Just because we don't like Saturns doesn't mean that you won't. There is inherent goodness to Saturn designs, and the SC is no exception to the rule. The cars are fun to drive, they are reliable and Saturn dealers have almost single-handedly sparked a retail revolution that emphasizes the ownership experience over sales commissions.
Unfortunately, we expect more from Saturn. We expect comfortable seats, quality switchgear and more attractive designs. When buying a Saturn, the consumer pays full sticker, and frankly, we don't think the cars are worth the price of admission.
Let's examine the SC coupe, which in its least livable basic format costs more than $13,000 and doesn't include air conditioning, power windows, power door locks or a cassette stereo. Under the hood is a 100-horsepower 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine, putting power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Add minimal essentials like air conditioning and a cassette stereo and the sticker climbs well above $14,000. At this price, you're still cranking that window up on your own. Want ABS (which includes traction control)? You're at 15 grand, and the car still has plastic wheel covers and manual locks. Is this value? We think not.
Move up to the SC2, which gives you a more powerful twin-cam engine, variable effort steering, a sporty suspension, aluminum wheels, fog lights, spoiler, multi-adjustable seats and a leather-wrapped steering. The tariff for these goodies is an additional $1,300, which is well worth the money, in our humble opinion. But at this price, you could get behind the wheel of a Honda Civic HX replete with power windows and power door locks. Add a CD player and the option package that includes air conditioning, power equipment, cruise control and remote keyless entry. The price soars above $17,000 and that doesn't include ABS, floor mats or an automatic transmission. With these additional items, the SC2 closes on $20,000 after taxes.
At least the SC2 is a good time in the twisties. Saturns grip the road well, and the SC2's twin-cam engine provides entertaining acceleration. Seating positions are low to the floor, and the seats themselves feel somewhat flimsy. Long haul comfort is not a Saturn strong point. The dashboard is contemporary in style, but there isn't much invested in the plastic used for panels and buttons. The styling? Well, you be the judge.
Saturn dealers treat you like a human being. The service is outstanding, the advertising tugs at the heartstrings and the cars run for a long time. Still, sales are sliding, and we think it has more to do with stale product and high prices than anything else. Shop around before settling on the Saturn.
All models get reduced-force front airbags, and sedans and wagons get new seat fabrics. The SC2, SL2 and SW2 are equipped with new headrests, and the optional alarm system now has a programmable passive arming feature. On the mechanical side, structural upgrades to the engine blocks and transmission case housing are said to reduce noise and increase durability. Additionally, the automatic transmission's programming has been tweaked to reduce hunting on hills and improve shift quality. And Saturn says that revised shock absorbers on all cars provide a smoother ride. Restyled alloy wheels and plastic wheel covers round out the changes.
Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Saturn S-Series.
Bought with 125,000 miles on it. It runs really well. It is quite for a small car that is 16 years old. Everything still works well including a/c, power windows, brakes, locks and such. The paint looks great and clear coat is coming off. It is fun to drive and the 1.9 engine gets great gas mileage and has plenty of spunk. Our sw2 has the automatic transmission and it shifts well with no problems. I am 56 years old and have had all kinds of vehicles. This one would rank about a three on a scale of 5 for overall use. It is no firebird or mustang but it is a really great little car.
4.13 out of 5 stars
SL2 4dr Sedan
Bought for our new 16 year old driver 7 years ago. Perfect for high school parking lots since the plastic paneled doors doesn't show door dings. Perfect for a budget w/29 mpg highway. Perfect balance of power and safety for a new driver. Daughter has moved on to a newer car a few years ago but I still keep the Saturn because it keeps the miles off my other cars while getting great gas mileage.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Grab it if you can
SW1 4dr Wagon
Fine the interior is kind of cheap looking, but I didn't buy this car in 1998 to compete with a BMW interior. I bought it because a tall person can drive in it (I'm 6"2"), the great gas mpg (I still get 38 highway- beat that in 2007) and there is a lot of storage room with the seat folded down. Get a tape measure and look. It beats the Forester and other small SUV's. The repairs have been extremely small. I replaced the fuel injector and that was the biggest repair. The acceleration is not great, but a good deal of the time the traffic on Long Island is a parking lot. 0 to 60 is not important when the road only goes 20. This is a simple car and cheap to own and repair.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Nothing but minor problems
SL2 4dr Sedan
I bought my 1998 saturn in 2002. Everything was perfect until 2005 (after the warranty expired). Since then everything slowly went on the car to include the back rear windows, brakes (expected), muffler, starter, all 4 tires (expected), ABS module, exhaust pipe cracking, wheel bearings, and now the shift cable. Currently in the shop AGAIN. But the car has lasted, just annoying to keep fixing all of these things. Still cheaper than buying a new car.
The Used 1998 Saturn S-Series is offered in the following submodels: S-Series Sedan, S-Series Coupe, S-Series Wagon. Available styles include SC2 2dr Coupe, SL 4dr Sedan, SL1 4dr Sedan, SC1 2dr Coupe, SL2 4dr Sedan, SW1 4dr Wagon, and SW2 4dr Wagon.
Pre-owned Saturn S-Series models are available with a 1.9 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 124 hp, depending on engine type.
The Used 1998 Saturn S-Series comes with front wheel drive.
Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.
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Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you
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