1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9 DOHC
I'd buy another one
Rear power windows - gas mileage not as good as expected.
I've had 3 of these... all 1996's... power windows always have problems, but if you are a "do-it-yourselfer", they are easily fixed.
They tend to have water pumps go, and alternators also... but again, they aren't to hard to repair.
My 1st one had 240000 miles when I sold it... it's still going strong. It had the 5 speed and it got very good mileage.
The 2nd one had 89000 miles when I bought it. I had to replace the 4 pieces around the roof, the trunk and hood (clear-coat was bad)... again these are easy fixes. I had to replace the A/C compressor... also an easy fix.
The 3rd SL had 54000 miles needed body pieces like the 2nd one - they all seem to have clear-coat trouble in the same areas.
I was disappointed it the gas mileage - this has an automatic trans. I replaced the MAP sensor and the O2 sensor. It seemed to help - I'm getting around 25 mpg city now.
I replaced the 4 roof edge pieces, the hood, and the driver's side fender.
All of the above repairs were done with junkyard parts, and they were relatively easy.
It seems the higher the mileage, the more oil they use. It was never so bad that I felt compelled to fix it... it usually the valve guides that wear. Changing the oil regularly and using a good additive helps. I've used the Teflon additives in all my cars, and it seems to help with longevity.
For a reliable work vehicle, I don't think you can beat a Saturn SL2 - I don't touch the SL1's... they had head gasket problems. In my opinion Saturn should have continued making the SL2 with the same style and engine... and just worked on getting it perfected... get the rattles out, beef up the paint and power windows. Interchangeable body parts was a great innovation... they should have marketed it better... with a little engineering effort, they could have really had a winner here.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st June, 2008