By on March 13, 2017

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Saturn Ion is one of those cars you still see on the street today, perhaps not enough to notice, but it’s of minor historical interest as the Saturn-branded cousin of the Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5.

Most of the time, the Ion is just background noise to me in the GM section of a big self-service wrecking yard, something I pass by while looking for a Cimarron or Reatta. However, I had heard that the Knoxvegas Lowballers 24 Hours of LeMons team had adapted Ion electric power steering to their mid-Duratec-powered Geo Metro, and I was curious as what this alleged steering column-mounted rig looked like.

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, shifter - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Once I poked my head inside the car, found at my local U-Pull-&-Pay, I noticed it had that rarest of all 21st-century Saturn accessories: a manual transmission.

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, seat fabric - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Also present was the usual scratchy-but-tough gray GM seat fabric of the era.

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, Ecotec engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Ecotec engine appears to have surpassed the GM 3800 V6 as the most plentiful engine found in American high-inventory-turnover wrecking yards. This one was rated at 140 horsepower, which provided acceptable levels of fun in a sub-3,000-pound car with a five-speed.

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, Saturn badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Saturn had six years to live when this car was made, but the Ion only made it through the 2007 model year.


A catchy little tune, played by various objects crashing into the plastic flanks of an Ion.


The Ion’s appearance mattered so little that Saturn’s advertising wizards decided to omit the cars from this medium-weird ad.


Get a Saturn, get married. Then you’re done.

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80 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2004 Saturn Ion Sedan with Manual Transmission...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Re original Saturns, the Saltbelt wants to know:

    Why can’t we have plastic car bodies after all?

    • 0 avatar

      MUH PANEL GAPS!

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        No, I mean why can’t Real People have car bodies that don’t rust and are just as unnecessary to crash protection as the soda can sheet metal they replace?

        Panel gaps? Those let you know where the parts that open are!

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Really, body rust is often not the cause of a car’s demise. Floors, suspension components, and mounting points rust too, and rubber components still succumb to time and elements just like they do in steel bodied vehicles.

          Plastic bods are little more than a gimmick. They don’t make the car last longer, as this steaming late model pile shows.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Appearance!

            Nothing says poor like rust.

            An old & clean car, that just makes you look quirky.

        • 0 avatar
          anomaly149

          You need three paint lines to do this, and more weight. Open up a Saturn and you’ll see a black metal body with brightly colored plastic AND metal parts. (Yeah, remember, the hood, trunk lid, and roof were usually metal) It’s hard to paint plastic and metal down the same line, so you’re likely using three lines: one for the painted metal, one for the painted plastic, and one for the black single-piece body structure.

          Plus metal outer panels help contribute to structure, plastic doesn’t tend to be good for that purpose. You’re still using a metal inner and outer panel on the door, for example, you just have a plastic cover over the top.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I never knew the Ion was a Cobalt underneath!

    Now you know what inspired the Chrysler redesign of the Sebring with that awful roofline! At least an addition of a black plastic triangle would have been an improvement!

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I owned a 2007 Saturn ION3 with the 2.4L Ecotec and a manual transmission. It was no sports car, but certainly peppy enough with 175hp.

    Prior to that, I had owned a 1992 Saturn SL1 and a 1998 Saturn SL2. The ION was just not a Saturn to me, except for the plastic body panels.

    It served well as a family/commuter car. I traded it in on a Ranger 4.0L 4×4 in 2011. I needed something to clean out my mother’s house after she passed away.

    I don’t remember the ION having any problems in the couple of years that I owned it, but it was anonymous enough that I don’t really miss it. I miss the Ranger, even though I only had it for a few months, if that says anything.

    Edit: I just realized that that car was one of the models that suffered from the GM ignition scandal. I remember it turning off at highway speed one time. As it was a manual, I just put the clutch in and coasted to the side of the road in neutral. I thought it was weird at the time, but didn’t think anything of it until the stories started appearing on the news a few years later. And yes, I did have a heavy key chain at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Serious question, BunkerMan: Would you characterize the seat fabric as “scratchy”? Murilee has made this claim before, and it’s never rung true to me.

