- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

Saturn changed the way we look at American automobiles. They continue as they began, providing excellent and exciting vehicles available at fair prices and a dealer experience that people flock to. Saturn seemed to stumble in the past year or so. It was thought that General Motors didn't support them as it should have. The Saturn group has lifted itself out of the doldrums by introducing a number of interesting new vehicles.

The Saturn VUE is a sport utility that is taking Saturn in a new direction. The same can be said for the new ION, aimed at the youthful buyer. And, now we have a redesigned L series that delivers all the Saturn attributes in a roomy family sedan or wagon. The L-series is available in three models L200 and L300 sedan and LW200 or LW300 wagon. All offer the Saturn practical attitude toward design, value and function.

The L300 I tested provides a package that combines all the creature comforts buyers want in a five-passenger, four-door sedan without breaking the bank. Following that Saturn philosophy, the interior isn't laden with frivolous bells and whistles. If it is here, there is a good practical reason for it.

I know, I know, there was a time, not so long ago, when power windows or door locks were items found only in luxury automobiles. But today's buyer demands such features and that means they can be considered required equipment. The same can be said about air conditioning. Today, if you do not want A/C in your vehicle you may have to pay extra to have it left out. The Saturn L300 has all of these amenities and more.

Oh, I can't forget the new DVD player available in the sedan as well as the wagon. If you have little kiddies and find it an important part of your day to keep them entertained during a drive, perhaps the DVD equipped back seat will make your drive a little easier. Who knows you might find yourself pulling over and joining them to watch a Disney classic.

I am not one who likes to see lots of electronic controls installed on my vehicle, because they tend to take control of that vehicle away from the driver. The one exception I have is when anti-locking brakes come into the discussion. For the average driver ABS is a must. It has been proven that for most driving situations ABS equipment has reduced traffic collisions. It certainly has reduced the severity of a collision.

Only if you are an experienced race car driver who has hours upon hours of practice at brake pedal modulation should you consider leaving ABS off your vehicle. Anyway, ABS is only a $400 addition to your Saturn L300. A small price for the added security.

Of course, you should be familiar with the operation of ABS to get the maximum benefit. It is quite simple really. In an emergency situation, stomp on the brake pedal hard and don't let up until you are stopped.

But even more importantly, remember to steer around the obstacle in the road. That is one of the greatest benefits to ABS; you retain steering control during heavy braking.

The new exterior design for Saturn's large car is more muscular, with little resemblance of earlier Saturn cars. While it remains a Saturn, it is much more contemporary. Large front lighting assemblies anchor a larger, more upright grille. The hood has dropped the steeply sloping design, taking a much more gradual angle. Large door openings make ingress and egress effortless. And, the large trunk offers ample room for golf bags and weekend baggage.

Power is provided by a 3.0-liter, V-6 that is smooth a seamless with that power.

With 182 horsepower and 190 foot-pounds of torque fed through a four-speed automatic transmission, the new L-series will supply plenty of acceleration to get you up to speed even on the shortest of freeway on ramps.

In a surprising move, Saturn has recently announced that it will, like other GM brands, offer incentives to buyers of the new L-series. This surprising revelation just may make this the perfect time to have a look at the new L300.

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