The manual transmission cables are held by some type of plastic "hooks" to the shifter assembly, and one of them broke. "googling" the problem I realized that it was very common, and I was looking forward to a "lovely" $300+ bill because I needed to replace the ENTIRE cabling. Fortunately I bought a home-made repair kit on ebay for $30, and I have a shifter assembly good for at least another 60000 miles.
The engine fan motor went out at about 50000... I assume the heat here in FL had it working overtime... anyway,. $35 later I had a new motor installed (bought it at pepboys, installed it myself) and that's about it! The only other expenses this car has incurred are gas and oil :)
I recently had to change the drive belt, (it was recommended at 35000 miles, I changed mine at close to 60000)
The plastic body panels are excellent, the quality and fit are on par with other more expensive cars, and make this car cheaper to repair.
The car is somewhat underpowered, but then again, it's an economy car, not a street racer.
I love the design, 6 years later the car lines still look up to date and well thought.
I haven't even done a tune-up on this car. the injectors are doing great, and with a regular oil change, the engine still iddles and accelerates very nicely.
I would definitely buy another saturn, but there are some things that I'd need to check first:
-my SL has a stell chain timing "belt". That's one of the best ideas around, though I have been told that has changed in recent models. If so, that's a BIG minus for Saturn in my book
-I may be a nostalgic, but the "cat-eyes-like" headlamps were a huge hit for me, sadly the shape of the headlights has been changed (except for the VUE, but I lean mostly towards the sporty ION, which doesn't have those lights)
-I have heard a lot of people complaining about the new SL line that came after 2002, I haven't heard any complaints about the newer VUE and ION though, so whilst I have come to trust and admire Saturn, I would need to research again how its quality is today.