My Next Car – Saturn Ion Redline

I know what you’re thinking – a Saturn, really?  But despite the brand’s reputation, these souped-up commuter cars are reliable and economical, the supercharged Ecotec 4 cylinder revs like crazy and will hang with any WRX or Civic Si, and the chassis is well-sorted and handles great.  The typical criticisms of these cars are the cheap, plasticky interior, the large, uneven panel gaps (a necessary evil when dealing with plastic fenders and doors), and the fact that it’s a Saturn.  I don’t really care about any of those things – it’s quick and handles sharply, so I can live with hard gray interior finishes and wonky fenders.  I do have a problem with the factory spoilers on these cars, however.  I don’t need another place to iron my clothes or store canned goods, so that shelf would have to come off the trunk if I bought one.


  • The suicide door setup in the rear allows unfettered access to the back seats, which would be great for getting kids in and out of this rather small car.
  • Cheap, if not readily available.  Clean examples can be found for under $8000 if you look hard enough.
  • 5-speed manual transmission is common, and the aforementioned supercharged engine is well-built and reportedly great to drive.


  • Styling is questionable to the point of being tacky.  I’m not a “Fast and Furious” type of guy.
  • Center-mounted gauge cluster is idiotic and distracting.
  • Factory thin-sidewall tires are useless in the winter; snow tires would be a necessary added expense.

Overall, the Ion Redline hits all the right notes – cheap, four-door, stick shift, quick and fun to drive, and there’s the novelty factor of a car from a dead brand.  If you can get past the Saturn stigma (which I can), it’s a great car for the value.  It’s not a rip-snorting muscle car like the G8 or Magnum, and its certainly not a luxury car like the CTS-V, but it might actually fit my needs perfectly.


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