2004 Saturn LW LW300 V6 from North America
Nothing is perfect, but ours is good at 1 yr & 10K miles
My wife and I each had late 90s Saturn SL sedans (base model: 4 cylinder, manual transmission, front wheel drive) that we loved for their value and fuel economy. This is the first car we bought with a V6 engine. The accelerator took some getting used to, as the V6 can outperform the top-of-the-line available performance tires, especially in the rain. We were used to the extra power by the winter and had no problems in light snow or slush.
The first concern we noticed was the sound system. Though we didn't hear anything amiss on the test-drive, my wife and I hear speaker hiss when the system is first turned on and continues if playing at low volumes. Technicians say we hear the whir of the fuel boost pump, but we're skeptical and will have this rechecked after our move cross-country.
There was a recall recently for the center rear-seat seatbelt anchor. Saturn (GM) notified us by mail and the dealer worked us in later the same week. This was handled professionally and to my complete satisfaction.
The fuel gage is front-heavy, in that the first 1/4 tank lasts ~120 miles, while the last 1/4 tank only lasts 55. This is similar to our previous Saturns, but more pronounced.
All other systems are working as expected.
This is a great family car and an economical alternative to pricey European import wagons. All Asian automakers have discontinued wagon versions of their models in favor of SUVs.
My wife and I did a lot of research before buying this car. Neither of us like SUVs due to their poor fuel economy and safety trade-offs, but we need the cargo space of a mid-sized wagon.
We test drove what we thought were comparable imports and discounted them for various reasons. The Volvo V70 had poor visibility & we disliked the turbo lag. The VW Passat GLX was uncomfortable to sit in and drove both roughly and stiffly. The BMW 330i was the most fun to drive, but had negligible cargo room. The Saab 9-5 wagon was best import overall, but again the turbo lag coupled with the greater initial and maintenance expenses were unbearable. Of course, most imports required premium grade fuel and were had comparably cramped interior space.
The LW300 is stylish for a wagon, comfortable to drive, and handles well considering its size.
I would have appreciated a larger fuel capacity than 15.5 gal. I recall Complete highway driving only allows 355 miles with 22 mpg before the low fuel warning chimes and illuminates.
Road noise is moderate at top highway speeds, but tolerable.
So far, we love this car & hope that with regular maintenance it will treat us well for the next decade or so.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd June, 2005
Interesting that you mention that you also liked the Saab 9-5 wagon, since the 9-5 wagon and LW300 are similar cars in many ways. They ride on the same modified Opel Vectra platform and share the same suspension and brakes, which is what gives the L-series its European road feel.
We have an '05 L300 and have the same opinion about the fuel gauge; the first half of the gauge falls much slower than the last half. We've grown used to it. Otherwise, the car has performed well and has had no problems in the first 13000 miles.