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2006 Saturn Ion

2006 Saturn Ion

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$1,657 — $5,533 USED
7
Photos
Sedan
4-5 Seats
26-30 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 3 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Ride comfort
  • Performance of Red Line coupe
  • Saturn buying experience

The Bad

  • Handling and stability in regular models
  • Rubbery manual gearshift
  • Acceleration in regular models
  • Ride quality of Red Line coupe

What to Know

about the 2006 Saturn Ion
  • Optional 170-hp four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • FWD coupe or sedan
  • Red Line supercharged coupe

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2006 Saturn Ion Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
Built on a new Delta global small-car platform, the Ion sedan and Quad Coupe were introduced for 2003. Innovations included rear-access half-doors on both sides of the Quad Coupe, as well as an available continuously variable transmission. A four-speed automatic later replaced the five-speed gearbox in the sedan and the CVT in the Quad Coupe.

Saturn joined the hot compact arena during 2004 with a new Red Line edition of the Ion Quad Coupe. Rather than the usual 140-horsepower four-cylinder, the Ion Red Line Quad Coupe is equipped with a supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 205 hp; it drives a five-speed-manual transmission. In addition to special styling cues, these potent Ions feature a performance-tuned suspension.

For 2006, an optional 2.4-liter engine with variable valve timing joins the lineup. It makes 170 hp and 162 pounds-feet of torque. Other notable enhancements on all Ions include a revised center console and a standard OnStar communication system.

The Ion is available in both Ion 2 and Ion 3 sedans and Quad Coupes, as well as the Red Line. The Ion 1 sedan has been discontinued for 2006.

Exterior
Ions use space-frame construction and wear polymer bodyside panels for dent and rust resistance. Ions ride on a 103.2-inch wheelbase; sedans are 57.4 inches high, while the Quad Coupe stands 56 inches tall. Tires come in 15- and 16-inch sizes, but the Red Line rolls on 17-inchers.

Interior
Each Ion sedan can hold up to five people; the coupe ...

Vehicle Overview
Built on a new Delta global small-car platform, the Ion sedan and Quad Coupe were introduced for 2003. Innovations included rear-access half-doors on both sides of the Quad Coupe, as well as an available continuously variable transmission. A four-speed automatic later replaced the five-speed gearbox in the sedan and the CVT in the Quad Coupe.

Saturn joined the hot compact arena during 2004 with a new Red Line edition of the Ion Quad Coupe. Rather than the usual 140-horsepower four-cylinder, the Ion Red Line Quad Coupe is equipped with a supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 205 hp; it drives a five-speed-manual transmission. In addition to special styling cues, these potent Ions feature a performance-tuned suspension.

For 2006, an optional 2.4-liter engine with variable valve timing joins the lineup. It makes 170 hp and 162 pounds-feet of torque. Other notable enhancements on all Ions include a revised center console and a standard OnStar communication system.

The Ion is available in both Ion 2 and Ion 3 sedans and Quad Coupes, as well as the Red Line. The Ion 1 sedan has been discontinued for 2006.

Exterior
Ions use space-frame construction and wear polymer bodyside panels for dent and rust resistance. Ions ride on a 103.2-inch wheelbase; sedans are 57.4 inches high, while the Quad Coupe stands 56 inches tall. Tires come in 15- and 16-inch sizes, but the Red Line rolls on 17-inchers.

Interior
Each Ion sedan can hold up to five people; the coupe can seat up to four. Both body styles have flat-folding rear seats. The sedan’s trunk holds 14.7 cubic feet of cargo, which is slightly more than the coupe’s capacity of 14.2 cubic feet.

The center instrument panel, which includes the speedometer, is angled slightly to the left and is designed to let the driver’s eyes remain closer to the horizon. Only a few vehicles, including the Toyota Echo, have this layout. For 2006, it’s been revised for enhanced appearance and additional storage space. An anti-theft engine immobilizer and General Motors’ OnStar communication system are standard. An in-dash six-CD changer, remote keyless entry and XM Satellite Radio are optional.

Under the Hood
Fitted with dual balance shafts that are intended to yield quieter operation, the Ion’s Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder generates 140 hp. Ions can have either a five-speed-manual gearbox or a four-speed-automatic transmission. An optional larger Ecotec engine joins the list for 2006. Displacing 2.4 liters, it features variable valve timing, higher-pressure fuel injectors and a higher compression ratio to make 170 hp, but Saturn recommends that it use premium fuel instead of the base engine’s regular gasoline. It’s offered in a package that includes a sport-tuned suspension, traction control and an antilock braking system. A 205-hp, supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powers the Red Line Quad Coupe, which only comes with a five-speed manual.

Safety
Dual-stage front airbags, front seat belt pretensioners and LATCH child-safety seat anchors are standard. Side curtain-type airbags, traction control and antilock brakes are optional, but ABS is standard on the Red Line model.

Driving Impressions
Even though the Ion is an improvement over Saturn’s previous S-Series, the differences aren’t dramatic. The Ion is quieter than its predecessor and has a very light feel. The base engine can still get raucous, though, and acceleration is modest.. The ride is smooth, but handling is only so-so with the regular suspension. On-center steering feel is uncertain, with vague play in the wheel. The manual gearshift is rubbery but easy to use.

Saturn’s Red Line coupe is energetic from a standstill but less so for passing. The exhaust has a snarllike sound. All told, it feels like an econocar masquerading as a performance model.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.1
57 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.3)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.0)
Comfort
(3.9)
Reliability
(4.1)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

The greatest workhorse of a little car

by SC Wednesdayite from Charleston, SC on February 21, 2020

I bought my Ion in 2006, with 7 miles on it. It is about to hit 200k with NO major problems. My daughter had it for the last 4 years and beat it up pretty good, but to get it back in shape for my ... Read full review

(5.0)

Reliable

by Tiffany from Michigan on January 4, 2020

My ex never took care of this car (even rare oil changes) and it lasted him years. Pretty amazing. This is also the only compact car I've ever driven that I didn't hate. Even if you hate compact cars ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2006 Saturn Ion currently has 6 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2006 Saturn Ion 2

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
marginal
Overall Rear
marginal
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
acceptable

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
acceptable
Restraints
acceptable
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
acceptable

Side

Driver Head Protection
poor
Driver Head and Neck
acceptable
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Driver Torso
poor
Overall Side
poor
Rear Passenger Head Protection
marginal
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
marginal
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
marginal
Structure/safety cage
poor
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Latest 2006 Ion Stories

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Saturn Ion

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Ion received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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