My wife and I bought the SL1 to pull behind our motorhome, and it's great for that. You honestly don't know that light car is back there. We also use the car to ride back and forth to work because of the fuel economy. It's been a very reliable car with no reportable problems after 80,000 miles. My only complaint is the hampsters under the hood instead of horses. I'd trade a couple miles per gallon to get a little more power. The fastest the car has ever gone has been with the engine off getting a tow behind my motorhome. Sad but true.
I have owned a 2001 SL1 for almost 7 years, and it has never given me problems. I have 115,000 miles on it. I kept up with regular maintenance and everything is fine. The only reason I am about to sell it or trade it in is because I can afford a car I really want. I will admit I didn't want to buy the SL1 (body lacks style), but for a petite person like me (5'0") with limited funds (I was a graduate student at the time), the SL1 was perfect. Gas mileage is great: 37mpg (99% of my driving is freeway). If you are looking for a reliable used car, the Saturn SL1 is perfect, as long as you are sure that the previous owner kept up with the regular maintenance.
It was my first brand new car. 2 months later, after 2 days of nonstop rain, I literally flooded it. Towed to Saturn, and 2 days later, had my car back good as new. No musty smell either. 4 yrs later, I rear-ended a truck. I had only cosmetic damage to my front end. I had 144,000 miles on it when my temperature sensor went bad. 145,000, water pump started leaking. Other than that, before that, no major problems. I am horrible at maintenance, I don't keep up with oil changes, or filter changes. The serpentine belt was just changed at the same time as the water pump, and was still in decent condition. This car has been extremely reliable. I'm gonna cry when I finally have to trade it in!
I love the style, and I love the 3rd door. That's been so handy. I love the folding rear seats, and sunroof.
Comfort. I heard numerous complaints that my car was uncomfortable, though to me, driving, it was fine. Oh, and power. The car doesn't have much get up and go, especially if the a/c is on.
Bought new and now have 81k. So far have replaced ignition, brake rotors and intake gasket (labor $$$). Seats do not fit my back at all. Engine started using oil at 30k. Uses most oil at freeway speeds (1qt/400-600 miles). There is no reason a car made in the year 2000 should need things replaced or use oil this soon. I've done all my own maintenance and have not abused this car (my wife is very kind to the car). Never have gotten 38mpg like they say the manual tranny can. Got 37mpg after installing K&N air filter (up from 35mpg). My '85 Toyota truck and '93 Mazda 626 had less trouble and they were pretty abused due to my youth and had 150k. Not a happy customer
Scan button on the radio. My wife likes the car, so I guess that is a good feature except she won't sell it.
Put oil filter someplace where it won't drip over 3 different things when changing it. Better quality engine, brake rotors, ignition, and intake gasket.
Don't waste your money on a SC2. My car has left me stranded in the middle of the night too many times. The service deparment at my dealership don't know what they are doing. My 3 yr old car was towed 4 times.