would venture into this large of a size class. They gave a version to GMC, why not Chevy instead of Saturn? Has Saturn’s market niche become “whatever”?

    I believe the idea is to replace some of the re-badged minivans with Lambda’s. However the Chevrolet/Pontiac will keep the minivan for those who really want the thing.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Dhathewa: Plenty of people camp and own minivans. Like us. We’re just a bit careful off the paved roads and are willing to compromise on where we actually camp. Too rocky or muddy? Go to plan B.

    Yes, and some people prefer to go past the area where all the minivans are parked and find another campsite. I’m guessing these are the people to whom the Outlook will appeal.

    And how many of these Outlooks will ever go on a Forest Service road? How many of their buyers will even camp?

    This is becoming a rather tired cliche. I guess if you live in LA or New York or Chicago and you never go off road, then it’s easy to assume this.

    Out here in Colorado it’s a different story. Every weekend during the summer there are “rush hour” type traffic jams heading into the mountains for various forms of recreation. Every autumn tens of thousands of hunters head into the hills and prairies. And some crazy people (like me) even go camping in the Winter. And once you get off the beaten path, you see very few passenger cars or minivans – pickups, SUVs, and Crossovers are all over the place, and for good reason. And of course this doesn’t include the millions who rely on 4wd/AWD vehicles to get them to the ski slopes every Winter.

    I know it’s an article of faith on TTAC that people who own SUVs/CUVs/AWD cars “never take them off road” but out here in flyover country, that’s just not true, and our overcrowded recreation areas are proof of that.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    WOW! Im shocked that they made this thing so portly. Looking for a replacement for a small SUV (replacing a tribute)in the next two years has me watching the market closely right now. Though I never thought Id admit this, the 2007 Mistu Out-LANDER is looking better and better (even considering the fact that Im no fan of this make in general).
    The Acadia is mildly interesting but like the outlook, if they are this large and heavy (good grief!), then forget it.
    Lastly, what exactly is prompting folks to write the check for 35K + here? Sure its nice and all but its still a gussied up utility vehicle….and those can be had in the 20-25K market. Is this REALLY that much better? These are far from the cadillacs of SUVs, and there is little to no poser decadence in a Saturn nameplate, maybe its just me?

  • avatar
    ash78

    Martin

    I hear you. Colorado is a very unique place in a lot of ways, and actually using 4wd is one of them (the state keeps Subaru in business!). We just make generalizations because they’re usually true–for every Colorodoan that goes up to RMNP on Saturday, there are two dozen Californians using the same vehicle on the 110, hoping to make it home before it starts raining.

    Let’s face it: If GM was really marketing this to that one person, they’d never have a business case. They are depending on the masses of non-offroaders for profit. That’s the great irony of design compromises favoring a minority, while for the majority, the compromise isn’t even needed.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    IF my wife hadn’t liked mini-vans then this would have been my choice for her next vehicle. Has plenty of capacity, AWD for some snow and camping and doesn’t ride like a truck. I’ll be pushing for her to get the Enclave or whatever else might be around in 2012 when she is due for a new car.

    In regards to size you can’t compare this class of vehicle outside the US. It’s not meant for the small streets in Europe or even in any dense metropolitan area. Most of America has huge roads and plenty of space so large vehicles except for fuel economy are of no consequence.

    I think this will be a winner for GM. The Acadia seems to be redundant, just too similar to the Outlook, however the Enclave will also be a big winner IMO.

  • avatar

    Steve_S: Agreed on the Enclave. I think it wil be what the Lexus RX has always wanted to be, but itsn’t.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I know it’s an article of faith on TTAC that people who own SUVs/CUVs/AWD cars “never take them off road” but out here in flyover country, that’s just not true, and our overcrowded recreation areas are proof of that.

    That needs to be said more often. Thank you.

    Its nice to see the Outlook’s interior fixed the glaring problem with the Aura, maybe GM is on the right track. Now if they’ll start making CARS (sedans, coupes, wagons) like this they’ll find their way off of Death Watch.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    If you need all wheel drive (a separate debate), and were open to a minivan, the Toyota Sienna is currently the only all-wheel-drive minivan available.

    The exterior dimensions are very similar, including height (if both have roof racks). The Outlook weighs about 450 pounds more. The Sienna has a clear advantage in interior space, but cubic volume doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s pretty hard to pack all the way to the ceiling.

    Price is quite comparable as well. Outlook has a very slight edge in EPA fuel economy, which is more impressive given its 60 horsepower advantage.

    However, most buyers are fairly polarized for or against the minivan genre. If you don’t want a minivan, the Lambdas will be a good alternative.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry… you don’t need an SUV to traverse a gravel road. Hell, I once drove ~250 miles of unpaved tracks in Nevada in a Jaguar XK-120. Mind you, this is NOT what Sir William had in mind for the XK, but it worked!

    99% of your “recreation areas” are served by well maintained, gravel roads. In my youth I spent a LOT of time in the mountains (I am a retired Alpinist) and my mount at the time was a VW mk1 Rabbit. Never had an issue travelling some pretty damn remote spots in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, and New Mexico (except getting the Diesel to start at 15 below.) Why today’s recreators require 8″ of ground clearance and AWD is beyond me.

    Oh yeah… it is all about image. =P
    You’ve been brainwashed by marketers folks.

    –chuck

  • avatar

    Why today’s recreators require 8″ of ground clearance and AWD is beyond me. I've been over some streets in downtown Atlanta and other urban areas that look more like the Rubicon than they do city streets. There have been times I wished I had the ground clearance of an SUV for some of my "on road" daily commuting excursions!

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    Tirerack.com doesn’t list any 255/60/19 tires, but their cheapest all-season 255/55/19 tire is $203 each. With mounting costs, a new set of tires is going to cost $1000 on this crossover. Ouch.

    The standard tire is 255/65-18 and the 19s are optional only as part of the touring package on the full-zoot XR model.

  • avatar
    1984

    Arguing what someone “needs” and what others do not “need” is another dead horse that is taking a vicious beating. I’m not sure if it even looks like a horse anymore.

    No one “needs” a corvette, but none seem to take up that position on TTAC.

    We all know some of you hate SUV’s; (not pointing out any one person) we ALL get the point… So please… For the love of Christ… cut it out.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “I know it’s an article of faith on TTAC that people who own SUVs/CUVs/AWD cars “never take them off road” but out here in flyover country, that’s just not true, and our overcrowded recreation areas are proof of that.” – Martin Albright

    It’s the same in Michigan. I-75 is packed northbound every Friday and southbound every Sunday in the summer (and fall during hunting, and winter for snowmobiling). Plus, plenty of forest roads with deep sand, especially on west side of the lower peninsula, ground clearance is really your friend on those roads. And, like yours, they are pretty well traveled….

  • avatar
    revvy mcningning

    If you can get where you’re going in an Outback, you can do it in a Golf.

    Marketing Dept. : 100,000,000
    Dopey Consumers: 0

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    Nice review. I think we all need more K-Fed related zingers.

  • avatar
    blautens

    It sounds like more usable room than a Tahoe in a more efficient package – although you might give up mega towing – you can still do quite a bit. So this is all good, right? I’m actually encouraged by this vehicle…maybe GM can produce a decent vehicle.

