2001 Saturn LW 200 Wagon (349)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2001 Saturn LW 200 Wagon. Just when you thought inflation was steeling you blind, up jumps competition. Ain’t it great? Consider that in 1967 I bought a new Chevy Malibu for a whopping $2,500. Relatively speaking, you get more for your money today in spite of inflation.

I’ve had several friends who’ve owned Saturn’s and it’s two thumbs up from one and all. This 2001 is a much-improved car from the first Saturn’s to hit the market in1991, in my opinion.

Handling & Performance:

This is an enjoyable car in which to zip around town. I understand the 4-cylinder model strains a bit, but the V6 I tested was spunky and it’s low profile gives it an almost sport car feel. Overall, it is very comfortable. The main structure is galvanized steel coated for long life and a warranty to go along with that. What gives Saturn the comfortable ride includes independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front, stabilizer bars, coil springs and gas shocks.

Styling:

Plain Jane, but clean lines none-the-less and a nice looking automobile.

Fit and Finish:

Perfectly fine. Not much to fault here. Saturn does a nice job and I believe that is a tribute to the unique organization of the company and it’s employee involvement. Saturn also boasts dent resistant doors and quarter panels that are covered with plastic. Friends tell me it actually works. I should have got a hammer to test the theory, but Saturn would take a dim view of that kind of testing.

Conveniences:

Not much. In fact there isn’t even a gear indicator. It has manual seats, and not a lot of storage compartments. It’s a pretty basic car.

Cost:

My first really nice car was a 1955 Ford ½ ton pickup truck and you couldn’t get any plainer than that. But it suited the need and was much better than the 1946 Chevy ½ ton pickup truck it replaced. In those days you might pay $1,500 for a near new car or truck. In any case, cost is more a function of how much your budget will allow. If this Saturn  fits your need, you’ll find prices have only risen with inflation over the years since its introduction in 1991 (the wagon was not included in the line that year). The price range was under $8,000 for the base model to under $12,000 for other models. At $20k this Saturn is well priced, in light of the fact it has improved in 10 years.

Recommendation:

When I had a couple of young kids, a larger wagon was a good idea but before we had children we opted for a small wagon from Datsun (later to become Nissan). This Saturn is much nicer than that vintage 1960’s plain import, and maintenance was a nightmare in those days for any foreign make. This, built in America, wagon is high quality and is great for a young couple about to start a family. It is affordable to buy and cost effective to operate. Later, when the family grows and a trip to the beach means surf riders, umbrellas, coolers etc., (boy I’m tired just thinking about it), a larger wagon or mini van is a better choice.

If price is even more important to you, take a look at Kia, Toyota – like the Corolla and Echo and Chevy Cavalier. See my web site “Price Range” for others by going to www.atthewheel.com

The competition:

Ford Taurus Wagon $20,480, Mercury Sable Wagon $21,285-22,985, Volkswagen Passat Wagon $22,250-29,010.

 Good News:

Priced well, easy to drive, unique low pressure buying experience, good gas performance for a powerful V6, adequate room in the cabin and cargo area and excellent for the young family.

Bad News:

You can usually spot a Saturn on the road but it’s still a plain Jane, not a lot of frills.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 182 hp V6 engine, auto trans, dual air bags, child safety locks, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, radio with cassette and CD players.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $ 19,080-21,605

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2001 – An Automotive Love Affair

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