1996 SL

Consumer Reviews

1996 Saturn SL

$1,080 - $3,648  MSRP Range
1996 Saturn SL

Review Score

4.0 out of 5 stars

4.0

20 Reviews
Score Breakdown
3.8 out of 5 stars Comfort
4.2 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
3.5 out of 5 stars Interior Design
3.5 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.4 out of 5 stars Performance
3.7 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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What Drivers Are Saying

1 - 10 of 20 reviews

4 out of 5 stars

Still going strong

by Fully satisfied with my purchase from Oceanside, CA on Thu Mar 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, 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.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Best gas mileage and it's reliable

by Zola from Norwich, NY on Tue Jun 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 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!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
3 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

1996 Saturn SL2

by DetroitDan from Michigan and California on Mon Jun 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 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.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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

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4 out of 5 stars

nice little car

by Tim from Iowa on Tue Jul 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 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.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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

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5 out of 5 stars

Loved my Saturn!

by MLC from Indianapolis, IN on Wed Jan 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 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!

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

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?

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4 out of 5 stars

238000 and still going strong

by SaturnTom from Minneapolis, MN on Thu May 25 2017

I'm shooting for 300000. Yes, I have had a few near $800 repairs over the years, but nothing that wouldn't wear out on any car. I've owned it since 1998 (sl2) and have only had it completely fail to start once or twice. I change oil every 3-4000 mi. and have a few leaks now. Some oil, some coolant. I've had this over 100mph several times in the last two years without the slightest effort. It has started regularly in the coldest Minnesota winters and only now does the body have visible wear. The clearcoat is mostly pealed off, but the overall integrity of the body is intact. I still get about 27 mpg in downtown minneapolis stopngo driving. The engine still purrs. When GM broke the mold for this model, it did not have the consumers' interest in mind.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
3 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

wonderful!

by Tasha from on Tue Aug 12 2014

when mine dies, I will be buying another saturn sl series! i bought mine from a friend and have had no complaints. it has about 300,000 miles on it and still runs like a champ. AWSOME gas mileage!!!!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
2 out of 5 starsInterior Design
2 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

My mom's Saturn now mine

by have one from scottsdale on Thu Oct 01 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.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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

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5 out of 5 stars

Casper the Saturn

by Justin from Garden city Savannah GA on Sat Nov 07 2015

this Saturn is 20 yrs old and the interior is kind of rough but it just needs love any this car is sporty,safe,reliable etc.........

5 out of 5 starsComfort
3 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

Very Reliable Commuter Car

by FirstCav46 from Auburn, AL on Tue Apr 01 2014

I got the 1996 SL model in 2004 when it had only 36,000 miles on it. I had few problems with it, commuting 100 miles roundtrip since then until it hit 211,000 miles and the transmission went out. My mechanic told me that it wasn't worth putting a new or used transmission in it at that point. Otherwise, the car was still working OK; AC blowing cold air, cruise control working, etc. But the interior was coming apart. It's being junked, and not for much money since the car was mostly made of plastic/fiberglass.

2 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
3 out of 5 starsReliability
3 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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

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Our Take on the 1996 Saturn SL

Saturn has built idyllic images around its no-haggle pricing, benevolent senior managers in polo shirts, and a homecoming weekend for buyers at their adopted alma motor, Spring Hill, Tenn.

Such gilding has effectively diverted attention from a rude question: How well does Saturn build cars?

The ruder answer: Not much better than anybody else at General Motors these days.

And conveniently displaced by happy chatter about the environmental invisibility of its plant and rehousing displaced bluebirds is the fact that Saturn is a division of General Motors.

Also a division that has never made money; a Southern subsidiary currently wrestling with parental decisions to overlap executives, clone... Read More