    And for all the people whining about tire prices…sheesh. The days of $50 tires are over. Even my pedestrian RX330 was $1000 (out the door) for decent set of tires. Yes, my old 2003 CRV got out the door for $550 for a set of Michelins, but it was WOEFULLY undertired. Make up your mind – you want grip, traction, & short braking distances? Someone who ponies up $40k for this can afford the bill.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    The stance of the vehicle – i.e. ground clearance – isn’t all about clearing obstacles in one’s chosen roadway. Some of it is nothing more than styling preferences of the buying public. However, another reason, is that many people feel safer sitting up higher. I’m not saying that I agree with that argument considering I don’t sit very high in my Corvette, but I have heard that frequently. We drive a 2005 Ford Freestyle which would be the direct competitor to the GM lambdas. The size and utility should be very similar and I can tell you that it has been a great car for our family of five. We took our FWD Freestyle up to Yosemite this summer and it swallowed all our gear while getting 23 mpg in the mountains with a loaded cartop carrier. Could we have done it in a minivan? No way……my wife would have divorced me for purchasing a minivan. For those of you who seem to be a little confused as to what these things are – call them crossovers if you want, but they’re really station wagons. My father drove a full sized Chevy station wagon and I’ve owned a Chevy Blazer. These crossovers feel a lot more like the direct descendant of the station wagon more than SUV’s. Just don’t tell anyone……I’d like GM to be able to sell a few.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Goolsby, Mcningning, you’re missing the point: The fact that you can do something with a certain vehicle doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. And BTW, I’d really like to see a Golf try to follow me along a rutted dirt trail when it’s pouring rain. Ditto with the Jag. You may not need AWD every second of every day, but there are times when it’s a Godsend, and yes, I’ve driven enough 2wd vehicles in similar situations to know it.

    Second, I suppose I could probably go a lot of places with a smaller car like a Golf (though I’d have to remove all that silly plastic stuff hanging down, otherwise it would be left on the trail after the first time I went through a rutted road) but why should I? For one thing, the Outback is bigger, which allows me to carry the stuff I need for camping, and it still gets pretty decent mileage (I’ve gotten over 30 when I set the cruise control at 55mph.)

    I mean, hell, I could drive a motorcycle everywhere, as could all of you, right? Go to any 3rd world country and you’ll see tiny motorbikes, mopeds, and bicycles used for all manner of cargo and personnel transportion. Which proves exactly nothing, of course, about the US auto market.

    Look, this argument that “I don’t need X, therefore, that conclusively proves that nobody needs X” has to die. It’s utterly ridiculous and completely devoid of logic, reason or sanity. A single guy living in LA who wants to go up to the mountains occasionally and a family with 5 kids who spends half their summers in the Rockies have totally different needs and it’s silly to think the same vehicle will serve them both. That’s why we get a choice in this country.

    People complain because SUVs are too big or too thirsty, the manufacturers respond by making smaller, more economical SUVs, and people still complain.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was just plain-old class warfare, i.e. “I hate you because you can afford something that I can’t.”

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    PS: To get back (somewhat) to the topic at hand, I have to ask: Why did GM name this product after a trouble-prone Microsoft Email program? Were “Word” and “Power Point” already taken? Did someone at GM hear a co-worker say “My Outlook just crashed!” and think it would make a good name for a vehicle?

  • avatar

    heh… reminds me of a famous quote on an operational community mailing list after yet another outbreak of a network destroying Microsoft bug/worm/exploit:

    “(Microsoft) Outlook, the exploding Pinto on the information superhighway.”
    — Sean Donelan on NANOG, 1:25 AM -0400 7/27/03

    I guess we’ve come full circle?

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    1984: The Outlook load deck is flat like a minivan (with the third row removed) but obviously not as low.

    That’s good to hear. From the side it really reminds me of the Toyota Sequoia, even though I know the Sequoia is a full-sized SUV based on the Tundra truck platform. If they can actually return the (frankly rather unbelievable) MPG figures they advertise this could be a good move for GM and offer a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the minivan.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Id just like to know why people are content to pay out big cash for it as I asked earlier on. I can see big money for an Enclave, but these??

    Whats the tow rating on a Golf anyhow? It matters because that is EXACTLY why I dont drive an outback….which at least can tow something (but not much).

    You CAN build a house with a hot glue gun, but there are better tools for the job.

  • avatar
    revvy mcningning

    Pretty sensitive about your vehicle choices, aren’t we?

    It’s a capitalist society. Pay your money and drive whatever the hell you want and quit trying to rationalize your purchase. You liked the damned car and you bought it. End of story.

    But if you’re going to pass your Outback off as a mighty off-roader and then tell me I can’t make fun of you, that’s when I beg to differ.

  • avatar
    ash78

    blautens

    I think you’re missing the point of the “big rims/expensive tires” comments. It’s that we all pretty much agree that most people are hands-off and want low-maintenance cars. If these people are coming from another middle-of-the-road sedan or SUV from 5-10 years ago, they aren’t prepared for tires to cost more than $400 out the door. My point is that it can leave a very bad taste in their mouth when their reasonably-priced, reasonably-reliable new vehicle suddenly runs $1,200 for tires. Not many people even think of that kind of thing beforehand. But that’s not model-specific, so it’s somewhat OT.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    socsndaisy, I don’t understand your confusion. If you’re in the market for a small vehicle, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Fitting my family of five plus a set of inlaws in your Golf or Outback would be a bit tight. As for the price, I suspect that these are going to be very competitive. You mentioned that you can find similar vehicles for 20-25K. I don’t know about that……in 2005 I shopped pretty hard and was able to buy our FWD Freestyle at the employee pricing in the 25,500 range. I’d like to know where you can find a vehicle that seats 8 reasonably comfortably, can tow 4,500, has all the safety features, and gets this gas mileage for $20,000.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Pretty impressive power out of the 3.6 liter to haul 5000 lbs. around. Figured it would be a real dog with that motor.
    26 MPG out of this beast… Well Done.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I’d like to know where you can find a vehicle that seats 8 reasonably comfortably, can tow 4,500, has all the safety features, and gets this gas mileage for $20,000.

    Toyota Sienna LE 8-passenger, FWD with ESC/SAB. $24k, but only tows 3500lbs.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    Arguing what someone “needs” and what others do not “need” is another dead horse that is taking a vicious beating. I’m not sure if it even looks like a horse anymore.

    No one “needs” a corvette, but none seem to take up that position on TTAC.

    We all know some of you hate SUV’s; (not pointing out any one person) we ALL get the point… So please… For the love of Christ… cut it out.

    This bears repeating.
    The popular refrain is very grating now.
    Maybe it’s a sign of increased prosperity that we can now turn our attention to defining–with confidence–the precise “needs” of others.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    starlightmica – the Toyota website says $28,400 for that vehicle (you have to choose a package deal to get stability control) with a $1,500 cash back offer until 11/30. Probably not a bad deal if you can stomach the Toyota styling, but still not $24,000……and certainly not $20,000.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    I thought a “crossover” was supposed to be part “car” and part “truck.” Something like a jacked up station wagon. What part of this vehicle is the “car” part? 19-inch wheels? 5000 pound weight? Could several of these vehicles part side-to-side in a “normal” parking lot?

