I have a 1994 and it has over 340000km it, and it's great, I love it!!! It's all how you take care of them!!!
The 1997-1998 models have literally NOTHING to do with how you take care of them. I had one, and it got any piece of manufacturer maintenance suggested (and then some..), and was driven modestly. This car was considered the worst engineered car on the road by any manufacturer during those years, once the consumer companies were able to compile data. How about I add another horror story to the dozens already on this site and many others (did a quick Google, and you will you find hundreds!)
I owned this car (97 Achieva) for a little over 3.5 years and 46k miles before I dumped it to a used car dealer for next to nothing, just to stop paying maintenance. Luckily (*rimshot*) I paid this POS off early, so it softened the blow.
During this time:
- The car went through 3 alternators.
- The electrical system fried and the car would shut off while I was going down the highway intermittently... at 60 miles an hour!
- My braking system failed 1k miles out of warranty... and then had to be replaced again another 6 miles later (everything - rotors, etc.. the parts were so cheap, it did you no good to replace them!)
- The seats were in horrible condition and wore easily, despite no rough treatment from me
- Water pump failed.
- All my sensors had to be replaced at one point or another.
- All motors in the windows failed!
- The starting/security system would prevent my car from starting for days at a time.. then fire right up.. then start for a few days... I guess that is OK if you don't have job to go to...
On top of this thing being the biggest POS I, or anyone I knew, ever owned... the treatment I received from GM resulted in me swearing them off for life! My dad was a GM man back when GM made quality products, it's why I bought this car. Every dealer I took my car to try to fix some of these issues, could not, but always took my money.. sometimes thousands of dollars without fixing the issue for more than a few days. They said it was my problem and they had no idea. But.. they wanted to sell me another car... lowlifes! I was told "there is nothing wrong with the engineering on these cars, my wife has one, it runs great, etc". Then I reviewed Consumer Reports and discovered that GM knew this thing was a lemon, and it was costing dealers bank to deal with GM's problem... so they wouldn't admit to the issues.
I spent roughly almost 10k on this garbage vehicle due to these issue. I also missed several days of work!!! I have since bought one Nissan and one Hyundai, and had no issues with maintenance, and a great experience with their service departments.
Not long after I bought my first Nissan, I was called back by one of the same dealers who couldn't fix anything for 1000 dollars, asking if I was ready to get a new GM (LOL!). I said yes, then faxed him an itemized list of all my repairs and what still didn't work 10k later, and summarized the treatment I received. I added "P.S. I just bought a Nissan, and I will never buy from you again..."
GM.. let it go bankrupt... they make garbage and won't fix their mistakes.