Always Look Around in Neighborhood Automotive

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It’s not like I am a nosy neighbor, but we do all look out for each other. We notice if there is something different, or out of the ordinary in our neighborhood.

We know when someone’s relative is visiting (Who owns that Ford Focus?), when there are plumbing problems (What’s with that GMC panel van?), and certainly when someone buys a brand new vehicle.

This is a newsworthy event that is fun and exciting for everyone on our street. Such was the case recently when my neighbor took delivery of their new Saturn Outlook.

Everyone knew it was coming. It had been ordered weeks before, but one day it just magically appeared in their driveway. A large, beautiful Midnight Blue profile suddenly dominated their landscape. Now I am going to be nosy! Just when I got up the nerve to move from tactfully peering through the curtain, to blatantly going out to explore, another neighbor beat me to it. Darn, missed my chance.

GM seems to have gotten it right. The Outlook is Saturn’s new crossover vehicle (along with its sisters, the GMC Acadia and the higher end Buick Enclave), auto manufacturers’ replacement for the frumpy van of yesteryear. A crossover is to be that perfect blend of SUV and van; functional for a family, but cool like an SUV, all with the ride comfort of a car.

The lines and components of the Outlook are striking both inside and out. As a result, sales have taken off and the reviews have been glowing. I knew that I had to dig deeper. I had to check out my neighbor’s new Outlook.

My first close-up was at a state soccer championship game. After a night of torrential rain, the parking lot by the fields was a sea of mud. My little Scion TC had to carefully jump from island to island, dancing around the sea of puddles.

Then the Outlook arrived taking a straight shot to its parking spot, demonstrating its confidence and comfort in any situation. The Outlook stands tall at nearly 6 feet, giving the driver a commanding view of the road, just like an SUV.

The exterior’s lines are stunning with angles and curves just where they should be. The interior is also attractive with a logical dash and comfort throughout, even way back in the traditionally throwaway third seat. Reports are that the access to the third seat is as easy as pulling a single lever on the second-row seat which slides it forward, and up, positioning the seat against the front backrests. GM calls the design Smart Glide.

While I shared my approval with my neighbor, I had to settle with admiring the Outlook from afar. However, a month later my son lucked into a ride. It was on a snowy night, but I knew that my son was safe.

I remembered that the Outlook has, “…dual-stage front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection and side curtain airbags that provide head protection for all three seat rows.” As envy set in, I could not wait to get home and debrief him about the ride. How about the 270-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, the six-speed automatic transmission?

He said that he didn’t know, but he did get to ride shotgun and he thought sitting up that high was really cool. I dug for more details.

How did it handle the curves and the potholes?

How firm did it feel at speed??

How did the lumbar support feel in the seats???

He wasn’t sure about any of these probing questions, but he did say that the best thing about the Outlook is that it talked. My son had experienced On Star; GM’s navigation/diagnostic/hands-free calling service.

My neighbor has had the Saturn Outlook for several months now. Snow, kids and muddy parking lots behind it, the Outlook is now broken in. Even so, its profile is still impressive as it sets in their driveway, and it is still “new” to the neighborhood. GM and Saturn did get it right with the Outlook, and so did my neighbor. Maybe someday it will be my turn to ride shotgun.

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