Saturn ION Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.21/5 Average
975 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

The Saturn Ion was the brand's entry-level car from 2003-'07. Aimed at younger buyers, the Ion got what Saturn considered unique styling and design features, and a strong 2.2-liter engine. We never thought very highly of it, however, and took issue with its poor interior quality, unimpressive driving dynamics and bizarre styling inside and out. The Ion gave way to the vastly superior Astra hatchback.

Most Recent Saturn Ion

The Ion launched in 2003 as a replacement for the now-defunct S-Series. Throughout its lifespan, Saturn was vigilant about making minor improvements (particularly for 2005) to the quality of the ride, interior and overall refinement, so we suggest more recent model years if you've really got your heart set on a used Ion (although we hope you don't).

The front-wheel-drive Saturn Ion always came in two body styles: a four-door sedan and the "Quad Coupe." The Quad Coupe was styled like a two-door coupe but actually had two rearward-opening doors similar in style to an extended-cab pickup. For each body style, there were three primary trim levels: a base 1 (dropped for '06), 2 and 3.

All trims came standard with a 145-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. For '06 and later, the Ion 3 sedan gained an optional 2.4-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing, which was good for 175 hp. It was part of an Enhanced Performance Package -- only available with the Ion 3 -- that also included antilock brakes, traction control and a sport-tuned suspension. A five-speed manual transmission came standard on these main trims, but most used Ions you'll come across will come with the optional four-speed automatic or an earlier continuously variable automatic transmission.

There was an additional performance trim for the Quad Coupe called the Saturn Ion Red Line. It was powered by a supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which bumped power up to 205 hp. The Ion Red Line came exclusively with a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission, 17-inch wheels, upgraded disc brakes and a track-tuned suspension package.

One of the Ion's few strong points was its amount of cargo room in all trims. The front passenger seat folded flat, and trunk space was among the largest in the segment. The base Ions came pretty bare-bones, without standard air-conditioning or power mirrors and windows. You had to step up to the Ion 3 for these features, as well as 16-inch wheels and tires, cruise control and an upgraded CD/MP3 audio system. Given the Ion's significant depreciation, we suggest keeping your search to the Ion 3.

In road tests and comparison tests, our reviewers found the Saturn Ion to be among the lower performers in the entry-level sedan and coupe classes. Despite the strong engine, the Ion lacked liveliness, and overall performance was conservative at best. The steering was overly heavy. Even with the continuous interior improvements made throughout its lifespan, the seats were uncomfortable and offered little support. Overall, we suggest looking elsewhere for an economy car.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 975.00
  • Great buy if you get the discounts - 2006 Saturn ION
    By -

    Very roomy for such a small car. Fun to drive. Fuel economy could be better. I dont think the car is worth the MSRP, but with incentives, and GM family discount, it makes this car a great buy.

  • This is America, Buy an AMERICAN CAR - 2004 Saturn ION
    By -

    I can see that this car got poor ratings because it isnt from Japan..well screw that. This is the best car EVER, and its AMERICAN. Saturns are reliable, built well, reasonably priced, great on gas, cheap to insure and SAFE. I wouldnt conform to supporting foreign cars if you paid me, I love GM.

  • Nice car for the money - 2005 Saturn ION
    By -

    Leased for $110 per month from GM and its a vary nice car. Fun to drive with plenty of power. Basic no power windows but has air and automatic.

  • Saturn...never again... - 2005 Saturn ION
    By -

    I have had my Saturn ION 3 for a while and have had many problems from the tires, brakes, interior ceiling, sunroof...I can keep going. The car is nice to look at but I will not buy another one. The customer service also was not what I expected. Overall not a good car and not a good feel. I really wanted to buy the VUE, something really big will have to happen to change my mind.

  • My sorrow - 2003 Saturn ION
    By -

    I bought this car during my junior year of college and have had nothing but problems with since I bought it. I have had transmissions problems since one month after I bought it that have still not been fixed and the dealership has lied to me about parts that they did not fix when they said that they did ( I caught them) and I have had terrible problems with the lights and blinkers. But the worst problem of all was how easily the car was almost totaled just from hitting a deer. The car is so light that it is a terrible winter car. Never again will I buy a Saturn especially since the dealership has treated my so poorly.

  • My Saturn - 2006 Saturn ION
    By -

    This is the first new car that I have bought and I am very impressed with the cars performance especially the acceleration. I generally only use my car to go to and from work. The fuel mileage is a great improvement from my former vehicle. The handling in this car is excellent on tight curving roads.

  • satisfied - 2005 Saturn ION
    By -

    excellent on the highway, great in the local streets....i love the exterior design....the interior seating is a little uncomfortable, but its very good for bad backs....the saturn handles curves and turns exceptionally well, gas mileage is great.

  • I enjoy my Saturn Ion 3 - 2004 Saturn ION
    By -

    This car was purchase with 19,000 miles. It has leather interior and XM Satellite radio which I have not activated yet. It is my nicest car to date, but the black color requires weekly hand washes and detailing, as well as waxing or the dirt shows! I hope the car remains reliable in the next 5 years! I will keep my fingers crossed, for now I am very happy with my purchase! Also had a good buying experience. Its a good alternative to Civic, which I know from experience requires lots of maintenance over the life of the car.

  • My New Car - 2003 Saturn ION
    By -

    I just got my new car on Tuesday, and I just love it. GM sent me a letter saying that I could use my GM dollars towards a Saturn,and if I used them by December 31st, they would double them. Wow, that is $ 1,600.00 off my car. Thanks GM.

  • Horrible, save yourself the hassle! - 2007 Saturn ION
    By -

    I bought this car in Dec 2007 for a birthday gift to myself. Ii am 19 and had never owned a new car. Well lets just say if I could go back and get a different car I would! At 3000 miles my car was in the shop 2 times for clunking while doing u turns, which they replaced the tire well and it still continues today, and also a chirping in the tires. They tell me there is nothing wrong with it, also still going on today. I have 8000 miles on my car & I have been to the shop 9 times for the reasons above and now clunking in the back of the car as well as brake clunking. My rotors have been replaced for being warped after 2000 miles. and the tire well, also things have been falling off the car!

Saturn ION Reviews By Year:
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