I did not realize 'til I had my "new" 1999 Saturn wagon just how badly this car had been abused. I drove the car home on fumes, it was so low on gas. I checked the oil a few weeks later. It was over 3 quarts low! Then I had a flashback to when I first went to look at the car and the first words out of the previous owner's mouth were "It hasn't been sitting." I drove it around for a bit, liked it and bought it. I seriously don't know why this car continued to run the way it was treated, but I did some regular maintenance things (like an oil change), I've had it for about 5 years now and I have not had to do any major repairs -it still runs great!
I purchased my Saturn used, with 52k miles, for $4k. Given the price of the car, I didn't demand much from it. I could forgive the uncomfortable seats, the anemic engine, the spartan interior; all I wanted was good gas milage and reliability. I was partially satisfied.
A wiring problem killed the headlights at 85k. At 90k, the rear wiper stopped working. The car began burning oil in this time period as well - I was a lot less impressed with the fuel economy when I was routinely adding other fluids to the car. 100k, and the engine mounts loosened, adding more to an already-obnoxious rattling while driving. At 115k, the transmission went kaput.
I had expected to drive the car further.
Fuel economy was a high point. The car had an automatic transmission (there was no option to designate this when choosing a model for the review) -- which usually saps efficiency -- and still managed 30 mpg around the city.
The wagon body style and folding rear seats provided a bottomless pit to stow cargo. Going camping in the mountains, I found the car had more space for passengers and their gear, than the engine was really able to move.
I had purchased this car largely based on reviews raving about it's reliability -- some saying they'd gone over 150K without anything more than basic matinence. Getting only to 115k, before facing repairs costing more than the value of the car, was a major disappointment.
I'd suggest Saturn look to improving the overall build quailty of the car. I experienced a lot of trouble with the amenity features failing: there was a lot of rattling and creaking; the rear wiper failed; pieces of plastic covering from the dashboard frequently came loose.
The cupholders needed to be redesigned: they were pushed so close to the front console, a beverage would block the use of the HVAC controls.
This is my second Saturn SW2, the other was a 2000 that I drove until I decided I needed a new car, and then I regretted it almost every day. I flew down to Florida and bought this one off the Internet with only 32K, now has 76K and I couldn't be happier. Both this one and my previous one, which I bought at 10K and sold at 150K, never failed to start and only needed standard upkeep (tires, brakes, hoses, etc.). I never had to do a major repair on either one. I like the power and the drivability of the SW2. I am sad that after this one I won't be able to get a replacement, the newer Saturns just weren't as good and of course now you can't get them at all.
Power, reliability, excellent paint and exterior
Poor placement of cup holders (and not enough), headliners don't last
Use for business travel and pleasure. This has been a very reliable auto, Bucket seats are a bit low for my taste but comfortable once you get into them. Large cargo area with back seats down flat. In 5 years 2 repairs in the $200 range.
I bought this car used with 89k miles, now has 135k. It has performed well. Looks sporty. Seats not designed for the long haul. I'm 6 feet tall and fit well into car, but only with steering wheel tilted up getting/out. Engine burns 2 qt's oil between changes, but no smoke(?). Differential blew apart at 110k, taking tranny with it. Had junkyard tranny installed. Still runs good. Lots of rattles and creaks, particularly in cold weather. Love the ABS, traction control, stereo, sporty feel. Except for tranny, opertaing costs low. Insurance low for teenage daughter. Great student car. She even likes the manual trans. Not many of her friends can drave a standard.
ABS, airbags, traction control, cruise control, A/C, fog lights (use 'em in fog only!), roof rack, OK sound system, power windows (never a fan before), sporty styling, good MPG, easy to maintain
Better front seats, awkward shifter location, poor rear seats, many odd noises (ABS goes click-ita-clack after starting engine when first starting to move), wind noise at highway speed (roof rack)