We've owned since new a 2003 Saturn Ion 3 sedan with 5-speed manual transmission.
It now has about 145K miles and is going strong.
All of our 5 kids learned how to drive a stick in this car.
The clutch finally needed replacement at 137K miles.
I live in Southern California.
While a daughter attended school near Boise, ID, I'd drive up a couple times a year via Nevada back roads.
I wouldn't see another vehicle for hours while driving through the desert, so I'd drive 100 mph for long periods without a problem - still got great mpg.
I still use this car if driving long trips by myself.
Only problem for us was/is the ignition key switch issue - about $350 to fix, and I haven't yet
Being able to park anywhere and not worrying about dings.
I am glad we got the 5-speed manual trans as it seems people have problems with the CVT automatic.
Roomy for a little car.
I'm 6'3 and have driven
with 3 other adults 2000 miles round trip w/o complaint.
Good performance w manual trans, handles mountain roads and 100+ mph well.
Handles a small trailer well
Owned since 8/07. Took some time to adjust to. Gear shifting is awkward compared to a Honda or Toyota. Great turning radius. Chronic ignition switch problem that shows up in winter. Wipers are plastic and are very delicate in cold weather with snow or ice. Fabric is cheap and stains easily. Seats not all that comfortable. Like car a lot but have been let down more than once.
Nicely designed car. Great layout. Fair leg room at best. Really good sound system for a cheap one. I like the color load capacity and trunk space. Great turning radius.
Get rid of the failing ignition switch and put a robust wiper system in. Saturns gone so lots of luck on these.
I bought my Ion3 new in 2003. 0% interest and 3 mos deferred because I had just graduated college. It's no BMW 3 series, but it's been good overall. 30 mpg on highway; 22- 24 in city (with hard driving). Have not had the build issues others reported -- recalls were done quickly and everyone was friendly. My CD player doesn't skip and noise is what I'd expect for a car this size. Center console display is cool and looks much sharper than a Corolla from 2003. Plastic body means no dents; trunk is nice. 5 speed automatic is nice for extra oomph in passing or city accelleration. Would buy a Saturn again, but one a little more souped up. Good starter car.
Center display dials; leather, CD, sunroof all in entry level car.
Seats are a bit uncomfortable and should have lumbar support. Driver's side floor mat is not durable. Leather, while nice, was pretty cheap.
Liked my SL1 better! Steering is terrible, never felt right since I bought it! Problem was fixed in 2005 model year. Ride is comfortable, seats stink, not enough support. Economy is okay at 29MPG average. Stereo was replaced 3 times in first year, but no other problems. Car is reliable transportation for short trips, not for long distances. Stay away from snow/ice, traction is poor at best. Excellent on dry pavement. Braking is very good. If you don't mind being thrown sideways when you hit bumps then this car will be satisfactory. If you want a car that handles well, try something else.
Premium stereo is excellent. Styling. Good accelleration.
This is the 8th Saturn I've owned and it has been the best, fuel-wise and dependability-wise. We have driven it nearly 5 yrs. now and only minor problems. Our major complaint is comfort. The driver's seat is impossible for long drives. Little cushioning, hardly any lumbar support. And no room in the back seat. This is the car for those seeking dependable transportation at affordable prices. It'll get you where you want to go cheaply. Your pocketbook will appreciate it, even if your back doesn't.
I like the positioning of the instrument panel to the right of the steering wheel. Much easier to see. Also enjoy manual transmission. Fun to drive.
Make front seats comfortable. Need more cushioning in bottom and more lumbar support in the back. Also would help if the seat were to be able to be moved into different positions, not just back and forth.