      – – –

      Per several comments below, I know three people who had “true” Saturns (two 1st-gen SL2’s and one 2nd-gen SL2). All of them had good experiences. The 1st-gens in particular struck me as good cars for their era and price point. I co-drove one on a road trip two-thirds of the way across the country, so I’m not completely pulling this opinion out of thin air.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        I really wanted a 1st gen SL2 to be the first car I bought after college, but I talked myself into buying a Neon instead. That 1st gen car really was a good, honest attempt by GM. The wagon was really nice. But I still believe GM never knows why a good car sells well, so they always screw it up on the revisions. It’s that or just plain apathy towards consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        It’s only scratchy if you don’t wear pants.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Ah-HA! Now we’re getting somewhere. How many people don’t wear pants while they’re driving? I will admit to not wearing pants on a drive in an un-air-conditioned car from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles, in August. I was actually driving from St. Louis, but by the time I got to OKC, I said to hell with it. I wasn’t wearing a shirt either.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      I also owned a 1995 Saturn SC1 coupe and a 2007 Ion. The 1995 coupe was very basic, 5 speed, no cruise, power windows, or AC. But it was oddly charming and fun to drive and also as reliable as the sunrise. Had over 340k km on it when my father went and sold it. The Ion? Saturn had lost it’s charm, even though it did gain some nifty rear clamshell doors. No major problems, just a lot of fit and finish issues and somehow just not enjoyable to drive. I believe the ion was the beginning of the end for Saturn.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    That is a bare bones Ion 1 (you can tell by the hubcaps and roll up windows. I was a Saturn Apostle having racked up tons of trouble free miles on the original cars and got one of these new to go along with my wife’s Vue. It was painful obvious with both cars that GM had stomped the uniqueness out of Saturn and they were the last GM products I owned. The Ion wasn’t bad, just mediocre. The Vue averaged around 15 mpg, had all sorts of electrical issues and frequently needed a new thermostat requiring removal of the intake manifold.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I had a ’92 SL-2 that was a great car even after I totaled it on my way to visit my girlfriend at college. Got me the rest of the way there and then home again with the front end all mashed in.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    My Chemistry teacher in high school had this exact car. I know because I flunked a test once and had to stay after class, and she drove me home in it. Maybe she drives a Ford Fusion now? What other cars feature chemistry words in their names

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    IIRC, the story of the ION was basically this:
    (This is embellished a little bit but still generally accurate.)

    —2002—

    GM Manager: CRAP! We starved Saturn and let the SL run too long! Quick, give them a new small car!

    GM Engineer: We don’t have a new small car.

    GM Manager: What are you talking about? Give them Delta.

    GM Engineer: Delta isn’t anywhere near finished. We’re trying to benchmark the Jetta and still have a ways to go.

    GM Manager: I don’t care; they need SOMETHING.

    GM Engineer: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    —2004—

    GM Manager: Everybody hates the ION. Keep working on it so it doesn’t suck when it goes to Chevy and Pontiac.

    —2006—

    GM Manager: Nobody is buying the ION, find me something else to sell them.

    GM Engineer: Well, we could import Astras from Germany. It’s been out a while and people like it.

    GM Manager: Do it!

    GM Engineer: Isn’t that *your* job?

    —2008—

    GM Engineer: So, how’s the Astra doing?

    GM Manager: Poorly. We still have unsold IONs. Also, nobody wants to buy a car from a brand that might disappear.

    GM Engineer: [Starts handing out résumés]

    GM Manager: [Starts handing out résumés]

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Sounds about right! Despite still seeing first-gen Saturns (even Vues) everywhere on the road today, Saturn was doomed the second GM decided to follow up the original sedan with a half-baked reboot. Honestly given the laziness of the big 3 back then, I can’t believe they ever made something as competitive and reliable as the original Saturn. But I suppose the idea behind it was par for the course for the big 3 back then. Focus on one segment, nail it, surprise everyone, then let all your other products fester.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Fundamentally this was a decent car, and in Red Line trim was a challenge for the likes of the SRT-4 (less engine, better chassis) but my god did GM ever cost-cut the snot out of the actual implementation.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I went from an SL1 to an Astra so I missed this Saturn. The SL1 was cheap transportation at its best, with no issues and great fuel economy. The Astra is a decent car, which will be all but impossible to replace with my required options – panoramic sunroof, manual transmission, and NO leather seats.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “my required options – panoramic sunroof, manual transmission, and NO leather seats.”

