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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Nov. 30, 2023

Can An Older Saturn Make Sense In Today's High-Priced Market?

"Older" vehicles are making more and more sense as used car prices have skyrocketed, and in particular, those with relatively low mileage that have been well-maintained ... and they are out there to be found with careful shopping, Saturns included.

2004 Saturn Vue

GM's Saturn brand was discontinued in 2009 due to the financial crisis which seriously impacted all of the U.S. automakers. It was unfortunate because after floundering a bit in the 1990's, Saturn had made a strong comeback in the 2000's with the introduction of a number of much improved vehicles which were well-constructed, attractively priced and with generally quite good fuel economy.

But due to GM's bankruptcy reorganization, and the subsequent falling through of the sale of the brand to the Penske Corporation, Saturn closed shop. For those of you who may be interested in an older vehicle at this time, here's some model information and buying tips which could be helpful.

But first, and most importantly because while Saturn models have earned a quite good reputation for reliability over time, they are continuing to age. So, ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Vehicle

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

Now, Back To The Saturns:

I'm excluding here, however, used Saturns produced prior to 2000.

A little history: During the 90's, Saturn had lost a bit of its initial luster due to dated platforms and a limited model lineup which could no longer stand up well against the competition. Sales dropped significantly until GM recommitted to the brand in a major way in 2000.

It began with the introduction of the L Series which shared the platform and engine with GM's European Opel Vectra. Also introduced was the compact Vue crossover SUV, the Relay minivan and the S Series was replaced with the Ion (available in both sedan and coupe body styles). Even a hybrid was added to the lineup with the Saturn Vue Green Line.

Coming later was the sporty Sky roadster, the midsize Aura sedan, a second-generation of the Vue, the full-size Outlook crossover and the European-based Astra hatchback. Perhaps aside from the Ion, these vehicles demonstrated that Saturn had once again become adept at providing vehicles that offered good value for the money.

And due to today's very high used car prices, tracking down lower mileage Saturn models can still make a good used car choice.

Here's some of their more popular models:

2008 Saturn Astra

Saturn Astra: In 2007, GM decided to end their Saturn Ion line, leaving them without a car in the compact segment. In a smart move, they brought over one of their most acclaimed and internationally popular cars, the Saturn Astra ("Opel" Astra in Europe - sold over 500,000 in 2007 alone).

The Astra made it's U.S. debut in 2008 and is practically identical to the international version. And it's a good one ... quite competitive with other good choices such as the Honda Civic and Mazda3. Pluses included its crisp road manners, sporty design and surprisingly sophisticated cabin for an economy car.

The Astra is fun to drive in its own right, but particularly when compared to most economy hatchbacks. This is especially so with the two-door (there's also a four-door) due to its European-based suspension tuning. In fact, in terms of handling and road grip, the Astra is right up there with more performance-oriented names.

No, it's not the fastest in a straightline, but its still quite lively while being particularly impressive on those back twisty roads. It's just a lot of fun for the money.

Saturn Astra Pros:

European Influence: The Astra was based on a European design and boasted a sporty, sophisticated look with good handling and a comfortable ride.

Fuel Efficiency: It typically offered good fuel economy, which was a plus for drivers looking to save on gas costs.

Interior Design: The interior was well-designed and offered a modern and upscale feel compared to some other Saturn models. The seats were comfortable, and the cabin had a quality finish.

Safety Features: It came equipped with various safety features, including stability control, anti-lock brakes, and multiple airbags, enhancing its safety credentials.

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Saturn Astra Cons:

Limited Model Years: The Astra had a short run in the U.S., so finding parts and specific servicing might be more challenging compared to more common models.

Reliability Concerns: Like many first-year models or those with limited production, the Astra had its share of reported issues, including problems with the transmission, electrical system, and some engine components.

Lack of Customization: There were limited options for customization or additional features compared to some other vehicles in the same segment.

Saturn Astra Possible Mechanical Issues:

Transmission Problems: Some owners reported transmission issues, including rough shifting or even failure.

Electrical System: There have been complaints about electrical issues, such as problems with the lights, power windows, or dashboard displays.

Engine Components: There were occasional complaints about engine-related issues, though these were less widespread than transmission or electrical problems.

2008 Saturn Aura

Saturn Aura: The Aura is a midsize sedan also with a distinctive European flavor when it comes to its design and performance. Produced for the 2007 - 2009 model years, it offered quite a nice combination of edgy design, precise handling, comfort and upscale features.

