1996 Saturn SL from North America


Boring drive, superior dependability


Regular maintenance:




A couple of emissions sensors

Nothing major

General Comments:

I sold a Caddy and bought this car for a 30 mile commute to save on gas.

Although this car is not very exciting to drive, it has been very dependable and cheap to run.

Gas mileage is great.

Performance is boring even with the manual transmission.

I see lots of bad reviews on this car and I don't know if I got lucky or people just like to complain, but I had nothing major go wrong with this car and I have NEVER been stranded with it, and it starts in the coldest weather.

There was a bad run in some intake casting issues, but I guess I never got one of those or it just hasn't happened yet.

But with 265,000 Kms this car owes me nothing.

It is starting to show its age, but it always starts and runs great.

I would not be afraid to buy another one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th August, 2009

1996 Saturn SL from North America


It's reliable, driveable, practical, and all around pleasure to own


The ceiling upholstery has started to rip a bit this year, previously had no issues with it.

I have had my brake pads wear out twice now, the first time one pad actually fell off completely.

Two years ago the exhaust system on the bottom started to rust through a bit, and the muffler almost fell off, but after $800 in repairs the issue has not resumed (and this is probably largely due to the over-salting of roads in Michigan during the winter).

Very recently during rush hour traffic on a Canadian highway the transmission refused to go past second gear, however upon parking the car and turning off the engine for a minute, the problem was resolved and has not happened again since.

That said, switching into reverse while the engine is warm can be sort of jumping, and often results in a loud thud noise as the transmission suddenly switches into reverse.

General Comments:

Overall a fantastic car. It has extraordinarily little acceleration, but can still get up to 95mph without any real difficulty and handles very well.

The seats are comfortable, and although leg room is somewhat limited, I'm still able to drive it comfortable despite being 6'4", and the vehicle has a surprisingly large trunk for its size.

The car does require a decent bit of oil, and I would recommend checking it before any trip lasting more than hour, or at least once every 2 weeks.

It also gets fantastic mileage, at roughly 30-40 mpg on average. Typically I find that I only need to refuel it once or twice a month at the most (and the tank is only 10 gallons!).

All in all, it's a pleasure to drive, and what difficulties it has given me have been very minimal. Take care of your SL1 and it'll last a loooong time it seems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2009

1996 Saturn SL SL2 from North America


I have an 1996 Saturn SL2, and I bought the car for nothing, but have put 1200 into to it to fix it since I've had it.. and it still needs work:

Oil gasket.


The A/C needs to be fixed.

I need a new clutch now.

I'll never buy an American made car again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 27th March, 2009

1996 Saturn SL SL2 1.9L DOHC from North America


Loved it!


Ignition coils went around 80,000.

Water pump went around 120,000.

Head gasket leak, gasket replaced.

Rust on one door sill.

Cigarette lighter/power door locks fuse blew - easy fix once I figured out that was the problem. Who puts those on a fuse together?

Slight transmission leak - never needed to add any fluid though.

Oil burned, started at a quart/1500 miles and eventually got to a quart/1000 miles.

Oil pump let go - the car killer.

A couple other minor repairs, but they aren't coming to mind.

General Comments:

I loved this car. I cried the day I had it towed. It was an automatic that was VERY peppy and fun to drive and looked really cute. It also had a good amount of room in the backseat and the back seat was quite comfortable. Roomy for a smaller sedan. Good gas mileage.

I bought this for $2500 with 56K miles on it and proceeded to drive it 80K more miles in 4 years. I was a poor college student, so while I changed the oil every 3K miles and checked/filled it meticulously, I didn't do much else in the way of maintenance. Given the lack of maintenance and the high use of the car the problems were relatively minor. I imagine that keeping up with the repair schedule would make it last longer. It DID eat oil, as do a lot of SLs, so make sure to check the oil frequently.

It was also safe. I had my doubts, seeing as it was made of plastic, but I rear ended someone in pouring rain going about 15 mph and the metal bumper held. The only major damage was the front end got pushed in a little and the hood tented. I was VERY impressed. That car is a tank.

I got rid of it when the engine seized after the oil pump went. The transmission leak, however slight, made me wary of replacing the engine and so I had it scrapped. It was a great car, though. Moral of the story is: if your oil light comes on and you have oil in the car, get it towed.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th February, 2009