I own three 1996 Saturn SL2's.
I acquired the first one in 1999 with 36,000 miles on it. It is a fairly basic car without power locks and windows and an automatic transmission. It now has around 110,000 miles on it. I did need to replace the alternator and the battery. Other than that I have done routine maintenance only. It is starting to have some problems slipping occasionally in third gear, but it only happens once and a while so the dealer suggested that I wait until it becomes frequent to rebuild or replace the transmission. I have traveled back and forth across country with this car and have enjoyed it tremendously.
My second 1996 Saturn was purchased in the spring of 2002 and is also an automatic. It had 32,000 miles on it and is totally loaded. I bought it for my daughter, and the only change we made was to add an MP3 player and a bass box. The alternator and battery have also been replaced on this car. The rear window on the passenger side needed a new electronic module, and the automatic trunk release went out. She has 60,000 miles on the car.
These two cars both get about 38 mpg highway and 30 mpg city.
I recently acquired another 1996 SL2 with a manual transmission for my step daughter who just learned to drive. This car has 225,000 miles on it. Although I don't know the entire repair history, it is a great running car. We have put about 10,000 miles on it without incident. The manual transmission helps a little with the mileage and we are getting 40 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg in city driving. The dome light control on the passengers side door sticks a little.
I can't imagine buying anything other than a Saturn, but with the way these cars are running, I don't know when I will need another car. They all look great, and the interiors are holding up well.