      Not a car, but you can still get a Subaru Forester with this combination, at least in Canada…

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        You could have a GTI in that combination too… in Canada. It seems a lot of automakers prefer to cater to that smaller market. Just like the CX-5 keeping its manual transmission in Canada.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Plenty on this site have many negative thoughts regarding GM, which in some cases are spot on. However, I see many a Saturn on the road from the 90’s and of course the 00’s. Some from the 90’s variety appear to have been washed sometime in the late Bush (W) administration with an oil change/ maintenance visit most recently completed in first Obamma administration. These cars operate poorly longer than a lot of cars operate at all. The ION here seems to have had an early demise, with my money on the MT as the culprit. Probably needed a clutch replacement and the owner of the car, who purchased it BHPH decided that was too much.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Saturn started out in the early ’90s with decent cars and a loyal fanbase. GM couldn’t let that continue, though, so they went further and further downhill to the point of…well, pointlessness.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The original cars were actually quite good, albeit lacking a bit in refinement. Consumer Reports claimed “A new model from GM and it has excellent reliability”. Yep, the first round sported solid red dots. Sadly GM never invested in new models, so those buyers of the first generation had nothing to upsize to. Of course, GM would say that’s what Pontiac and Oldsmobile were for but I know of no Saturn buyer that considered that a viable option. Most of the Saturn buyers ended up in Hondas and Toyotas. The last minute new models looked and drove like the afterthoughts that they were. Another great opportunity lost. And the beancounters moved on to the next project to gut in the name of short term profit. Lather, rinse, repeat…oh, wait. We’re out of shampoo!!

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        Yep. The SL1 and SL2 were great little cars. I was considering one of those for my first car in 2005/2006 but ultimately ended up with a Beretta (probably should’ve went with the Saturn, but hindsight is 20/20).

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        ” Yep, the first round sported solid red dots.”

        Actually as I recall the 1.9s earned a reputation as horrendous oil burners in many cases (right through the early 2000s), leading to shortblock replacements. But aside from that I agree, very decent cars all around. And really fun with the stick shift, particularly in DOHC guise. I remember the SC1 in particular could be quite an AutoX terror.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          IIRC the oil problems were only with the DOHC engine?

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            No, both SOHC and DOHC had it. There was a problem with the piston design where the typical drainback holes behind the oil rings were omitted in favor of some cast slots intersecting the pin cavity. This caused the oil rings to carbon up and pump oil up top to the combustion chamber. As long as you kept it topped up, it ran fine, but many Saturn S cars died of complications of oil starvation.
            Back in the early 2000s, the internet discovered that using a certain oil (Castrol 0W30 made in Germany which was green in color and contained some “magic esters”) would fix the issue without any disassembly.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            That’s what I was thinking indifan, interesting bit about that oil. And you’re right, keep it topped up and it’s a non-issue. Same can be said for later Isuzu Trooper/Rodeo V6s, and ’98-02 Corollas with similar oil-ring related problems.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The first gen SL cars suffered from coarse engines and funky styling, but the rounded-restyle SL cars fulfilled the promise, particularly the 1998 SL2. Featherweight construction, powerful engine made quieter, 4 wheel discs, slick-shifting manual, surprisingly meaty wheels & tires, giant analog gauges in the cabin, good steering feel behind a fat wheel. It was the quickest car in its class, the long-travel suspension was sporty yet supple, and the car never dented and never broke. It did drink oil like a 2-stroke and have the idle sound of a bagful of dying kittens, though. At one point I considered fart-canning the lovely stainless exhaust just to drown out the idle sound.
        During the SL’s final refresh, they gave it less accurate higher effort steering (perhaps trying to compete with the Focus and its eerie ability to point itself perfectly straight down the road—a boon to entire generation of drunk drivers, I’m sure), a different dash that didn’t match any of the other interior plastics, and, if I’m not mistaken, a little softer suspension tune. Then Saturns became mostly rebadged cars from other divisions, and it was over.

