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Old 09-25-2019, 08:30 AM   #1
onlinebiker
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Default What's the " best" year S-series?

OK... This thread is opinion only. Of course some of your opinions are completely wrong..


My vote for the best year/model is -

1996 SC2 (manual tranny, no sun roof or A/C, steel wheels)

First gen looks - 2nd gen interior and electronics. Just the best of all worlds. ( once you ditch the plastic and install an aluminum valve cover.)

...
92 SC2
93 SC2
96 SC2
97 SL2
97 SC2
99 SC2
01 SC2
02 SC2
02 SL2
parts
2 94 SC2 parted out
2 96 SC2
98 SC2 - rusty frame minus engine.

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Old 09-25-2019, 10:55 AM   #2
Mark_b
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1996 SC2
1999 SC2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I also like the 1996 SC2. I like the look of the pop-up head lights and the aluminum wheels.
Auto, AC, Aluminum wheels.

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Old 09-25-2019, 11:36 AM   #3
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Tough call.

I'd go with a '99 SC2, still mostly 2nd gen but with the 3rd door.

96 SC2 is good contender for the reasons listed.

Ideally - 3rd gen SC2 body, 2nd gen mechanically/electronically, but with a better instrument panel, Sx1 manual transmission and working cruise

...
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Old 09-25-2019, 01:19 PM   #4
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1999 SL2
1998 SC2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I like my '99. I think the only minus is the plastic valve cover. My '98 has been fine also.

...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

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Old 09-25-2019, 01:19 PM   #5
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1998 SC2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Coupe: 1998 SC2.

Sedan: 2000 SL2.

...
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Castrol Edge EP + M1 Ext Perf. Oil Filter.

Owned 4 other S-Series.

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Old 09-25-2019, 09:08 PM   #6
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2001 SL
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Unpopular opinion but the 2nd gen is ugly. Probably the ugliest of all. I would say the best year Saturn is 2001 SL with manual doors, windows, and transmission because, well that's my car! Also the newer one is better because all of the issues plaguing the older 1.9L engines were mostly taken care of.

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Old 09-26-2019, 08:36 AM   #7
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1996 SC2
1996 SC2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I was gonna say 96 too because my 96 SC2 still has pop up headlights but it doesn't have the uglier front bumper and the rest of the car has the 96 updates on it.

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Old 09-26-2019, 09:14 AM   #8
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1997 SW2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlayZombi View Post
Unpopular opinion but the 2nd gen is ugly. Probably the ugliest of all. I would say the best year Saturn is 2001 SL with manual doors, windows, and transmission because, well that's my car! Also the newer one is better because all of the issues plaguing the older 1.9L engines were mostly taken care of.
If you think the Gen 2 sedan design is Ugly then why would you think the Gen 3 is any better? as far as I can tell the Gen 3 is an uglied up Gen 2. The front end contours especially around the headlights look bad and seem like the same old "let's redesign this car just because we think we should and it's about time". Don't get me started on the senseless tail light shaping that was done.

I personally like the Gen 2 design especially as a wagon. (maybe I am just spending too much time around mine). It is beginning to look better and better as I walk toward it in a parking lot full of bulky SUVs with way too many body contours leading to crazy shaped grilles, headlights and tail lights above mundane appearing straight spoked alloys.

I do think that the Gen 1 is arguably the best design because it set the standard and was a very contemporary design that holds up over time.

I think that Modern automobile design is in crisis. They all look the same and the ones trying to stand out look like they've been in a fender bender.

I am talking strictly design because I have little knowledge on mechanical things and as far as I can tell the guts are pretty much the same in all the S-Series Saturns except for the leaky plastic valve covers.

Reminder: This is all one guy's opinion.

...
1997 SW2 used 12/29/2011 with 124,200 -27 mpg
2004 Ion3 new 11/2003 (totaled) 11/2011 -23 mpg
1994 SL1 new traded
1992 SL2 new traded for above
* 1986 Yamaha ce50 Jog -100 mpg

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Old 09-26-2019, 11:33 AM   #9
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlayZombi View Post
. . . because all of the issues plaguing the older 1.9L engines were mostly taken care of.
Wait, what?
Your engine doesn't burn oil?

Not to mention the issues with the composite cam cover, plastic intake and leaky coolant return nipple, and the wrinkled intake gasket (which are all new issues for later engines)

Looks-wise, I don't think there is an ugly model. Though I agree, the 3rd gen tail lights are probably the least attractive.

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 141k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 09-26-2019, 02:22 PM   #10
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1999 SL2
2001 SL1
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I think the best years are 1991 through 2002.

...
1999 SL2 MT (287,130 km @ 10/2019)
2012 Ford Focus SEL HB MT
2011 Suburban LT

Past Saturns
2001 SL1 MT (438,500 km 11y)
1993 SW2 AT (10y)
2001 LW200 MT (3.5y)
1992 SL2 MT (5y)

:canada:

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Old 09-26-2019, 02:45 PM   #11
focusofheart
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1998 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

When your family car had been a Renault 16, throughout the 70's, then any Saturn looks great, although the interior lacks the comfort of the Renault 16.

