What are your thoughts on Saturn?

A few years ago, I had my first stick shift car. It was a 1994 Saturn SL1 despite the fact that the entire car was plastic and the interior was falling apart. I was okay with buying some Amazing Goo for Autos and bonding all the inner plastic door shieldings back together.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on Saturn???

Have things in the car improved since 94 or stayed the same? I posted a few weeks ago looking for a car that was cheap to maintain, and something under $$$ Four Grand$$$ And I think I found it. I’m not sure if Saturn is an american made car or not but if someone could give me the scoop I’d love you forever. (I live in Maine too so winter concious!)

Saturn is one of the planets I look at when I look up at the night sky. Under a telescope the rings look amazing! I wish Earth has some Saturn-type rings. That would be so cool!

If you’re looking at another Saturn SL1 it will be pretty much the same as the one you had. Newer model Saturns have improved quite a bit, but it’s not clear at this time how much longer the Saturn brand will survive.

Which model are you looking at?

Saturn vehicles are made by General Motors, and GM is not in the best of shape right now. Saturn is one of the brands GM is trying to sell.

Too bad, really, because after all these years they finally have some nice cars.

I suggest you consult the Annual Auto Issue published by Consumer Reports before you spend money on a used car. This particular magazine is loaded with really good information about new and used cars, including which used cars are good bets and which are not.

In your price range it pays to be careful.

To mcparadise’s information, I will add that because GM is a world-wide company, some of the Saturn models that are sold in the US are made in Germany by GM’s failing Opel division. Ironically, these German-made Saturns are among the better ones marketed by Saturn.

Saturn is an American company, part of GM. Most of the cars share a lot of regular GM parts. This is important because GM may close or sell Saturn as a part of their plan to survive.

Parts for most new Saturn cars sold now should be available for a long time. You should be able to get a very good deal. Saturn cars overall do pretty well as far as holding up. You should find the quality now better than the car you bought in '94.

I had a '95 saturn and was less than pleased. My ex traded it for a (I think) 2000 Saturn after the second headgasket went south and the kids tell me it’s had a poor history.

Stop by the local bookstore and pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide. That’l give you lots of real data without the bias that guys like me will inject in our opinions.

Saturn has never made money for GM. It can be sold, dropped. GM is also thinking of selling naming rights to use the Saturn name to sell other makes. I suppose it’s like all those Geo cars being made by Toyota, Suzuki and Salt Water Salvage Motor Company.

It’s not as tidy as Mars, but smells better than Uranus.


The original Saturn was unique and made in Tennessee by GM. Now, it seems to just be rebadged models from the other divisions. I don’t know if the Tennessee plant is still open. If you buy a new current model, parts will still be available from the other divisions.

I have on of the last of the originals, 2002. I’ve had pretty good luck with mine. At 187k miles, it has been more reliable than any of the Japanese vehicles I have in the yard currently. Guess I got lucky.

I found it a few nights ago, it’s low in the eastern sky right after sunset and the rings are almose edge on right now when seen through a telescope.

They seem to have made much better cars than in 1994.

The Saturns you are looking at are designed in Germany and built in Belgium by GM. Even if Saturn stayed in business, the parts will be hard to get and expensive, and the technicians would be on a very steep learning curve. Since GM’s strategic plan is to either sell Saturn or shut it down within the next year, the whole question is academic. You will be getting a true orphan car. Think of owning a Deawoo or similar orphan!

One year from now, Saturn will be owned by someone else (Indian or Chinese), or GM will have shut it down. I can give you a very long lists of cars that were abandoned by GM, Ford and Chrysler, leaving their owners hanging:

  1. Vauxhall Firenza (British)
  2. Mercury Merkur (German)
  3. Ford Cortina (British)
  4. Chrysler Simca (French)
  5. Chrysler Peugeot (French)
  6. Chrysler/Dodge Colt (Japanese)
  7. Ford Festiva (Korean)
  8. GM Daewoo (Korean)
  9. Ford capri (British/German)

The list goes on; all cars have been very difficult to impossible to get serviced.

I would put Saturn completely out of my mind if I were you.


187k miles on your '02? Wasn’t that one of those $9999 deals? Where the heck have you been driving that thing? I bought my '02 Impala around the same time and it’s only got around 117k on it (and it’s been up and down the East Coast a number of times)!

As far as my thoughts on Saturn: I always thought it was a car-maker in no-man’s land. Out on its own away from GM, away from the unions, trying to build cars to compete with the Japanese (all good things). But the quality never reached that of the Japanese, the prices were too high, there were too few dealerships, and the brand suffered from name recognition. It was sort of the Apple of carmakers - it had something of a cult following, but that’s as good as it got. I remember looking at their SL (SC?) wagon when I bought my Taurus wagon in '98. What a joke! Much smaller, much less substantial, but a LOT more expensive. Try a $25k sticker versus $16.5k negotiated! The Saturn wagon DID come with a DVD system in the headliner, but so what? Who in their right mind would pay $25k for that car (I thought at the time)?

Today, Saturn is mainstream GM, building some of its cars in Mexico (the Vue). If you talk to salespeople at Saturn, they’ll tell you that GM ruined them by stealing their innovation (hybrids for example) and turning it over to other divisions such as Chevrolet where there was more advertising money and better distribution channels. The day Saturn got reined back into GM was probably the beginning of the end for them. The actual end is apparently coming in 2012. There has been some talk of all the Saturn dealers continuing with the Saturn name but selling Chinese cars instead! Wouldn’t it be funny if, after 25+ years of futility for GM, the Saturn line finally became profitable as a Chinese import?

My take on Saturn is that back in the late 1980s they had a novel marketing plan that worked for a short while. Their “no-haggle pricing” was fairly unique and their cars were unique because they had the dent-resistant side panels you describe as “the entire car was plastic.” They also made the transmissions in a way that allowed owners to tow them on all four wheels behind an RV without modifying them. I thought those were pretty cool features. So when I was shopping for a car in January 1999, I took a Saturn on a test drive. I didn’t like the way it handled. The steering wasn’t as precise as other cars I had tested. Then Saturn lost its way. They took away all the plastic and the towable transmission. On one model (I think it was the Ion), they tried buying the engine from Honda, but the change didn’t improve the model’s reliability problem. In the end it just looked like a cheap marketing ploy to exploit Honda’s reputation.

Saturn started out as a unique idea and ended up just another GM brand. What they needed was marketing as innovative as the team that invented their original marketing plan. If they had continued to innovate instead of relying on past accomplishments, they would have continued to thrive. The only reason they have survived this long is that their no-haggle pricing got them a loyal group of repeat customers.

If you liked your last Saturn, you should look at the new ones. You should also check out other brands too.

187k miles on your '02? Wasn’t that one of those $9999 deals? Where the heck have you been driving that thing? I bought my '02 Impala around the same time and it’s only got around 117k on it (and it’s been up and down the East Coast a number of times)!

That’s not unusually high mileage!!! I have an 05 4runner and it has 120k miles. I bought the 4runner in 06…Gave my 98 Pathy to my daughter when it had about 280k miles.

As far as my thoughts on Saturn: I always thought it was a car-maker in no-man’s land. Out on its own away from GM, away from the unions, trying to build cars to compete with the Japanese (all good things).

That’s the way they started…but within a few years it was no longer that way. Since they share many parts with other GM cars/trucks then most of the car is subject to the same problems with quality that other GM vehicles had.