Saturn and Dodge Neon owners, check in please!

My car hunt continues. The Toyota Tacoma and Hyundai Elantra are still in the running, the Kia is not.

But I need your input on the Saturn (particularly, the S class) and the Dodge Neon. Did you buy one? Are you still happy with it? problems? Please, let me know what you think.

I own a '97 Saturn SL-1 (the basic 4-door model). I really like my car, and have had very little trouble with it. I needed to get a new alternator at 41,000 miles, but other than that, it’s not given me any trouble. I’m pretty good about keeping up with maintenence, which seems to be important with Saturns–if you take really good care of them, they take good care of you.

BTW, I just hit 90,000 miles on it this past week.

I, too, own a Saturn. A ‘99 SL-1 as well. Is your’s dark green? Everyone else’s at work is (there’s about three in the parking lot right now). So far, I’ve had no problems. I just took mine in for it’s 36,000 mile check up, and everything is going well. Because it doesn’t have a proper fan belt, but a metal chain instead, it’s very important you take it in for its regularly scheduled oil changes (every 3000 miles). Aside from the fact the breaks squeek whenever it’s humid or it’s just rained, the car is great. It handles well, and I feel very safe in it. When it came time for me buying a car, the only real experience I had was with my parents’ Buick, so I wanted a big car. I wanted to know if I got in a wreck with some big penis truck (I live in Texas, so there are a LOT of those), I’d make it out all right. When they showed me all the reinforced steel beems throughout the car, I knew that although this thing’s small, it’s not going to leave me a smear on the pavement, and that’s important.
And besides…it’s got space-age polymers :slight_smile:

'97 Saturn SL-2 (4 door also, but better engine & higher base trim) here. Very good car, nicely quick (with the DOHC engine). I’ve had no trouble with it at all, and I’ve got 80,000 miles on it. It’s a nicely odd shade of light green, so it’s easy to pick out. I like it.

I owned a 96 Dodge Neon: First, a big chunk of the roof paint just actually fell off of the damn thing about a year after I bought it. Second, in spite of following the recommended service schedule to the letter, it began to drink oil by the bucket. Although Chrysler eventually picked up the tab for repainting the roof, nothing was ever done about the oil consumption. I sold it about two years after having bought it. Maybe it was a lemon and not typical.

Used to have a Plymouth Neon ( same thing ). First year - '95. Not generally a good idea to get a first year model, but I wanted a spacious small car and it was the most spacious vehicle I could find for the money. Plus initial reviews were at least adequate.

Other than some inexplicably squealy fan belts ( they were perfectly tight, seems the surfacing was defective in some way and I had to have them replaced twice very early in ) and failed oxygen sensor near the end of five-year period that I had it ( nothing too unusual there ), I had no real mechanical problems. However I have heard a few horror stories with those early models, so I may have lucked out. Oil intake did increase, but not too drastically.

In terms of build quality, it’s a cheap car. Fewer fasteners to save cost, so after awhile it developed a number of little squeaks and rattles. Nothing significant, but if you like hermetically sealed and quiet vehicles, this is not the car for you ( some wind noise as well ). Paint job was adequate.

Engine was a little noisy, but had decent ( not exceptional ) pickup for a four-cylinder ( it was the 132-horse model ). Didn’t love steep inclines, though. Mileage in the city was barely adequate for a small vehicle, but freeway mileage was excellent ( especially long interstate trips ). I got the standard transmission, because at the time the automatic that was offered was a three-speed that both reviewers and myself in test drives found it ran the engine a bit too fast. Shifting was fine. I had to replace the clutch unusually quickly, but then I live in a very hilly region. Car responded well enough, with good road feel, but wasn’t super nimble and due to the “cab-forward” design had a fairly wide turning radius ( annoying - my old Datsun 510 could turn on a dime ). I don’t like softly sprung cars like Toyotas and the Neon definitely wasn’t - If an active ride bugs you, you might want to look elsewhere.

Big Plus for me - Very roomy for a small vehicle. Seats four comfortably ( unusual in a subcompact ), good forward legroom, and a fairly roomy trunk. Price is of course pretty reasonable.

I got most of the extras, including cruise control ( absolute must for California road trips ).

All in all, based only on my personal five-year experience, I’d give it a qualified approval. But if you have a few thousand more, a Honda Civic would be a better choice.

These days I drive a Maxima SE.

  • Tamerlane

Yep, it’s dark green.
I see lots of dark green SL-1s. I wonder why that is?

Two Saturns – a 93 SL-1 (dark green) and a 99 SL-2 (maroon). Both are great cars. The older one had some transmission troubles, but it was all under warranty and they fixed them. The SL-2 hasn’t had a problem yet.

When we replace the 93 (and it’s nearly 100,000 miles and we expect to have it another 6-7 years), we’ll go to Saturn first.

This continues to reinforce my theory that all Saturn owners are actually human duplicate pod people who will eventually take over the Earth. I bet they all drink coffee at Starbucks too.

SATURN? STARbucks?!? Ye gods, they are just TOYING with us!

