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Saturn ION



  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    In case you were wondering, a 2003 (I guess 2004 figures are not updated yet) ION 2 sedan with auto, power everything, CD and ABS goes for $14,500 after the current $2000 rebate. Even without rebate, it's $16,500--or considerably less expensive than the new Mazda 3.
  • vuefor2vuefor2 Posts: 490
    I generally think Mazdas are pretty good cars, but our local dealer is so bad that I would never buy one. Sales people are old school high pressure types and the service area looks a bit shady.

    You can never go wrong with Saturn service and our dealer's facility is brand spanking new so that combined with good sales and vehicles may just keep us in the fold for a long time now.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    Mazda makes attractive, solid cars with high build quality. However, its dealer service and poor resale hurt the company. Price packaging is not as good as Civic/Corolla and poor fuel economy with no offset in performance is also an issue. They are good cars but so are other entrants in this field.

    I think if Mazda could boost the fuel econ to match Corolla/Civic and improve customer service closer to Saturn on this car, it would sell much better. Like the excellent Mazda6, I think the Mazda3 will sell OK but not great.

    The ION is much quieter and more powerful than the outgoing Mazda model. I have not driven the new Mazda.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    the mazda3 appears to be the new gold standard for compact class cars. I was reviewing the specs today and the dimensions are quite big. It is a little bit bigger than the Focus and not too much smaller than the new malibu.

    The sedan trunk of the 3 is not as big as the Ion. Otherwise, if one is comparison shopping the big pull(s) for spending a little more for the Mazda vs. the Ion are

    bigger and more powerful motor available
    promises superior handling and performance
    much nicer interior
    really attractive styling
    lots of premium options available
    tight build quality that Japanese built cars usually have
    longer warranty
    better color choices

    no doubt it will outclass the Civic. The ion is in reality a different car so you'll either like the Ion or you won't. I think the 3 will have extremely broad appeal as the pricing is actually pretty good. Loaded up cavs and Ions can sticker for close to 20k and Jettas come in over 20 sometimes. The pricing of the new 3 is pretty fair, after you realize that all cars are too spendy to begin with.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    You may be right; but, for 18 grand, I'll buy a new Accord LX any day of the week over a Mazda 3, Civic, Corolla, or even ION. For me, it makes no sense to pay that much money for a car that small. That being said, we'll see what they actually sell for. The Mazda 6 starts under 15 grand in Mazda ads in the Atlanta paper. Even the brand new Nissan Quest is now being advertised as being $4000 under MSRP when the new Sienna is hard to find. It's all about what the market wants. I have a feeling that the compact market will continue to be dominated by the Civic for its quality (whether it's real or perceived) and resale value and by the Focus for its deep discounting and overall perception in the market place as being a good car even though they seem to be plagued with quality issues. Look at the Corolla. I used to see them everywhere--you could not get away from them. Then a couple of years ago they got bigger and fancier and a lot more expensive. I never see new Corollas on the road. Local dealers advertise them under 13 grand, but for that price you only get air and CD and most folks want them equipped better for that--and then the price rises quickly. If you want stripped, you buy a Spectra, IMO. I have a feeling that the new 3 will be deeply discounted if you can wait a couple of months because after the initial buzz by Mazda diehards wears off they will be left with a market place full of folks who would rather have a Civic for that price. I think Saturn found this out the hard way with the ION. Saturn built a big and useful car with all the goodies most people want, but, in the end, as soon as the price tag goes over $16k, they begin to look at Civics. I guess we'll know for sure about a year from now when the sales figures tell the tale.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    Thanks for the article. Unfortunately, I've read it a hundred times. Every review of the ION goes the same way. It makes me wonder if the reviewers every test the car or just make their review with pieces of other reviews. They are all "The ION is an improvement, but we want more. We want it to be quieter, we want it to be built with tighter specifications, we want..." It's like I said above, in this market, critics and the marketplace in general wants Civics. I hate to say it, but it seems to be the truth. Civic can do no wrong and all other cars pale in comparison.
  • vuefor2vuefor2 Posts: 490
    Civic is nothing special but reviewers always give it high marks. I would pick 3 or 4 cars before I bought the new Civic, especially considering the price and lack of discounts.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Mazda will be discounting the new car big time, especially with those lofty prices.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    lofty? I configured a 3 with ABS/Lthr/MR, 160hp engine and it was justa little over 18, and this Mazda has 54 inches of hip and shoulder room. Its track is as wide as a Malibu and it is as tall and has as much head room. The car is a deluxe car for the compact driver. Some can get NAV and HID if they want.

    Several times I have seen Cavaliers, Sunfires, and Ions north of 19 grand, and that's for a lesser car.

    Initially there will be a buzz on the 3. But the pricing for the 3 is competitive and won't deter anyone from getting it if its an excellent car. The interior alone is worth a price upgrade. Its like a mini Audi. Its probably got more room than an A4. If it drives like an A4, its a bonafide bargain.

    Yes the mazda6 can be had around 15 grand, which I love, but thedumb thing about that is if you are in a northern climate, you need ABS and that's tied to a package. That requirement makes it more expensive to the point where it makes better sense to spend another bit and go v6.

