2001 Saturn S-Series Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Dealer sales and service experience, composite dent- and rust-resistant body panels.
  • Poor seating position and comfort, flimsy interior materials, weak standard equipment list.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$1,025 - $2,345

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Few cars on the market go a decade without a major redesign -- for a reason.

Vehicle overview

Saturn's small cars have enjoyed quite a following over the years, proving both fun to drive and reliable. And Saturn dealers have almost single-handedly sparked a retail revolution that emphasizes the ownership experience over sales commissions. Unfortunately, we want more from Saturn, such as more comfortable seats and better quality switchgear and interior trim.

Last year, Saturn freshened the looks of its SL Sedan and SW Wagon. The ding-, dent- and rust-resistant polymer exterior panels give SL and SW models a contour line that runs the length of the vehicle for an angular appearance. The SC Coupes come with a driver's-side third door, providing better access to the back seat.

Inside, the small sedans and wagons have a one-piece instrument panel cover, ostensibly to eliminate miscolored plastic pieces and ill-fitting seams, but we still find fault with interior fit and finish. Some componentry from the L-Series cars are shared to reduce costs through parts commonality. The seating position is low to the floor, while the seats themselves feel too flimsy for long-haul comfort.

Two engine choices are on the S-Series roster, a 100-horsepower, 1.9-liter four-cylinder or a twin-cam version of the same that generates 124 ponies, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto box. Allow us to suggest the twin-cam engine mated to the manual to make for a less-pedestrian sedan or wagon; they're a must if you plan on spirited driving. Rear drum brakes are standard on all models, with no option for disc brakes.

Sedans can be had as a base SL, midrange SL1 or uplevel SL2; wagons are available as the standard SW1 or high-end SW2. Coupes come as the basic SC1 or sportier SC2. Be aware that the standard equipment list is short on all base versions and that features are not packaged well enough to sell you on the midrange models. That means you may be forced into pricey, high-end versions to get the kind of equipment you really want, which puts the price near or beyond such formidable opposition as the Nissan Sentra and the excellent Ford Focus.

Packaging aside, if you're tired of the haggling quagmire, and you're pretty much set on the car and options you want, Saturn's excellent dealer network, money-back guarantee, customer-first philosophy and reputation for reliability are attractive selling points. But we'd recommend that you shop around - many econoboxes of yore have recently been vastly improved so as to not deserve such an ignominious title.

2001 Highlights

The S-Series sees no change from last year, save for optional head curtain airbags.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2001 Saturn S-Series.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Best Car I've EVER Owned!
krose3622,02/06/2011
I bought this car used, with a little over 100K, for $2500 (a steal). It has been a life saver of a vehicle... we own an old Chevy pickup (1980's), a 1995 blazer, and a 2000 Pontiac Montana and this Saturn has outlived them all. All of our other vehicles have been in and out of the shop for numerous thins (transmission, blown radiator, bad head gasket) and the Saturn has always been our primary vehicle, never letting us down. It now has over 152K and has needed nothing besides routine maintenance and brakes. Reliable, GREAT gas milage, handles well in all weather conditions. My boyfriend is 6'2" and drives it to and from work daily. Seats are a uncomfortable though for long trips.
Good little car
dab1983,09/24/2011
Bought this car used in 2008 with 105k miles after my 94 SL2 finally died at 204k. 3 years later, it now has 168k miles and is still running strong. The only issues I've had other than routine maintenance is a bad oxygen sensor that made my car run rough ($70 fix), a passenger power window went out ($100 fix), and an A/C leak ($125 fix). Other than that, it runs like the day I bought it. Exterior still looks new with no scratches or dings thanks to those dent resistant panels and I take very good care of the interior so it still looks good as well. I see a lot of people bashing Saturn on here, but I have owned two Saturns and they both served me well.
Nice car if you take care of it
Brandon Ross,03/30/2016
SL1 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 5M)
It is a very nice car if you take care of it. The engine can run into problems later in its life, but I rebuilt it at 200,000 and haven't had any problems.
Our Best Car EVER!!!
Jamie,09/03/2015
SC1 3dr Coupe (1.9L 4cyl 4A)
We purchased our 2001 Saturn SC1 in 2003 with 36K miles on it; it has since been reliable for an additional 220K+ miles with only minor repairs needed. Beyond brakes, tires, oil changes, and tune ups we have spent less than $500 on repairs over the course of 12 years. It's also great on gas (manual). Update: Car is still going strong with only minor repairs needed! Driving on regularly salted roads means that the body has reached level of rust that makes it undriveable :( Still our best purchase to date; went 315K miles.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2001 Saturn S-Series features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2001 Saturn S-Series

Used 2001 Saturn S-Series Overview

The Used 2001 Saturn S-Series is offered in the following submodels: S-Series Sedan, S-Series Coupe, S-Series Wagon. Available styles include SL2 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 4A), SL1 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 4A), SL 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 5M), SC2 3dr Coupe (1.9L 4cyl 4A), SC1 3dr Coupe (1.9L 4cyl 4A), SW2 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl 4A), SC2 3dr Coupe (1.9L 4cyl 5M), SL2 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 5M), SL1 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl 5M), SC1 3dr Coupe (1.9L 4cyl 5M), and SW2 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2001 Saturn S-Series?

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Which used 2001 Saturn S-Serieses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2001 Saturn S-Series for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2001 Saturn S-Series.

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Should I lease or buy a 2001 Saturn S-Series?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Saturn lease specials
Check out Saturn S-Series lease specials