Frankly, after years of inferior contributions to the midsize sedan market, Saturn's Aura was a true contender. Two strong V6 engines were available along with plenty of sporty features and equipment.

The XE model was equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that produced a lively 224-horsepower, while coming with standard features such as full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, traction control, StabiliTrak stability control and a 6-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary input for digital music players.

Under the hood of the XR was a 3.6-liter V6 good for a robust 252-horsepower. It also featured a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters (who would of thought it from Saturn?), leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, heated front seats and a premium 8-speaker audio system with a 6-disc CD changer.

Saturn Aura Pros:

Design and Styling: The Aura was well-received for its sleek exterior design and modern interior. It offered a comfortable and spacious cabin with good-quality materials.

Ride Comfort: It provided a smooth and comfortable ride, which was appreciated by many drivers and passengers.

Variety of Engines: The Aura offered different engine options, including four-cylinder and V6 choices, providing flexibility in terms of performance and fuel efficiency.

Safety Features: It was equipped with various safety features like stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and multiple airbags, enhancing its safety ratings.

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Saturn Aura Cons:

Transmission Issues: Some Aura models experienced problems with the transmission.

Reliability Questions: While some owners reported good reliability, others faced various issues, particularly with the transmission and other mechanical components. This inconsistency in reliability raises concerns for potential buyers.

Limited Availability: Following Saturn's discontinuation, finding parts and specialized service for the Aura might become more challenging over time.

Saturn Aura Possible Mechanical Issues:

Transmission Problems: As mentioned, transmission issues were a somewhat common complaint among Aura owners. These problems could manifest as rough shifting, hesitation, or outright failure.

Electrical System: Similar to other Saturn models, occasional complaints about electrical issues, such as problems with the lights or dashboard displays were reported.

Power Steering: Some Aura models experienced power steering problems, including issues with the power steering assist system. This could result in difficulties with steering or require costly repairs.

2009 Saturn Outlook

Saturn Outlook: For larger families looking for a very functional alternative to a minivan or a full-size, truck-based SUV, a used Outlook might be of interest. It offers loads of space for either passengers or cargo, a smooth and pleasant driving experience, easy access to three rows of seats that all accommodate adults, an above-average towing capacity and the handling capability of a smaller SUV.

Two models were produced. Standard features on the XE included alloy wheels, heated mirrors, front and rear climate controls, full power accessories, a CD/MP3 player with satellite radio (2009), cruise control and OnStar's communication system, while the XR added such features as steering-wheel audio controls, a power driver seat, dual exhaust, Bluetooth (2009), wood trim and a trip computer.

Saturn Outlook Pros:

Spacious Interior: The Outlook offered a roomy and comfortable cabin with seating for up to eight passengers, making it a suitable choice for larger families.

Cargo Space: It had ample cargo space, especially when the third-row seats were folded down, making it versatile for hauling goods or accommodating larger items.

Ride Comfort: Many owners appreciated its smooth and comfortable ride, suitable for long journeys or daily commutes.

Towing Capacity: The Outlook had a decent towing capacity, making it suitable for towing trailers or smaller boats.

Saturn Outlook Cons:

Transmission Issues: Similar to other Saturn models of that era, the Outlook had reported problems with the transmission, including rough shifting, hesitation, or complete failure.

Reliability Concerns: Some owners faced various mechanical issues beyond just the transmission, which affected the overall reliability perception of the vehicle.

Fuel Economy: It was not particularly fuel-efficient, especially considering its size and weight.

Saturn Outlook Possible Mechanical Issues:

Transmission Problems: Among Saturn models, transmission issues were a more common complaint with Outlook owners.

Powertrain Issues: Apart from the transmission, some owners reported problems with the engine, including issues with the timing chain or various components related to the powertrain.

Electrical System: Occasional complaints about electrical issues, such as problems with the lights or electronics, were also reported.

2007 Saturn Sky Red Line Convertible

Saturn Sky: The Sky was an instant hit with its introduction in 2007. This fun-to-drive roadster with its striking looks has a lot to offer, whether as a 177-horsepower 2.4-liter engine version with plenty of oomph or as the turbo charged 260-horsepower Sky Red Line. As said, "A screaming performance value".

