I am new to the forum. I currently have a 1995 s-10 ext cab 4x4 with 267,000 miles. It runs great and doesn't leak anything but rust, but due to my wife and I having a second child recently I need to buy something that can handle 2 car seats. I have narrowed it down to a saturn sl. Mostly because I live in Wisconsin and don't ever wash my cars. What SL model and engine is the most fuel efficient? I am already going with a manual trans. By the way my daily commute is 20 miles one way.
Thanks for all your help.
What you meant to say was, "Which Saturn S Series for best MPG's" because the SL is actually one of the models.
It goes like this for the sedans:
SL - SOHC engine, entry level, no options (will have crank windows, no A/C, etc.)
SL1 - SOHC engine, most all options available
SL2 - DOHC engine, all options available
With babies involved, I'd look for an SL1 with A/C.
The SOHC engine when paired with a 5sp is capable of great MPG. Heck, the SOHC with an auto is capable of a lot more than the EPA rates it at.
If your wife can't drive stick, I wouldn't have any regrets getting an SL1 auto, it'll still get 35+ mixed and probably 40mpg highway. This is of course, if you drive it like it was intended to be driven... slow and steady.
I own both a DOHC and a SOHC S-series and honestly the SOHC is rated at 24 hp less (yes, that means 100hp total) but they both perform about the same... slow and gutless. Only difference you'll notice between the DOHC and SOHC is when pushing the engines above 4,500 rpm, if you're saving gas that should never happen anyway, so a SOHC will be fine.
Still on my first tank of gas. I only drive about 40 miles a day and filled up on 7/20, so it will be next week before I have an update. Seems to be doing well so far. It was a nice surprise to fill the tank up for $25 instead of $50 on the truck. Once I get a few tanks under my belt and have a decent idea of my mpg then I will look at mods to improve it.
I read your garage entry description about hoping for mid 40's w/o extreme hypermiling... unless your commute is pure highway I wouldn't count on that... aim for it but don't count on it.
Step 1 - HAI... ASAP! I think I have a build thread on here, if not, look over my garage entry pics for the general idea.
Step 2 - go through the car with a fine tooth comb. Do all the preventive maintenance you can. Plugs, wires, fuel filter, air filter, brake check (dragging), tire psi check (and raise it while you're at it), change the trans fluid. Buy an engine coolant temp sensor or ECTS, a brass tipped one. You'll need it eventually. Get yourself a spare crank position sensor from a junkyard and be aware of how to replace it (very easy... but its in a tricky spot) because they tend to fail w/ no signs of potential wear out and it'll leave you stranded.
Step 3 - do some searching for "lovemysan" and check out his aero mods on his Saturn. Inspiring.