That's just it, they don't have another Outlook any where close to the price of my vehicle. They only have high-end XRs that are many thousands more.
I have also now talked with Saturn Customer Assistance. They are just a broken record: " The vehicle is operating within the normal parameters" is all they could say, over and over again. So much for acclaimed Saturn customer care.
The recent GM employee price offer probably depleted their inventory. The economy downturn favors the XE models. I can feel your pain. I cannot tell you what to do, but if this happened to me, I'd first fill up the tank at a station near a freeway entrance, get onto the freeway (hopefully flat enough without any up/down hills), drive 50 miles, turn around, drive anther 50 miles all at an even 60MPH (according to the government site www.fueleconomy.gov
, 60 MPH is where you get your peak MPG). Back at the same station, same gas pump, fill the tank and calculate the MPG. This will be pure and unadulterated highway driving with the uncertainties of driving habit, how long you idle at the red light, how many red lights per mile, etc all eliminated. For a FWD, you should get 24 MPH or somewhere near that. If the MPG number is still significantly off, you know for certain that something is not right. (don't forget to remove anything heavy in the trunk, check all 4 tire pressures).
Equipped with the result of this test, I'd go back to Saturn Customer Service again. If they still play the same old tune, I'd write to State Attorney General's office and register a complain. At least in Michigan, the Attorney General will forward my letter to the subject of my complaint (I'd put GM's CEO in that spot) and ask them to resolve the issue to my satisfaction. If they still insist that everything is within the normal parameter, I'd challenge them for a dynamometer test following EPA's standard test protocol. I'd tell GM that if the car measures 16/24 as the EPA sticker says, I'd admit that I am a lousy driver, I'd pay for the dynamometer test, and you'll never hear from me again. If the test numbers fail, you replace the damed lemon with a 09 XR for my pain and suffering. If they don't want to play the game, there is always the district court to get their attention.
About 6 years ago, a guy in Beijing, China bought a VW Santana (a really old model which VW makes nowhere else in the world but China, I think). The car was a piece of sh*t. He tried multiple times getting it fixed but failed. Frustrated, the guy went to a painted shop, cover the car with graffiti like "VW service s*cks", "if you want to be disheartened like me, buy a Santana", etc. VW first tried to sue the guy for defamation, but their case was thrown out. They then begged the guy to take a new Santana, but the guy rejected the offer, driving the car day in and day out through busy downtown area. I think in the end VW had to give him a more expensive model to get that eye sore out of the street.
You are nowhere near that point yet. Hopefully things can be resolved soon. Good luck.