2007 Saturn Outlook, 2007 GMC Acadia, 2008 Buick Enclave, 2009 Chevrolet Traverse. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Crossover SUV
History/Description: Between 2007 and 2008, GM launched several model variants based on their new, largely Malibu-based Lambda Platform crossover models. Saturn’s version was called the Outlook, GMC’s version was called the Acadia, Chevrolet turned the model into a machine called the Traverse, and Buick created the award-winning Enclave. Though the Saturn Outlook has been cancelled, the other models have all been given a full overhaul in the past year – meaning first generation models have transitioned fully into used-ute territory.
Depending on the model selected, feature content included climate-controlled seats, navigation, Bluetooth, a Head-Up Display (HUD), dual sunroofs, automatic climate control and room for up to eight occupants. Unique features included adaptive lighting, power tailgates and DVD entertainment consoles, depending on the unit in question. Shoppers after a more luxurious vehicle can seek out a Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia Denali, both of which packed elevated premium feature content for a high-end experience. On the more affordable side of the scale, a front-drive Traverse or Outlook should be available on the cheap.
In any case, space and flexibility were near the top of the crossover class with clever sliding and folding seats and well over 3,000 litres of cargo space. A “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS and a full complement of advanced airbags and traction aids helped deliver confidence for family-minded shoppers.
Engines: All models are powered by a 3.6L V6 engine, which by 2009, had all been given direct-injection for added fuel efficiency. Lightweight engine construction, variable cam timing and six-speed transmissions with manual shift mode all around helped enhance mileage and performance. Horsepower output landed between 275 and 288 depending on the year in question – and AWD was available optionally.
2008 Buick Enclave. Click image to enlarge
What Owners Like: Owners of this generation of Lambda-platform crossover tend to appreciate the ride quality, space and overall upscale design the most. Performance is rated strongly, as is the flexible interior and solid ride. Most owners say their machines are surprisingly easy to maneuver, despite the large size. All-season confidence in models with the optional AWD system rounded out the package along with car-like driving dynamics. Finally, many owners enjoy the up-level feature content – like the motorized tailgate, HUD and premium stereo. An effortless, relaxing and confident driving experience is also noted.
What Owners Dislike: Common owner-stated gripes of the Lambda’s include higher-than-expected fuel consumption, a fussy and non-intuitive navigation system, fussy Bluetooth phone interface and limited rear-seat space. Many owners also wish for more aggressive transmission programming for better performance, noting that the six-speed automatic seems sluggish to react to throttle inputs and hesitant to kick down – possibly because of engineering efforts to trim away at fuel consumption figures.
2007 Saturn Outlook. Click image to enlarge
Common Issues: Shoppers are advised to execute several checks of any lambda-platform model they’re considering ahead of purchase to ensure maximum confidence. Note that as these vehicles are mechanically similar or identical, built on the same platform and on the same assembly line, issues with one model will tend to be applicable to all of them.
Start by confirming proper operation of the air conditioner, rear-seat climate control system, all entertainment-related electronics, and the rear lift gate. Is the head-up display working? The automatic climate control? The air conditioner? The steering-wheel mounted audio controls?
Further, ensure the Bluetooth system works properly by linking it to your smartphone, confirm proper operation of all windows and locks, and the remote key-fobs.