  • avatar

    If the world of The Walking Dead became reality, its cars like this ION that will survive. Echoing what someone else said, an ION – like most Saturns and GMs in general – run poorly longer than most other cars run at all. Plus, no timing belts.

    I took an ’03 ION Level I sedan similar to this – stick, no power, etc. – in trade on an ’02 Tahoe. It had 156k miles and a blown head gasket and a new set of Firestones worth about what I ACV’d it at – $300. We ran a bottle of Blue Devil through it, flushed it, and now its our lot beater. It runs, drives, shifts, stops, has A/C, and a stereo. I really don’t know what else I could ask of it.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Let’s not forget that General Motor’s defective ignition switch was first used in the Saturn Ion before spreading across many other cars in the GM lineup.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I drove an ION Redline once and it was a decent driver. The quirky instrument panel actually gave it some character and made it more interesting inside than the Cobalt SS cousin. But it still reminded you it was a cheap car at the end of the day. I had an 01 Focus at the time and couldn’t justify the Saturn as a trade, even though it offered much more performance than my Focus.

    I’m seriously considering a Fiesta ST as my next car. It’ll be very similar to the Focus SVT from this era that I never had.

    It’s a shame that GM allowed: A) Saturn to exist at all B) But left it to rot and ruined what made it a rather successful initially.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I have a 2004 Ion 1 identical except in color to the one shown here. It just passed 270k miles. The red paint is still quite shiny, and there is zero rust on the body except for the bottom of the subframe where the paint was scrapped off by the dips in the road. It resides with my youngest son in Pittsburgh. It is the ultimate cockroach, and will no doubt cross the 300k mile barrier with the original clutch.
    Also, I hit a deer or more accurately ran it over when it leapt in front of me and lost footing. I was going 65 mph. A new radiator, condenser and tie rods and I was back on the road. The air dam suffered minor damage, but I didn’t replace it, but used the insurance for that part for the deductible.
    GM replaced the electric power steering and the ignition lock free of charge. Neither was problematic, but a free part is a free part!
    This car was the best automotive bargain I have bought. Too bad Saturn is no more!

  • avatar
    TCragg

    That centre-mounted gauge cluster was one styling element from 2000-era design (Ion, Toyota Echo/Yaris, Smart, etc.) that I’m glad has largely died. I get the argument in the Echo/Yaris that it made RHD production cheaper. What was GM’s excuse with the Ion?

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Shiela was late for her shift. Checking her pink Timex, her eyes darted back up to the road.

    “Shit!”

    She yanked the rubber wheel, and swerved out of the way in the nick of time, nearly giving the brand new Tacoma which had stopped in front of her a plastic enema.

  • avatar
    new2000car

    A coworker was planning on buying one of these. I talked him into a scion Xb (the toaster style) I said for 3,000 more (12,000 vs 15,000 at the time) why not get a car you can put things in? He was grateful for years at the advice and sold it to a coworker when it was 10 years old with 150,000 miles. He had gambling debts so I talked him into spending just a little bit more…I said “you have a college degree and you can’t swing that low amount with payments?”

  • avatar
    MLS

    I’ll never forget Car and Driver’s succinct verdict on the then-new Ion: “We waited seven years for this?”

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      That review is a thing of beauty. It’s not even bitter or snarky… “incredulous” probably fits best, as in, “we genuinely cannot believe that even GM screwed this one up so badly.”

      I’d forgotten about the mix-and-match roof rails… apparently, so did Saturn, as I never saw this ‘feature’ actually advertised.

      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/saturn-ion-3-road-test

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I had heard at the time that Saturn was indeed so desperate for an SL replacement that they took this half-baked Delta design while Chevrolet basically said “no way” and went back to the drawing board for the equally mediocre but more traditional Cobalt. The Cavalier was already horrendously dated but they weren’t huge retail sellers anyway so they could wait.

