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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. I'm looking for opinions or facts as to why it is that the Acadia seems to be flying off the lots while the Outlook sales seem to be much slower. I went to visit my local Saturn dealer and was amazed to find more than 20 Outlooks sitting in the back lot. They were almost begging me to buy one. He also said the dealership owned 5 stores and he could pretty much have any color and/or option combination for me in a day. Saturn is also offering a $1,000.00 or very low finance rates which is an indication that the cars aren't moving well. In contrast, the Acadia dealer is staying firm at or very near MSRP and very much has a take it or leave it attitude.

Is this just because of name brand recognition? Are thier differences in quality between the two? I'm really curious as I am beginning to prefer the Outlook over the Acadia, especially the interior finish. I've never dealt with or owned a Saturn product and it makes me a little nervous.

Enlighten me please.
 

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I've posted my opinions about this before on another forum, but I'll briefly repeat them here. In my opinion, it's really an image problem. First, GMC is perceived to be higher in quality, reliability and resale value than Saturn. Regardless that these two vehicles are mechanical twins, it is in the back of a lot of Buyers' minds - justified or not. Secondly, nobody thinks twice about walking into a GMC dealership and seeing $30-40,000 price tags on a vehicle. A Yukon Denali can be MUCH more than that, so those prices are right in line with what a potential GMC buyer is expecting when comparison shopping. Not so with a Saturn dealership - they have NEVER had a vehicle on their lots that cost so much. Please don't mistake this comment to mean that the Outlook is overpriced, there has simply never been this big (or nice) of a Saturn before. It's brand new territory for them. Third, Saturn is known for its "no haggle" pricing. What you see is what you get, more often than not. But in the rest of GM-land, GMC included, you can get a much better deal than MSRP, under normal circumstances. When I bought my Acadia back in late January, I DID pit an equally equipped Outlook against an Acadia. Guess what? My Acadia came out $1400 cheaper than the Saturn!! That's crazy! But they were willing to work with me and Saturn wasn't. Finally, keep in mind there are probably FIVE TIMES as many GMC dealerships as there are saturn ones, maybe more. Some people really don't want to have to deal with a dealership 50 miles away from them when there's a GMC one 6 miles down the road. Of course, all of this is purely my speculation and based a lot on my own feelings and experiences.

As for differences in quality, they are identical. All three Lambdas come off the same assembly line, built by the same people, using (mostly) the same parts.
 

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i will have to agree w/admin on this one plus i actually like the outlook better than the acadia. it has more of a family feel/look rather than that sporty look of the acadia.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good points guys. I wonder then if the pricing isn't a bigger issue than it appears on the surface. My GMC dealer is less than a mile from the Saturn dealer. It sure makes sense to drive a mile and save 1k to 2k for a similarly equipped vehicle that is equal in quality. Like I said, I really like the interior of the Outlook more than the Acadia, although both are excellent. I have to ask myself if I like it enough to hand over the extra cash.

All else being equal Deos GMC generally have a higher resale than Saturn? If so, I wonder if that will be the case with the Outlook vs Acadia since they are essentially the same vehicle.
 

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Unfortunately this is going to be HUGE problem for Saturn in my opinion. The Saturn dealership next to me had at least 10 Outlooks in stock and seemed pretty desperate to unload one but couldn't budge on the price. I, like many other people on this forum, prefer the styling (interior and exterior) of the Outlook over the Acadia. One problem that I see with Saturn at the moment is that they are beginning to change their image and offer more appealing and upscale vehicles. However, the perception of Saturn being a lower tier brand hasn't escaped most consumers minds and the thought of paying $30,000-$42,000 for a Saturn seems ubsurd. Also, GM's refusal to let Saturn accept the GM Card earnings is another reason why many people are jumping ship to the Acadia. Also as noted before it appears many people are getting similarly equipped Acadias around $1,000 to $1,500 below Outlook's bottom dollar and that is BEFORE GM Card earnings are applied. I really suspect that the trend of Outlook's piling up on dealer lots is going to continue until Saturn does something. I have seen around four Acadia's on my side of town and have yet to seen one Outlook. Hopefully when the '08s start hitting the lots Saturn offers a $3000 rebate and for a limited time, and only on the Outlook, accepts GM Card earnings (Remember they have done this before so it won't be unusual). I believe this would go a long way in clearing off inventory and creating more appeal for the brand. For that matter, GM should allow GM Card earnings to be applied toward Saturn from now on and for every model, but that is another argument.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It does seem like Saturn is going to have a problem on their hands with this one. They are offering essentially the same vehicle as GMC and soon Chevy yet they can't utilize the same sales and marketing tools. How can they hope to compete under these conditions. I think they made a big mistake in even offering the Outlook or at least in making it such an Acadia look-alike. There are not enough unique features to make it stand apart and earn sales on it's own merit and no method of pricing it competitively. What a shame, I am very interested in this vehicle but there just isn't enough incentive to buy it.

