I bought my 2002 SL new, and it turned 150000 today on my way to work.
I had to get keys made; mine eventually wouldn't turn the ignition. Had the dealer make them off the VIN.
These engines use oil, check it often (like every 1000 miles a quart for me). The oil rings get stuck; look on the Internet for how to fix cheaply, I haven't done it yet.
Mine gets 42 MPG going to work (!), and 49 MPG per tank on highway trips. I use a scan gauge, pump the tires to 40 PSI and coast when possible. Go on gassavers.org for MPG improvement tips.
Replaced serpentine belt, plugs, plug wires.
Original front brakes still had material at 95k miles. I replaced them at 95K and again at 145k. Back brakes original, still almost 1/8 in brake material.
Original struts, exhaust, alternator, radiator etc. Put in a new battery at 140K. Just replaced outer tie rod ends, that was easy.
For as many miles that are on it, it still looks good with just routine maintenance! I've had about 12 cars so far; this is the best one. Going to keep it!! I wash and wax it, to keep the car looking good. No dents on the doors (plastic!), no noticeable rust. Find a metal bodied car with 150K without dents! The bottom of car has held up great; just bolt heads rusted, etc. It has plastic gas tank, no rust there!!
Email me for pictures if you'd like: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd recommend this car, but I'd only buy a 2001 or 2002. Least amount of problems from what I've read on the Internet.
I don't think the seats are comfortable, but I have the SL. It's the base model; only option is air. I've never had a problem with the air either.
I bought a Saturn SL1 in 2002.
In 2004 had to have a valve body and new tires.
In 2006 had to replace gas cap to solve check engine.
In 2007 serpentine belt.
In 2009 tires again and intake manifold gasket, and it winds up real high on the rpm before shifting when it is cold outside or if the engine is cold. Not sure if problem is fuel injection or powertrain.
The brakes have always made a lot of noise when it's cold or wet outside, and I finally got tired of taking it somewhere and being told they have some kind of build up on them, and paying a lot of money for the buildup to start again in about 6 months.
I won't buy another Saturn because I don't feel it held up well enough, because I only drive around town, no highway driving hardly at all.
Don't let that discourage you, see for yourself any time you are shopping for a vehicle, jjjjjjj.
I got my Saturn SL 1 series used in 2008. Have had not too many problems except that my check engine light frequently comes on and then off. My Rpm runs real high too in the winter time.
The biggest problem I have with the car is driving it in snow/ice. I just replaced the tires not long ago, but I seem to have very little traction, and I seem to drift around every corner, and fish tail down every hill.