2006 Saturn ION Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Saturn ION Coupe

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Saturn ION Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.2 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 140 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2006 Saturn ION

  • With its solid performance and affordable pricing, the 2006 Saturn Ion is worth a look if you're shopping for an economy sedan or coupe. Bear in mind, though, that newer peers are more refined and more fun to drive.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low price, customer-focused dealers, large trunk capacity, coupe's innovative rear access doors, solid ride and handling dynamics.

  • Cons

    Limited rear legroom, center-mounted instrumentation takes some getting used to, below-average interior materials.

  • What's New for 2006

    The entry-level Ion 1 trim level has been dropped for 2006. Wheel designs have been revised, OnStar is now standard across the board, and air conditioning has moved to the options list for the Ion 2. Upgraded performance is available via an optional Enhanced Performance package, which includes antilock brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower.

Full 2006 Saturn ION Review

What's New for 2006

The entry-level Ion 1 trim level has been dropped for 2006. Wheel designs have been revised, OnStar is now standard across the board, and air conditioning has moved to the options list for the Ion 2. Upgraded performance is available via an optional Enhanced Performance package, which includes antilock brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower.


A replacement for the aged S-Series, the Saturn Ion arrived as a new model in 2003. It's built on GM's "Delta" vehicle platform, which is shared with the Cobalt. Compared to the S-Series, the Saturn Ion benefits from its increased structural stiffness, an ability to accommodate multiple engine/transmission combinations and a larger overall size. Styling is increasingly important in this vehicle class as manufacturers court younger buyers, so Saturn engineers came up with a few innovative tricks to catch the attention of potential buyers. Interchangeable trim panels that reside along the exterior roofline and around the instrument cluster allow owners to quickly and easily transform the look of their Ion to suit their mood. Ion "coupes" actually have four doors -- two traditional openings in front and a set of rear-hinged doors for easier access to the rear seats. Both the sedan and coupe offer spacious cabins and one of the largest trunks in the class at 14.7 cubic feet. Unfortunately, as roomy as the cabin feels from the front seats, legroom is pretty tight in the backseat. A center-mounted instrument cluster gives the interior a unique look as well as offers more room for the driver to adjust the steering wheel, but in terms of functionality we prefer the "old-fashioned" location -- in front of the driver. Like other Saturn cars, the Ion offers buyers the no-hassle buying experience, a pull so strong it keeps almost half of all previous Saturn customers coming back. And in a society that seems to have forgotten about the idea of customer service, not having to dread each trip to the dealer is a feature no army of engineers could have possibly tackled.

Unfortunately, the Ion hasn't turned out to be the slam-dunk Saturn had hoped for. The car suffered from too much engine noise and vibration, a poorly calibrated electric power steering system, cheap interior materials and uncomfortable seating. Interestingly, Saturn listened to the complaints and did something about it. Most dramatic were the changes for 2005, which the front and rear seats were redesigned for long-haul comfort and interior materials were upgraded. Additionally, the Saturn Ion was fitted with noise-dampening steel for the dash and plenum, an acoustic cover for the engine, and a new exhaust down pipe to reduce noise and vibration. Finally, engineers retuned the electric steering for better feel and did some work on the car's suspension.

As a result, the 2006 Saturn Ion is now up to par in most areas, and it's worth a look if you're shopping for a budget sedan or coupe, particularly if a low out-the-door price is your main priority. Unfortunately, competitors like the Spectra, Mazda3, tC and Civic keep raising the bar even higher when it comes to value, performance, features and refinement, so you'd be wise to explore your options before buying one of these Saturn cars.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Saturn Ion is available in two body styles: a regular sedan and "quad coupe" that combines coupelike styling with dual rear-access doors. The sedan and quad coupe are available in two numerical trim levels -- 2 and 3. The Ion 2 includes basic comfort options like power locks, OnStar and a CD player. Add the Preferred package to get power windows and mirrors, cruise control, a driver-seat height adjuster and keyless entry. The Ion 3 takes a sportier step forward adding 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, full power accessories and an anti-theft system. The Enhanced Performance package includes a more powerful engine, sport-tuned suspension, antilock brakes and traction control.

Powertrains and Performance

Both the sedan and coupe feature a standard 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine rated for 140 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 170 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque is included in the Enhanced Performance package. Both Saturn Ion models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, with a four-speed automatic available as an option.


