My Ion3 was a dealer loaner vehicle prior to me getting it, so it came with a 4000 miles already on the odometer and a decent size rebate. Throw in my military discount, and zero percent financing, and I made off pretty decently.
I have a tendency to make long distance trips (500 miles+), so it's good to have the On-Star just in case something happens. In a few months I'm going to be making a run to California, (25 hours, over 1200 miles), and I feel confident driving the car that distance. I also like having the oil quality sensor (I'm at +5000 miles, and the car is estimating it won't need another oil change for another 2000 miles). Every month the car emails me a sensor report; so far everything has always come back green lit (How's that for fancy?)
The car is extremely comfortable for the driver; height adjustable seats, lumbar support, cruise, tilt; if I put the seat all the way back, I can't touch the pedals. (I'm five ten, that's a first for me).
The seats could use a tad more cushioning, but otherwise, they are fine. The back seat is not a fun place to be if you're a full sized adult. It's really meant for kid hauling, unless the driver or passenger is really short.
The factory sound system is of pretty high quality. The MP3 jack is my favorite feature.
The layout is kind of awkward. I like the center gauge cluster, I feel it helps me keep my eyes centered on the road more, but there's a storage spot under the E-brake; stuff has a tendency to roll under the E-brake, and get crushed when you lower the handle.
The center console is too tiny for anything other than small stuff such as my cigarettes, my pocket knife, and my vehicle documents, (registration and insurance card) If you put a big cup in the either forward cupholder, it will interfere with the shifter. It will also block your access to the AC and radio controls.
The center armrest slides out, but the padding is getting discolored and scarred. The storage bins could be a little beefier, they haven't held up as well to abuse as I would have liked.
The engine bay is surprisingly roomy, though it's laid out a little different from what I'm used to. If you're changing the oil, the oil filter is a cartridge that is on top of the motor, under the plastic engine cover. Don't forget to reset your oil sensor. (resetting isn't hard at all).
Though I haven't had to go out in search of any parts, I'm still mildly concerned. I had to hit up every part store in town just to find the replacement air filter, I wound up having to order it and wait a week to get it in. I'm not used to that at all.
The paint is surprisingly beautiful when you get it clean. It has a lot of depth that painted steel seems to lack. Mine is in berry (Think burgundy) red. The factory rims (not cheapy steel wheels) look really nice, and seem to be rather damage resistant. d I think they should have polished them a little more. There are ridges on them that look like they may be toolmarks from the milling machines. (They aren't noticeable unless your right up on the tire, but the lands and ridges collect dirt over time).
The factory tires are low profile, and look good, but I don't like their performance. (I think they may have bad valve stems, they're tried to go low on me a few times).
The overall styling is the best I've seen from Saturn up to that point. Only the Aura and of course the Sky top it out, and I don't think the Aura has it by much.
The cars handling is pretty nice. When the engine hits passing gear, it will throw you back in the seat some. Otherwise, regular acceleration is pretty decent for the class. In bad situations, the car is a fighter. Its turning radius is extremely tight, it simply refuses to fishtail, and it has extremely very good hydroplaning characteristics.
The electronic steering can be tricky until you get used to it. The car has a tendency to think almost as fast as I do. I've almost over corrected or over-steered a time or two.
The balance and alignment are fine. The car feels like it's riding rails when you're holding straight and level.
I did some research on preceding year models, and I looked at the ION2s; in my opinion, I got one of the best Ions out there. They terminated the ION line right about the time they got all the bugs worked out, and really started taking the design in a good and positive direction. The ION2s, while good cars, are critically lacking in features. The reduction in price is not worth the loss of those features.