Saturn outlook ranks among top suvs

В рубриках: Automobile | Автор: admin 16.10.2011

Saturn Outlook Ranks Among Top Suvs

The Saturn Outlook lived up to General Motor Corp.’s expectations as a flexible utility vehicle by placing in not one but two categories in an issue of Consumer Reports magazine set to hit newsstands today.

The Outlook, a three-seat-row vehicle built at GM Lansing Delta Township Plant, ranked third among midsize SUVs behind the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Honda Pilot in the August issue of Consumer Reports. Additionally, the Outlook ranked second behind the Mercedes-Benz GL450 among large SUVs. Consumer Reports also included the Outlook in the large SUV rankings because of its roomy interior.

The Outlook is the best-performing high-volume GM vehicle in years, said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn. The rankings are based on a set of 50 tests and evaluations that measure characteristics such as acceleration, braking, handling, comfort, interior noise and the ease of use of controls and displays.

“It’s extremely competitive in terms of the way it drives,” Champion said about the Outlook. “It has nice steering, good handling and reasonable fuel economy. The interior fit and finish is up to the competition. It’s very roomy inside. It just does what the market is looking for in many ways.” Durability is the remaining question for the Outlook, which was launched late last year and has not been on the market long enough to judge its durability, Champion added.

“With the Outlook, they seemed to have got it all right,” he said. “The only thing we cannot say at the moment is whether it’s going to hold together.”

The ranking in Consumer Reports is significant because the magazine and its Web site are popular tools for people shopping for cars. “Our research tells us that Consumer Reports is the most influential by far of all the third-party surveys and rankings that are done,” said GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson.

The Outlook represents a major shift for both the Saturn brand and General Motors lineup. As a fact, the launch of the utility vehicle forms part of Saturn’s renaissance. Trying to reverse diminishing sales, the GM brand began launching a series of redesigned and all-new vehicles last year, including the Outlook. Saturn sales were up 30 percent through May of this year to 103,935 units.

The Outlook also is part of a family of the Detroit automaker’s product lines, including the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, which fit into the burgeoning category dubbed as crossovers. These vehicles have the space of ordinary SUVs, which are built on heavy truck underpinnings but have better handling and fuel economy because they are manufactured on lighter car frames. The Outlook front-wheel-drive model gets an estimated 18 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in the whole crossover segment because of the fuel prices being higher,” Wilkinson said. “We’re certainly seeing a lot of interest in them.”

The Outlook, launched at the New York International Auto Show, is based on the GM Lambda platform shared with siblings GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. The utility vehicle is equipped with improved parts like the Saturn air filter and engines. It is powered by the 3.6 L DOHC 24-valve HFV6 engine with Variable Valve Timing, available in two versions: the XE which produces 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque; and the XR with 275 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque (dual exhaust). Both versions use the Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission and are available with either all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.

The Outlook features the lowest sticker price among the GM’s Lambda crossover SUVs.

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