Antilock brakes with traction control are optional, as is a side curtain airbag system that unfolds from the roof rail to provide head protection for both front and rear outboard occupants. GM's OnStar communication system, which can summon aid automatically if the airbags deploy, is standard on all models. In government crash testing, both the coupe and sedan earned a perfect five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. In side-impact testing, an Ion sedan without side curtain airbags earned three stars for the protection of front occupants and four stars for the rear; the coupe received four stars across the board. In IIHS testing, the Saturn Ion earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest) for frontal-offset crash safety and a "Poor" rating for side-impact protection, even with the optional airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

The speedometer and other related instruments are housed in a center-mounted pod, freeing up space in front of the driver for better sight lines and more steering wheel adjustability. Nevertheless, this unusual layout of the Saturn Ion takes some getting used to. The quad coupe's additional dual rear-access doors open rearward to make it easier for rear passengers to get in and out. Unfortunately, rear legroom is tight in both the coupe and sedan, so passengers aren't likely to be happy back there for long.

Driving Impressions

The engine provides adequate, if not entirely refined, power throughout the rev range. The four-speed automatic transmission is responsive, but the manual box is still a little rough through the gates. Built on a completely different platform than its S-Series predecessor, the 2006 Saturn Ion displays commendable ride and handling characteristics. It's soft enough to soak up rough roads, yet it still handles itself well in tight turns and freeway off-ramps. We've previously criticized the Ion's steering, which never seemed to provide the right amount of power assist, but recent revisions have yielded much improved road feel.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Have an '06 quad coupe.........

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 2 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

This has been a fairly good vehicle. The anti-theft system is always a 'cloud over our heads'. Never know when it's going to engage and have to be reset. Wife driving-39-41 MPG, my driving at 80-85 MPH down to 32 MPG. The rear suspension is a joke! The same beam axle as the Citation of years ago. NOT independant rear suspension, ride in cramped rear seat not good. Front seats A-OK. A Chevrolet Cobalt in drag, and more money. The local Chevrolet dealer has performed all the campaigns (ign switch, power steering motor).

Common problems shouldn't be "common"

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 3 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my car about a year and a half ago. It was a leased car and it had 20,000 miles. I now have just over 55,000 miles and I've already had the "common" door sensor problem, which wasn't cheap to fix, where my interior lights wouldn't turn off because my car didn't know that the door was shut and today I had my power steering replaced per warranty coverage. The problems that Saturn has "commonly" shouldn't be common problems. I read online that the power steering problem has cost 14 lives already. And the door sensor is extremely inconvenient. I love my car but I truly hate the "typical" problems that come with it.

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 2 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

I have had absolutely NO PROBLEMS with this car. We got it brand new, traded in my old trusty SL2 for it, the only thing I had to replace were the tires, but that was because of nails. The only real issue that I can see with this car is the plastic trim pieces. Although it is purely aesthetic, I had the drivers side trim between the doors break off. It is an $80 fix, so that kinda stinks, and some interior pieces are cheap to, but overall, its a great car, great in the snow, continually gets over 30 MPG, and I have actually been in 2 fender-benders and you can't tell. NO DAMAGE!

Saturn ion

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 3 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

My experience with this car has been great except that it is very hard on gas and seems to be in the shop more than it has been on the road. The engine light is always telling me that there is something wrong with it. The dealers that have worked on it cannot find the problem. The only place you can take this car to is a Saturn dealer in the cities. This cost money! Overall the car is comfortable to ride in. It is smooth riding and turns nice. It is small and convenient with lots of drunk space. It doesn't use up any oil and for a person who has problems with parallel parking, this is the right choice.

What a lemon

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Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 2 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my 2006 Saturn Ion in July of 2006.Ever since I bought this car it`s been a problem.First week I own the car I had to get a new radio installed.The second week a spark plug had to be replaced. Six months later the car shook badly every time I stopped and still does to this day (7- 10-10) had it at the dealership countless times for the shaking.they claim nothing wrong with it. I recently had to get a waiver from the state of Pennsylvania because my check engine light won`t go out even after it was re-programmed by a authorized dealer. This car is nothing but a LEMON!

Loved this car

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Saturn ION 2 4dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 4A)

I loved my Ion. The only reason I don't have it anymore is because someone ran me off the road and it ended up totaled. Loved driving this car, loved the look of it. Was the perfect car for me, and I miss it terribly! I would have gone and bought another one in a heartbeat if they were still made. Awesome car!

Talk About The 2006 ION

2006 Saturn ION Discussions See all Started By

We purchased a pre-owned 2006 Saturn Ion (2.2 Engine) for my college daughters in TX. They have been driving it for over one year, but recently it began having a problem with random/intermittent loss...

I bought a 2007 Saturn ION Coupe the end of December 2006. I have had the car 4 mos and keep experiencing a wobbling when driving between 4-10 mph (traffic). They have balanced and aligned my car 4 ...

i have a saturn ion 2006..i took out the lock cylinder because the did not turn....so i stuck a screwdriver in it so i can turn on and i broke the inside plastic piece that turns inside...anybody know...

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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