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Old 02-17-2021, 11:47 PM   #1
Rudy160
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Question L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

I'm currently looking at getting a new saturn. I currently own a 2006 vue which I love to death, I wish I didnt need to replace it. I'm currently looking a 2001 L200 and a 2004 Ion. Both have 161,000 miles. Both have some minor issues but no engine or trans problems. I plan on doing a lot of driving so I'm focusing on gas millage and reliability. I know the car will easily last over 200k I just want to know which will last longer and be more reliable. I know I cant really go wrong with eather but rather which would be a better fit. Thank you all for your input!
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Old 02-18-2021, 03:55 AM   #2
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy160 View Post
I'm currently looking at getting a new saturn. I currently own a 2006 vue which I love to death, I wish I didnt need to replace it. I'm currently looking a 2001 L200 and a 2004 Ion. Both have 161,000 miles. Both have some minor issues but no engine or trans problems. I plan on doing a lot of driving so I'm focusing on gas millage and reliability. I know the car will easily last over 200k I just want to know which will last longer and be more reliable. I know I cant really go wrong with eather but rather which would be a better fit. Thank you all for your input!
Unless the Ion has a 2.0L Turbo charged engine, they share the same ECOTEC 2.2L four cylinder engine. The ION is lighter so you'll get somewhat better acceleration from it compared with the L200. As for a better fit, only the buyer can be the judge of that.

ION questions and comments:
1) What is the maintenance history, if known?
2) Which transmission does the ION have in it? Is it the VTi constant velocity automatic, or a 5 speed automatic, or manual? If it has a VTi then run away from it. It's bad and nothing can help it. The 5 speed automatic appears to have a good reputation. (If, per chance, it has a 4 speed automatic then it will be almost the same as the L-Series car.) If it has a manual trans. it will be a 5 speed. The only weak point I know of regarding the manual transmission is that the slave cylinder is within the transmission case. If it leaks then the transmission has to be dropped.
3) The belt strip on the doors (exterior - at base of the windows) look awful after they've gone bad. The material warps and develops ridges and I've seen this on many Ions (in and out of wrecking yards).
4) The brakes should be front disc and rear drum. ABS is available and perhaps even standard.
5) The ION suspension has a rigid rear axle.
6) I believe that the fuel economy on the ION is somewhat better than the L200.

L200 questions and comments:
1) What is the maintenance history, if known? The primary questions are,
a) what was the service interval for the oil changes and, b) what was the service interval for the transmission?
2) The primary transmission was a four speed automatic on the L200. A five speed manual is basically the same as what the ION had.
3) If you're a DIYer, the L200 is easier to work on than the ION because its engine compartment had to accommodate a V6. Hence, there's more space between the back side of the engine and the firewall. IONs were designed for 4 cylinder engines only so that compartment is smaller and therefore tighter to work within.
4) The rear applique at the rear windows tend to break their tabs which hold them into the door frame more than any of the others.
5) The standard brakes are front disc and rear drum with an option for rear discs. ABS is optional.
6) L-Series cars have a four wheel independent suspension.
7) Fewer new body parts are available, overall, for the L-Series car.
8) Opinion: I believe that there is more rear seat legroom in the L-Series.
9) Fuel economy when new was rated at 23 MPG city and 32 MPG highway with an automatic transmission. On a few occasions I've exceeded the 32 MPG rating, even within the last year.

Being an L-Series owner, I'm partial to that model and I'd be happy to find another one. This car has been fairly easy for me to work on and so its maintenance costs have been greatly reduced. The engine and transmission have never been opened for internal repairs. I replaced the timing and balance shaft components at about 312K miles. I now wish I had done it sooner as it greatly quieted the engine noise (which means that it should've been done much sooner than it was).

(FWIW: I replaced my starter one day ago. The alternator is original from the factory.)
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Old 02-20-2021, 05:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

Since the Ion has a lot of common parts with the Cobalt (GM Delta platform) it might have better availability of some replacement stuff down the road. But the Ecotec engine and 4T40/5 trans was built by the millions and should be serviceable for decades.
So it's probably a coin flip between the two, more dependent on the individual cars.

BTW what's wrong with the Vue that has killed it? Sometimes fixing/rebuilding the car you have/know is a better plan.
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Old 02-20-2021, 06:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

I like pierrot's comparison analysis of the same engine used in the Ion, Vue, and many other GM models (2.2L ecotec engine).

One (possibly) troubling point with Ions is their recalled ignition switch that seems to fix initial issues but rears its ugly head occasionally. The main issue is the low voltage (5v) signals used in the ign switch circuits are hampered when the ign switch contacts seem fragile, resulting in random inability to startup. Search Ion forums for repeated ign switch issues. The L-series retained (old school) 12v ign switch circuitry that have a proven track record as an industry standard for several decades. Ions are some of the 'new' school vehicles with electronic starting circuits by using electronic 5v logic signals in the ign switch. While very good conceptually and a savings in redesign to use smaller components more suited to lower voltages, using less space, many auto manufacturers have adopted low voltage signals to replace outmoded 12v circuits. With innovation comes teething pains and Ions are one of the first with teething problems. The L-series retained 12v ign switch circuits without issues.

Both use Passlock with the L-series disabling injectors when a theft attempt is made. Ions disable the starting circuit - no starter when a theft attempt is made. Different applications of the same factory theft deterrent system, Passlock. The 2.2L engine tends to suffer ignition control module failure on occasion, possibly due to its location. Physically sitting in the ignition coil pack over the engine to absorb engine heat in hot weather. Plenty of reports in forums about it.
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

Hey bill, here's the link to my post regarding the Vue.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...20#post2356420

To make a long story short there is a severe misfire that for the life of me I cant figure out. The Vue is old and has a lot of miles on it so I'd rather get something new that's better on gas for my new work commute.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: L200 vs Ion, Which is better?

I'd recommend an S Series. Maybe this one.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...postcount=2101
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