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Old 03-23-2007, 12:20 PM   #1
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Cool Short Test Drive Impressions: 2001 Saturn SC1

I test drove this Saturn SC1 today and was a little indifferent to the experience. As a forward, I shall mention I only test drove this Saturn for about 25 minutes or so. However, as we all know first impressions are so important to our purchases.

The Good: The asking price of $6995 was half decent for a certified car with 65,000 miles on it (although I'd be looking at $7800 or so after taxes). The handling was wonderful! The car has a very low centre of gravity and ride quality was stellar. The vehicle had a nice spacious appeal in the drivers position. The plain-Jane CD audio system sounded well. Oh yeah, that that 3rd door is pretty nifty and the trunk is huge!. Acceleration was pretty decent, even with the ~100hp engine. Fuel economy is unknown because I didn't have the Scanguage with me but the engine was only doing about 2000rpm @ 55mph so that should be a good thing.

The So-so: Head room was discouraging. There was maybe 2 inches of head room and I'm only 5'10" in height. rear-ward visiblity was suprisingly difficult because of the 3rd door and rear window position. Wind noise from the side mirrors at 60 mph was deafening. I'd definitely delete those if I had this car because that was really the only source of wind noise. The hydraulic clutch was really strange because it felt more like a push button than a clutch; not much 'feel' to it at all. The Gold colour was liveable, but not exciting by any stretch of the imagination. The 5 speed stick went into its gear selections with ease, but again it felt plasticy and cheap.


The Bad: Quality, quality, quality! I thought I would be going up the ranks because I thought the Geo was rock bottom in this department, but the Saturn was not much of an improvement. The panels and dashboard were really plasticy and unappealing for me. The worst was the park brake: is that a brake or a toy gun from the dollar stote? It felt really cheap and breakable. There was moisture inside the passenger-side headlamp and the door handles looked like a 6-year-old attached them. Back seat room looked even more dismal than the Geo's back seat. The guages were better quality in terms of appearance, but the dials were particularly shakey. If General Motors made this Saturn to compete with Japanese models, they totally missed the mark in interior build quality. Hence why the asking price is $6995.

Anyways, those were my impressions of my short time with the car. If anyone has any questions about something I forgot to mention, give me a shout. Basically my general opinion is that I'm going to keep my Geo until it crashes and burns, in which case I'll maybe look into a SC1 that has more options, or bite the 2mpg bullet and check out a SC2.
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:07 PM   #2
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Peakster -

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Originally Posted by Peakster View Post
...

The Bad: Quality, quality, quality! I thought I would be going up the ranks because I thought the Geo was rock bottom in this department, but the Saturn was not much of an improvement. The panels and dashboard were really plasticy and unappealing for me. The worst was the park brake: is that a brake or a toy gun from the dollar stote? It felt really cheap and breakable. There was moisture inside the passenger-side headlamp and the door handles looked like a 6-year-old attached them. Back seat room looked even more dismal than the Geo's back seat. The guages were better quality in terms of appearance, but the dials were particularly shakey. If General Motors made this Saturn to compete with Japanese models, they totally missed the mark in interior build quality. Hence why the asking price is $6995.

Anyways, those were my impressions of my short time with the car. If anyone has any questions about something I forgot to mention, give me a shout. Basically my general opinion is that I'm going to keep my Geo until it crashes and burns, in which case I'll maybe look into a SC1 that has more options, or bite the 2mpg bullet and check out a SC2.
I don't think the SC2 looks much better on the inside, but the seats would probably be nicer. The driver's side is lumbar adjustable.

There is one perceived quality defect that is not fair. Since the exterior panels are plastic, they expand/contract with temperature change. That means that the seams need to be larger. If a person doesn't know this, they will compare them to normal metal cars and say "look at the lousy tolerances!!!".

Now you know why nobody likes the Saturns ! When I sold my CRX to my friend (what a mistake!) and got the Saturn, it was a step down in terms of road feel, but I don't regret it becuase my total Saturn experience (which probably no longer applies today) has been good.

