What Do You Want To Know About The 2003 Saturn Ion?

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Someone that I do not know and have never seen just left me the keys and title to a well-used car. It came with a quarter tank of fuel and nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer. This car is a 2003 Saturn Ion, a car from a promising brand that never got the chance to reach its potential.

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My task is to drive this car from my home in northern Illinois to Nashville, Tennessee.

What do you want to know about this old, high-mileage econobox?

Some of my close friends in the Gambler 500 community wanted to help another friend by giving her a replacement for her wrecked Chrysler 200. This little Saturn is the result of that effort. We’re servicing the car and rehoming it for a happy life away from the Rust Belt. I love driving cars that I haven’t before, and I love doing road trips, so I volunteered to drive it to its new home.

But enough backstory, what about the car?

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

First impression is that it’s certainly A Car. It runs, it drives and if you push on the big pedal in the middle, it also stops.

This is the first car that I’ve ever driven that features a center-mounted instrument cluster. I thought that I’d dislike the setup, but it’s actually fine. I like how placing everything in the center allows the rest of the dashboard to feel uncluttered.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

It’s also faster than I was expecting. The engine is the same 2.2-liter Ecotec inline-four that powers the Chevy Cobalt. Perhaps my bar was set so low that I could trip over it, but the 140 horses on tap feel pretty zippy. I bet if this car had a manual transmission it would actually be pretty nice.

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So, what do you want to know about the Ion?

DISCUSSION

By
Corinthian Leatherface

Oof, I can’t see an Ion without remembering Car and Driver’s original road test in which Frank Markus absolutely savaged the poor thing. They just tore it apart in the kind of journalistic hit piece that probably resulted from years of pent-up frustration at having to write semi-nice things about shitty cars. It was brutal. That said, I kinda like it as a lightweight and simple runabout with more than adequate horsepower. Mucho kudos to your friends for their generosity. How does that aftermarket stereo sound?