I own a 98 Dodge Neon. I bought it in 1998 and haven’t had a bit of trouble with it! Roomy trunk, quiet engine, smooth drive. This car kicks ass! I love it. In fact in a couple of years I will trade it in for a newer Neon maybe a 2000 or 2001. Great Car! It is green by the way-an attractive shade of green, not hideous!

I had leased a '98 SL1 (darkish blue) and I hated that car. The manual transmission was rough and clunky. Road noise was awful and the interior was creaky. At around 5000 Km’s it ate the serpentine belt, which they replaced but they would not diagnose what caused the belt to wear so early. At 30000 km’s I noticed the belt was noisy and starting to look worn but they would not do anything about it. I continued to mention it at every dealer checkup so they had it on record, but amazingly the belt lasted until I turned it in at 72000 KM’s.

I bought a used '98 Mazda 626 LX-V6 and could not be happier.

We’ve had 2 S-class Saturns, a '93 SL2 (Dark Blue) and a '96 SL2 (Black-Gold). The '93 ran very well and reliably up until a large brahma bull stepped in front of it one dark night. Cow: 1 Saturn: 0. It did save 2 lives, though: the cow’s and cavewoman’s. It was totaled, and replaced with a LS1 (now L200) which we also liked. The only problems it ever had were the alternator (around 60K mils) and, oddly, the engine mounts (repaied at no cost, attributed to a manufacturing error). The '96 was a 5 speed, which worked quite well, despite my inexperience. The alternator failed once (at about 70K miles…seeing a pattern?). Otherwise, comfortable and reliable until we needed a truck.

Ha! That’ll teach you to try one of your cattle mutilations, alien scum!

I have a '97 Saturn SW-2, the station wagon, dark green.
Like El Elvis Rojo, my brakes tend to squeal a bit when wet, but I’ve gotten used to it.
I’m kind of anal about regular maintanace, so mine’s in good shape. I’m coming up on 50,000 miles.
As caveman said, I also had to have my engine mounts replaced (no charge, covered under the warranty) about 2 years ago.

I love my car. My husband just got a new truck about a year and a half ago, and said when that’s paid off, we’d get me a new car, but I’m in no hurry.

Anyone have the new Saturn SUV?

I have a '95 Plymouth Neon sport. I give it a thumbs-up, providing that the generally poor build quality of my first-year model has been fixed in the second generation car (can’t speak to that). Make no mistake: it is an economy car, and the frills aren’t built to last.

High points: Extremely roomy for a car its size. Fun to drive; excellent handling; great highway mileage (sometimes over 40); still runs impeccably after 80,000 miles and has never once complained; purchase price at the time was 25% less than Honda Civic & other competitors, which allows for lower cost of ownership even with numerous small repairs (and they have been numerous).

Low points: Although the essential mechanical components have been rock solid, almost everything else on the car has needed attention at some point (various sensors, valves, components, condensors, etc.); while not huge, the repair bills have been steady. The mechanics at my dealer know me by name. I imagine that the 2nd generation car (the current model) is built much more solidly. Engine noise is high, and the ride is rougher than I’d like.

Amusing NAFTA anecdote: I found the front-end assembly instructions, written in Spanish, inside the driver’s side front coil spring/strut assembly about a year after purchase. I guess the guy who built it didn’t need them!

Try too, all cars, all makes, lots of info & people talk about their cars.

“I owned a 96 Dodge Neon: First, a big chunk of the roof paint just actually fell off”

That just happened with my friends 95 neon. I wonder if there is a recall on this?

I had a 95 Neon. It was a nightmare. Never buy a car the first year they come out.

The car, while parked in the driveway with the key out of the ignition, caught on fire! A neighbor knocked on the door to point out my highbeams had turned on. I know I didn’t leave them on, but I went out to check. When I opened the door, WHOOOSH! Flames and sparks out of the steering column. Me hosing the interior with a fire extinguisher covered the interior with crud, but stopped the flames.

The dealership quickly and quiety picked up the car, fixed it, detailed it, and brought it back free of charge. It was obviously a known issue.

There were many other problems. The rear shocks came up through the bottom on the trunk - another known issue that they didn’t recall.

Are you saying that it doesn’t have a fan belt but a fan chain? I have never heard of that before.

Do you mean a timing chain by chance?

My first “new” car was a 1995 Saturn SL. It was black, only because the base SL only came in black, white, or red. It was a five speed, with no power steering.

It was a great car. I never did anything but change the oil, and it ran beautifully until I bought my new Toyota Rav-4 in 2000. The interior is a bit cheap, and the speakers were pretty lousy. It’s not a luxury car. But, mine was totally reliable, and I recommend it as a good inexpensive car.

I too have a dark green 2002 SL-1. I don’t know much about cars, and we’ve only had it for 8 months, but it’s been a really nice car so far! I think I recall the salesperson mentioning that they were changing the engine design or something starting with the 2003 models, so maybe you should stick with the proven older models.

Is it black? Is it a dark green? I think that may be the appeal of the color.