...
1998 SL2

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Old 09-26-2019, 04:59 PM   #12
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

That Renault 16 isn't bad looking. I like it - quirky

No idea on mechanicals or interior though.

I mentioned this before, but maybe 1995 is the "best" year.
  • That guy that Low Saturn ran into about 5 years ago with 883k miles - 1995 SL2
  • Luke - 1995 SL2, with 663k when he retired it
  • Highmile - 1995 SL1, with 649k and counting

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 141k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 09-26-2019, 05:19 PM   #13
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1997 SW2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by focusofheart View Post
When your family car had been a Renault 16, throughout the 70's, then any Saturn looks great, although the interior lacks the comfort of the Renault 16.
A childhood friend of mine in New England had an R16. The interior layout was pretty roomy & flexible for that era, and the seats were typically French --posh.

iirc, there were a few things that were "different" for the time -- the spare tire was under the hood; the motor was loud, jammed against the firewall and hard to work on; and the transmission was 5 speeds on the steering column and to get anywhere you needed to row that shifter a lot.

Although it didn't seem terribly reliable, I think it was salt/rust corrosion that actually did it in.

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Old 09-26-2019, 06:16 PM   #14
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2001 SL
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Wait, what?
Your engine doesn't burn oil?

Not to mention the issues with the composite cam cover, plastic intake and leaky coolant return nipple, and the wrinkled intake gasket (which are all new issues for later engines)

Looks-wise, I don't think there is an ugly model. Though I agree, the 3rd gen tail lights are probably the least attractive.
I notice how you didn't bold the last part of the sentence containing the word "mostly".

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Old 09-26-2019, 06:22 PM   #15
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2001 SL
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dummo View Post
If you think the Gen 2 sedan design is Ugly then why would you think the Gen 3 is any better? as far as I can tell the Gen 3 is an uglied up Gen 2. The front end contours especially around the headlights look bad and seem like the same old "let's redesign this car just because we think we should and it's about time". Don't get me started on the senseless tail light shaping that was done.

I personally like the Gen 2 design especially as a wagon. (maybe I am just spending too much time around mine). It is beginning to look better and better as I walk toward it in a parking lot full of bulky SUVs with way too many body contours leading to crazy shaped grilles, headlights and tail lights above mundane appearing straight spoked alloys.

I do think that the Gen 1 is arguably the best design because it set the standard and was a very contemporary design that holds up over time.

I think that Modern automobile design is in crisis. They all look the same and the ones trying to stand out look like they've been in a fender bender.

I am talking strictly design because I have little knowledge on mechanical things and as far as I can tell the guts are pretty much the same in all the S-Series Saturns except for the leaky plastic valve covers.

Reminder: This is all one guy's opinion.
Referring more to this rear design of the 2nd gen, which yes, I think is uglier. The front of the 3rd gen is also my favorite actually. That's the good thing about opinions though. You don't have to agree.

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Old 09-26-2019, 06:49 PM   #16
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1998 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I personally think my 98 SL2 is ugly as sin lol, but while getting almost 30mpg I really could care less

...
98 SL2, 70k miles, kept in the family since new!

Her name is Uranus :)

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Old 09-27-2019, 09:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlayZombi View Post
I notice how you didn't bold the last part of the sentence containing the word "mostly".
I couldn't think of any engine issues plaguing the earlier engines. Though, to be fair, my oldest Saturn is a '97 and I have only driven that one a few hundred feet.

Don't get me wrong, I like my 3rd gen SC2 engine, but I have an AIR pump, precat, and the plastic intake coolant nipple to worry about, which were never an issue in my 2nd gens.

...
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11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 141k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 09-27-2019, 04:43 PM   #18
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Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Don't get me wrong, I like my 3rd gen SC2 engine, but I have an AIR pump, precat, and the plastic intake coolant nipple to worry about, which were never an issue in my 2nd gens.
Why do you have an air pump? I don't have one on my 2000 SL2. Is your car California emissions instead of Federal?

...
2000 SL2 Automatic (back on the road) 17X,XXX miles.
1999 Chevy K3500

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Old 09-28-2019, 11:49 AM   #19
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1995 SL2
1999 SL2
Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

I would say for looks and features that 1995 is the best year. Still has OBD1 which allows for less strict emissions controls, and has the updated dash in the old chassis.

...
1994 Sl2 5spd: 56,576 (Totaled 1/10/2018)
1995 Sl2 5spd Manual Swap: 150,062
1999 Sl2 4spd: 98,8xx

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Old 09-28-2019, 05:48 PM   #20
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Default Re: What's the " best" year S-series?

One nice thing about the 95 - no downflow O2 sensor - so modifying exhaust is easier...

...
92 SC2
93 SC2
96 SC2
97 SL2
97 SC2
99 SC2
01 SC2
02 SC2
02 SL2
parts
2 94 SC2 parted out
2 96 SC2
98 SC2 - rusty frame minus engine.

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