1995 Honda Vs. 1997 Saturn

If these two vehicles were in the same condition, which would you suggest for a second car: a 1995 Honda Civic with 129,000 miles or a 1997 Saturn Sl-2 with 111,000. Both automatic and both roughly the same price. (My overiding concern is reliability; power, noise levels, roominess, etc. are unimportant). It will rarely have any passengers.


Having friends and relatives with both Honda and Saturns, I would favor the Honda. Many Saturns had head gasket problems, for instance, whereas Hondas have developed an enviable reputation for reliability, with no particlar weak spots. Parts supply for the Honda should be better as well due to the very large number sold.

1997 Saturns, addition had an above-average number of elctrical and body integrity problems, although rust would a minor problem since most saturn body panels are plastic.

In either case I would have a mechanic check out the car thoroughly. Even a good car that age can be unreliable due to mishandling and neglect.

I know 4 Saturn owners of same vintage who drive around with a case of oil in the trunk. They for whatever reason seem to burn oil.

The Civic would be a good buy however make sure the timing belt has been changed. They last about 7yrs/90k miles and if in need of replacement $300-$500 dependent on locale.

I will give you major hint. Look for a 1996 - 2000 Civic. They are so much better in so many more ways as a car. I owned a 1995 Civic EX for 225k miles since new. It was somewhat of a sentence but it was pretty dependable and low cost to own. My wife had a 1996 Civic and it felt like luxury car compared to my 1995.

It’s mostly a matter of how the car was cared for by previous owners for older cars. Can you find out if either cars owners followed the maintenance schedules as required?


Scrabbler (former Saturn owner).

Having test driven both new Hondas and new Saturns in 1998 and 1999, I would recommend the Honda Civic. It is more fuel efficient and the steering is tighter. Saturns from that era steer like an old golf cart.

Reliability in an older car? Avoid a make of car that begins with an S. So far Scion is alright. I wouldn’t have any of the others.