    I worked at Saturn from 1991 to 1999. The SL-series was a good car but they hopelessly cheapened it over the years. The early cars had great seats which later became hopeless blobs. The dashboard redesign in 1995 to add airbags was done well, but the re-do in 2000 looked and felt hopelessly cheap. The fabrics in the late 1990s just got super cheap and scratchy but the early cars were nice.

    If I could find a clean low-mileage SW2 with a stick I’d snap it up in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The problem with Saturn is they never made money. As many commenters have noted, the SL was a pretty good car for consumers, but not for GM because it didn’t make money, which is why GM management used updates to cheapen it and delayed replacing it. Saturn – a bad idea (GM needed to cut divisions not add them) that was pretty well implemented and then bled to death with a thousand cuts and lack of attention.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The move towards all-black coal bin interiors in cheap cars was a smart one, light grey almost always looks bad regardless of material quality and combined with poor quality plastics it is just depressing. Look at those dash panels and that blob of a steering wheel.

    The first 2 generations of Saturn SL were attractive little cars, especially for what they were. As years piled on them they looked even better because the plastic body panels didn’t rust or hold a constellation of door dimples.

    But this? This is awkardly styled, awkwardly proportioned, awkwardly trimmed inside, and just hollers “CHEEEAAAP CAR” in a way its predecessors didn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Those plastic door panels don’t perform so well after a number of Texas summers. I’ve seen a few Saturns (especially Ions) missing pieces of plastic door panels, after the panels became hard and brittle with age.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        I don’t know man…I worked at a Saturn Dealer back in the early 90’s as a detailer. They had a cutaway car in there and one of the things the sales people would do is literally give customers a giant heavy rubber mallet and let them whack at it. It had a giant dent in the hood where a new salesperson let a customer hit the hood.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    The interior looks Safe and Happy! Love center-mounted gauges, too.

    Maybe lose the tach because in a cheap, light MT car only exceptionally inattentive deaf people would need one.

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Some days I miss that CVT Ion Sajeev recommended I sell.

    I’m glad I sold it and bought a mustang. Same fuel mileage, double the horsepower.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So no pictures of the electric power steering? Dangit!

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    I had the “pleasure” of owing two Californian Saturn Ions. In all cases the sales force was very good, the service force mediocre. The first Ion quickly developed engine problems (wouldn’t start) and transmission problems (horrendous jolts shifting into third). It was replaced per Saturn policy. Second Ion buzzed/rattled incessantly, also shifted horribly, and had various interior parts like headliner sag and detach from the frame. A year of shoddy service and unfixed problems resulted in my pursuing the Calif. lemon law provisions and after a short while, Saturn bought it back. A Chevy Malibu Maxx followed, and it also being a first year car, had many parts that self destructed including its entire front suspension (Calif. roads then aren’t as bad as they are now). The Maxx was my last GM car.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My folks have a first generation SL 1 that they bought new. They always liked it, it’s been quite reliable and it’s still in fine shape. They also have a Ion which they are pleased with. I once drove it and it seemed subpar compared to the SL with its bland interior, awkward center gauge cluster and meh NVH. It’s only saving grace is the spirited Ecotec motor which has a timing chain.

    The Ion is based on the Cobalt/G5 but for some reason seems cheaper with its bolt on panels which leave gaps that would embarrass most manufacturers. A Fiero actually seems better put together. You figured they would have had the plastic body on space frame construction design down pat.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Death by neglect by it’s 3rd owner?

    Looks servicable and no sign of an accident for a, “this is 13 years old so it’s worth $1000 so the insurance company totaled it for a single torn plastic fender.”

  • avatar
    Q

    My daughter has a 2004 Ion with 85k. Bought it used with 40k 6 years ago and it’s gotten her through HS and most of college.

    It has aged like it’s been fed meth instead of petrol, but it keeps running, and has been easy and inexpensive to maintain and repair.

    The one exception being the spare tire that exploded in the trunk. They don’t make the spare any longer and used are ridiculously expensive and close to failure. So, I took my daughter on her first wrecking yard visit to look for one; all picked over, so we got an oem wheel instead.