    Also, what is the expected real world mileage for this vehicle; 5000 pounds and decent acceleration make me skeptical of an 18/26 rating.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Martin Albright:

    I understand your position that if you need an SUV, you should buy one. The problem is that very very few people her ever take it off road. Ever. The traffic jams I am an unfortuante member of are almost solid SUV’s going 5 mph, just like me, carrying one person on a cell phone. This is in the very crouded Northeast USA

    Of all my friends and acquantences, I’ve only known ONE who actually had need of 4 wheel drive, much less ground clearance. We drove into fearsome places. It was fun

    My Golf can in fact go to 99.5 % of the places that SUV owners SAY they wanna go ( but of course they never do). I am frequently met on gravel roads in the magnificent Pinelands of South Jersey by folks in HUGE suv’s, me in my FWD Golf. I can imagine the discussions after i pass by.

    “YOU said we needed this thing to go in the woods. THERE is a little VW, doin just fine!!!!!!” HAHA.

    SUV’s and most other vehicles are about image, especailly in the northeast, where there are like no mountains to speak of, and snow is plowed twenty seconds after it lands, and its pretty flat.

    People who buy them with no intention of getting them dirty should just say that. I can respect a poseur that owns up to it.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    jerseydevil,
    Very few people “need” five seats in a car. Even fewer “need” a second car–or a first for that matter.
    That is why economists only talk about “wants”. People will purchase that which they desire. Let us move beyond dissecting the “needs” of others.

    Everything outside of Sparta is “unnecessary” in some way or another; and not even you live on what is strictly “necessary”.
    You may not like the choices other people make, but that is an overplayed refrain. (One could do that all day).

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    And that $24,000 Sienna has nothing in it. The Outlook in this review is fully loaded top trim model. Price up a Sienna with AWD, navigation and so forth and see how much over 40k it comes to.

    The Outlook will sell just fine. Some people like Minivans and some don’t for those who don’t want a minivan for whatever the reason, would like to tow a small camper or pop-up, have AWD and all the capacity of an Odyssey while getting good MPG this is the perfect vehicle for you. I know I’m sure as hell not going to take my wife’s Odyssey up a rutted road camping like I did her Outback. And I know we aren’t going to fit 5 or 6 people and tents, etc in any wagon on the market with AWD.

  • avatar
    James2

    Where’s Colin Chapman when you need him the most? First the Ford Edge comes to the party weighing 4500 lbs. and now this 4900 lb. Outlook??? Ford, GM, hello, you ever hear of this material called “aluminum”. I hear it’s a pretty light-weight metal. You might consider using some. And, given all the plastic you stuff the cabins with, what’s the excuse for this kind of porkage? There isn’t a truck-based frame underneath, right, but are you cutting costs by using recycled Silverado parts???

  • avatar
    dean

    I think GM deserves some kudos for putting together what appears to be a pretty impressive package. If you keep in mind that it is a minivan that isn’t a minivan, then they have a solid entrant into that market.

    I can’t help but wonder, however, why an enterprising auto company doesn’t make a concerted marketing effort to add some “cool” to minivans. After all, it was marketing that made the SUV the preferred familiy hauler (despite being far less suited to the task) so why not turn the tables?

    Show a minivan being used as a tow/crew vehicle for a motorcycle racing team, show one hauling seven buddies and their whitewater kayaks up a gravel road to the put-in. Show all these things that people are convinced they can only do in an SUV, if only because that’s what the marketers have taught them.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Hoosier,
    First off, I dont drive a Golf, or an outback. This would be replacing a Tribute. And that vehicle can do just about everything that this outlook can save for cramming Aunt Edna in the back. And we all know that we can strap her to the roof with bungee cords anyhow.
    Not everyone is carting the entire Griswold clan. And those that do so, only actually cart them a very small fraction of the time. Eliminate that third row and search again. This is essentially a V6, AWD, minivan/limited ability SUV with a very mildly glitzed interior. Nothing more. Furthermore, I would hope that you arent trying to make the case that the third row alone is worth ten grand, right?
    The choice of the freestyle (as an example) as an alternative is exactly my point here: You sacrificed a tow rating for a cool ten thousand dollar cost avoidance. If that choice leaves you with the impression that makes the Outlook competitive, then the consumer market is less sensible than even I give it credit for. The actual average cost of a new vehicle is reportedly 26.5K (keep in minds the volume of 50-100K versus <25K) that extra 10K best deliver the goods.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Somethingtosay:

    I could care less what any else buys. I just think its funny when someone buys an SUV that will never see dirt, then trys to tell u that’s why they bought it.

    Its like buying scuba equipment just to hang it in ur living room, pretending that u have a need for it, when an actual diver shows up and figures out in like 20 seconds that its just set design. Its funny, thats all.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    socsndaisy – I guess we’ll just have to let the market decide. I’m really not sure what your argument is. You were the one who mentioned the Golf and Outback previously which is the only reason I brought them up. Are we supposed to be amazed at your frugality for driving a Tribute? I’m sure we could cite cars that would have 99% of the capability of a Tribute and do it much more efficiently. I’m also not yet convinced that there’s a $10,000 price differential between the Outlook and the cars it will be cross shopped against. Please show me where you get that figure. If you are correct, then the lambdas will be a colossal failure, GM will certainly go into bankruptcy, the Death Watch will end, and we can all go buy Toyotas. Is that what you want me to say? I think this is going to be a good offering that will sell for GM. Many here obviously don’t think so. We’ll see.
    As for your dismissal of the 3rd row – I don’t really understand that. Even if I only use it 5% of the time, it’s still an important feature. What if I have to take one of my daughter’s friends home after a practice or game? Am I supposed to make two trips? As a matter of survival, we could have kept my wife’s CR-V with 140,000 miles that was really showing some wear. It would have been more frugal to be certain. However, the Freestyle gets us there much more comfortably, with more capacity, with the same gas mileage, and it does it more safely. I think the lambdas are going to do it even better, and if they do, then they will very likely be a commercial success.

  • avatar
    tech98

    Why did GM name this product after a trouble-prone Microsoft Email program?

    LOL! Most clueless GM product name since the ‘Impact’ electric car.
    Next up: The all-new 2007 Chevrolet Crash and Pontiac Pileup!

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Hoosier,
    The point isnt that frugal is best. Frugality can be just another form of greed. Toyotas are like farvegnugen novocaine, so you are completely reading me wrong here.
    The point IS that your freestyle at 25K does reasonably just about everything that this outlook can do for ten grand less. And yes yes yes, it even carts your little kid’s friends home from practice too, thanks for sharing.
    I hope they sell the hell out of this thing, and that I missed the point entirely! But so far, I dont get what this does quite so exquisitely (10K exquisite to be precise) that vehicles like your freestyle (remember 25.5K – as YOU claimed) can do ? So far, it tows more than your freestyle, are you willing to pay ten large for that priviledge?
    If not, then you might understand why Im not so impressed to trade out of my tribute to that superhappyfun third row outlook…because I could send a limo and use my ten grand to pay for it…and I suspect my daughter (that I dont have) and her little friend would be most impressed!)
    And just so you understand Im not striving to be perpetually unhappy and cheaper than FANTA cola, the 2007 OutLANDER from mistubishi looks like a better bargain (for MY money).

  • avatar

    Steven T: Has Saturn’s market niche become “whatever”?

    It became “whatever” when they came out with the Vue.

  • avatar
    nino

    People complain because SUVs are too big or too thirsty, the manufacturers respond by making smaller, more economical SUVs, and people still complain.

    Smaller?

    5000LBS and bigger than a new Tahoe.

    More economical?