I still like Saturns,

CarloSW2
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:43 PM   #3
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Yes, the Saturn coupes have low headroom. I had a 2002 SC2 with a power sunroof that cut the headroom down even further. I'm 6'1". With the seat all the way down, my head rubbed on the roofliner. I've now got a 2002 SL2. With the seat all the way up, I have 4 inches headroom. That and it's a 5-speed manual. I love it! The automatic sucks compared to the manual. 37MPG on my commute to work, half highway/half rural road with several stop signs along the way. If I could lighten up my right foot I'd get better FE. I got my 2002 SL2 5-speed manual, power locks/windows/keyless entry/Cruise/ABC/Trac for $7000 with 44k miles last September. I've now got just under 58k on the SL2.
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Old 03-23-2007, 08:34 PM   #4
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yeah the interiors are a bit crappy on saturns, but I don't think they are as bad as geo metros.

The SL2/SC2 usually have better seats and more electric goodies.
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Old 03-23-2007, 08:34 PM   #5
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I find it hard to fault the saturn for the price. I paid 5k for mine and its a great car with all the options that I wanted. I don't care if the dash is not the best plastic on the planet. I don't mind that the trim doesn't fit nicely everywhere. I just don't care. Sold new my car was $10.9k. Sure they have there problems, mainly the ECTS sensor and leaky intake manifold gaskets, BUT! for the PRICE that can be expected. And for the price I don't mind fixing a few things.

I shopped honda and quickly realized that they had been building rotten transmissions for awhile and leaving the customers to foot the bill.

Nissans qr26 and vq35 both have very serious design problems causing the them to either burn oil or need complete replacement. Again the customers are left with $3-5k shop bills for nearly new cars.

Please! give me a break. I had an 86 ford aerostar that lasted 290k and never burned oil, was running when I replaced it.

These manufacturer are suppposed to sell "quality" products, you pay the premium price. You shouldn't have to replace a major powertrain component at 100k.

What I'm trying to say is this. The saturn is one the last GM economy cars. Which means because its a GM it will have the following traits IMHO.

1)blah styling, utilitarian interior, with built in squeeks and rattles
2)rental car handling
3)un-thrilling performance
4)consistent gas mileage over the life of the car(unlike some nissans I've owned)
5)cheap to maintain
6)dependable
7)most likely the a/c will cease to function at some point
8)a motor mount will eventually break.


My suggestion is find an up optioned SL for a better deal. I found that rare deal. All maintenance records, clean, easy driver, no major problems, etc. An S-series saturn is a hard deal to beat in my opinion.
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Old 03-23-2007, 09:57 PM   #6
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Metro and Saturn

Lovemysan pretty much summed it up but I just wanted to also say that I paid $3500 for my 01 SL with about 90k. I have no regrets. I had to replace the thermostat and intake gasket but these were pleasant rewarding jobs. I bought a 95 Metro with 3 cyl and 5 speed last fall. I thought I could learn to love it but it went the other way for me . If one wants to travel at 65 to 70 the Saturn is my choice. Running around town was okay in the Metro.

I have found the Saturn to be a great value .

Ernie
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Old 03-24-2007, 01:00 AM   #7
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lovemysan -

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemysan View Post
...
...

What I'm trying to say is this. The saturn is one the last GM economy cars. Which means because its a GM it will have the following traits IMHO.

1)blah styling, utilitarian interior, with built in squeeks and rattles
2)rental car handling
3)un-thrilling performance
4)consistent gas mileage over the life of the car(unlike some nissans I've owned)
5)cheap to maintain
6)dependable
7)most likely the a/c will cease to function at some point
8)a motor mount will eventually break.

...
I'm gonna use this as my new Saturn Definition. I wonder if "Joe Saturn" could have used this in a sales gimmick commercial.

CarloSW2
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