    Let's see how long it takes Mazda to discount. I agree let the stupid idiots pay list and wait for the discounts. I have no problem going into the Mazda dealer and making an offer for invoice +200 to one of the really hot but convincing salesgals. Just because the car is new doesn't mean 'I' am gonna pay list for it.

    In the sedans comparo board there should be a topic to compare in general all compact sedans. It would be a good way to discuss Ion3 pricing vs. Mazda3s pricing or Ion2 vs. Mazda3i pricing for example.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Your comments on "seeing" the Corolla dont really reflect reality- Corolla is seriously outselling Civic and selling at near record levels for the nameplates 30 year US history. If you dont believe me, I can dig up some stats for you... And the 2003+ Corolla isnt nearly as expensive as you make it out to be, usually coming in under comparably equipped Civics, for example. And, as a result of its strong sales and strength as a market entry, the Corolla isnt seeing the incentives that Toyota even uses to sell the Camry (the 04 is already available with 500 cash back- which still pales in comparison to the domestics)

    PS- can someone post a link to the Press Release for Mazda 3 pricing/options?

    Thank you.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    I think the Corolla is near the top 5 and I know it is outselling Cavalier and Focus. Civic may still be selling better.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747

    Toyota Corolla calendar YTD total(through Sept.): 262,403

    Honda Civic YTD total: 240,331

    Thats a significant difference. And yes, the argument can be made that the Corolla sales include Matrix (Civic offers no comparable model), but Civic sales include Hybrid and Coupe models.

    Saturn ION: 77,904
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    >> In the sedans comparo board there should be a topic to compare in general all compact sedans.

    Feel free to fire one up! :-)
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Not surprised, the Corolla is a better car IMO. ION sales were slow off the mark but have picked up quite a bit as of late.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    ION stocks are at 140 day in the US versus the desireable level of 60. They are selling better but not where Saturn would like.

    FWIW, the Civic is far more engaging to drive than the Corolla (I have one of each) but the Corolla is more solidly built, quieter, more powerful and softer riding. The Civic handles better, has a better driving position, is roomier and has the best steering wheel in the business (no pot pies here).

    The Civic compares well with the ION for space while the Corolla compares well with the ION for its softer, quiet ride and slightly vague steering.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    You know're right! It's funny, over the weekend, I noticed tons of Corollas on the road. I guess I've just never taken the time to notice them before. I did see a lot on the road, so I was wrong about the lack of Corollas. Also, as for sales volume--Toyota must have stepped up production as I did not think Toyota had the capacity to outsell Civic. I remember when the new Corolla came out and there was a big pi**ing contest between Civic and Corolla fans here in TH. Even the Corolla folks admitted that Hondas would outsell the Corolla due to lack of production capacity. I guess Toyota took care of that. Either that, or Civic sales are down.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    You are right. You can get an ION to sticker north of 19 grand, but I don't know if it will be a lesser car. To get an ION3 above $19k, you have to get leather and sunroof and ABS/Traction Control--just about everything. But, that still does not change the fact that if I was looking at an $18,000 compact car, I would buy an Accord LX for $17,800 or a Camry LE for $17,400. Probably the Accord for the ABS. Also, I don't think the car comes to dealers until January; so, let's refrain from calling the Mazda 3 "A4 like" until we've actually seen one in person.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    Because the 3 is not out yet; but, these 2 cars actually seem pretty close--with advantages to each. A 2004 Mazda 3s with ABS, leather and sunroof is $18,685 MSRP. An ION 3 with ABS, leather and sunroof is $17,850 MSRP. So, sticker wise, the Saturn is less expensive. Mazda will discount more, but Saturn will offer rebates as well. The interiors are actually almost the same size--with the Mazda getting the slight advantage. The 3 has an interior volume of 95.3 cubic feet vs 93 cubic feet for the ION. The leg room, head room and shoulder room of the 2 are almost all within an inch or so of each other--but the Mazda does have about 4.5 more inches of hip room--and that is important if you need to carry 3 folks in the back. If the Protege is any indication, I'm sure the 3 will be much more fun to drive. Of course, the ION does come with the world famous customer service. I'm sure you will be okay either way as each has their advantages and disadvantages. Of course, these 2 cars are right in the middle of Civic territory, so you may not see a whole heck of a lot of cars equipped like these.
  • vuefor2vuefor2 Posts: 490
    The Civic is a little on the cramped side and had no incentives The Corolla's driving position was bad for me and I wasn't crazy about the sales attitude. Saturn was a good choice in the middle for us and we love our Saturn sales rep which pushed us back into a Saturn. The 0% for 60 months really just sealed the deal.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    How was the Civic cramped inside for you? Are you very tall?

    The Civic and the ION, almost measurement for measurement have the similar interior dimensions. In fact I think interior volume in the current Civic is actually marginally larger than the ION, despite the Civic being 10 inches shorter than the ION on the exterior.
    Plus the flat floor in the back of the Civic makes the rear seat much more usable.