    I’ll be very surprised if you can get the mileage stated if you threw it off a cliff.

    But isn’t this just a redux of the Chrysler Pacifica/ Mercedes “R” Class?Overweight, 8 passenger station wagons with underpowered motors.

  • avatar
    nino

    My point has always been that if you need an SUV, then buy an SUV.

    These things are neither cars nor SUVs in the sense that they can do what SUVs can do.

    That they outweigh SUVs in some cases…well…

  • avatar
    nino

    And minivans are STILL some of the best vehicles out there, regardless of the notion that they aren’t “cool”.

    But if cool is what you’re looking for, get a minivan and then go trash a few rental cars.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    socsndaisy –
    I still can’t understand your $10,000 price differential. How do you compare a Freestyle that was purchased in 2005 at significant discount to a new vehicle not even available yet? However, just to be sporting, I tried to find the best numbers possible for comparison. It’s hard to compare precisely because options are always a little different, but I could purchase my FWD Freestyle new for $27,060 – that’s $29,060 minus $2,000 cash available now until the end of the year. I tried to price out a comparable Outlook and it falls around $29,375. Obviously, the Outlook isn’t going to be available with rebates right out the door, but I would at least say that pricing is competitive. Could I price the Outlook into the high 30’s? Sure. But I could do that with a Toyota minivan too. I really don’t think this vehicle is going to cost $10,000 more than it’s competition. Again, if it does, then GM has made another colossal mistake and she’ll be even closer to the end. I suspect you and I will have to agree to disagree on the value proposition of the lambdas. I don’t see it as spending 10 grand on towing capacity because I don’t think the 10 grand is a real figure.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I’d like to a story.

    There is a lake in Northern California on the Nevada border near Reno called Black Lake.

    Two friends and I went camping there. We could camp on the regular side where you could drive any car up and park, or we could go in the back way, where you “needed” a 4×4.

    We were in my friends jacked up Dodge Ram 4×4 so we opted for the later.

    The route to the other side of the lake was treacherous. Loose rocks, inclines, declines — fairly hairy stuff.

    But, the Ram did fine.

    When we get to the campsite, there are two other parties sitting around fires.

    One party came in a duo of really jacked-up Toyota FJs — the kind with the trail-jacks and diamond plating. Uber hard core vehicles.

    The other party was a family of five in a Subaru Impreza.

    I ran over to the dad — “You got that thing in here?”

    Dad — “yeah.”

    Me, pointing — “Over that trail?”

    Dad — “It’s the only way in.”

    Me, shocked — “How’d your car do.”

    Dad — “Great!”

    So… when I say that people don’t “need” jacked-up dirt haulers, it is not because I am a communist boogeyman coming to take their Tahoes and guns away, but because they are being duped into paying thousands of dollars more for an image.

    But, they are free to do whatever they want.

    For now…

  • avatar
    WaaaaHoooo

    Saturn’s market niche, like pretty much any manufacturer’s, is “whatever SELLS.”

    Other notable cases in point:
    … Audi Q7
    … Porche Cayenne
    … VW Toureg
    … BMW X5 & X3

    None of these cars particularly fits the image of the maker, but they all bet they can turn a buck by pumping out the perceived automotive need du jour. Saturn’s no different.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    GM arguably has trumped Highlander’s styling, but they are a full model-cycle behind on technology; Highlander Hybrid is available right now.

    So hybrid technology is the only measure?

    Outlook has a 270-275hp 3.6L VVT V6 with a 6 speed auto
    Highlander has a 208hp 3.3L VVT V6 with a 5 speed auto
    They have the same fuel economy ratings despite the large difference in horsepower and usable size.
    And they’re about the same price.

    Please explain what I’m missing here.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    Eric Miller –

    Nothing.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Eric — the Highlander is totally ugly.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Jonny Lieberman:

    EXACTLY

    THANK YOU !!!

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    Eric — the Highlander is totally ugly.

    Is that what I was missing? Maybe Toyota will address this next model cycle.

    I’m actually surprised nobody has brought up the Mazda CX9 yet.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    I’m actually surprised nobody has brought up the Mazda CX9 yet.

    Like the national debt, I try not to think about it.

    Jonny: Careful, Ann Coulter might bite you on the ankle.

  • avatar

    Eric Miller, SherbornSean, and ChartreuseGoose:

    My bad. I didn’t have my coffee yet when I made those comments. I just glanced at the Highlander and saw:
    Seating for 7
    EPA 19/25
    ~$30,000

    Appararently the Outlook is a full 1000 lbs. heavier than the Highlander yet gets the same gas mileage. It seats seven, but is apparently roomier and larger than the Highlander for roughly the same price (maybe $1K more).

    Sorry about the bad comparison.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Hoosier Red -

    Sienna LE-8 with BW pkg = $23,973 + processing + tax + tags
    I bought mine from fitzmall.com, almost identical but in red, for a little bit more 2 years back.

    ThriftyTechie -

    Toyotas hardly ever sell at list these days, even Priuses. See above example, Sienna $4k below MSRP.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Hoosier,
    Because they DO THE SAME THING!!!! And I can buy a brand spankin new 2007 freestyle FWD SEL for $26993 while an outlook of the nearest spec is a gnats hair under 35K. Ive had enough of this, but here’s the deal: Onstar isnt enough to get me to write the check for 8K for an outlook. And the freestyle’s pathetic tow rating (using a very close variant of the same 3.0L as my tribute, which has AWD by the way) isnt exactly making that third row look like a tremendous value either considering I paid 20880 out the door last year (like you).
    I agree with you on this though, you said it best, let’s let the market decide.

  • avatar
    EJ

    Eric,
    That is a surprisingly positive review. I took a good look at the Outlook today at the San Francisco Auto Show. The most notable is that it is unnoticeable. I almost past it by and so did everybody else: no crowds nearby.
    This is just another bland overpriced crossover. If you want a large vehicle, just get a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna minivan and be done with it. Those minivans look a lot better too, in my opinion.

  • avatar
    noley

    Golly gee! Another GM SUV. I’m so excited I don’t know if I can contain myself.

    What would really be great is that if we all agreed to not review SUVs on TTAC. How many people here really care about these things? Same goes for pick-up trucks. No matter what you put in or under these things they are still bland, boring, ill-handling transportation units that are about as interesting as a used K-car.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    Eric,
    That is a surprisingly positive review. I took a good look at the Outlook today at the San Francisco Auto Show. The most notable is that it is unnoticeable. I almost past it by and so did everybody else: no crowds nearby.
    This is just another bland overpriced crossover. If you want a large vehicle, just get a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna minivan and be done with it. Those minivans look a lot better too, in my opinion.

    EJ,
    Where were the crowds then? Around which vehicles? I’d be willing to guess that being San Francisco, they were “all over” the imports instead. Toyota isn’t particularly known for style, so I’d hazard a guess that they passed the Outlook by for other reasons.
    What did you observe?

  • avatar
    EJ

    Where were the crowds then?
    There were good crowds by truly American muscle products, such as Chevy Corvette, Ford Mustang, Camaro concept and Dodge Challenger. This seems to be a good niche for Detroit.

    Most crowds were by the foreign brands that are popular in California: Toyota, Honda, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes.
    Everybody was trying the new Lexus LS. There was a lot of interest in Toyota hybrids. Some people only shop hybrid anymore. The Honda Fit and Odyssey were huge.
    Crossovers in general were drawing a lot of attention, but nobody seemed interested in truck-based SUVs or pickups.