Interestingly, the sales guy said the discounts are built into the pricing structure. From what I see they simply offer less and then price accordingly. The option packages and preconfigured combinations are structured in a way to make this less noticeable.
 

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Tom H hit then nail right on the head. Saturn does build the "discount" into its MSRP but it isn't without taking some features away. Once you take a deep look into the specs it becomes more clear as to why the MSRP is lower. Not that the Outlook is stripped in comparison to the Acadia but certain features are missing that are otherwise standard on the Acadia and then in order to get these features you have to pay more for a package. Case in point the stereo system. With the Outlook XR you can upgrade to the Advanced Audio Package for around $800 but the speakers are unbranded. With the Acadia SLT-1 you get Bose Speakers standard and they sound better than the speakers in the Outlook with the Advance Audio Package. Also, dual zone automatic climate control is standard on the Outlook XR while the Acadia has tri-zone automatic climate control standard. If you want a power liftgate on the Outlook XR it will cost you an additional $1,045 because you have to get it as part of a package but with the Acadia SLT-1 you can add it for just $350. Overall, when both models are comparatively equipped (which is tough to do) the Acadia gives you more bang for your buck. GM, I may have been born at night but I wasn't born last night and if you are not careful you might end up cannibalizing a perfectly good vehicle.
 

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I myself am looking at an SUV in about 18 months. Been to the Acadia board. Agree that the Outlook simply offers less content which is why it's priced less, but the exterior and interior are differentiated enough as the Outlook offers a good-looking wood trim and tan. The price is reasonable in my opinion considering what you get for the money. I think GM has a winner in the Outlook, Acadia, and Enclave. Saturn has a "no haggle" sales policy which many people like, so allowing it to accept GM card points would only help it sell more Outlooks and more cars in general. Get with it GM!
 

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njv16 said:
Tom H hit then nail right on the head. Saturn does build the "discount" into its MSRP but it isn't without taking some features away. Once you take a deep look into the specs it becomes more clear as to why the MSRP is lower. Not that the Outlook is stripped in comparison to the Acadia but certain features are missing that are otherwise standard on the Acadia and then in order to get these features you have to pay more for a package. Case in point the stereo system. With the Outlook XR you can upgrade to the Advanced Audio Package for around $800 but the speakers are unbranded. With the Acadia SLT-1 you get Bose Speakers standard and they sound better than the speakers in the Outlook with the Advance Audio Package. Also, dual zone automatic climate control is standard on the Outlook XR while the Acadia has tri-zone automatic climate control standard. If you want a power liftgate on the Outlook XR it will cost you an additional $1,045 because you have to get it as part of a package but with the Acadia SLT-1 you can add it for just $350. Overall, when both models are comparatively equipped (which is tough to do) the Acadia gives you more bang for your buck. GM, I may have been born at night but I wasn't born last night and if you are not careful you might end up cannibalizing a perfectly good vehicle.
you're not really comparing apples to apples there. If you equip an Acadia and an Outlook exactly the same, the Outlook price is WAYYY cheaper. When I build my Outlook online, the price is $38,919. Build the exact same Acadia and the price is $41,224. That's a pretty big difference. Now, using my GM card earnings as well as the best negotiated deal I could get on the Acadia, they gave me 40k roughly. I'd say that's a big enough difference. A la carte optioning works for those who are willing to order a vehicle. Incentives usually won't apply. The Saturn dealership I dealt with gave me a 1k rebate incentive on top of a conquest offer! Then they were willing to bump my trade-in above GMC's offer. I had both dealerships calling one another bidding for the buy.
Now, onto the stereo idea. I was actually going to buy the speakers from my neighbor's Acadia, as he was upgrading his, and low and behold. My Advanced Audio Package has the SAME SPEAKERS! without the bose tag. Wow, was I surprised. I think that little bose name has had it's placebo effect on you, so you hear a better stereo for some reason. Maybe you were listening to XM on the Saturn and a CD on the GMC, dunno, but the speakers and stereo (AC DELCO) are the same.
As to Tri-Zone. If that's the selling point of the vehicle, then by all means purchase the GMC because it came with it.

