A mostly fond farewell to Saturn (for now)

Hi all. I am a semi-regular lurker and once-in-a-blue-moon poster here. Nice group.
As of last week, alas, I am a Saturn ringer no more. I traded in my
weathered 2000 SL2 for a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu Classic. Didn't really want to, but the time had come.
I've driven two Saturns on a regular basis. The first was a 1999 SL1 my then-live-in lady friend leased. I drove that from fall of '98 through summer of '99, when she moved on.
Then in April '03 I bought the '00 SL2 used, with 30K on it.
The first time around was a dream driving experience with the brand-new SL1. (Automatic tranny) It handled well, comfortable ride, great brakes, crisp steering and great gas mileage. It was a fun, safe, reliable, affordable car to drive.
The only problems we had with it were horn-related. Right after we got it the horn stopped working suddenly; turned out to be a common problem, which the dealer fixed right away and it never happened again. Also I really hated the goofy horn buttons on the '99; one reason I limited my search to 2000's and '01's when I needed a reliable low-mileage used car a few years later. Saturn still topped my list, though.
The second time around, with the SL2, there were many more adventures and challenges.
The SL2 was also a fun, safe car to drive much of the time....but also over the time I owned it---from 30K miles to 68K---it went through most of the issues I've seen mentioned here whilst I lurked: burning oil, SES light on for no discernible reason, idling a bit too high, lower-than-advertised fuel economy.
Also it had an issue I've not seen mentioned here---which really puzzled the mechanics who worked on it, since they told me it's a common problem. That was an emissions leak that flunked it for inspection in May '04, just over a year after I got it. The mechanic told me he figured there would be a recall issued for it at some point. It never did pass inspection without some repair work needed.
Also I just had bad luck with it. While driving the SL2 I got into the only reportable accident of my life---luckily not a serious one; also got my first speeding ticket since high school; and ran off the road in the snow for the first time ever.
The car was not badly damaged in the accident---in fact I never had the body work done, since the estimate was $800+ and the deductible was $500---but it did not 'feel' quite the same afterwards.
Something else I noticed was the much tighter ride in the SL2; took me a while to catch on that it was due to the suspension: at first I thought I did not have the seats adjusted right. In a perfect world my car would be "suspended" just a hair tighter than the SL1, but nowhere near as tight as the SL2.
That also made the SL2 a bit worse in the snow than was the SL1, though both were better-than-adequate and neither great as winter cars. (As always, tire quality has a lot to do with it.) Anyway, ride quality in the SL2 was still fine for everyday driving, but it became an issue on long highway trips.
I really wanted another Saturn when I realized my SL2 just was not meant for the long haul, but the financing did not work out nearly as well for any available Saturn I could get 'round here as it did for the Classic I bought. (My credit score is only fair, even though my credit history over the past 5+ years is PERFECT; the bad stuff from more than 5 years ago still weighs it down, which really sucks; but that's a whole other thing....)
Had I gotten another Saturn it would have been a 2002 SL1, preferably with ABS. I've decided the SL1 is simply a better car than the SL2; it's most definitely lower-maintenance. The guys at the dealership where I bought the SL2 and tried in vain to get a decent deal on another Saturn said much the same thing: The Saturns they get with 200K+ miles and going strong are all SL1's. The SL2 and L series will also run long and well if cared for "just so," they say---but not as long as the SL1 and only with more fuss and fretting.
The only advantage to the 2 series that I can see is the tiny bit more passing and merging power you get from the bigger engine: not enough to make up for the other issues I went through with the SL2, IMHO. I could see where a young guy into semi-performance cars but a bit short on cash could migrate to the SC2, where the tighter suspension might help, but that was not an issue for me or I would imagine most SL2 owners.
I made the mistake of thinking the "higher-end" trim had to be better....and paid the price.
Still the price was not too steep. Deep down I'm still a "Saturn guy." Sort of. In the unlikely event I'm in the market for another ride in the next year or two I will check out the best of what's left of lower-mileage '01 and '02 SL1's and maybe even the L series with the Ecotec.
For now, I wish everyone here the best of luck and happiness with their Saturns, and all else. I will probably lurk here once in a great while for old times sake.
Happy Holidays and best regards,
Eric M
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On 13 Dec 2005 21:20:03 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Eric, Good luck to you. I worked the assembly line in a Malibu plant and know that you are getting a good vehicle. My Mom's Cutlass, same everything but a few trim pieces, is holding up quite well and it is a '98.
My 2001 SL1 has been relatively problem free and is now at the 50k mile point. The second day I owned it the ABS light came on due to a ground strap issue. Later, they replaced the steering rack under warranty when I complained of a steering noise. Turns out the noise was in the wiring at the steering wheel.
Two of my son's have 2002 SL2s. I've driven both of them and prefer my SL1. My wife had a 2000 SL2 but we dumped it for a Ford Taurus because the driver's seat was a bad fit. The Taurus cleared up her sciatica within two days.
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