    GM has by far the largest expo space, about a whole hall to themselves, to display their gazillion brands and models, but it’s as quiet as a ghost town there. Sorry, GM employees, I’m just reporting what I saw.

    Unlikely GM’s grand presence, Ford has a fairly small presence, with a big emphasis on pickup trucks. That makes sense, since that’s what they’re mostly selling in California (plus Mustangs). I don’t think anybody is interested in the Ford Fusion around here.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    EJ,
    Interesting.
    I personally wouldn’t be going “ga-ga” over a Toyota or Honda; but if that’s how it is in San Francisco, then…

  • avatar
    ret

    There seems to be this implicit suggestion that any passenger car can do what any SUV can do, therefore SUVs are pointless.

    Johnny –

    Can you at least imagine that there might be another trail somewhere that an Impreza cannot traverse but a jacked up FJ could? What if the trail you mention had been muddy? What if a rainstorm had rutted it out while you all were there? Who’s better off, the guy in the Impreza that just barely made it or the guys in the “overkill” vehicles?

    It seems to me like a kind of insurance to take the most capable vehicle you can into a given situation.

  • avatar
    nino

    Can you at least imagine that there might be another trail somewhere that an Impreza cannot traverse but a jacked up FJ could? What if the trail you mention had been muddy? What if a rainstorm had rutted it out while you all were there? Who’s better off, the guy in the Impreza that just barely made it or the guys in the “overkill” vehicles?

    And do you feel this new crop of CUVs are the type of vehicles that have that capability?

    The point being that if you need an SUV, by all means go out and get yourself one that does the job.

    These CUVs are poseurs that aren’t as competent as SUVs or as cars.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    Eric Miller,

    Could you expand on four things:
    1. How does the quality of the interior compare with other GM products that you have experience with?

    2. Has GM finally discovered the tilt-telescoping steering wheel (with continuous adjustment increments)?

    3. What did you think of the dual moonroofs?

    4. The promise of the Lambdas is that they have the Holy Grail of crossovers– a usable third row. Have they achieved this?

    Thank you.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    “The point being that if you need an SUV, by all means go out and get yourself one that does the job.

    These CUVs are poseurs that aren’t as competent as SUVs or as cars.”

    I’m still not sure why there is so much hate towards this car before it’s even hit the streets. I don’t think all of us look at this as an SUV wanna be. It’s primarily a people mover. Obviously some here think it’s overpriced, but it sounds like the initial reviewer thought it was a pretty good vehicle. If you need to transport more than 5 people, a sedan really isn’t going to help you. From that standpoint, I don’t see how you can say this isn’t as competent as a car. First of all, it is a car. These are station wagons, but we can’t call them that because then people don’t want to buy them. Your only other option is a minivan. I still haven’t heard a good explanation for why it’s more virtuous to drive a minivan versus an Outlook, but that seems to be the prevailing notion. I can understand the argument that not everyone needs to be driving a BOF Tahoe – got it. Personally, I think this package makes a lot more sense than a Porsche SUV.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    Could you expand on four things:
    1. How does the quality of the interior compare with other GM products that you have experience with?

    The design is pleasingly conservative and a better effort and execution than the PlaySkool designs of GM’s past. The materials are genuinely nice where it counts and merely look nice where it doesn’t. Not Audi, but certainly as good as Toyota. I’m sure there were some cheesy elements you could nitpick, but overall it represents a vast improvement for GM and better than industry average.

    If you’d like to know about any specifics, let me know and I’ll expand.

    2. Has GM finally discovered the tilt-telescoping steering wheel (with continuous adjustment increments)?

    Yes. Thank god.

    3. What did you think of the dual moonroofs?

    I’m not always a huge fan of moonroofs. The front roof is a conventional tilt/slide glass moonroof with one-touch and a manually operated perforated black roller-shade. The 3′ x 4′ fixed rear skylight over the second row was a nice touch and added to the spaciousness. The rear roller shade was powered and could be [one-touch] controlled from the front.

    4. The promise of the Lambdas is that they have the Holy Grail of crossovers– a usable third row. Have they achieved this?

    Yes. Again, someone will nitpick, but I sat in the back seat and I was comfortable (6’2″) even when the front and center rows were also adjusted for adults. Three-across would be too tight for me. The seating position was much more natural (minivan-like) than most SUVs due to the flat mid floor (no hump). It was more comfortable than the rear seat of most mid-size sedans. My knees weren’t in my chest. The third-row verdict: Vastly superior to almost any SUV, and as comfortable as most minivans.

    Jut as important, getting into the rear was as easy as most minivans. ‘Smart Slide’ may sound gimmicky (hey, so does ‘Stow-n-Go’) but is easy to operate and takes little effort. I’m pretty sure that kids over 5 years could do it themselves. But little tikes might just walk back between the seats if you opted for second-row buckets.

    The rear doors have very little dogleg intrusion which makes it all a little easier (and the rear windows go all the way down too). I don’t think that same 5 year old could open Outlook’s rear doors. Minivans have the advantage of power sliding doors. They can engineer power liftgates, why not power opening side doors?

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    I still haven’t heard a good explanation for why it’s more virtuous to drive a minivan versus an Outlook, but that seems to be the prevailing notion.

    A box is an efficient package. There is more room inside a square box than an egg of the same HxWxL dimensions. But we tend to like cars shaped more like eggs than boxes. Even Volvo figured that out.

    If space is your biggest criteria, buy a van. If it’s about towing and rock-crawling, buy a truck-based SUV. If you need a mix of both and style is important, then something like an Outlook is a viable compromise.

  • avatar
    nino

    I don’t hate the vehicle, but I’m in the camp that says the significance of this type of vehicle is a figment of some demented marketer brain fart rather than a real need.

    A station wagon? I could buy that except that this thing weighs almost 5,000LBS. Are we talking about a circa 1960s station wagon and were they that heavy? A minivan doesn’t weigh in at that kind of weight. and they are more efficient at people moving.

    I feel that cars today should fill a need and do it efficiently. This vehicle and this genre of vehicle I feel does neither.

  • avatar
    nino

    It isn’t as though I just argue this here. There are four SUVs and CUVs in my family including an Infiniti F56 that my sister drives, usually all alone.

    With just one exception, they carry just the driver for commuting.

    The one exception tows a fishing boat 4 times a year.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    Thank you very much, Eric. That was all I wanted to ask for now.

    I think your suggestion about powered side doors is awesome, and would eliminate the advantage minivans have with power sliding doors to some extent.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    nino – I won’t argue with you that most of what we consume in the United States is a figment of some marketer’s imagination. Why should the vehicles we drive be any different? However, relatively speaking, I think these lambdas are at least defensibly efficient at transporting 8 people. Commuting to work in an Escalade? Seems kind of crazy. Hauling the family around in an Outlook? Certainly easier than doing it in a Prius.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    A minivan doesn’t weigh in at that kind of weight. and they are more efficient at people moving.

