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Saturn Corporation was founded as a subsidiary of General Motors. However, Saturn had its own production plant, models and even retailer network. The company was named after the Saturn rocket that transported astronauts to the moon in the 1960s.
Saturn was successful right from the start. Its good quality control system, reliable cars and increased worker control at the plant helped Saturn models earn stellar reviews. Saturn car models earned nearly two dozen awards from the early 1990s onwards, including Popular Mechanics’ 1991 Design and Engineering Reward, the Best Small Wagon and Best Subcompact Value Awards for 1996 and the 2007 North American Car of the Year Award (given for the Saturn Aura).
Unfortunately, the company went downhill after GM became more involved than it had been previously. Workers were reshuffled, production was shifted to various GM production plants and Saturn sales began to dwindle from 2003 onwards. The line was discontinued in 2009 after General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection and decided to discontinue Saturn vehicle production. GM intended to sell Saturn to Penske but the deal fell through at the last minute.
The Saturn Sky is a two-door sports car that was produced by Saturn from 2006 to 2009 (model years are 2007 to 2010). The car is available with five speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. Trim options for this model are Base, Red Line and Red Line with Turbo Upgrade Kit. There are also a number of limited editions, including the Carbon Flash Special Edition Saturn Sky (made in 2008) and the Hydro Blue Limited Edition (made in 2009). The 2007 Sky Red Line holds the record for being Saturn’s fastest vehicle model, while the base Saturn Sky model holds fourth place in the line-up. Nearly 32,500 Saturn Sky models were sold over the course of its production.
The Saturn Vue is a compact SUV model that the company produced from 2001 to 2009. It was at one point in time Saturn’s best selling model; in fact, well over 500,000 Vue models were sold from 2002 onwards. The car could be purchased with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, had a transverse front engine (both four and six cylinder engine models were available) and Honda-made transmission. The company also made a hybrid version of this car as part of its Green Line.
Unfortunately, production was wound down as GM worked to shut down the Saturn Corporation. However, in 2011, General Motors rebranded the Vue as the Chevy Captiva and began selling them exclusively to fleets. The three new Captiva/Vue trims available are the LS, LT and LTZ.
The Saturn L-Series consisted of mid-size sedans and station wagons. These cars were made to be fuel-efficient vehicles that would be convenient for everyday use and/or as a family care. There are ten models available: the L100, L200, L300, LS, LS1, LS2, LW1, LW2, LW200 and LW300. All cars had front wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, power steering, cruise control, heated power door mirrors and power windows. A Saturn L-series vehicle could be purchased with either four-speed automatic transmission or five-speed manual transmission.
Unfortunately, the line was plagued by a number of problems. Models earned acceptable or poor safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with some features not even being tested. Many of the L-series models had problems with engine or transmission failures, fit and finish issues and excessive tire noise and vibration, leading the North Carolina Consumers Council to recommend that buyers avoid purchasing any new or used Saturn L-series cars.
The S-Series was Saturn’s first car series and production ran for over ten years (from 1991 to 2002). These cars were vastly different in appearance and function from other General Motor cars. S-Series vehicles had a space-frame design, used plastic side panels rather than metallic ones and were dent-resistant. S-Series Saturn cars are available as sedans, sedan wagons and two door sports coupes.
Saturn made three generations of these cars and over a dozen different models. Additionally, there were limited special editions models such as the SL2 and the SC2. The SCs competed in the SCCA World Challenge in the 1990s and won a number of races while other S-series cars have been driven in rally races. These cars have earned recognition for their speed and endurance and two of them (the SC2 and SC1) rank among Saturn’s top ten fastest cars.