    Not knocking your choice. I always have found Saturns to be amongst the roomiest in their class. Ten years ago, my much loved old Saturn SL was one of the few small cars that could fit five people in a pinch.

    Say, has any one read that new book "The End of Detroit". Pretty good, light read. Maybe a little too much Detroit bashing and a little too much rah rah Japan but still pretty interesting.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166

    Ion is not reaching levels of S Series sales.

    BTW, C/D trashed the Civic in the last comparo. Oddly, Edmunds thought it was the bomb. Who knows. All I know is I like the Focus and Protege. The 3 looks like the new bomb. I've also driven the Ion and for some folks its a good drive also. Depends what your priorities are. I like the Ion's trunk, plastic panels, engine, shifter and clutch. But since I lose my lunch looking at the interior or exterior, and get Vertigo trying to find the speedometer, then it would take awfully huge discounts, more than now, for me to put money down on it.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    dunworth : Have not got a lot of interest in that book. None of the "big 3" are going anywhere. There were also people predicting the Canadian dollar would be 55 cents per U.S. $ by 2005, so much for that theory!

    reg : If sales don't pick up I'm sure you will see a major revision, maybe even a move to the left for the IP. One thing I would like to see Saturn work on is the mileage, I think the ION should do better.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    It's hard to say why the ION has not done real well. Saturn seems to have a loyal customer base, but those customers are not coming back to the ION. Even here in this thread, there are only a couple of ION owners who regularly contribute. Something will have to give, that's for sure.
  • vuefor2vuefor2 Posts: 490
    Uga91 : My only thought as to why the Ion is not selling is that people don't like the look or the center IP. The car itself drives very well and the quality is excellent. Brand new car and no problems at all, seems rare these days. I saw some new ads for the car so maybe they will help.

    Dunworth : I am six ft. which is not super tall but I felt a bit cramped in the Civic. It definitely felt smaller than Corolla or Ion.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    It does get a lot of bad press--even by people who have not given it a shot, IMO. They read a review that criticizes it, so it must be bad. They aren't even going to try it. It's no big deal. I really like how Saturn is able to shrink the steering wheel some as it allows for very easy entry/exit from the car. I guess Saturn will have to shift it over for 2005 if things don't improve this year.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I am 6'3 and kinda portly, and I found the Civic's seats very confining compared to the ION's. Of course, my personal seating position in the ION meant the center console got in my way and I wasn't able to get comfortable there either. I know the ION did have more head room than the Civic, which is why I didn't look further at the Honda. Their rude customer service (at the dealership I went to, anyway) also swayed me away from the Civic.

    With the Corolla, I was pretty comfortable in the car and probably would have bought one for their reputation of resale and reliability. But I got a much better financing rate on the PT Cruiser, so I got that. It also has much more room inside and is more versatile for my needs.

    Judging from the 100-mile drive in my friend's 00 Echo, the center IP is pretty easy to get used to after a couple minutes. It's just kinda weird at first not to be able to use the instrument cluster to judge the steering wheel's position. At night, it's also weird to see the area behind the steering wheel dark, but you do get used to it (at least I did). I find it very easy to check my speed using my peripherial vision in the Echo.

    One thing I didn't like about the ION was the steering feel, way too light to my 'touch'. I guess that's something that varies from person to person though.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    "It's hard to say why the ION has not done real well"

    let me fathom some guesses....apologies to Ion owners but hey here is some reasons

    -freakazoid dash and center IP location
    -rest of the interior materials not up to class standards
    -the steering wheel alone kills potential buyers (and on a few occasions has been known to open up and eat them as well)
    -uncomfortable seating and 'off' ergonomics
    -exterior styling is freakish and bizarre also (but can be fixed)
    -upper level models maybe a bit too expensive
    -saturn dealers are too touchy feely
    -hatchback or wagon should have been available

    but here is some reasons to at least look at the car
    -large trunk
    -solid powertrain
    -solid body structure
    -good shifter and clutch for a cheap car
    -really big moonroof
    -decent ride and light steering, for the non enthusiast
    -lesser configurations decently priced
    -good safety
    -plastic panels
    -touchy feely dealers

    IMHO the Saturn is a good buy if the price is cheap enough to overlook the major flaws. But you gotta be willing to put up with those major flaws.
  • cartagramcartagram Posts: 115
    I've been curious about the reception of the Ion and have been lurking this board for awhile. Two things to say...

    First, I had an '01 Civic LX in which I could never get comfortable driving. The seat was low, causing me to double-up a bit more than was easy on my hips. And the side bolsters were always being felt, whether I needed them in tight turns or not. I thought about finding a salvage yard EX seat with height adjustment.

    There were fit 'n' finish problems (the driver's armrest fell off when I hit it with my knee when getting into the car) and the interior, while looking nice, had been de-contented enough to leave me wanting something else (a workable center armrest-storage bin, slide-out tray under the passenger's seat, etc.).

    However, I traded it for a certified '99 Accord. It was comfortable enough to drive 1000 miles in a day this summer.

    Second thing is that at, most Ion owners report that one of their favorite features is the center IP. FWIW.
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