When the Saturn Outlook was first introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model, the all-new Saturn crossover was positioned by product planners as a key part of "Saturn's new face," sporting Saturn's cutting-edge future design language as first seen on the Sky roadster.

But with current gas prices taking bigger chunks of green from the buyers' wallets, the slow-selling GM division is beginning to re-equip its already established models to better cope with contemporary times. Most recently, Saturn engineers made a couple of significant changes to the 2009 Outlook, beginning most importantly with what's under its hood.

Powering the unibody Outlook crossover, which is based on GM's Lambda platform, is a reworked DOHC 3.6L V-6 featuring Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and direct-injection technology. Together the two systems boost power outputs while at the same time slightly improving fuel-efficiency ratings. The top-tier Outlook XR now makes 288 hp at 6400 rpm and 270 lb-ft at 3400 rpm, while the base level Outlook XE edition churns out 281 hp at 6400 rpm and 253 lb-ft at 5500 rpm. Providing ample traction to all four wheels (front-drive XE and XR versions are still available in '09) is GM's Active On Demand AWD system that variably adjusts power and torque depending on the vehicle's speed, throttle, and surface conditions. A HydraMatic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission further helps out with the bigger Saturn's fuel efficiency.

Compared to 2008, the upcoming Outlook attains a slight bump in mpg economy. Front- drive models hit an EPA measured 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway; all-wheel drive cars achieve 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. The outgoing FWD Outlook was rated one mpg less in the city and one mpg less on the highway in AWD form.

For the 2009 model year, a revised rear fascia shared by both finds its place out back. Downward-facing dual exhaust tips on the XR eliminate the need for bumper cutouts like on previous iterations. Other than that, not much of the exterior has evolved from the outgoing XR and XE models. A Preferred Package on the XE trim level provides body-colored moldings as well as heated mirrors and turn signals. Available 20-in. alloy wheels can be specified on the Touring Package, while standard rolling stock remains at 18 inches. Two new colors, Quicksilver and Silver Moss, replace the aged Silver Pearl and Ocean Mist, respectively.

Up to eight passengers can be accommodated by the 2009 Outlook, depending on seating configuration. Leather on XR models and a redone cloth trimming on XEs come standard, although XE buyers keen on leather can select it as an option. A Bose 5.1 nine-speaker surround-sound multimedia system can be opted to keep passengers more than sufficiently entertained. GM's standard OnStar 7.2 and new for '09 Bluetooth connectivity will help ensure all eyes will stay fixed on the road ahead. Six standard airbags spread throughout the front, side and curtain areas protect all passengers extending into the available third row of seating. A new backup camera system (navigation not required) can be included on either model to further aid in tricky reverse situations.

The Outlook holds the unofficial title of being GM's slowest-selling Lambda-based crossover, but Saturn officials are banking on the Outlook's improved feature list and slightly better fuel efficiency to attract crossover buyers with even more options. Expect the refreshed 2009 Saturn Outlook to hit dealerships nationwide in the coming months.


2009 Saturn Outlook
Base Price $29,360
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, AWD, 7 or 8-pass crossover SUV
Engine 3.6L/281-hp/253-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 (XE model); 3.6L/288-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 (XR model)
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4700-4905 lbs (mfr)
Wheelbase 118.9 in
Length x width x height 201.1 x 78.9 x 69.9 in
Headroom, f/m/r 40.4/39.3/38.4 in
Legroom, f/m/r 41.3/36.9/33.2 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 62.0/61.1/57.8 in
Cargo Vol, behind f/m/r 115.9/68.6/24.1 cu ft
EPA City/Hwy Econ 16-17/23-24 mpg
CO2 Emissions 0.99-1.05 lb/mile

Below is the official press release from Saturn for the 2009 Saturn Outlook.

SATURN OUTLOOK CROSSOVER GETS MORE V-6 POWER, MORE TOWING FOR 2009
The family friendly Saturn Outlook crossover provides the capability of an SUV with car-like style, efficiency and driving feel. For 2009, Outlook - which accommodates up to eight and their gear - gets a sophisticated new V-6 engine that provides more power without compromising fuel economy.

The popular crossover includes many enhancements for 2009, including an interim model year increase in maximum towing capacity from 4,500 pounds (2045 kg) to 5,200 pounds (2364 kg).** Others include standard leather seating on the uplevel XR model and, for the first time, available leather seating on XE. Cabin comfort and convenience enhancements include OnStar with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a choice of two available Bose audio systems: the Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround system with DVD, or a non-surround Bose audio system.

The Outlook is available in two models, XE and XR, and in both front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Powerful and efficient new engine
Direct-injection technology in the Outlook's 3.6L V-6 helps produce power similar to many V-8 engines, yet uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Outlook XR is rated at an SAE-certified 288 horsepower (215 kW)* and 270 lb.-ft. of torque (366 Nm),* and the Outlook XE is rated at 281 horsepower (210 kW) and 253 lb.-ft. of torque (343 Nm),* with expected best-in-class fuel economy. This power is delivered using regular unleaded gasoline.

Direct injection works by spraying fuel directly into the engine cylinder, where it is mixed with air. As the fuel vaporizes in the cylinder, the air and fuel mixture is cooled. This enables a higher compression ratio in the combustion chamber, which improves engine performance and efficiency. Compared to a conventional, port-injection system, less fuel is required to produce the equivalent horsepower. Ninety percent of the engine's peak torque is available from approximately 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm. Unique pistons with the direct injection system help reduce cold-start emissions by 25 percent.

Advanced, high-pressure fuel injectors reduce noise and comprise only one of numerous under-hood features designed to minimize or eliminate noise, vibration and harshness. Other elements include an acoustically tuned engine cover and intake manifold and center-feed fuel lines. Also, a new engine mount system reduces vibration at idle.

