Reliable but uninspiring experience
Water pump failed. $700 repair.
Intake gasket failed.
Clutch shudders; has for 2 years.
Sunroof does not work.
A/C does not work (bad clutch solenoid).
Key will only open driver's door.
Getting 8 MPG.
Starter has been going out for the last year.
Head gasket is ready to fail completely.
Oil/coolant smoke from exhaust when idle for more than a minute.
This is going to sound strange, but I do love this car.
I am going to openly admit, the failures are due to my lack of maintenance, before anyone says anything to that effect. But let me explain.
Everything failed pretty much within a few weeks time. Total repair cost is going to exceed 2500$; an upfront cost I really cannot afford to undertake. So it's getting replaced.
The SC2 is the best overall design. DOHC is the better way to go. Don't bother hoping for a sunroof; they always break, and mine thankfully broke in the closed position.
By nature they do consume oil; about a quart every 2-3k miles.
They can be very expensive to fix when something fails, but the car is very forgiving. Even with all of the above, I still drive it to work and back just fine. 10 miles a day. If you just need very basic transport very cheap, any Saturn that starts, runs in a straight line and stops will be OK. I've seen them for as low as 500$ on CraigsList. It's cheaper than taking a bus or taxi all over the place, but if you are looking long term, have your mechanic (not the GM dealer) check it out. Focus on checking compression and leak down tests, as well as fuel pressure testing on pre-purchase inspection. These are the main areas that will give you lasting grief. The rest is piffle for someone willing to fix everything over time. The forums are your friend!
The stereo is amazing in Saturns, always has been since day one. For a stock radio I'm shocked. Since I sit in traffic, it actually matters to me. If the radio has been replaced with aftermarket, they tend to be meh.
It should be noted, this car will never be capable of being a "modders paradise". You can get the stock performance up to comparable models, but think about it, if you buy one for 2k, spend another 2k in mods to get it to perform like a Honda/Acura/stock Focus, you should have spent the 4k buying a Honda/Acura/Focus... bone stock it corners with about as much grip as a Buick LeSabre from the same era.. I have no clue why, the suspension on mine is perfect and it's never been in an accident. Had it checked several times... it's just how they are.
They are meant to look cool and be reliable. Not much else.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 27th February, 2013