This is my second Alero V-6. I bought it after owning a 2002 for about a year and a half and was looking at spending several hundred $ for scheduled maintenance (hoses, belts, tune-up, etc.)work as well as putting on new tires and brakes at about 48,000 miles.
I got a relatively good price for my used 2002 and negotiated a relatively good deal on this 2004 with 19,000 miles. Both this and the 2002 are my son's car(s).
The 2004 has a totally different feel and the salesman (for whatever that's worth) said the 2004 was "tuned up" to be the twin of a Grand Am GT. It does handle differently, has more off the line power and likes the gas station more than the 2002 (although perhaps it is "the foot" that has some involvement).
The car has about 33,000 miles on it now and has developed rattles and squeaks that the other did not have when it was traded.
The most troublesome problems have---thankfully---been covered by the initial warranty. The car has had 3 of the 4 window regulators replaced, new windshield weather strips for those that kept coming off (not the same ones), a new CD player and later, radio when each developed a problem at different times, a new battery and one time, the coolant was virtually all expelled from the overflow tank for some unknown reason.
The dealership could not explain it and was unwilling to replace the water pump, radiator or anything related given they could not find "the problem" when I brought it there for diagnostics and service.
All in all, my son and I like the car but are concerned about the potential for continual, on-going maintenance costs (beyond routine) for when the car passes the 36,000 mile mark that ends the GM warranty.