Consumer Reviews

Read or write a review.

1996 Saturn Sl

1996 Saturn SL

Change Year
4.1
Average based on 15 reviews
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability
1-10 of 15 reviews

Loved my Saturn!

by from Indianapolis, IN on January 27, 2010

I got a '96 SL2 in 1999 when it had a little under 45k miles on it. It has been a very dependable car, relatively cheap to maintain, great gas mileage, and fun to drive. It's been having more problems...
I got a '96 SL2 in 1999 when it had a little under 45k miles on it. It has been a very dependable car, relatively cheap to maintain, great gas mileage, and fun to drive. It's been having more problems lately (e.g. burning/leaking oil) so I cannot afford to maintain it any longer, but it's up to 195,000 miles, and I've gotten more than my money's worth for it. I'm sad to see it go and hope my next car is as good as this one has been!
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Still going strong

by from Oceanside, CA on March 22, 2012

I have a 96 Saturn SL1 and I've only replaced the Alternator (early on) and the original starter last year. 14 years on the OEM starter. I've barely laid a finger on it except for oil, batteries, wipe...
I have a 96 Saturn SL1 and I've only replaced the Alternator (early on) and the original starter last year. 14 years on the OEM starter. I've barely laid a finger on it except for oil, batteries, wipers and tires. I've had it outside in the Florida humidity and hurricanes, In Arizona in that heat, over mountains to Lake Tahoe and all along I-10. Even a coast to coast trip from Florida to CA in 4 days. It is easily the best car I have owned to date. I want to get a new car, but just won't until this thing stops running like a swiss watch. Worst decision GM ever made was dumping the Saturn brand. I will keep this vehicle as long as I can, but GM will never see another dime of my money. I've lived in 4 states with this car, and I have never been ripped off at the Saturn service department the way they used to at Ford. I am very sorry Saturn is not more.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Best gas mileage and it's reliable

by from Norwich, NY on June 24, 2008

My parents gave me this car when it had about 130,000 miles on it. It's had a valve knock since about 70,000 and everyone thinks it's dying - It has just about 180,000 miles on it now, it gets 38-44 m...
My parents gave me this car when it had about 130,000 miles on it. It's had a valve knock since about 70,000 and everyone thinks it's dying - It has just about 180,000 miles on it now, it gets 38-44 miles per gallon with the cruise on - and driving at 55-60mph. I've only had to replace wheel bearings and the exhaust (but what can you expect from living in NY?). Other than that she doesn't cost me a thing. It also handles great in the snow and bad weather, which makes up about 80% of the year here in upstate NY. The only downfall is she's lacking power. But, if you want a car that is reliable, gets wonderful gas mileage and is safe, this is the car for you. When this one goes, I'll be looking for another 1996 4 cylinder SL, I can tell you that for sure!
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

nice little car

by from Iowa on July 26, 2011

i had the 1996 sl1 with a 5 speeed. i got an avg of 34-36mpg and thats running 70mph to work everyday. really wish i didnt sell it now with the gas prices. very little leg room in the rear. didnt have...
i had the 1996 sl1 with a 5 speeed. i got an avg of 34-36mpg and thats running 70mph to work everyday. really wish i didnt sell it now with the gas prices. very little leg room in the rear. didnt have a good audio system. road noise was kinda loud i think going down the road. but all in all its a good little car to get around in. didnt have much power at all. but its an eco car. great for long cruzes. comfortable reliable and easy to maintain. i thought it was a great car. just keep an eye on oil cuz saturns are known to burn oil when they have high miles.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

1996 Saturn SL2

by from Michigan and California on June 22, 2009

I've owned my Saturn SL2 now for 14years and can tell you it's been a great, reliable and fuel efficient car for me. Pros: cold AC, strong and safe in an accident, good fuel economy of 36-38mpg highw...
I've owned my Saturn SL2 now for 14years and can tell you it's been a great, reliable and fuel efficient car for me. Pros: cold AC, strong and safe in an accident, good fuel economy of 36-38mpg highway, reliable, parts are inexpensive, good handling, decent trunk size, seating for five, good transmission, and dent resistant polymer plastic body panels. Cons: uncomfortable seating, only adequate braking system, can feel wind leaks through door panels in high winds.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

