When Saturn first came onto the scene in the early 1990s, it was hailed as a different kind of car company. It promised consumers a car with lower prices, easier maintenance and an exceptional dealer experience. And for the most part, it delivered on those promises. In fact, Saturn cars were rated high in customer satisfaction surveys conducted by JD Power and Associates. The brand even managed to leapfrog Honda, Toyota and Nissan in some categories!
But things started to turn sour as Saturn's business model began to falter. Instead of offering a wide range of options to shoppers, the company chose to sell its vehicles at a single price, called a “freightliner.” This meant no haggling or bidding. It also meant a limited amount of customization, namely swapping out plastic door panels (leopard print anyone?)
As a result, some customers felt like they were being mistreated. Others were frustrated by a lack of features that set the cars apart from competitors, and others just weren't interested in the models the company offered.
GM's infighting and financial woes would eventually leave the division starved for products in the late '90s. Ultimately, the company died along with Pontiac, Hummer and SAAB.
The Saturn name lives on today, but only as a used-car dealership. Purchasing a Saturn vehicle today can be risky. Most of the company's vehicles are no longer in production and parts for these cars are incredibly hard to come by. In addition, many of the vehicles are older and have already experienced a few issues that can be costly to fix.