    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/Comparos/articleId=117437/pageId=104463

    Saturn Outlook XE FWD: ~4700 lbs
    Honda Odyssey Touring: 4703 lbs
    Chrysler Town & Country: 4452 lbs
    Kia Sedona EX: 4729 lbs
    Nissan Quest SE: 4518 lbs

    Horsepower: 215-244hp minivans vs 270-275hp Outlook
    Zero to 60: 9.3-10.9 seconds minivans vs low 8’s Outlook
    HWY fuel economy: 23-28 mpg vs 26 Outlook
    As-tested prices: $31,595 – $43,523 vs $27,990 base XE +++

  • avatar
    nino

    Not to pick a nit but:

    Toyota Sienna XLE All-Wheel Drive Limited – 4630LBS 17/23 City/Hwy

    Saturn Outlook XR All-Wheel Drive – 4955LBS 17/24 City/Hwy

    Honda Odyssey Touring – 4703LBS 20/28 City/Hwy

    Saturn Outlook XR FWD – 4750LBS 18/26 City/Hwy

    As far as performance goes, I guess the Outlook has a second on those minivans.

    I guess your point is that the Outlook is competitive with minivans that are already out there a few years.

  • avatar
    nino

    I think these lambdas are at least defensibly efficient at transporting 8 people. Commuting to work in an Escalade? Seems kind of crazy. Hauling the family around in an Outlook? Certainly easier than doing it in a Prius.

    I’m not a Prius fan (or hybrids in general), but I just can’t warm up to CUVs.

    I just don’t feel that they do anything well.

  • avatar
    nino

    I’m a little curious as to what GM is going to do with the archetecture underpinning the Cadillac SRX? Are they going to switch that to the Lambda platform or keep the existing one?

  • avatar
    nino

    And look at this;

    The Cadillac SRX with the V6 and AWD – 4320LBS 16/23 City/Hwy

    Without AWD – 4164LBS 16/24 City/Hwy

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Mr. Ret,

    My point is that we struggled in a jacked up 4×4 with low gears to come up that trail.

    The fact that the Impreza made it, speeaks volumes to perceived needs vs. actual.

    Oh, and the Glock under your pillow? Make sure the safety is on.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    I’m far from an insider, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest Cadillac was going to get a lambda. I think that would be a very bad idea. Personally, I think the Escalade looks like a Tahoe to my eye, but someone buys them. Cadillac doesn’t need another rebadge. Thanks for those figures……I didn’t realize the minivans had become that heavy. Wow. I guess it’s not that surprising. When you stand next to a Honda Odyssey it seems like a fairly large vehicle.

  • avatar
    ret

    “My point is that we struggled in a jacked up 4×4 with low gears to come up that trail.

    The fact that the Impreza made it, speaks volumes to perceived needs vs. actual.”

    Or it speaks volumes about the ability of the drivers :-P (j/k)

    Still, I think your assesment that you “struggled” in the jacked up 4×4 is probably a bit off. No Impreza is going to be able to rock crawl like a proper ORV.

    I’m not saying that a whole bunch of people (probably most of them) who buy SUVs or CUVs for their off-road capability *couldn’t* get by with a Subaru, but there are definitely situations in which I’d *rather* be in a Wrangler Rubicon than a Legacy GT.

    And it’s a Para-Ordnance PXT Hi-cap in the nightstand

  • avatar
    ret

    “And do you feel this new crop of CUVs are the type of vehicles that have that capability?

    The point being that if you need an SUV, by all means go out and get yourself one that does the job.

    These CUVs are poseurs that aren’t as competent as SUVs or as cars.”

    I didn’t actually mention CUVs at all. I was just commenting that a lot of people who post here seem to imply that no one ever actually needs a proper off road vehicle.

    But, to answer your question: No, I’m not particularly a fan of CUVs. I think they compromise on space and performance so that you end up with the worst of two distinct categories rather than a superior product.

    If you need to haul people and stuff, a minivan is probably best. If you need to tow, a truck or truck based SUV is probably best.

    However; for people who can only afford one vehicle, often have to tow a trailer, and have a large family to move around, a big CUV like this might be just right.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I complain about SUV’s and big trucks – but truthfully this is mostly just a waste of time. Vehicle choice is usually not about “need” it is about fashion, about image.

    Buying a vehicle in US is much like buying clothing. You could shop local garage sales and thrift stores and get clothes for virtually nothing, but few people do this (actually I do know some people actually cheaper than I am who do this). You could go to Walmart and get perfectly functional clothes for not much more. But instead we buy “fashionable” clothes to impress ourselves and to impress others.

    Not all machine purchases are like this. Imagine your air conditioner goes bad and you get two quotes for replacement: 4000$ for a reliable unit with good efficiency, or 8,000$ for bigger unit with worse efficiency but that looks really impressive and has capability that will never be used. Most people would not spend extra on this, but millions will spend extra on the bigger, more expensive, less efficient vehicle. Why? A vehicle is projection of the owner’s image.

    Actually this is good news in a way. In US we are so wealthy that we no longer simply buy vehicles that get the job done – we can afford vehicles for image. We spend 100’s of billions hauling billions of tons of un-needed steel down the road – life libery and the pursuit of happiness I guess. If you don’t believe this look at the after-market wheel industry: we spend more than the GNP of some countries buying giant wheels that offer same or worse handling (I think they are ugly but am in minority I guess).

    Back to SUV’s and big trucks: If someone does not need big towing capability and they buy a 5,400 lb Tahoe they are hauling around about 1000 lb un-needed steel. With an Outlook this is 600 lb un-needed steel and they are getting the better seating of the minivan. As an optimist I would say better the glass too-full than way-too-full.

    (and as a minivan driver I’d rather get in a wrech with a 4,900 lb outlook than a 5,400 lb Tahoe)

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    Although the size of these vehicles has been criticized, personal safety is one other issue to consider when purchasing. That “extra steel” does provide some measure of personal safety. Despite what anyone says, the laws of physics cannot be altered. I would rather be surrounded by a larger mass if there’s going to be a collision. “But, but, but……my (insert small car here) has a five star crash rating.” Read the fine print. Those scores are determined in comparison to other vehicles of similar size. I don’t disagree with the merits of efficiency and frugality, but if my vehicle is going to be rear ended by anything else at highway speed, I would much prefer my children were sitting in the back seat of our Freestyle rather than a Mini.

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    @thx_zetec

    Wow, that is so true!

    But why on earth would people buy a Saturn, of all things, to project their self-image?! That’s like buying a cooking pan for musical purposes.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    But why on earth would people buy a Saturn, of all things, to project their self-image?! That’s like buying a cooking pan for musical purposes.

    Probably not that extreme, but I get it.

    Saturn wants to move a little upscale and the SKY and Aura were the first round. The Outlook is by far and away the most expensive vehicle ever to grace their showrooms.

  • avatar
    EJ

    I’ve taken a good look at the Outlook and compared it with the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna minivans. My conclusion is simple: those minivans are far better family vehicles than the Outlook. The minivans have a lot more interior space, the third row is much better usable and they have a lot of family oriented amenities (such as a real table!).
    I find it tragic that GM (and Ford) are giving up on the minivan segment, instead of overcoming their problems.
    Do I hear another giant sucking sound of sliding market share?

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    EJ –
    We get it……minivans are what we all should be driving if we have families. Actually, I don’t disagree with you on the fact that I wish GM and Ford offered competitive minivans. However, the latest trends suggest that the minivan market is shrinking. As matter of fact, this may be the first year the minivan segment doesn’t top a million units. If you are GM, do you attack a segment that already has dominant players or do you go after a segment that most people agree is the hottest right now? You are probably being smarter with your limited resources if you offer a product that doesn’t have the baggage of their past minivans. Trust me – GM needs to be able to market a competitive sedan (ala Camry), a competitive minivan (ala Odyssey/Sienna), and a competitive compact (ala Civic/Corolla). For many reasons that have been well documented on this website, they haven’t yet done that. However, that doesn’t make the lambdas a bad idea.

