I agree with the poster. I have put over a million miles on five second generation S series Saturns (1996 to 1999). You have to keep them maintained, and if you do, they will NEVER leave you stranded. Basically check the oil and fluids. Most maintenance is done by me, and they are cheap to buy, drive and easy to fix! If you looked at the retail cost of a 90's Saturn and compared it to most other cars, you would understand it is what it is.... Cheap transportation. The S series was a great concept, it's just too bad Saturn got lost in the GM world.
I paid $200.00 3 years ago for a 1998 Saturn SL1 with a 5sp. This car was so neglected. Smelled so bad; a filthy slob who drank a lot owned it. I was going to scrap it, I would have made money on it, took a closer look at it, and said let's clean it up. It runs good with no idiot lights on. So off I went. Took all the seats and carpet out and hosed them down. Needed tires since wire was showing, I checked all the fluids and everything looked good; they had been full at least.
This car cleaned up really nice. No ripped seats, carpet stains came out, and it still stunk like B.O., but I left fresheners in it and they made it smell much better. Till I turned the vent on. But it wasn't that something died in it, a filthy slob lived in it.
Anyway, this car has made me thousands. I put a decent light bar on it, and began escorting oversize loads with it. I recently hit 207,590. It used a little oil back at 135,000 miles. But I did 3000 mile oil changes, and it stopped using oil.
I recently did a trip from Massachusetts to Wisconsin, and returned in 4 days. That trip went perfect, I averaged 39 mpg as the front door to the load, at 65 to 70 mph. Not bad for 200,000 miles on it, Tires last and last, 3rd year on studded snows. A/C still works, 1 can of freon and it will freeze you out. Never gets hot. Rides smooth, no issues at all.
A friend in Florida has the same make and model, a '98, and it has 450,000 on it. Take care of it and it will provide you with many years of dependable service.
There are the little issues; headliner sags, interior light works sometimes. But parts like brake shoes, tuneups are cheap. When you learn to take a little bit of care of something and not drive it like a rental, then you will appreciate a vehicle that is not a tank, but an affordable dependable cheap car to drive.
I will take this car over a car payment any day, and from the way it still runs, I believe for many more years, since it hasn't shown any signs of rusting. These cars have a rhino lining underneath. Simple washing of the top doesn't do it, I hose off everything. And it shows, even after being so neglected for so many years. This car has a home.