Because GM let me give it another chance. GM didn't know that I've been forming a rant about why I am mad at them for screwing up Saturn. Why, other than my first Saturn, (I've had two) my experiences with GM cars have been pretty universally sucky and my experience with other car makers cars have not.
My first car was a 1969 Pontiac Firebird. Quite the sexy little muscle car. It went really fast and I looked cute driving it and boys wanted to race me. Problem was it kept falling apart. It was a great car for someone who liked to mess around with engines and do their own repairs. Me - I would go for months without being able to drive because the darn thing kept breaking.
The first car I bought on my own was a Geo (Chevy) Spectrum. What an awful, awful car. And the dealer experience was the worst kind of double-crossing, lie to you, take advantage of the young single woman experience I've ever had.
I learned about Saturns when I wrote a paper on the company for a labor-management relations class I took in college. I fell in love with the idea and the execution - taking the best bits from car makers around the world, getting out of the hidebound Detroit mentality both in practice and in geography, empowering the workers to stop the line when they thought necessary and, best of all, no haggle pricing. My first Saturn was amazing. The quality was fantastic, it held its value for resale and we early-adopter Saturn owners did the knowing-nod thing whenever we passed on the road. I always called it my hip suburban soccer mom car even though I was a decidedly urban singleton. The styling was just so quirky-ugly that it's cool looking that it stood out while the car retained its roominess and functionality.
But then the styling didn't change. And the quality declined. And they stopped building them on the special Saturn line and became just another GM car. The L-series drove nice enough when I considered buying a third Saturn but it got solid black circles in Consumer Reports. Kiss of death.
When GM announced the new direction with the Sky and Aura focusing on performance and insisting that the only thing consumers cared about from Saturn was the no haggle pricing I swore I would never buy another Saturn (the only GM car I would consider). GM, especially with the Pontiac brand, is doing a great job of launching sexy cars. But it is not enough. And claiming that consumers don't know about and don't care about the other stuff is evidence of doing a poor job of listening to and understanding consumers and insulting them to boot.
I drove a G6 coupe a few weeks ago. Sexy as hell. The layout and placement of controls is unintuitive and frustrating, though. It took me and one of the car rental employees five minutes to figure out how to open the trunk. The speed sensitive volume control is cool in concept but annoying in practice. I could go on and on.
The Saturn Sky is a tarted-up, rebadged Pontiac Solstice. And to me, an early adopter Saturn fan, so not what the brand is about.
But GM gave me a chance to change my mind and give them another chance. I want my next car to be a small SUV hybrid. I have been considering the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner. The Toyota Highlander is a bit big and the Lexus was priced too high and engineered for performance rather than fuel savings. I've also thought about the non-hybrid Honda Element and Toyota Rav-4. If I keep waiting, though, there will probably be hybrid versions of those soon enough. And, yes I know, biodiesel but not until you don't have to make your own fuel and your car won't stink of old french fries or pot stickers.
Saturn was at BlogHer, though. With cars to drive, including the Vue Hybrid. Saturn didn't wait until I wised up to their revamped strategy and decided to forgive and forget. They came to me. I didn't have to brave the gauntlet of going to a car dealership and "what will it take to get you into a car today, honey?" (because no haggle does not mean no pressure). I got to drive a Vue in a pressure-free way that allowed me to be open minded and admit that it was a sweet ride - nicer than the Escape Hybrid, in fact. And the no-haggle pricing means that I won't have the experience I did at a Ford dealership where they insisted that they had to charge $5,000 over full MSRP. I told them to give me a call when they would take just MSRP. I haven't heard back in almost a year, now.
Even if I hadn't been to BlogHer or had a chance to drive, the reports from the bloggers I read would have swayed me to reconsider. Smart Saturn, smart.
PS: Even though there was a lot of love for the Sky because it's sexy and apparently fun to drive, I still question that strategy. The car is not practical and I still think Saturn is considered a practical brand. The car makes sense for Pontiac, though, so why not focus the brands instead of stubbornly sticking to a strategy that does not work of rebadging cars so that every brand under the corporate umbrella is the same and has no identity?
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