Here's one to equip and compare for you:

GMC
SLT - 2 4SB
HID
Sunroof
Trailering
Wheels, , 4 - 19" x 7.5"
XM
Saturn
XR AWD
Premium Trim
Conv
Enh. Conv
Trailering
XM
Luxury Package
Touring
Sunroof
HID

I guess people stick with GMC for the card earnings. It's like when there's two gas stations, both Tier 1, and one is 20 cents per gallon more expensive. The people buying gas over there are either too lazy or too stupid, some fit into one category, others into the other category. I used the extra cash I saved on my Saturn and bought some accessories and pre-paid my insurance for 18 months!
 

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I took your challenge and price out both on Edmunds. The Acadia came out with an MSRP of $41,625 and the Outlook came out to and MSRP of $39,919. Around a $1,700 difference. But when you take into account the TMV or "What Others are Paying" the price of the Acadia was $39,766 and the Outlook was $39,919. Now the Outlook did have the $1,000 rebate or special financing and the Acadia only has the special financing but you can use the GM card earnings on the Acadia. I definately don't think it is a stretch to believe that people are paying less for a similarly equipped Acadia before GM card earnings are applied.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
boylem002 ,

Good points. You peaked by interest in saying your Saturn dealer gave you the conquest rebate. I specifically asked my dealer and he said the conquest rebate does not apply to Saturn. The only applicable savings were GM supplier or GM employee and the current $1k or low apr.

BTW - That low apr (4.9%) on the Acadia only applies to individuals with near perfect credit rating, requires 18% down and is only good for a 3 year note. That makes for some very hefty car payments for most people. It's almost useless for the average buyer.
 

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Hi, I am new to this forum. I sell Saturn's for a living and have to do a tremendous amount of research for my job, with of course the Outlook being one vehicle that I am very familiar with. I live and breath this stuff on a daily basis.

People have mentioned resale value and value for the dollar as well as straight up pricing. The Outlook and the Acadia are too new to predict resale value but one strong indicator is brand perception. Of course today Saturn has a reputation confined to small, cheap and many say less than average cars. In a year or two that will no longer be the case especially considering the new products such as the Sky, Astra, Aura, and the New Vue. Historical baggage is hard to get rid of- Ask Hyundai. GMC has nothing really to brag about. Especially considering that many of you have mentioned that the dealers are having to discount their vehicles to sell them. Well maybe just enough to beat the pricing of the Outlook. Poor salespeople who have to take a hit on their commision.

Apples to apples the Outlook is listed for less money. Please remember that the GMC and Outlook can be directly compared if you pick the right trim level considering standard equipment and such. The Outlook was meant to bring in a rather wide audience. Thus sometime a lower contented version price accordingly. The invoice costs for the same vehicles are similar too. Most people in many reviews and forums prefer the looks of the Outlook and I have a sneaky suspicion that the more elegant and upscale look of the Outlook may bode well for resale in 4 or five years time. Plus on top of this the fact that the amount of discounting such as GMC does with its whole line lowers the overall perception of the brand as always needing incentives to move the product. At least GM adds in the markup because they know that people want to haggle at GMC. I also believe that if the Outlook didn't exist, the Acadia would be selling for higher prices because the Lambda line of vehicles was meant to sell againt the Highlander and the Pilot which you all know are priced higher for similar equipment.

A GMC salesperson just has to say that we can beat the Outlook price and emphasize the fact that they are the same vehicle and he or she has a sale. Easy. A good Saturn salesperson has to point out the flaws to the argument. One, that there will be in a few years time many multiples of the Acadias for sale on the used car market and it will be more of a buyers market. Two, the Outlook will be a part of a different, more upscale Saturn which can only help it. Many people have commented on the fact that the Outlook has similar design cues to Audi and other European makes- that's a common comment on our other vehicles as well. The Acadia kind of looks like a redone Envoy on the outside and inside. Improved for sure but similar. That's okay, that is what it is meant to convey. I know which vehicles I would like people to assume I also may have considered. Many people have even mentioned that for the negotiated cheaper price on the Acadia they can live with this loss in the looks and status department. Most people down the road may think that is the reason you purchased it. You are absolutely right, the GMC probably deserves to be cheaper and may well remain that way with a faster depreciation curve to boot.

The reasons why the Acadia is outselling the Outlook are quite simple. GMC dealers have a larger and more affluent customer base and there are more dealers as well. GMC dealers are taking advantage of the fact they have a very easy stationary price target they have to beat- that the Outlook. It is especially easy when many customers already know the price of the Outlook before they come in. The salesperson has an easier job getting the sale as a result. If you called back your Saturn salesperson and gave them an honest attempt to match or get close to the price of the exact same Acadia, they propably could do something, I have. I think this is especially important when you consider that most people think that the Outlook is the vehicle they actually would rather own. Plus, the Outlook may get you most of your money back in resale anyway. It is a very important decision, just pick the vehicle you would like to own and get it. Forget the "I got a better deal at GMC" argument. GMC isn't going in the direction and speed at what Saturn is. It may cost someone no money at all to get the vehicle they really preferred.

