GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Forget the press: Saturn Ion isn't all that bad

By Bill Griffith, Globe Staff

Sometimes, you have high expectations for a car and come away disappointed after a test ride. The flip side holds, too. Occasionally, you have low (even zero) expectations and come away feeling that a vehicle's strong points outweigh its negatives.

That said, rarely has a car come our way with lower expectations than the 2004 Saturn Ion.

National motor press reviewers haven't liked the Ion's interior fit and finish, its gauge cluster at the center of the dash, its electronic steering, its uncomfortable seats, its tight rear legroom. Generally, they have shunted it aside with the generic "It's not up to contemporary standards" label. On top of that, some reviewers don't like the small size of the radio controls or that the fuel-filler door is on the wrong (i.e., right) side of the car.

Wow! Why even bother to drive this dog?

Well, unless they bite, I like dogs. And it's fun to look for sunshine where others see only raindrops.

For starters, I like the Ion's innovative, quad-door design that eliminates the "B Pillar." That's the post between the front and rear doors, the one that used to separate a sedan from a "hardtop."

Unfortunately, it isn't particularly functional for rear-seat passengers. It's true, there's precious little legroom in back. However, both back seats and the passenger seat fold down. That, coupled with an extraordinarily large trunk, makes it possible to fill the car with lots of "stuff" -- think of those college students with packed cars you see tooling down the Mass. Pike each May and August.

And the driving experience was fine. The base 2.2-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine offers plenty of oomph, at least when paired with the standard five-speed manual. It's quick (as opposed to fast) off the line, has plenty of passing power, and tools along the highway with no hint of straining. The electric steering offered good road feel and had the right amount of built-in turning resistance.

Those gauges on the center of the dash take some getting used to, but only one day at the wheel takes care of that. Suddenly, it's normal to check the dials, which just happen to be on the same horizontal plane as the sideview mirrors. And headroom abounds, especially with no space-stealing sunroof up above. This was one compact car that I could wear a hat while driving.

The Ion's suspension is basic: Front struts with stabilizer bar and rear semi-independent torsion beams give the car a sporty feel to go with its sporty looks. The ride is firm enough but not sports-car tight.

My number one gripe turned out to be engine noise in the passenger cabin, something endemic to Saturn's small sedans and coupes since the first one rolled out of the Spring Hill, Tenn., plant 13 years ago. A tuned exhaust, like the one available on the Ion's Red Line model that's aimed at the tuner market, would have been welcome, if for nothing more than to add a friendly tone.

Finding myself liking the Ion far more than I was supposed to, I asked for a second opinion from my wife, Stephanie. She's not into researching cars, preferring to go with her initial reactions. She generally picks form over function and admires style while giving grudging acceptance to substance.

Approaching the car: "This is sporty-looking."

Getting in: "This is comfortable. Lots of legroom in front."

Looking at the sticker ($18,125): "It's affordable."

Looking at the options: "Hey. Front-wheel drive and traction control. You can drive it in winter around here."

Trying the controls: "The radio buttons may be too small for you, but they're just right for me."

On the road: "You feel like you're connected to the road."

Checking the EPA mileage figures: 33 highway/26 city. "That makes sense."

On getting out: "Can I get one? This is my idea of a basic car. It has everything you need at a good price."

Review Here

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
461 Posts
Are you sure this author's name isn't "Pollyanna"?

I have no first-hand experience with the Ion. But its performance in the marketplace must be a huge embarrassment to GM. I hope the people responsible are no longer with the company.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,944 Posts
I am not so sure about all the doom and gloom about the sales figures for the ION, I see tons of them on the roads in my city, and I know that they are not rentals, In my part of the country at least, the ION's seem to be moving well, the Saturn dealership near my house is constantly moving his inventory, I dont see the same cars on the front line for more than a week or so, at least the ION's and VUE's.

The "Saturn People" in my neighborhood, who own an L series, a VUE and a 2 gen SL, replaced their oldest 1st gen SL with a new ION.


Does anyone have any actual REAL sales figures for the ION before they dismiss the car as a faliure?

I actually kind of like the little 2 door ION, not my style, but it's a nice little car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
251 Posts
The Ions are really popular in my area. I spend some time traveling across my state (from S. WI to NW WI). I haven't counted, but I think I see more Ion Sedans alone than kind of Civic or Corolla, maybe both.

My neighbors just got the sedan. An older man, with a son my age. With all of them I see I don't think they can be bad. Good work Saturn.
 

·
Editor
Joined
·
26,951 Posts
Ion's are not very popular in my area... I can honestly say that I have only seen one since they have been out...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is the ION the next L-series?

Or will the redline help shore up its image?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
Originally posted by Ming@Apr 23 2004, 02:17 PM
Is the ION the next L-series?

Or will the redline help shore up its image?
in my ever-so-humble opinion (even my mother ignores me these days) the red line models do bring some credibility to the ion and vue. i wouldn't buy either vehicle in lesser trim, but would truly consider the ion and vue redline models. not only does it show that saturn is serious about the ion and vue, but the red lines are damn decent hardware.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I just bought a ION3 quad coupe last month, and it's a very nice car. a look of a sport car with place in the back for the childs ... and with the 2 small "suicidal" door "we call them like this in french ..." no need to move the front seat each time the kids go in and out, and no chance they jump of the car too ! (hehe).

overall, it's a great car, good balance between sport and sedan.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,572 Posts
Originally posted by paul8488+Apr 23 2004, 09:32 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (paul8488 @ Apr 23 2004, 09:32 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Ming@Apr 23 2004, 02:17 PM
Is the ION the next L-series?

Or will the redline help shore up its image?
in my ever-so-humble opinion (even my mother ignores me these days) the red line models do bring some credibility to the ion and vue. i wouldn't buy either vehicle in lesser trim, but would truly consider the ion and vue redline models. not only does it show that saturn is serious about the ion and vue, but the red lines are damn decent hardware. [/b][/quote]
You hit the nail on the head. I feel the same way about Saturn. I just hope "World Class" (for the entry level) becomes Saturns driving force once again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
871 Posts
i went to the saturn dealership to day because i was board as hell and never been to one, plus i wanted to check out the redline AND MAN IS THAT THING SWEET! built very well, looks great, fast, and comfy seats :D and on ion's, they give 3k cash back, good cars B)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,054 Posts
I've driven the ION and I think it drives nice, the exterior build quality is ok, thats the one problem with the dent resistant panels lately, they looked so nice on the S-Series and L-Series but on the ION and Vue they look cheap, smart move going to steel. The interior is roomy in front, somewhat in the back and it's actually pretty fast, stomp on the pedal and it goes. The car handles well too, thanks to the delta platform which is very euro-like. I also found it quite quiet and refined for a small car, and a first for a saturn.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top