Pros: Good handling, dent-resistant side panels, good engine
Cons: easily dented hood, roof & trunk lid. rocker panel rust, $auto glass$
I bought a '92 Saturn SL (pretty much the same as the SL2, except it has a single cam instead of a twin cam on the exact same inline 4-cylinder engine (WONDERFUL engine), and the trunk has no reflector across it)
Anyway, I paid $1400 for it. It was beautiful, except for a couple of little dings on the trunk lid (made from something that was inside the trunk). I noticed some rust on one of the rear rocker panels, which I still have to fix, but it wasn't visible when the door was closed.
The car has over 150k miles on it, and is as tight as a new one. The engine runs quiet and smooth. The manual trans is very good for shifting.
After owning mine for 4 months, I was involved in an accident. I rear-ended a '88 Taurus Station Wagon. The nose of my SL went under the Taurus. The restraints worked perfectly and I was surprised at how well the car held up, based on the impact.
I went to a junk yard and bought a '93 SL front-end for $350, and installed it myself. I had a rude awakening when I priced the windshield. Saturn quoted me $620 to replace the shield. I know someone in the business, and the best he could do was install it for $360, and that was basically him installing it for his cost of the windshield, and NO labor included. Saturn is the only maker of those windshields, and therefore their prices are horrendous for auto glass.
If you buy one, it may be a good idea to get auto glass coverage on the insurance policy... it could save you a fortune in the long run. I had gotten many quotes for windshield replacement... one of them was for $1,420 !!!
...pretty funny, especially since the CAR cost me $20 less than that!
Other than that fact that replacing the windshield is ludicrously expensive and I haven't been able to get the car back on the road for over 3 months, it's a wonderful little vehicle, and I miss driving it.
8/28/02 NOTE: My SL's windshield is still not fixed, because of its expense and money's tight. I am exploring 2 options right now:
1. find a SL, SL1 or SL2 of similar design with a bad engine or something majorly mechanically wrong with it (for perhaps a few hundred at most) and take parts from the one I have. This likely would result in a car that's all the same color, a good windshield, and a parts car to boot... all for less than the cost of having a windshield installed,
- or -
2. sell my SL for best offer and use that money toward buying another car with better maintainance costs. I have bought a used Saturn, and loved it, until I had to replace the windshield. I have received quotes ranging from $500 to $1420 to replace it.
I have written an Email to Saturn Corp. regarding their glass prices. Please see below for the text of that Email. I will post the response from them when received.
I have researched the SL model, focusing on customer satisfaction based on owner reviews at sites like epinions.com.
Others have found themselves in the same predicament, and share the same feelings about Saturns based on our experiences.
I will NOT recommend the SL model to others, and indicate to Saturn buyers to be wary of repair costs.
There is simply no excuse for the inflated auto glass costs. My car has lost over half of its value because the windshield is broken, which is an absurd situation.
I wish that this Email would be read by someone of high rank in the Saturn Corporation, and would get results in terms of making auto glass more affordable, but my gut feeling is that Saturn's administration really does not care about who bought yesterday's cars. Selling the new cars sitting at the dealerships is the only thing that matters, aside from making a killing on parts.
I am posting a copy of this Email as an attachment to my Epinions review of the SL model. If there is a positive response from Saturn Corporation, I will reflect that as well. If there is no favorable response, it will stay as an example to others.
Final Note, response from Saturn:
Basically, Saturn responded first stating that Saturn Corporation does not set pricing, which would be "price fixing", and therefore "illegal". I responded back that the price charged at dealerships is partly based on their cost to acquire the windshields. That determines price as well as other factors, like availability of used shields and 3rd-party part availability. The final response was that information was being forwarded to proper departments or something, which was an inevitable bearucratic blow-off on the issue.