At Saturn we are seeing many, many new customers due to our new products. People who own Toyota, Honda, Nissan, GMC, Chevrolet, etc... that have never been to a Saturn store and many would never walk into a GM, Ford or Chrysler store. Down the rode I can assume that our customer base will be quite varied such as that of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and others. GMC... well I do not know what they have up their sleeve if anything at all. It may be rather like the continued battle with Chevrolet over trucks and now Saturn with Crossovers. Stealing customers from other divisions rather than the needed conquest sales and new business. Perception is everything in this business. Price may get you but perception really is king.
 

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So what do you think Saturn is going to do to sell the stock? Increase incentives, allow redemption of GM card earnings, what? They are going to have to do something because from the looks of it the stock isn't selling fast enough or at least to the amount that was expected or hoped.
 

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Hi Nimbu, I'd like to comment on a few of your remarks...

Nimbu said:
Many people have even mentioned that for the negotiated cheaper price on the Acadia they can live with this loss in the looks and status department.
So you think buying a GMC is taking a hit in the status department vs. Saturn? GMC is probably the second most prestigious brand GM has, under Cadillac. It's true that Saturn is making an attempt to move out of last place in the prestige department, but I highly doubt it'll pass GMC by the time people are ready to sell their vehicles. By then the Acadia Denalis will be out - what will Outlook have in comparison, prestige-wise?

If you called back your Saturn salesperson and gave them an honest attempt to match or get close to the price of the exact same Acadia, they propably could do something, I have.
Let me tell you MY experience with my local Saturn dealership. We actually went to test drive an Outlook first, since it was a Sunday and the GMC dealership was closed. We loved it. Started the process of gather pricing etc. About 3 days later, we finally got around to test driving an Acadia, and did the same with their pricing, incentives, deals, etc. They gave us the conquest bonus ($1k), Supplier Pricing (about $1800 off MSRP) and the Feb $500 bonus. Now keep in mind, this didn't even include the GM card savings others have talked about (we dont have that card). I told the GMC dealer that we were cross shopping with the Outlook. He raved about it, saying how awesome all these Lambdas were and how we couldn't go wrong with them. Said Saturn dealerships were very straightforward and wouldn't give you the run-around. Bottom line, he was exceptionally courteous to his GM partner brand. Went back to the sales manager at Saturn the next day, told him the deal I was getting and that I was leaning toward the Acadia. He spend the next 20 minutes telling me how lousy and crooked GMC dealers were. He said the Acadias were QUOTE "pieces of junk" compared to the Outlook and I was wasting my time comparing them. Beyond that, he couldn't budge on the price, oh yeah, they did have a $200 dealer incentive and he'd HONOR that. (later I found it was posted on their website for anyone to print - so he wasn't exactly doing me a favor). The bottom line - he trashed his GM partner for no good reason, and overpriced his vehicle by something like $1400 compared to the similarly equipped Acadia ... of which I am now a proud owner.

Since that time, I started and ran Acadiaforum.net, Enclaveforum.net, and SaturnOutlookforum.net for almost 5 months, I've read literally almost EVERY lambda article anywhere online, spent thousands of hours searching, compiling and collecting Lambda data. Had several hour long conversations with Peter Nico Jr. - the Vehicle Line Director for all Lambdas, and countless other conversations with GM employees that build these vehicles at the Lansing Delta Plant. I KNOW the Lambdas pretty well. I'm here to tell you that the Sales Manager at that Saturn Dealership (in Sterling, VA) was spouting pure, unadulterated BS all in an attempt to "win me over".

Now I know that's only one guy at one dealership, but that's simply no way to run a business and I'll never buy a car from there again because of it.
 

