New car advice + safe to buy a Saturn?

Hello from Montreal, Canada! The lease on our 2008 Dodge Caliber will be up in April, 2010, and we’re almost certainly going to give it back. Very good car to date, but just too small for our present needs, especially since the child seat prevents us from effectively using the cargo space. We have one child who will be three when the lease expires.

I’m thinking of going back to a sedan, but both cost and safety are issues. I’ve heard good things about the Saturn Aura, and I was thinking it might be possible to get a heavy discount on a one- or two-year old model since the line is being discontinued. That said, do you think GM will be able and willing to continue servicing these models after Saturn joins Studebaker and Pierce-Arrow in Car Valhalla? Will I get stuck with an unserviceable orphan? Should I be thinking about a Civic or a Ford Focus or Fusion instead? Something else? Ideas are welcome!

The Ford Focus is going to be too small I suspect, but the Fusion is definately worth a look. Saturn cars share many parts with other GM cars. Therefore parts and service in the future shouldn’t be a problem. There are still lots of Olds on the road and that brand was dropped by GM many years ago.

Your decision to buy a Saturn is sound. These are good cars and there ought to be heavy discounting in the used car market for these orphans.

GM has built up an inventory of parts for Saturns over the years. Getting parts ought not to be a problem, but sometimes you may have to wait a few extra days if parts need to be shipped from a California warehouse. But this can happen with any make/model.

Servicing? If you have no warranty, why would you consider going to a GM dealership? Any mechanic can handle maintenance and routine repairs.

The other models you mentioned are excellent alternatives too. My personal preference would be to lean towards one of them, but saving a couple thousand loonies is a strong incentive for the Saturn. Go for it!

The Saturn Aura shares its platform with the Chevrolet Malibu, so I don’t think there’s too much to worry about with an Aura other than plummeting resale value.

The Ford Fusion is definitely worth consideration, in either standard or hybrid configuration.

This is really a calculated risk. There were very few Saturn Auras sold compared to other mid size cars, especially in Canada. The mechanical parts of an Aura are common to other GM cars, so you would be able to get parts and service from a GM dealer. Oldsmobile owners can still get mechanical service on their cars reasonably well from a GM dealer or independent garage.

However, as this car ages or gets into an accident there will be many body parts that will be hard to find. So, with some luck you may find them at a wrecking yard. I don’t think GM has any intention of providing spare parts beyond 10 years.

So, you will save a few thousand dollars up front, but the car will have poor (little or no)resale value later on. If you’re planning to run it into the ground, it might pay for you.

Years ago I had a Dodge Colt, a Mitsubishi model sold originally by Dodge dealers. When the car aged, and Chrysler stopped selling Colts, and Mitsubishi had not entered the market yet, the Chrysler dealers were not interested in getting parts.

Hope this helps make a decision.

I think Fusion will suit you best in size and servicability.

Fusion is a far far superior car to the Civic, Focus.

While the Aura and Malibu (and Pontiac G6) share lots of equipment, for some reason GM seemed to put the best stuff on the later-appearing Malibu. Test drive them both, see if the differences affect your decision. Me, I’d prefer the Malibu or Fusion.

You say the Caliber is too small for your needs, but you’re considering a Civic and Focus?
Fusion, Malibu, Impala, Taurus are all good ideas. A Taurus will most likely net you the newest model for the cheapest price as these are fleet cars and are a dime a dozen

Sorry for my family it would be a taurus. My boys are both 6 foot tall now. the rear seat of the others does not work since I am 6 foot as well. For short trips a smaller car maybe but for 200 mile treks a midsize sedan that can tow a trailer was my choice.

Neither the Civic or Focus would work if a Caliber doesn’t. If anything, the Caliber is a more practical car since it has the hatchback.

The Saturn Aura is based on the previous generation Chevy Malibu, so there should be no problems getting parts and service.

The Fusion would also work. You may also want to consider standbys such as the Camry and Accord.

I would not let the status of Saturn as a divisiion affect the decision. As others have stated, GM will continue to support Saturn with parts and service for the foreseeable future, and will also honor the warranty. The aftermarket suppliers and privates shops will easily supprt the vehicle long after GM officially does, and once the warranty is up you may want to consider no longer using the dealerhssip anyway just because they’re typically more expensive.

However, as this car ages or gets into an accident there will be many body parts that will be hard to find. So, with some luck you may find them at a wrecking yard. I don’t think GM has any intention of providing spare parts beyond 10 years.”

What a sneaky way to create a Malibu…

Parts will be available, even if the very few differing ones have to be Chevy parts.

BTW, is it immoral to replace Saturn fascia with Chevy fascia and call it a Malibu to increase resale value?

How heavy is the trailer? The Chevy Equinox is rated at 1500#; the Aura is rated at 1000#. The Equinox rear seats also slide forward and back. When the boys ride in the back, they can slide the sear rearward. If you have lots of cargo, slide the seat forward. The gas mileage is almost identical.