Six-speed transmission
Outlook's 3.6L V-6 engine is mated to the Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission, an advanced transmission with clutch-to-clutch shift operation. Its six-gear configuration allows for a "steep" 4.48:1 first gear, which helps deliver exceptional launch feel, and a 0.74:1 overdrive sixth gear - the "tall" overdrive gear - lowers rpm at high speeds to reduce noise and vibration. The 6T75 also offers automatic grade braking, shift stabilization and precise shift control.

Ride and handling
Outlook rides on a long, 118.9-inch (3,021 mm) wheelbase and wide, 67.3-inch (1,709 mm) front/rear tracks - a combination that enables an exceptionally smooth ride and stable handling. The front independent suspension features a MacPherson strut design, with a direct-acting stabilizer bar. Isolated mounting points help reduce noise and vibration. The rear independent suspension uses a compact, state-of-the-art linked "H" design, which also has an isolated mounting system that reduces noise and vibration transmitted to the passenger compartment.

A strong body-frame integral structure is the foundation of Outlook's responsive chassis systems. The structure is reinforced in numerous areas with high-strength steel, including a stiff steel cross-car beam welded across the floor between the B-pillars.

Outlook's available Active On Demand all-wheel-drive system delivers a more refined driving experience and optimizes vehicle dynamics and control. The system works by actively managing the torque split between the front and rear axles, based on factors such as vehicle speed, throttle and surface conditions.

Another important crash avoidance feature is Outlook's standard Panic Brake Assist, which automatically develops maximum brake boost to mitigate a driver's tendency to brake without enough force bring the vehicle to a safe stop.

Premium, spacious interior
Outlook's roomy cabin provides a commanding view of the road, and premium, low-gloss materials give it a stylish and refined feel. For 2009, leather is standard on XR and, for the first time, available on XE, which also gets new base cloth upholstery.

Outlook can be configured for seven or eight passengers, including two front bucket seats, a 60/40-split second-row bench (three passengers) or two second-row captain's chairs (two passengers) and a 60/40-split third-row bench seat that can seat three adult passengers comfortably.

GM's industry-first Smart Slide (r) feature is standard on all second-row configurations, allowing quick and easy access to the third-row seating area. With one-hand operation, the second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, effectively compressing the space occupied by the seat. The second-row seats also offer adjustable fore/aft positioning.

The backup camera is also new for 2009 and is available on both XE and XR models. The compass on the XR model moves from the rearview mirror to the driver information center to accommodate the in-mirror view screen.

Audio system
New for 2009, the available Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround system with DVD replaces the advanced audio system, and delivers concert-quality sound normally reserved for home theaters. The 300-watt, nine-speaker system incorporates Bose Centerpoint technology, which makes two-channel audio information very rich and spacious.

A non-surround Bose audio system also is available.

The base audio system consists of an AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player and six speakers.

Storage galore
There's plenty of room for gear in the Outlook. Its body-frame integral design enables generous interior space even behind the third-row seat, with an estimated 24.1 cu. ft. (682 L). When the second and third rows are folded flat, Outlook delivers a generous 115.9 cu. ft. (3282 L) of cargo room (with cargo management removed), capacity that many other SUVs and crossovers can't match.

A second-row console is available for the captain's chair seating configuration, bringing additional convenience and functionality to second-row passengers.

Also, a covered rear cargo convenience center allows items to be stored out of sight beneath the rear cargo floor.

Sleek and sporty exterior
The Outlook's profile is sleek and aerodynamic, with a sporty, tapered roof line. The rear glass wraps around the corners and is angled slightly toward the roof, enhancing the vehicle's flowing lines.

For 2009, the XR and XE have the same rear fascia. The dual exhaust tips on XR models are downturned, eliminating the need for the cutouts characteristic of previous years' models. Only XR models that include the optional Touring Package (interim model year availability) will be equipped with rear fascias with exhaust cutouts. New, 20-inch alloy wheels also are standard on the Touring Package. Other Outlook models feature standard 18-inch wheels.

The Preferred Package on XE models now adds body-color bodyside moldings, body-color, heated outside rearview mirrors and turn-signal repeaters to the list of existing equipment.

Two new Outlook exterior colors are available for 2009: Quicksilver replaces Silver Pearl and Silver Moss replaces Ocean Mist.

Safety and security
Saturn Outlook is designed to protect occupants before, during and after a crash. A strong structure is the foundation, augmented by a wide stance and low center of gravity that enhance stability. Outlook's responsive four-wheel independent suspension system also enhances safety by providing stable ride and handling characteristics. StabiliTrak and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Panic Brake Assist technology are standard on all Outlook models.

Outlook is equipped with six standard air bags: two dual-stage frontal air bags for the driver and front passenger, two seat-mounted side-impact air bags in the first row and two head curtain side-impact air bags that cover all three seating rows.

Complementing the air bags is GM's rollover sensing system, which can preemptively activate the head curtain air bags if sensors determine a rollover is imminent. In the event of a rollover, the air bags stay inflated longer to provide increased occupant containment and because rollovers are typically longer in duration than non-rollover crashes.

OnStar with new Bluetooth connection
Outlook is equipped with standard OnStar Generation 7.2 (with a one-year Safe & Sound plan), which features the Advanced Crash Response System. The available Directions and Connections plan includes OnStar's voice-activated Turn-By-Turn Navigation system. XM Real-Time Traffic Display, which is compatible with the navigation system is available on XR models.

For 2009, OnStar provides Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. This feature is standard on XR models and available on XE when the Preferred Package is ordered. In addition, OnStar Destination Download is available and compatible with navigation system-equipped vehicles.

*Preliminary, pending SAE certification.

**SAE certified.

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