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admin said:
Hi Nimbu, I'd like to comment on a few of your remarks...
So you think buying a GMC is taking a hit in the status department vs. Saturn? GMC is probably the second most prestigious brand GM has, under Cadillac. It's true that Saturn is making an attempt to move out of last place in the prestige department, but I highly doubt it'll pass GMC by the time people are ready to sell their vehicles. By then the Acadia Denalis will be out - what will Outlook have in comparison, prestige-wise?
Let me tell you MY experience with my local Saturn dealership. We actually went to test drive an Outlook first, since it was a Sunday and the GMC dealership was closed. We loved it. Started the process of gather pricing etc. About 3 days later, we finally got around to test driving an Acadia, and did the same with their pricing, incentives, deals, etc. They gave us the conquest bonus ($1k), Supplier Pricing (about $1800 off MSRP) and the Feb $500 bonus. Now keep in mind, this didn't even include the GM card savings others have talked about (we dont have that card). I told the GMC dealer that we were cross shopping with the Outlook. He raved about it, saying how awesome all these Lambdas were and how we couldn't go wrong with them. Said Saturn dealerships were very straightforward and wouldn't give you the run-around. Bottom line, he was exceptionally courteous to his GM partner brand. Went back to the sales manager at Saturn the next day, told him the deal I was getting and that I was leaning toward the Acadia. He spend the next 20 minutes telling me how lousy and crooked GMC dealers were. He said the Acadias were QUOTE "pieces of junk" compared to the Outlook and I was wasting my time comparing them. Beyond that, he couldn't budge on the price, oh yeah, they did have a $200 dealer incentive and he'd HONOR that. (later I found it was posted on their website for anyone to print - so he wasn't exactly doing me a favor). The bottom line - he trashed his GM partner for no good reason, and overpriced his vehicle by something like $1400 compared to the similarly equipped Acadia ... of which I am now a proud owner.

Since that time, I started and ran Acadiaforum.net, Enclaveforum.net, and SaturnOutlookforum.net for almost 5 months, I've read literally almost EVERY lambda article anywhere online, spent thousands of hours searching, compiling and collecting Lambda data. Had several hour long conversations with Peter Nico Jr. - the Vehicle Line Director for all Lambdas, and countless other conversations with GM employees that build these vehicles at the Lansing Delta Plant. I KNOW the Lambdas pretty well. I'm here to tell you that the Sales Manager at that Saturn Dealership (in Sterling, VA) was spouting pure, unadulterated BS all in an attempt to "win me over".

Now I know that's only one guy at one dealership, but that's simply no way to run a business and I'll never buy a car from there again because of it.
When I read this, I thought for sure you were talking about the Saturn dealer in Ft. Wayne, In. Remember, Saturn is "A Different Kind of Car Company". They must have both had the same sales training. I had never had a worse experience with a car dealer once they thought I was going to buy from them. Their the main reason I've got a Enclave on order.
 

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admin said:
Hi Nimbu, I'd like to comment on a few of your remarks...
So you think buying a GMC is taking a hit in the status department vs. Saturn? GMC is probably the second most prestigious brand GM has, under Cadillac. It's true that Saturn is making an attempt to move out of last place in the prestige department, but I highly doubt it'll pass GMC by the time people are ready to sell their vehicles. By then the Acadia Denalis will be out - what will Outlook have in comparison, prestige-wise?
Let me tell you MY experience with my local Saturn dealership. We actually went to test drive an Outlook first, since it was a Sunday and the GMC dealership was closed. We loved it. Started the process of gather pricing etc. About 3 days later, we finally got around to test driving an Acadia, and did the same with their pricing, incentives, deals, etc. They gave us the conquest bonus ($1k), Supplier Pricing (about $1800 off MSRP) and the Feb $500 bonus. Now keep in mind, this didn't even include the GM card savings others have talked about (we dont have that card). I told the GMC dealer that we were cross shopping with the Outlook. He raved about it, saying how awesome all these Lambdas were and how we couldn't go wrong with them. Said Saturn dealerships were very straightforward and wouldn't give you the run-around. Bottom line, he was exceptionally courteous to his GM partner brand. Went back to the sales manager at Saturn the next day, told him the deal I was getting and that I was leaning toward the Acadia. He spend the next 20 minutes telling me how lousy and crooked GMC dealers were. He said the Acadias were QUOTE "pieces of junk" compared to the Outlook and I was wasting my time comparing them. Beyond that, he couldn't budge on the price, oh yeah, they did have a $200 dealer incentive and he'd HONOR that. (later I found it was posted on their website for anyone to print - so he wasn't exactly doing me a favor). The bottom line - he trashed his GM partner for no good reason, and overpriced his vehicle by something like $1400 compared to the similarly equipped Acadia ... of which I am now a proud owner.

Since that time, I started and ran Acadiaforum.net, Enclaveforum.net, and SaturnOutlookforum.net for almost 5 months, I've read literally almost EVERY lambda article anywhere online, spent thousands of hours searching, compiling and collecting Lambda data. Had several hour long conversations with Peter Nico Jr. - the Vehicle Line Director for all Lambdas, and countless other conversations with GM employees that build these vehicles at the Lansing Delta Plant. I KNOW the Lambdas pretty well. I'm here to tell you that the Sales Manager at that Saturn Dealership (in Sterling, VA) was spouting pure, unadulterated BS all in an attempt to "win me over".

