The Saturn SL was part of the S-Series, which took pride in being the first family of vehicles that was entirely made by Saturn. It looked unique, what with the very little details and features that it shared with the rest of General Motors’ vehicles. The S-Series was introduced in the market in 1990 through the SL (acronym for “sedan level”), which was made available for 1991 model year. The SL enjoyed one-year reign until it was joined by the 2-door SC or sports coupe for the 1992 model year. A year after, the SW (sedan wagon) was added to the lineup.
1991 - 1995: First-generation SL
The first-generation SL rolled out of Saturn’s Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly line on July 30, 1990. It came with maroon body paint and a tan interior and was originally offered in two trim levels—the SL1 and the SL2. The SL1 was powered by an SOHC 1.9L 14 LK0 engine while the SL2 derived its power from a DOHC 1.9-L I4 LL0 powertrain rated at 124 hp. For 1992, SL trim levels expanded to base SL, SL1, and SL2.
In 1995, the Saturn SL received an interior update and redesign. Dual airbags and a new dashboard were added on all models. Buyers were also provided with either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission choices. The SL also received powertrain upgrade; the SL1 was powered by the 100-hp L24 engine that offered improved fuel economy.
1996 - 1999: Second-generation SL
It was in 1996 when Saturn received its first major makeover. This second-generation SL came with a more curvaceous body, which made way for a slight improvement in interior room as well as doorway space. The most significant change for this generation was the inclusion of the OBDII PCM, a kind of fuel injection setup that made use of the first-ever compress sense cam sensor. This all-new fuel-injection system replaced the old camshaft position sensor.
The Saturn SL received only minor changes in mid-1998 model year, including a new cluster with digital odometer. The rear disc brakes were also pulled out of the options list. SL models developed in late 1999 got some improvements in the powertrain, not to boost power output but to smooth out the engine’s harshness.
2000-2002: Third-generation SL
The third-generation Saturn SL was actually a 2nd-gen model that was facelifted for the last time before the S-Series bid the industry goodbye. Besides exterior and interior redesign, the Saturn also made some electronics and mechanical updates. This generation of S-Series received several marquee and series firsts. It was the first S-Series to be fitted with Double DIN stereo and the first Saturn model to use a Body Control Module matched by a Powertrain Control Module, which was strictly designed to control the engine and transmission.