Pros: Almost bulletproof, great styling & interior.
Cons: Not quite large enough.
I bought my Saturn SL in 1992. Without any hesitation, I'd say it was the best car I've ever bought. (At least, to this point) The interior was luxuriuous (especially compared to Toyotas and Hondas that cost more)and the engine was a good, strong puller. The air conditioning worked like a champ, and the car fit me like a glove.
150,000 miles and 10 years passed. I went throught two clutches, one water pump, two sets of engine mounts, two sets of brakes, one serpentine belt, one belt idler pully, one starter, two oil pan gaskets, one radiator, and one upper radiator hose. This might sound like a lot, but I was doing constant stop & go driving in those ten years. I consider all these items to fall under the category of "Fair wear and tear" - you use a vehicle a lot and it's going to wear out. Oh, I also wore out one ignition key assembly - which shows you how many times it was stopped and started. I put a lot of wear on that vehicle and it gave me relatively trouble-free service.
Through it all, the engine remained strong and solid, starting on the first turn of the key in all conditions - except the one time the starter failed, and that was the only time I needed assistance to get it to the shop, and then all I needed was someone to give me a push. Thank heaven for a manual transmission....
Oil consumption stayed steady all the way through, at about 1500 miles per quart. I'm aware there's always going to be a bit of leakage around rings and valves, so I check and top off as needed. The only time it went up was when the gaskets went bad.
Fuel was about 30 mpg in town, 35 on the highway. Lately it got worse, down to about 25. I was letting the engine idle a lot, running the air conditioner - which explained that.
The exterior paint was still in great condition. Keep it clean, keep it waxed, and it'll last.
The main reason I traded it in on a new Honda CR-V was room. My little boy is 4, and the back seat of the SL was always a pretty tight place to sit. Add in a car-seat, and it was rather cramped without much in the way of cargo space.
Am I glad I got it? You bet. Would I get it again if I were suddenly transported back to '92? In a heartbeat. Saturn's one of the best car manufacturer's I know. Their customer service is outstanding, and their salesfolk aren't pushy. I spent 150,000 miles and ten years in that car - and I was sad to see it go. Hopefully, it'll go to some kid with mechanical aptitude who'll know a bargain when he sees it...