Now I know that's only one guy at one dealership, but that's simply no way to run a business and I'll never buy a car from there again because of it.
the denali version of the gmc will still not be as good as the buick enclave. the enclave is the best looking lambda ever.
 

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Well I have to say that the comments that I am reading are pretty fair to say the least. It is a known fact that the best way to lose a sale is to rag on the competition. Let't just say that my methods and ways of selling vehicles are of a more professional manner and to be honest with you I have nothing against the Acadia. It is an awsome vehicle as is the Enclave. It is personal opinion in the end.

Please accept my apologies on behalf of my other Saturn collegues. Saturn still wins awards for customer service year after year so your experience is a rare one. I kind of look at it this way. I have my bad days too but I have quite a few good ones. Some Saturn folk kind of hate the fact we no longer have polymer panels or completely different products. Many hate the fact that Saturn's now have the GM emblem on the side of the vehicle. I don't. Many Saturn folks are just not used to selling a vehicle so similar as is the Acadia and do not know how to deal with it. The Relay was a disaster. I liked the vehicle but GM kind of threw us in the deep end with that one. The Aura will have the 2008 Malibu to deal with. Some Saturn people will pack up and leave. They should. Their time has come and gone. It is a new market out there. You have met some of these people. The consolidation of the Saturn brand within GM isn't complete, yet. You will probably see GM card earnings on Saturns some day soon. They already occur in Canada for example. As well as GM employee and supplier discounts.

I would have to disagree that GMC is anything special within the GM family. They have the Acadia because Chevrolet has the Avalanche. You may not have known this but this is why Chevrolet doesn't have a Lamda vehicle at this time. At least according to some of the GM people in the local head office here but some of you may know better. Well what other brand is the Avalanche shared with? Cadillac. What other vehicle does Chevrolet share with Cadillac? Corvette and XTS. Sure the Escalade to the Denali but I do not see too many Denalis compared to Escalades. I would put GMC and Buick together as far as prestige goes. Historical greatness due to age and knowledge of the brand but not much else. Past glory in other words. I know of many Chevrolet truck owners who would disagree with you on prestige- truck wise. Look at how many more trucks Chevrolet sells compared to GMC. Its an Acadia to Outlook type problem. If Pontiac and Buick were to disappear GMC could easily go with them and nobody may notice the loss of those products. Cadillac had Lasalle at one time and could do something similar again and Chevrolet has it wide overlapping portfolio of product. Saturn will have its product that is different from the other brands. What new product is coming on the horizon for GMC? You mentioned a Denali version. And the Denali brand isn't something I would make long term plans over if I was needing the extra income of a Hit. I can go to a Chevrolet store and pick up most of what GMC offers except the Acadia and Denali versions. In a couple of years Chevrolet will have its Lambda built out of the old Saturn factory in Spring Hill.

Within Saturn we have several vehicles that are similar to our GM brand family members but most people consider the Saturn versions the more classy of the bunch. Sky to Solstice, Aura to 2008 Malibu, Outlook to Acadia, 2008 VUE to Equinox/Torrent. And we will have a few vehicles in the future nobody has such as the Astra and other future vehicles. Maybe the first (this century) diesel GM cars for example.

You may not be aware of this but Saturn has been repositioned within GM. Above Chevrolet and Pontiac. Saturn has had such a strong and loyal customer base and by far the greatest ability to gain new customers from non GM competitors that we have been given the role of being the North American arm of Opel. An import brand if you will. As such all of our products will be sold as European inspired or directly European. The Astra will be imported at least for the first year or two from Antwerpe Belgium, the VUE is an exact copy of the Opel Antara including the interior. The Aura is styled after the Opel Vectra (the next version in two years or less will be exactly the same I am told), the Sky is sold in Europe as the Opel GT and was base off of the Vauxhall Lightning concept car. The Outlook of course is not sold in Europe but its design is that of a German vehicle so that it fits within the Opel/Saturn family. We are expecting other vehicles to follow- maybe the Corsa, Signum, and others. The possibilities are many.