The jury is still out...

by from Arkansas on July 19, 2011

Got the car towed home and started servicing it. The fuel line came loose from the filter and I lost a full tank of gas. That was tough being that gas is $3.45 per gallon. Glad it's only a 12.8 gallon...
Got the car towed home and started servicing it. The fuel line came loose from the filter and I lost a full tank of gas. That was tough being that gas is $3.45 per gallon. Glad it's only a 12.8 gallon tank. The car seemed to be running a little cold so I replaced the thermostat, still runs cold 160 vs 190. Besides the maintenance, the car sits a little low and there is no seat adjustment to raise it a little. Car drives straight and with the DOHC motor, has a little pep up to about 60 mph. I think it's getting about 25 mpg around town and 28 on the highway. Kinda sad for such a small motor. Three of the 4 windows make that 4 of the 4 power windows do NOT work properly. Only 2 go down, the other two just twitch. The power door locks don't work properly. When I charged the battery and hooked it up, unlocked the door, 3 of the 4 doors were chattering and would not stop for a while. They say Volvo's have electrical problems, wow!!! The roof liner is gone, not to uncommon for a '96. And one of the valve cover bolts will not catch and tighten. After I got the maintenance taken care of I decided to take the car for a spin. Well, about 1/2 mile from the house I had to turn on the defrost to clear the windshield and the controls are so low that I was almost totally off the road into a ditch by the time I got them set right. Could not avoid going totally off the road because by the time I lifted my head up my last 2 wheels were leaving the road. I was able to get the car back on the road before I hit the guard rail that was approaching, spun out and stalled. So chalk one up for poor placement of the ventalation controls. The stereo sound weak, however it does work. I'm wondering if someone barrowed the amp??? THE GOOD: The car feels pretty good on the highway, not to noisy and pulls straight. Has no passing gutts but I dont' think a 70+ year old lady will need much of that. The rear seats fold down giving good access to the trunk for oversized things. Seems easy to service and the parts are cheap. Good price for what I got. THE POOR: Other than listed above... A couple of the doors stick, the turn signal lane change bump is hard to find, seat belts don't click/snap in good, and the transmission has a hesitation when going from 2nd to third. To be fair, I have driven Volvo's for 25 years so a car 1/2 it's price is really no match. My sister had one (Saturn) which she absolutely loved (I think it was her 1st car). Would be ok for a 2nd car or for an emergency vehicle, but don't get one for someone that is getting out of high school.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does not recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Love My Saturn

by from Evansville, IN on January 26, 2010

Bought a new SL1 back in 96 and it hasn't let me down. When I take it to the mountains ( I live in the flat Midwest) it balks, but for routine purposes it is wonderful. Barely costs me a thing to keep...
Bought a new SL1 back in 96 and it hasn't let me down. When I take it to the mountains ( I live in the flat Midwest) it balks, but for routine purposes it is wonderful. Barely costs me a thing to keep it running and has never let me down.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?

1996 SL2 over 155k and going strong

by from Littleton, Colorado on December 13, 2006

Been a great car for the money. Bosy and paint look great. No major repairs. Clutch finally needs replaced after 155 k.
Been a great car for the money. Bosy and paint look great. No major repairs. Clutch finally needs replaced after 155 k.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Full of problems

by from NS, Canada on January 13, 2008

My SL1 was a problem from day one. A head gasket problem a year. And the body couldn't handle NA winters. Rust, rust, and more rust! It was comfortable and good on gas but I couldn't afford to keep fi...
My SL1 was a problem from day one. A head gasket problem a year. And the body couldn't handle NA winters. Rust, rust, and more rust! It was comfortable and good on gas but I couldn't afford to keep fixing the engine.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does not recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?

My mom's Saturn now mine

by from scottsdale on October 1, 2009

29 mpg 1.2 gallons a day to drive into Phoenix. Never any major problems. Not alot of power. Need to turn air off for full power when getting on a freeway.
29 mpg 1.2 gallons a day to drive into Phoenix. Never any major problems. Not alot of power. Need to turn air off for full power when getting on a freeway.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?
Our Expert Review: 1996 Saturn Sl

Similar Models

Select up to three models to compare with the 1996 saturn sl