Other than really terrible gas mileage (17-18 mpg average), my Saturn wagon far exceeds my expectations of it. I bought it instead of a VW Passat wagon because the Passat runs on premium fuel and the Saturn is recommended to run on the cheapest regular. Of course, I understand that Passat gets far better mileage, so this may be a moot point. But in the long run, I believe the Saturn will prove to be the more economical of the two.
I buy a car and keep it forever. The Saturn's predecessor was a 1989 Volvo station wagon that I bought when it was 3 years old. However, the Volvo had started to become a pain in the assets when it started going through servo motors--power windows, power sunroof, power antenna, etc.--at an alarming rate. And Volvo servo motors are NOT cheap!
I live in Santa Barbara, Calif., which does not have a Saturn dealer. Saturn retailers in Southern California weren't able to find exactly the model I wanted with the color (medium blue) and accessories I wanted (single-disc CD player with cassette player, convenience group and antilock brakes). Since my son is a commercial pilot and it costs me nothing to fly anywhere, I shopped around online and found that Saturn of Denver had exactly the model I wanted, so I ordered it in a process that was surprisingly easy, flew out and took delivery of it, and drove it back home to Santa Barbara.
The weird thing about the Saturn is that I bonded with it immediately. I've owned some majorly cool cars over the years--a 1954 MG-TF, a right-hand drive Mercedes, a Jeep CJ-7 that repaid my kindness by seriously trying to kill me--but I have never become attached to a station wagon before.
--For the money you can't beat a Saturn. It's a truly remarkable value. At least it was in June when I took advantage of dealer and manufacturer incentives to the tune of $4,000--nearly a fifth of the car's MSRP.
--It steers on a dime and gives you nine cents change. Specifically, with its tight turning circle and four-corner visibility, parallel parking is a breeze. Even my wife likes the way the Saturn wagon parks.
--The cargo capacity is far greater than the VW Passat or the Subaru Outback wagon, and while I have nothing to really prove this, I'd swear that the Saturn wagon holds as much effluvia as my enormous Volvo wagon did.
--The 6-cylinder engine kicks ass and takes names. It is as powerful, if not more so, than my aforementioned Volvo turbo. Even when loaded to capacity, you'll find your Saturn 6-cylinder wagon passing everyone on the road going uphill at a steady 70 mph.
--The gas mileage. Anything less than 20 mpg in a car of this size is absolutely unforgivable.
--It is the most difficult car to get out of that I've encountered this side of my wife's previous Mazda RX-7. The RX-7 had an excuse--it was low-slung and you sat on the ground. The Saturn isn't. I'm neither too tall nor too fat (5'10", 180 pounds), yet in order to disembark from the Saturn, you've got to do this intricate dance involving bracing your left elbow against the rear doorjamb, then sort of shoving yourself out while holding onto the steering wheel with your right hand. This awkwardness isn't helped by the fact that the automatic door catch doesn't just QUITE hit the mark, with the door either too close to you or way too far away to make things any easier for you.
In short, the abovementioned flaws aren't really that overwhelming when you take the entire car's persona into the picture. The Saturn LW300 wagon is a nice, solid vehicle that I have absolutely no doubt will be serving me well 10 years from now.