Saturn Ion Reviews

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The Saturn Ion is a front-wheel-drive compact car built in coupe and sedan body styles. Introduced in 2003, it replaced the earlier S-Series and remained in production for 5 years before it was succeeded by the Saturn Astra hatchback.

Saturn Ion Overview

Following a 12-year run, Saturn needed a replacement for its successful S-Series. The Saturn Ion was the answer. This model is underpinned by the same architecture supporting the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, as well as the Pontiac G5.

Saturn offered two body styles across the Ion’s 5-year lifespan: a four-passenger coupe and a five-passenger sedan. The coupe was unusual as it offered a pair of rear-pivoting rear doors. Thus, it is often referenced as a quad coupe.

Initially, Saturn offered the Ion sedan with a 140-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The coupe offered the manual gearbox and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Base sedan models lacked air conditioning and power windows, which were an upgrade. A four-speaker AM/FM audio system was standard, and a CD player was optional.

Beginning in 2004, Saturn added a Red Line Edition coupe, powered by a 205-horsepower, supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is mated with a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission. Redline models brought in 17-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, thicker sway bars, upgraded shock absorbers and Recaro racing seats. The Ion Red Line was designed to take on such models as the Subaru Impreza WRX, Dodge SRT4 ACR and Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged.

For 2005, Saturn eliminated the CVT in the coupe, replacing it with a four-speed automatic. That transmission was also applied to the sedan, which lost a cog in the process. Other changes included a new front fascia for the sedan, and all models with the exception of the base trim were outfitted with new front and rear seats. The Ion also received recalibrated electric power steering, suspension improvements and insulation enhancements.

Model-year 2005 also saw the addition of a Competition Package. This package included 17-inch gunmetal painted alloy rims, a ladder tachometer with shift lights, a limited-slip differential and available projector-beam fog lights.

Beginning in 2006, OnStar was made standard across the model line. An Enhanced Performance package was released, bringing in a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower, antilock brakes and a sport-tuned suspension.

For 2007, the only change of note was a slight power increase for both the 2.2- and 2.4-liter engines. The Ion was canceled after 2007 and replaced by the Opel-based Saturn Astra.

The Ion operated in a highly competitive segment that’s dominated by models such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Compact cars like the Hyundai Elantra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus might also be considered.