    The wrecking yard was full of IONs.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I had an ’04 Saturn Vue V6 FWD. Hands down, the best car I ever owned. I regret selling it. Sure, it had its downsides… the interior was cheap & plasticky… and the exterior panel gaps were huge, & whistled in the wind. But it was roomy, comfortable, versatile, quick, and light on its feet. The Honda-sourced V6 was smooth as silk… had loads of power, and got great fuel economy. I owned it for 9 years… and the only maintenance items I had were tires, brakes, shocks, struts, and bushings.

    I thought about an Ion for a daily driver, as the SL’s are getting a little long in tooth, but then inherited my grandfather’s Grand Marquis.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    I remember looking at these on the dealer lot when they first came out. I was dumbfounded. The styling was ugly, the contrasting roof rails looked ridiculous (they actually had some done up with them, like medium metallic blue ones on a silver car) and the interior was unspeakably cheap-looking. I remember the dash and the awful center-mount instruments was simply an expanse of ugly gray plastic and the seat upholstery had almost no stitching or visual interest. It was the very definition of a penalty box. After a few model years they added some texture to the dash to disguise the sea of gray but it was a hopeless cause. You couldn’t ever make one of these look good inside or out. Don’t forget the 2-door models with their slab-sided bodies that looked like they were designed with a T-square. GM at its worst.

  • avatar
    webibeay

    Had a 2002 L200, a 2004 Ion Quad Coupe and a 2007 Vue. At the time I was on the road for work putting 45k-50k miles per year. The L series was just incredible, Ion was okay except for the CVT which seemed to snap belts more often than not, and the Vue was great too! Other than the CVT debacle, these things run ran trouble free – If they still made them I’d probably still own one….. Just won’t go near a CVT in anything after chewing on 4 of them in 75k

  • avatar
    cook_diesel

    I have a 98′ Saturn SL2 in beautifully mint condition along with an 04′ Saturn Vue RL. I said I would keep my SL2 until I put over 200K on the clock and we’re getting close. Saturns were safe reliable spirited driving lil’ cars despite their shortcomings. The sales & service at the Saturn retailers were second to none & I wished those experiences could’ve been cascaded throughout the rest of GM’s divisions.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    I owned one just like this for all of a year. It was a silver 2003 Ion 2 Sedan in silver with the 5MT. I bought it in March 2013 with 132k on it. I used it for my 44-mile round trip rural commute and it was just sort of average. I traded it in with 146k on the odometer towards a 2010 Honda Odyssey LX in April of 2014 and have really only missed the stick shift. The rest of the car was pretty forgettable. The only work I had to do to it was replace a fuel line. I check the CARFAX on it periodically and it’s still on the road, now with a salvage title.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I’ve had a 95 SL1 [which my little brother now owns and loves] and currently own an 05 ION 1.

    The ION is better in NVH, turning circle radius, ride, quiet, ease of entry and exit, holds nearly 15 cubic feet in the trunk, doesn’t suck oil nor has it cracked the head like the SL1 did.

    Besides the ignition switch and sway bar bushings, it has given reliable, inexpensive service and still looks like a late model. A dorky late model, but still.

    I tried the manual and it’s asinine operation killed any enthusiasm I had for it after having the easy to engage Saturn sourced manual in the SL1.

    The GM 4 speed auto chose was quieter and drove better. And was an improvement over the Aisin 5 speed auto in the 03-05 models with the rough shifting [a flash rectified the shift flare problem]. They were reliable transmissions, [unlike the GM/Fiat CVT collaboration], but not well suited to the ION.

    And there are plenty of ION manuals out there. They aren’t rare.

    As to the polymer getting brittle in the sun, that’s just BS.The cracked panels one sees are signs of abuse, not the effects of sunlight and heat.

    Still thousands of 20-25 year old S Series around that are immaculate, fenders and doors intact, completely unaffected by age. I see many of them all the time in AZ. More often than not they look far better than any of the same era desert rats on the roads out here. Same with the IONs.


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