1996 Saturn SW SW2 1.9L 4 cylinder DOHC 16v from North America


When properly maintained, an excellent choice!


My 1996 Saturn SW2 has served me well for the price!

Some neglect on my part caused a problem with the alternator from oil leak (about 170,000). Be sure to make sure your mechanic uses the right oil filter for your Saturn, and do not allow them to use an engine cleaner in it! I am now back to using a minimal amount of oil.

Rear wiper no longer works, soldering joint problem in steering column, and power lock on rear drivers side door wore out (with a little help from a friend).

I have never replaced the O2 sensor, so my check engine light has been on for years, and I don't care. Still getting insanely great gas mileage, and still have been impressed by the reliability of the vehicle.

General Comments:

This vehicle has been dependable, economical, and handles well in various road conditions. It came with performance mode (stock shift kit) which came in handy on the highway. All in all, I liked the styling (though a little cheap) and performance of the car, and have driven it for 6 years. Love the high impact doors and panels!

No major repairs for 5 years, and the only parts of the interior that really bothered me were the dome lights and fuse cover. Would definitely buy another Saturn.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th June, 2007

1996 Saturn SW SW1 1.9 liter SOHC from North America


Not bad for an American-made small car, but not great either


Lots and lots of things. Basically, the car was pretty much trouble-free (more or less)...until it hit 90,000 miles. Then it began to nickel-and-dime me like crazy. It was partly my fault, though. I changed the oil religiously every 3k miles, so I figured I didn't need look at the dipstick in between changes. Oops, learned that lesson a little too late. Shortly after I hit 90k miles, I had to get the timing chain replaced "due to running the engine with low oil levels", according to the mechanic. Luckily, I never had a problem with the transmission.

One other thing: the "starter interlock" switch behind the clutch pedal died somewhere between 80k-90k miles. Small part, but I had to jumper its electrical plug with a paper clip just so I could start the car until I got a new switch put in.

For about the last 20k miles that I had the car, the steering wheel made a kind of squeaking/groaning noise when you turned it.

General Comments:

My SW1 was a base model, only option it had was a/c. Power train was the single overhead cam 100 hp engine & 5-speed manual transmission.

I think it's safe to say that the 2 things that really sold Saturn's were the "no-dicker" stickers and the dealer service experience. The cars themselves were not cutting-edge, especially compared to Toyota's and Honda's.

Performance-wise, my SW1 was just OK. There was only so much power under the hood, though. When passing, you really had to push that motor, and it was noisy as all get out above 3,000 RPM. And on really, really hot days with the a/c running, it felt like I was driving an 1880's steam locomotive.

Interior comfort wasn't a strong point. Saturn's of that era are infamously noisy inside: road noise, wind noise, you name it. The a/c was always weak: it struggled to cool air on really hot days (I think '96 was when Saturn switched to R 134-A coolant). The service folks always said the a/c was working correctly, no coolant leaks or anything.

Fuel economy was good. I averaged anywhere from 28 to 31 mpg depending on how much freeway driving I did on a given tank of gas.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd December, 2006

1996 Saturn SW 1.9 from North America


Oil related engine failure.

General Comments:

Same as the other comments I read here. The oil failure is what caused my 1.9 to throw a rod. I will never buy a Saturn again. I know that Saturn has to be aware of the problem, and has made no moves to recall or correct the problem.

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

Review Date: 5th August, 2006

6th Aug 2006, 10:41

If your "oil related" engine failure is a thrown rod, it is because the engine had no oil in it.

Yes, they burn oil as they age. This isn't a secret. It is the OWNER'S responsibility to check the oil--and yet you blame Saturn.

Do you also blame the manufacturer for being stranded if you run out of gas?