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2000 Saturn L-Series REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

Con: Lack of established service and repair history, ultra-conservative styling.

Pro: Customer-focused dealers, European ride and steering, wagon availability.

Edmunds Say: It costs thousands less than comparably equipped Accords and Camrys -- and it looks, drives and feels like it.

What’s New: The L-Series is a new midsize line of sedans and wagons that was developed for Saturn customers moving up from the smaller cars. Offered in three trim levels, with two engines and manual or automatic transmissions (depending on model), the L-Series is based on the European-market Opel Vectra platform, and consequently carries a distinct import feel.

Review: While Saturn enjoys strong customer loyalty with its line of small cars (almost 50 percent return to buy another Saturn), GM researchers found that when owners move on, they most often move up to a midsize vehicle. So a medium-sized entry makes perfect sense for both Saturn and its loyal customer base. Enter the 2000 Saturn L-Series, American-built Opel-based sedans and wagons designed and priced to compete with top imports such as Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord.

With an overall length of just over 190 inches, the L-Series slots nicely in-between the segment-leading Camry Sedan and the redesigned 2000 Ford Taurus. Available as base LS, midlevel LS1 or top-line LS2 Sedans as well as fully equipped LW1 or upmarket LW2 Wagons, all models include air conditioning, four-wheel independent suspension, theft-deterrent system, and front disc/rear drum brakes (disc/disc standard on LS2 and LW2; ABS with traction control is optional).

Inside, the L-Series features a spacious interior with logical, easy-to-use controls. Seats have been designed for all-day comfort. Sedans offer 18 cubic feet of trunk space, which is a full 4 cubic feet more than you'll find in either Camry or Accord. And with rear seats folded, cargo capacity in the wagon is a generous 59 cubic feet. Unlike other Saturns, the L-Series has steel quarter panels (remember, this is built off an Opel platform); nevertheless, engineers were able to fit Saturn's signature dent-resistant polymer panels on the doors and fenders.

A pair of DOHC four-valve engines are offered: an all-new, Saturn-exclusive 2.2-liter, 137-horsepower four-cylinder with twin balance shafts, and a 3.0-liter, 182-horse V6. The four is standard on LS, LS1 and LW1 and comes with a five-speed manual transmission. An electronically controlled four-speed automatic is optional. The V6 is available only in the LS2 and LW2 and must be mated to an auto box. (Sorry, no V6 stick for sport sedan or sport wagon wannabes!)

The L-Series will be built in Saturn's new assembly plant in Wilmington, Del. How many are built and sold depends on consumer demand, of course, but offering a midsize model opens Saturn up to 41 percent of the total U.S. vehicle market, which isn't a bad thing. Competitively priced, the only question marks hanging over the debut of the L-Series are build quality and just how well this Euro-designed platform holds up to the rigors of American roads and consumers.


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