  • avatar
    EJ

    Hoosier Red,
    I was considering the Outlook as a replacement for minivans to haul kids to soccer. My point is simply: those soccer kids are better served with a well executed minivan than with the Saturn Outlook. Minivans are not obsolete.
    By giving up on the minivan segment GM is reinforcing their market share slide instead of turning it around.
    But hey, you say that’s inevitable, because they can’t juggle so many balls anymore. Probably true.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Hoosier Red:

    tall vehicles roll over. they dont turn very well. like u said, the laws of physics cannot be ignored. I would rather be in a small easy to maneuver vehicle, than a suv on stilts any day.

  • avatar
    nino

    Sorry to keep harping on the weight thing, but I see an opportunity lost here.

    If GM used the lighter SRX platform and dropped in the 275HP V6 powertrain in it, wouldn’t they have a better performing CUV with better gas mileage than they do with the Lambda platform? With its rear wheel bias, it could’ve been a real perfomance star without the need for the NorthStar V8 option the Caddy presently uses.

  • avatar
    nino

    Although the size of these vehicles has been criticized, personal safety is one other issue to consider when purchasing. That “extra steel” does provide some measure of personal safety. Despite what anyone says, the laws of physics cannot be altered. I would rather be surrounded by a larger mass if there’s going to be a collision. “But, but, but……my (insert small car here) has a five star crash rating.” Read the fine print. Those scores are determined in comparison to other vehicles of similar size. I don’t disagree with the merits of efficiency and frugality, but if my vehicle is going to be rear ended by anything else at highway speed, I would much prefer my children were sitting in the back seat of our Freestyle rather than a Mini.

    Using that logic, we’d be even safer in Sherman tanks.

    In my opinion, safety also includes the ability to AVOID accidents as much as surving the impact. A vehicle with lower weigh and a low center of gravity, brakes better, handles better, and is harder to roll over. As a result, the driver has greater control of his vehicle, an important safety aspect.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Hoosier Red;

    Yes safety is important. But I don’t agree with all you say.

    1. Some SUV’s weigh much more. But they have high centers of gravity that greatly increase rollover risk (statistics are clear on this) and they extra weight hurts handling which makes accident more likely.
    2. You compare a Freestyle to a Mini – this is what is called a “straw-man argument”. A very-small car such as a Mini will be more dangerous in collisions but a minivan is actually statistically very safe.
    3. Maybe I am too idealistic, but I also consider safety of *other* vehicle. Mass for the sake of mass (and height for the sake of roll-over, er I mean “visibility”) endangers other drivers to some extent.

    Regarding #3: if I buy a car with better handling and braking, or driving more carefully I increase everyone’s safety. If I use a seat belt I increase my safety at no expense to others. But trying to “out mass” other drivers will decrease safety of other drivers, all else being equal.

    I don’t want to sound over-moralistic about #3, I drive a 4,300 lb minivan for family use, and could likely get by with something smaller. But other driver’s safety is one consideration.

    Some people say the minivan market is going away – my opinion is that reports of the minivan’s death are greatly exaggerated – but maybe I’m wrong. Americans consistently reject useful efficient body styles (mini-vans, station wagons, hatch-backs). Again we reject the practical because we can afford to (example extra 5-15 k$ to buy large SUV vs. minivan, plus extra gas)

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    Thank you for pointing out that SUV’s are more likely to roll over. I’d never heard that before. I’ll have to look into that concept of higher center of gravity. I’m sure we covered that somewhere in my undergrad physics major. I don’t want to cloud the argument with facts, but the Ford Freestyle (a very similar car to the Outlook) has the exact same 4 star government rollover rating as the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. Lest anyone suggest I don’t appreciate the virtues of a low center of gravity, I would be happy to give you a ride in my Corvette. I don’t think anyone can find a single instance where I’ve suggested that an SUV is the superior choice for most people. I drove a Tahoe before purchasing the Freestyle and thought it was too big, too thirsty, too tall, and not really what we needed for family transport. I won’t even argue that the minivan wouldn’t have been a superior choice if hard, cold calculation were the only thing in making the decision. However, as with most things in America, we have choices and for our family the Freestyle was preferred. My wife liked the fact it wasn’t a minivan and I was buying the station wagon I wanted. If you want to argue center of gravity, a station wagon would be better than a minivan and that’s where you are missing my point. These aren’t really SUV’s – they are the modern interpretation of the historic station wagons. You can certainly dispute that, but the Freestyle is based on the Volvo station wagon platform. I honestly believe these lambdas and the Freestyle are reasonable, defensible choices at a time when BOF, full size SUV’s really don’t make that much sense.
    nino – yes, a “Sherman tank” would be safer. Statistically speaking, my chances of death would be lower commuting in southern CA if I were driving at 5 mph in a tank compared to any passenger car at 65 mph. Thank you for agreeing with my argument.
    thx_zetec – please point out where I suggested a minivan was not safe. The argument was not that a minivan is unsafe, but rather it is better to surround one’s self with a certain amount of mass. What’s the right amount? I’m not saying more is always better. If you move more mass, you have to stop more mass. VSC and airbags are great. But they don’t replace mass to the extreme. Modern vehicles are amazing machines in their ability to dissipate large forces and protect passengers. My argument wasn’t a straw man, but rather an illustration of the fact that all mass isn’t evil. I’d be happy to rephrase it for you. If you knew that you were going to be in an accident on your way to work, would you prefer to be in the Mini or the Honda Odyssey? For anyone who chooses the Mini, I would love to know why. If you say you would avoid the accident by driving the Mini because it’s more maneuverable, I would say there may be a sliver of truth. Even as someone who has never yet been involved in a collision after 20+ years of driving, I still believe that some collisions will be inevitable. If that semi moves over into your lane, good luck. Finally, I appreciate that you consider my family’s safety in your vehicle choice. Can I interest you in a bicycle?

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    I would doubt that the Outlook has a higher center of gravity than a minivan. Look at the track, tire width, wheelbase, and overall height and compare it to other vehicles. This thing is like a crouched goalie.

    It does have Stabilitrak with ‘rollover mitigation’ for those truly worried.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    Eric Miller –

    You actually drove the Outlook and I sensed that you thought it was a pretty good vehicle. Do you have any insight as to all the negativity toward this vehicle?

    When I look at my Freestyle or these lambdas, I see a modern station wagon. However I may be biased because that’s what my family had growing up. Do you think this is more station wagon or more SUV?

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Hoosier Red;

    My point about safety is this: a full size SUV is probably a safer ride than a mini, but not safer than a minivan (for occupants – minivan safer for other drivers). Paying more for minivan vs mini will improve safety. Paying even more for Tahoe will not.

    As far as spending extra for style – I do it all the time. Sometimes I spend 20-30 bucks for a shirt when I could go much cheaper at Walmart. But when it comes to cars I am cheap – maybe because cars are “big ticket” items.

    Eric Miller: I can’t find COG (Center Of Gravity) data on either Outlook or minivan – would appreciate it if anyone has this. But I do see that total vehicle height: Outlook = 72.8″, Odyssey = 68.8 or 70″ (depending on model). Track is about the same between vehicles. This ~4″ difference seems significant to me. But I agree that electronic stab. control does reduce rollovers – recent studies have shown this.

