Used 1997 Saturn S-Series Consumer Reviews
We bought our Saturn wagon as a family car, but quickly realized that car seats don't fit well in the back seat. And the interior of the car is cramped, to say the least. The seats are extremely low to the ground, making getting in and out of the car difficult. Mechanically the car has performed well, but smaller problems abound: trim coming loose, handles falling off inside the car, the power windows getting stuck, etc. The air conditioner also isn't powerful enough to efficiently cool the back seat. It's a good small station wagon, but not for the claustrophobic and only for someone who is going to take care with the somewhat delicate interior.
Bought from a Saturn dealer about a year ago with 72,000 miles - now at 104,000 with no problems. I wanted a reliable American car with good gas mileage, and that's exactly what I got. I average 38 MPG, and over 40 MPG on trips! (to do this, get the SC1 or SL1 with the single overhead cam, and the manual 5 speed trans) I also find the seats comfortable (yes, they are low and firm). I am 6'4" and 220 lbs. and fit in the car fine. Yes, a couple of little plastic bits inside have broken, but look - this is a 2300 lb. car designed for gas mileage. A little noisy at idle, but very quiet at highway speeds. It's the modern answer to the VW bug - just better!
After last $920 repair, I've had enough! Engine burns oil at 1 qt/500 miles, no leaks, oil changed faithfully at 3,000 miles. Body rattles, no reliability, lousy paint. Second EGR valve, fuel pump, engine mount, 7 PCV valves, O2 sensor, serpentine belt twice, exhaust system. Engine has no power and vibrates like crazy. All this reapir and I can get $1,900 for a trade in. Oh yeah, brand new tiers and front brakes. Saturn again, no thanks!
I love my Saturn. I bought it used and was really worried, but I have had almost no problems with it. The only things wrong with it were caused my me (like driving through a deep puddle and having my battery die) I drive it through the canyons here. It sticks to the road really good and has some kick when I go uphill-not bad for a 4cyinder. The best part-it that it looks really sporty, but isn't expensive. I had one guy call me "Ms. Money bags". I beg to differ...:)The car is awesome. My only concern is-it may not be the best car if you are tall-the rearview mirror can block your vision. Watch out for that..
I really love my Saturn. This is my second and I bought it for the fuel mileage. I bought it at 160k for $1500 and did not problems with it until 180k when the motor lost power. The mechanic said it was probably because the timing belt was not replaced as he had seen that before. I very sadly sold if for $500 and the man who bought it put another motor in it and sold it back to me for $2500. We're at 205k now. A few tanks ago I took it on a 800 mile trip and I got 40.5 mpg highway so I can't complain. About 33-34mpg around town more if your paying attention to mileage. Besides the motor I haven't had to do much to it. It uses oil but that's what Saturns do. Just keep at it. ; )