1995 Saturn SL SL1 from North America


An economical yet fun and attractive vehicle


Everything that went wrong with this car seemed to be normal usage components (tires, brakes, etc.) for a high mileage vehicle. The one thing that seemed extravagant in terms of cost, etc., was an at-the-time slow oil leak, which caused me to trade in the vehicle for a newer car. Saturns are known for oil problems as they age; in some respects, I was lucky that I got to this high mileage (145,000) without oil problems.

General Comments:

This car was very economical to own. Even in the last year I owned it, I was still attaining great gas mileage, usually just over 30 in the city and upper thirties on the highway.

The car aged gracefully. It didn't look as old as many 1995 vehicles do. The paint stayed in good condition, the plastic side panels prevented many dings, and the interior held well. The few options this car had (automatic locks, traction control) worked well throughout ownership.

There were an increasing number of creaks and noises on the inside of the car while driving the vehicle; this is most likely due to the plastic expanding and contracting following temperature changes.

The rear window frames developed a rusting problem at the end.

The paint on the hood seemed to chip a little easily.

Highway merging was occasionally a problem without having the more powerful dual-cam engine of the SL2.

The air conditioning worked quite well and quickly cooled the car.

The front seats were comfortable for a smaller sedan; the rear seats were a squeeze for adults of average or taller height.

The trunk was spacious.

The fold-down rears seats were great and enabled the car to fit and transport an extra-long twin mattress with the trunk closed.

This car is an ideal college-student/person entering the work force car. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase one again, but I would get the larger engine. I was sad that 2002 was the last model year.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd October, 2003

1995 Saturn SL SL1 1.9L SOHC from North America


Reliable if you cater to all its quirks


When I first got this vehicle, it was blowing blue smoke, i.e. burning oil. So after narrowing down the problem we ended up spending about a week tearing down the engine and replacing the gunked-up piston rings. Also it turns out the return port for the EGR valve was completely blocked with carbon.

We eliminated the oil burning problem, but over the next year the car would completely lose all accelerating power when going up a hill or starting from a dead stop. After taking it to the dealer, they told us the spark plugs and wires had to be replaced, and that only Delco plugs performed acceptably in standards (i.e., not Bosch Platinum). After we did this, it was fine, until it got totaled.

General Comments:

The whole point of Saturns was to build up a reputation of a reliable American car. But in order to do this, GM assembles parts from all over the globe, though they are all assembled at their Saturn plant in Tennessee.

There are also many other quirks that one has to know in order to keep their Saturn running. For instance, never use any oil weighted above 10W-30 (this eventually leads to the piston ring/EGR valve problem, and burning oil) and only use Delco spark plugs if you want to get anywhere without being embarrassed that your car simply will not go.

I will say, however, that this car does live up to its reputation for safety. I ended up getting T-boned in an intersection, as the other car ran into the back door behind by driver's door, shattering the polymer body and denting the frame, but not affecting the driver's side. In this situation, however, the airbags were little more than an annoyance, causing a brush burn on my arms that lasted about a month, but overall the results from this crash were much better than they probably would have been if it was a non-plastic, non-safety-conscious car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st September, 2003