  • avatar
    Eric Miller

    The Outlook is exactly 2.8″ taller than a Honda Odyssey if both don’t have roof racks (the weight of a roof rack would be relatively insignificant in calculating C of G). The tracks are 0.4 (F) and 0.3 (R) inches wider on the Outlook. But remember: track is measured centerline to centerline. The Outlook’s 255 tires are each .8 inches wider overall. Measured from outer tread to outer tread the Outlook would have a 1.15 inches wider stance. The footprint is also significantly larger as well, adding to the stability.

    In my experience with both, the Outlook feels more stable, surefooted, and planted than an Odyssey. And I like the new Odysseys.

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    All I know is I’m in the lineup for one of the three Lamda’s. I’m not a buick guy but I can get over it, I have no insecurity issues.

  • avatar
    WillD

    to somethingtosay: GM invented the tilt-telescopic steering wheel (way back in the 60s). They also pioneered a lot of other innovations that many people don’t give them credit for.

    for all those that wondered what old station wagons weighed? plenty. our 1976 Mercury Marquis Colony Park was 4,868 lbs. and got nowhere near 18/26 (try 12/16).

    this vehicle wasn’t even available for public testing when all these negative comments were written, so it’s amazing how many people think they’re experts. I’ve driven both the Outlook and the GMC Acadia, and they are very well executed large vehicles. Yes, we haul a family around and can use the space. Our order will be going in before the end of February.

  • avatar
    jrocco001

    I have to agree with WillD…I was impressed enough with my test drive of an Acadia to buy one.

    These vehicles do many things pretty well….sure, they weigh 5K pounds, but the fuel economy numbers are there (even real-world numbers, anecdotally – C&D and Motor Trend showed the lower end of EPA in real life, and they flog those vehicles when testing them). Plus, they stop in 170 feet, have decent power, hold a lot of people and stuff, and IMHO drive very nicely.

    The review press has been very nice to them…I really don’t see anything similar for the price, as long as you keep them optioned reasonably. I got an SLT-1 with some nice addtional options (towing package, HUD, premium paint, 19″ wheels (which I didn’t really want, but the vehicle was what I wanted in every other way) for 32K after rebates and incentives).

    Frankly, we were not really in the market for something this big, but the lambdas outperform smaller SUVs/CUVs in just about every category. Heck, we even looked at a few passenger sedans (namely V-6 Accords and the Maxima), and once we had them optioned as we wanted (similar to our Acadia), they were in the same price range.

  • avatar
    flyerbry

    Frankly, all these anti-SUV comments are a bit over the top in my opinion. I own two 4X4 vehicles and the four wheel drive systems in both have been used extensively over the lives of both vehicles. Mine is a 99 Wrangler and yes it has been off road extensively to all those places a typical SUV wouldn’t be taken. Have I gotten my moneys worth out of the 4WD drivetrain? You bet. I have even pulled a few vehicles out of the ditch during our snowy winters here in the midwest the past couple years. Our other 4X4 is a 2003 Trailblazer EXT which is my wife’s vehicle. We have three children so we have a realistic need for a larger vehicle with usable space and seating beyond a typical five passanger sedan. Imagine a car with a couple car seats in the back seat and you’ll know were I am coming from. Sure a minivan would do. We drove them before we bought the Trailblazer and still do on occasion. The problem with minivans for us isn’t one of image, but one of the driving experience. Of all the minivans we drove both my wife and I absolutely hated how they drove. You also have to understand I used to drive a Blazer (before SUVs were all the rage) and I made the mistake of showing my wife how to use the 4WD. The next time it snowed and my wife was driving the Blazer was the last time it was my vehicle. She loves having 4WD for the stability it offers in bad driving conditions. My wife is also one that is able to recognize the difference between when an AWD system isn’t working and a full-time system is making a difference. So when we were shopping for vehicles and she was drawn to the models with 4WD was I supposed to say “no honey, you can’t have the advantages of 4WD…” Yeah right! I’m all about function, not looks which is why I can say we have gotten full use of the 4WD in the Trailblazer as well. Especially with all the snow we have had this past winter. One can argue that 4WD is only useful in certain situations and that would be a valid argument. At the same time, the folks on the road without some type of 4WD or AWD system were cursing the weather an awful lot around here recently. A lot of cars become impractical in those situations.
    My wife and I just saw the new Lambda-based vehicles a couple weeks ago at the Chicago auto show. We have been 100% happy with our Trailblazer since the day we got it but in comparison, these new vehicles are a whole generation ahead in terms of design and quality. The interiors are impressive – finally GM is offering some interiors that are equal to or better than most of the competition. I just hope is a trend that keeps going! As for the crossover design itself, there are many flavors of crossovers on the market. The most basic definition of a crossover in my mind is a unibody design that shares SUV-like characteristics. The advantage being lighter weight which results in better fuel economy at the expense of towing capability. What you get from GM to Ford to Mazda to Porsche to Cadallac in a crossover is all very different. The fact is every vehicle design is a compromise of one form or another. Just because one vehicle fits your needs and wants better than another doesn’t mean your vehicle is the best and what everyone else chooses to drive is somehow a bad choice or a simple image-inflating purchase. There have been an abundance of narrow-minded comments in this tread that have completely ignored this fact. If a VW or Subaru or motorcycle or bicycle or (insert vehicle of choice here) gets you everywhere you want to go that’s great! That means it’s the right vehicle for you because it fulfills your needs. However, at the same time, to suggest to someone else that they prefer an SUV solely because of image when a minivan would suffice is pure ignorance.
    As far as the load floor question, I wondered about this as well. I also pondered how successful GM will be selling these in place of a minivan. Time will tell for sure but now having seen one of these vehicles with all the seats stowed away makes me think these really are a viable replacement for a minivan. I won’t say the floor was perfectly flat, but it was pretty darn close. It is devoid of all the lumps and bumps that are present after folding all the seats down in our Trailblazer. The other thing to keep in mind when comparing to the various crossovers, SUVs and minivans it the usability of the third row. A full size adult can actually fit in the third row when there are lots of three-row vehicles that are only usful for small children in the third row. Even my sister-in-laws Christler minivan isn’t as easy to access the third row as these Lambdas with their nifty flip-and slide second row seats. The first generation Durango was the first to offer the third row usability followed by the Trailblazer and now this Lambda trio. To get anything more you have to go to a full-size SUV.
    In my opinion, GM has brought a very nice vehicle to the market that should sell very well. I’m glad to see they are doing something right but I also think they have a ways to go befor the rest of their lineup is looking up.

  • avatar
    WaterDR

    Wow, that is the biggest paragraph I have ever seen!

    As an owner of a Suburban Z-71 that has now seen 100k miles and NEVER, not once, saw a shop (except for tires, brakes and oil), I must say that the new GM trio will find it’s way into my garage.

    This vehicle is really nice and drives great and is SMALL. Yes, I said it….its S M A L L compared to my BIG ute.

    Keep in mind that these things have three full rows of seating. I must say, though, that the price is steep. Fully-loaded they run $45k. I told the salesmen that I think for $36k, it would be priced right – lol. Thing is, they are a hot seller and dealers are just not moving on these things around here.

    When I can use my GM card, and get 0%, I will be standing in line.


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