How does this affect things for the future for Saturn's perception within North America? Well let's just say that if all I was to look forward to was an Acadia Denali I do not think people would be seeing me as a changing or improving brand. Saturn may have a Redline version but who knows, it is not that important to prestige. Denali to many is a poor man's Cadillac and Cadillac's have some of the worst resale values that exist. Look at Toyota and Honda with all its new models and choices. It is like a war path they are on. I am sure we will all agree that the quality of the products GM is now bringing out are outstanding. The reputation of GM will not hinge on any one product or any one brand but I think you can see what GM is doing with Saturn. Pontiac, GMC, and Buick have not made any particular inroads in recent years for sales or are perceived to be too progressive at this time. Chevrolet with the Volt and Camaro and Pontiac with the G8 are good steps forward. However Saturn has the biggest job on its hands which is take on Toyota and Honda head on as in diversity as well as reputation. Just look at the recent promotion with the Honda and Toyota Test Drive. We will either succeed or fail. I am betting on the former. It will take time though. We are seeing the results already.

I guess my point is that Saturn has a different job to do than GMC. I personally believe that with the product we have with its diversity, quality and so far great acceptance something is going right. If the GMC Acadia didn't exist the Outlook sales would be how much greater? I think many multiples more simply because we still are less expensive than the Pilots and Highlanders out there and I think a superior product and value. Compared to the incentives and old fashioned "I'll buy it if you can get me a better deal" GMC way of doing things the Outlook has a hard time competing but only really because of the Acadia. However we do sell them and at our store and as many as we can get. I have dealt with the same problem with the Relay. I sold many and low and behold the Relays in my market have better resale values because people are willing to pay more for them. Don't ask me why but they do. Maybe it is because there are so many used Chevrolets and Pontiacs available but that can't be all to it. People aren't that naive.

We will see what happens but it is kind of exciting to see Saturn competing against GMC. I have had the pleasant opportunity to meet people that would have never come to our store. Their other choice would have been the Acadia. Well they are driving the Outlook today because they liked it better. GMC may be shooting themselves in the foot by taking a fantastic product like the Acadia, overpricing it, then incentivizing it (if that is a word), discounting it and selling it the way an crappy product needs to sell. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it probably is a duck. Kind of a shame really. Perception is everything. You know it because one bad Saturn store made some of you think that THAT is Saturn.

There is a good chance that if it were possible for you to have been at my store and had me as your salesperson you would be a Saturn Owner. I do it every day.

Thanks for the opportunity to say my peace.
 

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Nimbu,

Very thorough response! I get the feeling that you do believe in your product and your company. I may not agree with all that you had to say but your statement seems honest, at least in intent. I can't really respond to all that you had to say on the subject but I do agree that it's unfair to judge a company by a handful of outlandish sales reps. Every manufacturers sales chain has a few jerks. However, since you are a professional salesman with the apparent integrity that Saturn proclaims it's organization to have let me ask your advice on a purchase.

Hears the situation. I started this process out by test driving an Acadia. I was blown away by the feel and the looks of that vehicle. I began to do my homework as I always do prior to a car purchase and found out that many owners were able to buy at or very near invoice once the supply began to stabilize a bit. This seems to also hold true in ordering a 2008 as many are posting on the Acadia forum.

After searching around a bit I stumbled across the Outlook. My initial thought was, SATURN!, no way will I buy a Saturn car. So much for the prestige argument. After I began to study it awhile I "fell in love" as they say. I now absolutely prefer it to the Acadia. My mind is made up. I'm ready. I want one. But guess what....I'm 56 years old and the days of buying on impulse and instant gratification are long sense gone. Here is where you can help me and others. What is the incentive for buying a 2007 off the lot when I can prolong the gratification a while and just order a 2008. Rite now I can buy an Acadia for at least $2k less than the an equivalent outlook. Our local Saturn lots are filled with 07 models just collecting dirt. I could buy the 2007 today as they are almost begging me to do but after one year it will be worth $3,000.00 less than the 08' version that I could also order today. Still, Saturn is currently offering only $1,000.00 off list (or reduced Apr.) on the 07 as a way to try to move stock. This only compensates for a third of the loss. What do you say to a customer like me that is ready to purchase. Does Saturn rely on the fact that the average buyer doesn't think about this and will buy on impulse? I'm really curious how you guys at Saturn deal with the yearly transition aspect of the business. Most other manufacturers begin to discount heavily this time of year or when the new year model is on the horizon. What is the motivation for me to move on the 07? How will you make a customer out of me? In fact, convince me to buy from you and I will if the shipment to Indiana is reasonable. If not, then motivate me to go down tomorrow and buy one off the lot at my local dealer and at least help the overall Saturn movement.
 

