Used 1997 Saturn S-Series Wagon Consumer Reviews
I bought my '97 SW2 9 years ago with only 15K miles on it. I guess the original owner didn't like the car. Since then I have put on over 100,000 miles and the only major repair was replacing the AC compressor. Sure, the seats are only sightly more comfortable than sitting on a cardboard box, but this car has been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. Still looks good, too - thanks to the plastic body panels.
My wife and I have really enjoyed owning our '97 Saturn SW2 wagon. Originally purchased for my wife, it has been a reliable and decent-looking family car. The 16V motor has been strong. It's tuned for more torque in the lower RPM range, so it's great for driving around town. We definitely enjoyed the wagon body style. It has hauled our family of 4 on extended vacations. I use it daily to haul either a mountain bike or surf board. It has held up really well for 11 years. Most people are shocked to hear that it actually that old.
Purchased this car as a graduate from college. It had 19,000 miles on it. It now has right around 100K. I've now got a family of four, but when we were deciding whether to upgrade or not, we realized we couldn't beat the gas mileage. It's the perfect commuter car. It seldom needs work; it's paid off, and when it does need work, when spread out over the year it beats a hefty car payment any day. We've only had one major repair in the entire time we've owned it; replacing the shifting rods to the transmission (manual.) Cost: $700. Other costs were usual wear and tear: tires, upkeep, etc. Highly recommend. We'll drive until it croaks. It will be a sad day when we have to give it up.
I put 109k miles on this car in 13yr. It survived in an accident at 45mph and nobody got hurt. Gas mileage has not changed since day 1. Some oil consumption since last year that needs to top off once between oil change. It has been very reliable otherwise. There was one major repair to replace the wobbling timing chain within the 7yr after market extended warranty. Other than regular oil changes and tune-up, I spent less than $3000 on this car including the cost of extended warranty, deductibles for repairs, 1 after warranty repair, and 3 brake jobs plus ~$900 on two sets of Michelin tires. Just sold it without working AC and rear wiper fluid spray today at 1/8 or original cost.
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.