My little blue Saturn has made me very happy!
I've only had one minor problem with the car, that being the keys. I had to have new keys made, as they would get stuck in the ignition, and/or not turn.
I've really enjoyed the car thus far. It's not quick, but with the 5-speed, it is more than adequate. You have to be realistic, I knew when I purchased the car it was an economy car, not a Porsche or even an Eclipse. I have no problems with merging in higher speed traffic, and while passing does take more caution and planning than my Grand Marquis did, I can cruise at 75-80.
The car is basically loaded, as much as a Saturn SL1 could be loaded. It has PW, PL, cruise, tilt, AM/FM, cassette, CD player, and a power sunroof. I have read about others having various electrical problems with the windows and sunroof, but everything has worked flawlessly to this point. I did replace the factory stereo with an Eclipse CD head unit, and new Eclipse Point source 6 ½” speakers in the doors and rear deck. For just under $500, you would be amazed at the improvement in sound you will get. They do make a sound deadening material you can put in the floor, doors, and roof, to make the cabin a little quieter. It does help reduce road noise, but I didn’t see the need to add it at the time, and that is what the amplifier and subwoofer are for. OK...Yes, I’m 38, and still like my music loud and clear.
The gas mileage is great, I’m averaging about 25 mpg in town, and get about 42 mpg on the highway at interstate speeds. Minnesota highways have a 55 mph speed limit, and I’ve averaged about 45 mpg with the cruise on and set at 55-60 mph. Even with the air on, I have yet to fall below 40 mpg on the highway, so I am very pleased with the fuel efficiency.
The only complaint I have with the car is the in town ride. I only mention this, as I’ve driven a 2001 Toyota Corolla S, which is a little sportier than the base Corolla, and a Matrix XRS. I was told the Matrix XRS had a rougher ride, but was much sportier. Well, they had the sporty part right, but I found the ride to be quite pleasing, considering the quickness and styling, basically the product you were expecting. Both seemed too absorb road imperfections much better than the Saturn.
The ride is very compliant and comfortable, as long as you have a nice road, but train tracks or potholes can get a bit rough, and I slow down to baby the car. A Corolla would have cost a couple thousand dollars more, so I can live with the suspension. I should mention that I had the suspension checked, and was told it was fine, and needed no work done to it.
The car is surprisingly quiet and well mannered on the highway, with a very smooth ride and comfortable seats, better than I would have expected from a lower priced economy car like this. I traded in my 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis for this car, so my comment about the ride is actually quite a compliment, as I am a big sedan type of guy.
The only other thing I have done to the car is add better tires to it. I didn’t like the factory Firestones, so I had Goodyear Assurance Triple Tred’s put on. I didn’t think a tire change could make that much of a difference, but boy was I wrong, as I gained awesome traction in rain, snow, and ice. I think the tires perform so well, that one might get to be overconfident, and maybe overdrive winter conditions. I do know a few other Saturn owners, and they have Goodyear ComforTred’s, and those seem to be a nice tire as well. Both tires provide a very quiet, comfortable ride, along with good traction, so again I’m very pleased.
In conclusion, I’ve owned the car for about 13 months, and had no problems. I’ve changed oil as specified, checked fluids and tire pressure weekly, and the car starts, runs, and stops like a top. Yes it’s smaller than what I used to drive, but it seems to be a very reliable, spacious little car. I’m 6’0”, and I have plenty of legroom, so don’t let the cars small size fool you. You can't beat a car that gives you so little trouble, and costs less that $200 a month in loan payment, gas, and insurance.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th July, 2006