General Motors’ decision to take its Saturn division off life support by giving it some viable new products is paying dividends.
Consumer Reports, which traditionally doesn’t fawn over domestic vehicles, says the 2007 Saturn Outlook crossover is among the best models from GM in years and that it gives both the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander a run for their money.
Consumer Reports’ August issue, which comes out today, includes a test of eight mid- and full-size crossovers and SUVs in which the Outlook scored a “very good” and ranked as the best domestic crossover and third-best crossover overall, behind the top-rated midsize Highlander Hybrid and Pilot. Rating it against full-size SUVs, the midsize Outlook was rated second best behind only the Mercedes-Benz GL450. The Outlook outscored the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Chevrolet Suburban.
“Outlook is the most competitive volume model from General Motors in years,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports‘ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn.
The Outlook is the latest in a series of new Saturn offerings that includes the Sky roadster, the redesigned Vue crossover, it’s Vue Green Line hybrid version and the Aura sedan, which was named 2007 North American Car of the Year by automotive media.
The Outlook’s high rating is especially good for GM because it is one of a trio of new midsize crossovers that includes the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. The trio was brought to market as alternatives to low-mileage mid- and full-size SUVs and minivans. Car-based crossovers deliver better ride, handling and mileage than truck-based SUVs for a market that’s tired of watching gas prices skyrocket.
GM is betting that forecasts of crossovers as a growth market will prove true. Chevrolet is expected to add its own version of the midsize crossover in 2009 that will be built at the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.
Consumer Reports cited as pluses the Outlook’s agile handling, comfortable ride and third-row seat, which it said is roomy enough for three adults and folds flat when more cargo room is needed.
Editor’s note: Veteran auto writer Jim Mateja is joining the KickingTires team as a contributor. Jim has decades of experience as an auto writer and has a distinct voice, a huge base of knowledge and a wealth of experience. This is his first post.