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Nimbu,

Just to follow up with what Tom H is saying, what do you think Saturn is going to do to move these Outlooks off the lots? Come August or early September the '08s will probably start hitting the lots and from the looks of it at this point there might be quite a bit of '07s left. I used to not follow Saturn too much so I don't know how their "clearance" compares to other GM manufactures. My Saturn dealership now has 16 Outlooks in stock. I went to take a look to see if they had gotten anymore in and the salesperson that has been helping me out told me "it's a completely new stock since you have been here last. We can't hardly keep them on the lots." Keep in mind that it had only been a week ago since I had last been to the dealership and at that time they had 10. Does he think I am an idiot? When I first went there they seemed kind of desperate to sell me one and now they act they can't keep them on the lot. He didn't seem too interested about getting me a good deal on the Outlook and brought up the Acadia again. I would go for the Acadia if it wasn't for the fact that I want a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cloth seats. Also, I like the interior of the Outlook better. I really want an Outlook but unfortunately my hands and the sale people's hands are tied due to Saturn's "no-haggle" "no GM card" policy.
 

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My hands are a little tied when it comes to getting a good deal on an Outlook for people not living close to my store.

What I do know is from past history. Back in 2003 when the ION came out the discounts became rather large to clear out inventory. Usually the first year is hard to order properly and the dealers tend to overorder. This happened with the Relay and so far with the Aura. Let me correct myself. The dealers actually do not overorder per se but they order inaccuately. Sometimes this is the personal fault of the person doing the ordering but also this is a result of the local Saturn District Manager pushing a certain order ratio of which model to which kind of equipment their local marketing surveys suggest. Usually it seems like a bunch of bull meant to push what the factory wants to build.

At the store we usually do not find out about sales or changes to programs until the day they happen. I would not be too worried about discounts on the Outlook, they will come soon if history is any indication. There are marketing, Dealer, and other people in the know looking at the inventory levels for each area of the country to see what "push" is needed and how much. Rest assured, Saturn dealers who where used to ordering cheap cars and now having expensive SUV's sitting in stock are not wanting to pay the floorplanning these vehicles create. They are on the phones for sure trying to get some money out of GM and Saturn.

The 2008 models will start to arrive at the stores before the end of next month. Production started June 18. Expect a bit of overlap. So next month would indicate transitional incentives.

Why don't the stores with way too much inventory try to discount in the mean time? I do not know. I know that sometimes the reality is different than what outsiders interpret. For example my store has virtually no inventory but we also had alot of factory orders. As they came in they went out. As I mentioned earlier sometimes there could simply be the wrong vehicles on the lot and there is not much you can do about that. We lost some business to the Acadia because we just didn't have the right combination of options. GMC stores have a big advantage on how to order the Acadia. The Outlook is a learning experience. We find that many times we have to get product from other stores because there are so many combinations that can be ordered and we just didn't have it. Check out ION and 2007 VUE inventories. If they are huge then you have a bad orderer. We have run out of 2007 VUE's on our lot. ION's will be gone by the end of next month. The Aura is just about right.

The GMC local marketing dollars are quite large too and that is maybe also why the Acadia has more available savings. GMC dealers also get back more dollars for volume bonuses that you may not know about. Plus they sometimes have more hidden incentives that Saturn doesn't get. Selling at invoice and big discounts can't really exist at a Saturn store because of this. However the auction and trade value prices will reflect the cheaper price the Acadia sells for. It does for so many vehicles today that you can pretty much count on it. Hold tight. However to avoid all of this I would just get a 2008 model. I would personally pay more for the Outlook as long as it wasn't more than $35, a month, a buck a day, simply because the design to me is that much nicer.

You may not have noticed but if you check the Saturn Website it says that "each retailer sets its own price" in fine print. The "no hassle, no haggle" policy isn't written in stone nor never was. Saturn keeps the retailers honest by keeping the markup low and as a result it is rather unsavoury and quickly unprofitable to get into bidding wars. The retailers hands have been bound pretty tight all these years. They also have fewer tools to work with. Which is good because it keeps everybody honest. It's a mentality that has been in existance for 17 years.

I would phone and ask for either the dealer principle or the General Manager if you are having problems with a sales associate or manager and remind them of the situation with the Acadia. Forget the Team Leader or a Sales Manager. Some stores have a hierarchy and talking to the actual person in charge about some very valid points will get you somewhere. What I say to my manager when I have a "situation" is that we need to thank this customer for their business...I have done all I could on my part...The customer just doesn't want to think that their valid arguments are being ignored...The customer understands that we probably cannot match the Acadia on price and their reason for asking for a discount is not out of traditional, old time haggling but out of fairness...we should be able help them out. Just remember that discounts usually do come for year end. We do not have any yet but by the looks of it we may not need them in our area.
 
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