Vehicle Overview
Curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows are a new option for all versions of the S-Series sedan. The curtain airbags store in the headliner above the side windows and inflate along the length of the passenger compartment to protect the heads of front and rear passengers.

The front-drive, subcompact S-Series sedan is built from the same design as the SC coupe and SW station wagon. These models were last redesigned for 1996 and are scheduled to continue in this form through the 2002 model year.

General Motors’ current plans call for the 2003 S-Series to be based on a new global small-car platform and be powered by a new generation of four-cylinder engines.

The overall length on the S-Series sedans is 179 inches — about 4 inches longer than the Ford Focus and Honda Civic. All models have dent- and rust-resistant polymer materials for the lower-body panels — a Saturn trademark. The hood, trunk and roof are made of steel.

Seats for five are standard on all models, along with a split rear seatback that folds to expand the trunk’s capacity to 12 cubic feet.

A tilt steering column, stereo radio, rear window defogger and a theft-deterrent system are standard on all models. The SL2 also has standard air conditioning.

Under the Hood
SL and SL1 models come with a 100-horsepower 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine. The SL2 uses a dual-camshaft version of this engine with 124 hp. Four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions are available with both.

Antilock brakes with traction control are optional on all models.

Driving Impressions
Saturn’s S-Series sedans are not in the same league as class leaders such as Honda’s Civic and Ford’s Focus; they’re noticeably noisier and not as polished overall. Acceleration is snappy in the SL2 and adequate in the others, but the suspension is too stiff on all versions.

However, Saturn’s no-haggle, customer-friendly sales practice makes it a pleasure to buy one, and you can expect reliable, durable performance.

Reported by Rick Popely  for
From the 2001 Buying Guide