Seating for eight, easily accessible adult-friendly third row, generous cargo capacity, easy to drive, feels smaller than it is.
Transmission often reluctant to downshift on its own, few truly useful storage bins, options prices add up fast.
Used to be, to accommodate their specific vehicular needs, medium- and large-size families were relegated to penalty-box minivans with questionable styling, or behemoth full-size SUVs with trucklike handling and abysmal fuel economy. The introduction of midsize and large crossovers, like the 2008 Saturn Outlook, has changed all that. Now, soccer moms, NASCAR dads and everyone else with a brood to chauffeur (and cargo to move) have a viable and — dare we say — desirable domestic alternative to the family mobiles of the past.
The 2008 Saturn Outlook is kin to the other General Motors crossovers based on the same Lambda vehicle platform: the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and the newest member of the family, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, all of which effectively take the place of minivans for the automaker. Even though the base Outlook XE starts out as the least expensive of the three (at roughly $28,000), once you step up to the higher XR trim level (which is what our test car was), add all-wheel drive (like our test vehicle) and start ticking off must-have and like-to-have options packages (also on our test vehicle), the ticket price blows through the $30,000 range. We decided to see how this $42,000 crossover from Saturn shaped up.
Our all-wheel-drive 2008 Saturn Outlook tester's 3.6-liter V6 engine puts out 275 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm (For 2009, this was upgraded to 281 hp and 266 lb-ft). That six-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, and they work together to get the 5,067-pound crossover to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds during performance testing. That's not all that an impressive number when compared to the Outlook's competitors, but it's nothing to be ashamed of for such a large, heavy people carrier. (The Toyota Highlander gets from zero to 60 in 7.5 seconds, the Mazda CX-9 does it in 7.7 seconds and the Buick Enclave takes 8.8 seconds.) The Outlook stopped in a respectable 127 feet in our 60-0-mph braking test, thanks to ventilated disc brakes at all four corners, and handled like a car (albeit a big car) courtesy of its unibody frame and comfort-tuned suspension.
During highway driving, we found the transmission often reluctant to downshift on its own. This was most apparent when merging into traffic and trying to get up to speed quickly, or when we needed a quick downshift to pass at speed. It felt like there was power there to tap into, but the six-speed transmission, obviously tuned for maximum fuel economy, was sometimes painfully slow to react to our pedal-based requests. This is a known issue for GM's Lambda platform crossovers, and there is an ECU reflash available through dealers to reportedly remedy the problem. The other way to fix the issue is to use the manual shifting option, activated by a rocker switch on the shifter.
One of the biggest benefits of a crossover SUV built on a unibody platform (as opposed to a truck-based SUV) is a smooth ride quality and carlike demeanor. This holds true for the Outlook; it's well-mannered, predictable and easy to drive. Due to firmer suspension tuning, it's less floaty and boatlike than the Outlook's Buick Enclave sibling. Even loaded with seven adult editors of varying sizes, our Outlook test vehicle never seemed sluggish, and it exhibited minimal body roll when cornering considering its size. Freeway hop when cruising over expansion joints is fairly pronounced, but not so bad as to make the ride uncomfortable.
The eight-way-adjustable driver seat (with memory as part of the Enhanced Convenience Package) and height-adjustable seatbelts make it easy for people of many sizes to find a comfortable and safe driving position. The front passenger seat is four-way-adjustable and has power lumbar adjustment, allowing the person riding shotgun to dial in their seating position, too. Both front seat cushions are firm and wide, yet gentle side bolstering and decent thigh support help to keep even those with narrow or long frames comfortable on longer trips.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good, with just enough thickness and cushion to keep road-weary hands comfortable. It also tilts and telescopes to adjust to drivers of different sizes and position preferences.
The second-row bench seat is roomy and comfortable, with copious legroom. Outboard seat cushions are firm with prominent side bolstering, but the center seat is very hard and narrow. The third-row seat, however, is where the 2008 Saturn Outlook really shines. Many crossovers or traditional SUVs have very cramped third-row seats. Yet adult passengers who end up in the Outlook's flat third-row bench will have little to complain about. Legroom can't be characterized as abundant, but average-size adults won't be eating their knees back there either. Rear-seat audio and climate controls with vents in the second and third rows are appreciated when things heat up.
One of the best attributes of this eight-passenger crossover is the acrobatic second-row bench seat, which splits, tumbles, flips forward and slides easily to allow wide-open access to the third row or provide room for more cargo. Second-row captain's chairs are optional for increased seating comfort but reduce capacity (to seven).
