Cleanest fighter around

David Yochum

Saturn hits with free car washes

Absorbing a right-hook from Dave Seymour, Saturn of Chapel Hill representative, the Saturn Ion’s door panels don’t flinch.

Dent-resistant, polymer design keeps them damage-free.

Warm and hospitable to students, Saturn of Chapel Hill representatives the tone for Ion’s reception.

“Nice exterior,” Rogers said. “Smooth and sleek. The interior is clean and calm but attractive to the eye.”

Ion’s modern dash, mixed with unique air vents, brushed aluminum trim and CD stereo with radio station display scored high marks for great style and plush material. A center-mounted instrument panel could have detracted testers but most had no problem accepting chrome-ringed gauges.


+ Doors survive angry fists

+ Free car washes

+ Customer service

– Spongy braking

– Lacks youthful design

– Plain steering wheel

“Out of the Yaris and xB, this is the nicest center speedometer,” Dinovo said. “It’s in the center but facing toward you.”

Taking Ion through Tallmadge, front-seat comfort never became an issue for students yet headroom left something to be desired.

Muscling out 140-hp from the driver’s seat, Dinovo described the Ion’s 2.2-liter, inline-four as confident, but Rogers noticed “travel time before you feel the beef of the engine.”

He also elaborated on a light buzzing sound from the passenger side of Ion’s engine compartment, which Sheth noticed earlier in testing.


Base price: $15,225

Price as-tested: $16,055

Engine: 2.2L DOHC 16V 4-cylinder

HP @ rpm: 140 @ 5600

Torque @ rpm: 145 @ 4000

Transmission: 4-speed auto

Base weight (lbs): 2,841

EPA mpg (city/highway): 24/32

“Probably a pulley that needs a little oil,” Rogers said. “You might hear that because the engine is turned sideways.”

Sheth thought Ion was “nice overall – just not the biggest bang for the buck.”

Goffe said she would buy it for the free car washes included with every new Saturn..