1997 Saturn S-Series Consumer Review: I Miss My SL

1997 Saturn S-Series - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

161 Total Reviews

SL Sedan (1.9L 4-cyl. 5-speed Manual)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
I Miss My SL
By hard2convince on


1997 Saturn S-Series SL 4dr Sedan


I bought my 1997 SL new, and drove it for 181,000 miles. For 14 years, this car was near-perfect, with some minor repairs I would add up to wear & tear.
Mostly was just change the oil and keep on going.
It's still going for the new owner.
Alas, I miss my SL.
So, a couple problems I had were that the shifter cable assembly broke twice, at about 90K miles each.
The original clutch went for 160K.
Minor annoyances were that the light for the radio and the oil warning light didn't work, so had to check my oil regularly.
Used alot of oil. Mechanics said it didn't burn oil or leak, just "consumed" it.

Best Features

I bought a plain-jane car with no frills. Not even a cassette or cd player, just radio. In 14 years, the dash never cracked, the seats were still comfortable, with no rips or tears. A/C still cold. Had to replace headliner, though. Thanks to the plastic body panels, nicks in the paint never resulted in rust. I still averaged about 30 mpg mixed driving. The Check Engine light was on forever, but I never had engine problems. The car had pretty good acceleration and handled well, was very roomy inside and easy for my 80+ yr old mom to get in & out. Big, roomy trunk. Excellent visibility. Overall, very reliable car.

Worst Features

For what I paid for a bottom of the line car, I don't know what could have been improved. Saturn had the right idea with the plastic body panels, and I think more manufacturers should consider the value a no-dent no-rust exterior gives to the owner. Although the Saturn brand's quality declined with later models (I have a 2007 Ion), I wish GM would resurrect the brand and take it back to its roots.
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