With all rows of seats in use, the remaining cargo area is a usable 19.7 cubic feet, enough for a few pieces of luggage or a week's worth of groceries for a large family. Should you want to use more of the Outlook's generous 117 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, putting down the third-row seats is an uncomplicated process thanks to a simple lift-to-release lever and pull-to-raise strap, though it requires quite a bit of effort: The third-row seats are rather heavy and a 5-foot-7-inch editor had to climb into the cargo area to reach the levers and straps.
One of our few complaints is that, for a family-focused vehicle, there is a surprising lack of just-right medium-size storage bins, though there are many small storage compartments. Another gripe from the driver seat is that the small, similarly shaped buttons of the climate and audio controls are attractive and symmetrical, but these very qualities make them more difficult to use. The optional touchscreen navigation system now includes a rear back-up camera, which helps with rearward visibility in a vehicle of this size, but it comes with a hefty $2,340 price tag.
Our Recaro Como child safety seat was fairly easy to install on the outboard second-row seat (we installed it on the 40 side of the 60/40-split-folding seat to make access to the third row through the 60 side easier without having to remove the child seat). You'll find LATCH anchors on the second-row outboard seats only.
Design/Fit and Finish
Our test car's Garnet paint, a deep glittering red reminiscent of the gemstone for which it is named, was quite attractive and rich-looking up close, but dissolved to "non-descript dark" from any distance farther than a few feet, especially in bright sunlight. The Outlook's exterior design is friendly and clean, but less visually interesting than its GM brethren.
Interior materials are of good quality, and while not quite the premium feel of the Buick Enclave, they definitely don't feel cheap. Panel gaps were minimal on our test vehicle, and the entire interior felt solidly built, with nary a squeak or rattle. The light tan leather on the first- and second-row seats — part of the pricey $3,570 Luxury Package — was comfortable and attractive, but we noticed it already starting to look dirty after our test Outlook's 2,300 miles. Hard plastic on the backs of the front seats makes scuff removal easy but takes away from the upscale feel of the leather upholstery.
Who should consider this vehicle
Carpools, family road trips, extended visits from extended family, big box shopping sprees: If those all sound familiar to you, the 2008 Saturn Outlook could be the understated minivan alternative you're looking for. If you like what the Saturn offers in terms of standard equipment, options and the like, it's a solid choice in the midsize or large crossover SUV segment, though we'd probably skip the pricier options if it were up to us.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2008 Saturn Outlook Overview
The 2008 Saturn Outlook is offered in the following submodels: SUV. Available styles include XE 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A), XR 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A), and XE 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A). Outlook models are available with a 3.6 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 275 hp, depending on engine type. The 2008 Outlook comes with front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The 2008 Outlook comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2008 Saturn Outlook?
Save up to $247.4 on one of 25 used 2008 Saturn Outlooks for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $4496 as of Nov 24, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 27 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 3.7 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2008 Saturn Outlook trim styles:
The 2008 Saturn Outlook XE is priced around $6622 with average odometer reading of 116750 miles.
The 2008 Saturn Outlook XR is priced around $7546 with average odometer reading of 136697 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, Virginia. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Is the 2008 Saturn Outlook a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Saturn Outlook and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Outlook featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2008 Saturn Outlook? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Saturn Outlook and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Outlook 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Outlook.
Vehicle XR 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
Review I purchased my Saturn Outlook XR in march of 2015 with 74,000 miles on it. 2 months after i had transmission issues. the warranty covered it and i only had to pay my 100 dollar warranty deductible. now my vehicle is leaking from under the dash to the left of my break. and the sky light in the second and third row is now leaking water and the back headliner lights are even having water through them. yesterday 3/24/2016 it flooded really bad on the driver side. it was not the sunroof either. because it was not even wet in that area i can see water coming from under dash. I am now having electrical problems because of water damage. my wipers wont turn off unless car is off my turning indicators went out after coming on, on their own and finally just failed. my windshield wiper fluid was spraying on its own and finally failed. My vehicle is going to dealer this coming up week and the dealer has already told me it wont be covered! I have seen so many people with the same or similar issues as my own! DO NOT BUY THIS VEHICLE, OR ACADIA, OR THE BUICK ENCLAVE. YOU WILL REGRET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If anyone sees this and wants to contact me and has same problems i have contacted GM and i will not just go away!!![contact information removed]
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2008 saturn outlook XE 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A), 6-speed shiftable automatic, regular unleaded 19 combined MPG 16 city MPG/24 highway MPG
2008 saturn outlook XR 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A), 6-speed shiftable automatic, regular unleaded 19 combined MPG 16 city MPG/24 highway MPG
2008 saturn outlook XE 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A), 6-speed shiftable automatic, regular unleaded 18 combined MPG 16 city MPG/22 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2008 Saturn Outlook?