The Sky came in two models, the Base Model and the Red Line. The main difference between the two is the engine. The Red Line boasts a 260-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Red Line can go from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds ... and that is quick indeed.

Saturn Sky Pros:

Attractive Design: The Sky was praised for its sleek and eye-catching exterior design, resembling a classic roadster. It had a sporty and stylish appearance.

Performance: It offered enjoyable driving dynamics, especially in the Red Line trim with a turbocharged engine, providing decent acceleration and handling.

Convertible Top: The convertible top was relatively easy to operate, allowing for an open-air driving experience.

Handling: The Sky had good handling characteristics, making it enjoyable to drive on twisty roads.

Saturn Sky Cons:

Limited Practicality: Being a two-seat convertible, the Sky lacked practicality for everyday use, especially in terms of cargo space and passenger capacity.

Interior Quality: Some criticized the interior for its relatively basic materials and limited features, which didn't match the sporty exterior styling.

Rough Ride: The ride quality could be harsh, especially on rough roads, which might not suit everyone's preferences for comfort.

Saturn Sky Possible Mechanical Issues:

Transmission Problems: While the manual transmission was generally praised for its smooth operation, some owners reported issues with the automatic transmission, including rough shifting or failure.

Electrical System: Complaints about various electrical issues, such as problems with the lights, dashboard displays, or electronics, were occasionally reported.

Convertible Top Mechanism: Some owners experienced issues with the convertible top mechanism, including difficulties with opening or closing, leaks, or motor malfunctions.

Parts And Service: Even more than other models, given the limited production run of the Saturn Sky and the uniqueness of a two-seat convertible within Saturn's lineup, finding specialized service or parts might become more challenging as time goes on.

Saturn Vue: The Vue is an attractively designed and affordably priced compact SUV. And there was no sitting still by Saturn on this one. Since its debut in 2002, it was continually improved and the available models were expanded to include a performance Red Line version as well as a hybrid model.

2009 Saturn Vue

But it's really the second generation Vue, produced in 2008 and 2009, that were the best. Happily, this version of the Vue shared much of its basic structure with the Antara, a small SUV produced by Opel (GM's European division based in Germany). The Antara was a widely-respected vehicle and a solid performer. These last Vue models produced here really had the look and feel of a European car and was a significant improvement over its predecessors.

Saturn Vue Pros:

Versatility: The Vue was appreciated for its versatility, offering different powertrains including four-cylinder and V6 engines, as well as a hybrid variant later in its production.

Compact Size: It had a relatively compact size, making it maneuverable in urban environments while still providing a decent amount of interior space.

Available Features: Depending on the trim level, it offered a variety of features such as a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, and upgraded audio systems.

Red Line Trim: The Vue Red Line edition, specifically in the later years, offered a sportier appearance and some performance enhancements.

Saturn Vue Cons:

Transmission Issues: Similar to other Saturn models, the Vue had reported problems with transmission durability.

Interior Quality: Some owners found the interior materials and build quality to be lacking compared to competitors.

Hybrid Reliability: The hybrid variant faced some reliability concerns related to its complex powertrain components.

Limited Towing Capacity: Despite being an SUV, its towing capacity was limited compared to some other vehicles in its class.

Saturn Vue Possible Mechanical Issues:

Transmission Problems: Transmission issues, such as rough shifting, slipping, or outright failure, were reported.

Electrical System: As with other Saturn models, occasional complaints about electrical issues, such as problems with lights, power windows, or dashboard displays, were reported.

Hybrid System Concerns: The hybrid variant had its own set of issues, mostly related to the hybrid powertrain components, which could require specialized maintenance or repairs.


While it's important to point out that most Saturns did not have the above problems, it's still extremely important to check for these possible issues before purchase and/or determine if they had them in the past and were repaired properly.

There are still many good Saturns on the road today. And those that were regularly and properly maintained, including prompt repairs, may have helped prevent or mitigate many of these potential mechanical issues. Driving conditions and previous owner driving habits can also impact an individual vehicle's reliability.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting The Lowest Saturn Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" car if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Lowest Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

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Other Models Of Possible Interest:
Older Acura Guide
Older Lexus Guide
Older Honda Guide
Older Scion Guide
Older Saab Guide
Older Toyota Guide
Older Hyundai Guide
Older Kia Guide
Older Mazda Guide
Older Nissan Guide
Older Mitsubishi Guide