The Saturn Ion adds unprecedented levels of refinement for 2005. Sedan models feature a new front fascia and grille, while new seats (IonÂ·2/IonÂ·3) and a larger, four-spoke steering wheel highlight interior upgrades. And getting to the destination is more enjoyable than ever, thanks to improvements in ride and handling as well as reductions in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
"Continuous improvement is a major part of the Ion story," said Lori Queen, GM vehicle line executive for small cars. "While Ion started with great engineering fundamentals, more than 800 enhancements have been made throughout the vehicle since the original introduction in the fall of 2002. The upgrades for 2005 bring Ion to a level of sophistication that is competitive with the best cars in the entry-level segment," said Queen.
This will also mark the first full model year of production for the Ion Red Line quad coupe, a supercharged compact that debuted as an interim 2004 entry. The 205-horsepower (153-kw) Ion Red Line is part of Saturn’s new performance series.
"The Ion has always been a fun-to-drive car with high levels of content and functionality for the price," said Matt Armstrong, marketing manager for the Ion. "The improvements for 2005 add to the overall enjoyment of spending time in an Ion, whether you’re driving or just along for the ride."
Get into a 2005 midlevel Ion×2 or uplevel Ion×3, and perhaps the most apparent change is the new seats, with a more tailored and contemporary look in both front and rear. For increased comfort, the seats are wider and deeper at the shoulders and include enhanced thigh and side bolsters. They also provide increased lateral support that enhances driver control. The Ion×2 cloth seats also feature a new, woven fabric.
All models also sport a larger, four-spoke steering wheel that originally debuted on the 2004 Red Line. The steering wheel has a wider grip than the previous version, and it complements Ion’s electronic power steering system, which has been recalibrated for 2005 to provide improved on-center feel.
A number of more subtle upgrades also contribute to the interior’s feel of refinement. On all 2005 models, a new shift lever provides improved appearance and feel for both automatic and manual transmissions; the HVAC vents and the “sharkfin” for the side-view mirrors are color coordinated with the interior color (gray or tan); and silver accents are used for HVAC and radio bezels.
On Ion×2 and Ion×3 models, HVAC outlets are accented in metallic silver, matching the center bezel for a more harmonious look. Chrome dial rings replace gray around the instrument cluster.
The Ion interior continues to feature a center-mounted cluster. On the same horizontal sight line as the side-view mirrors, the center-mounted design also allows the driver to set the steering wheel in the most comfortable position without needing an adjustment to see the instrument readings.
Ion offers a variety of audio choices to make the trip more enjoyable. AM/FM stereo with four speakers is standard on the base model, while Ion×2 adds a CD player (optional on the base model) and Ion×3 comes with a standard CD and MP3 player (optional on other models). Optional on Ion×2 and Ion×3 are a six-CD changer with MP3 and the Saturn Advanced Audio System, consisting of six premium speakers and a 160-watt amplifier. XM Satellite Radio (continental only) is available on the Ionּ2 and Ionּ3.
New look for sedan
The 2005 Ion sedan sports a new front fascia and grille that is both more substantial and also more integrated with the front bumper. A new, larger Saturn badge is more prominent in the center of the grille. New chrome beltline molding provides a jewel-like accent on the Ion×3 sedan.
Ion×3 models are available with alloy wheels with new machine facing for a fresh, more technical look.
The quad coupe continues to offer innovative dual rear-access doors. Combined with a front-passenger fold-flat seat and the lack of a B-pillar, the rear-access doors help maximize the usefulness of the interior space by making it easy to load and unload passengers and cargo, even large objects that wouldn’t typically fit in a traditional compact car.
New exterior colors for 2005 are Dragonfly Green, replacing Eden Green (Ion×2/Ion×3 sedans); Pacific Blue, replacing Electric Blue (Ion×2/Ion×3); Summer Blue (coupe specialty color); and Chili Pepper Red for the Red Line.
Improvements to NVH levels are an important part of the equation making the 2005 Ion more enjoyable for short trips or long ones. A new acoustic cover for the engine, on all models except the Red Line, results in quieter operation while still allowing easy access to underhood fluid checks. Other powertrain-related improvements also help isolate customers from noise sources and make it easier to maintain conversations. The changes include new acoustic clips for the fuel line, new piston coating and a new exhaust down pipe.
Notable improvement also comes from the use of Quiet Steel – a patented, multi-layered laminate consisting of an elastic polymer core between two thin steel skins. Devel oped by Material Sciences Corp., Quiet Steel is used in the Ion’s plenum and dash, helping to isolate the passenger compartment from both powertrain and road noise.
GM’s Hydra-Matic 4T45-E automatic transaxle replaces the VTi variable transmission as an option for the quad coupe and also replaces the Aisin five-speed automatic as an option for the sedan. The 4T45-E is known for its reliability, smoothness and efficiency, and is expected to deliver fuel economy (estimated 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway) comparable to the five-speed automatic as well as the VTi variable transmission.
A five-speed manual transmission that delivers excellent smoothness and durability continues to be standard on the sedan and quad coupe. The transmission includes five synchronized forward gears and a synchronized reverse gear – rare in small cars – allowing the Ion to shift into reverse without grinding if the driver shifts before the car is fully stopped.
With the change to the Hydra-Matic 4T45-E as the optional transmission, all Ions now can be flat-towed – pulled behind another vehicle without the need for a special dolly – making Ion an ideal choice for RV owners.
Both the Ion sedan and quad coupe feature responsive performance and sporty handling. The Ecotec 2.2L inline four-cylinder engine, standard in both, generates more standard horsepower (140 hp/104 kw) than primary competitors and strong low-end torque for excellent launch feel and passing performance.
Variable-ratio electric power steering allows customized steering assist for different tire/wheel combinations and suspension levels. For 2005, the electric power steering calibration has been adjusted, providing more responsive steering, especially when combined with the new, larger steering wheel.
New rear hydraulic bushings and an improved front lower control arm bushing help provide a smoother ride and also help isolate passengers from road noise.
Safety and security
Dual-stage frontal air bags are standard, and head curtain side air bags – helping to provide protection to both front and rear occupants – are optional. The Ion sedan and quad coupe offer an optional anti-lock braking system and also offer traction control across all models, except the Red Line.
Ion also comes with a factory-installed anti-theft system with remote keyless entry, standard on Ionּ3 and optional on Ion·2. An engine immobilizer, which prevents car theft by shutting off fuel to the engine if the correct ignition key isn’t used, is standard on every Ion.
The OnStar safety and security system is available on Ionּ2 and Ionּ3 models. OnStar-equipped Ions feature new sixth-generation hardware with digital and analog coverage. OnStar’s Gen 6 hardware also includes upgraded hands-free voice recognition capabilities including more intuitive continuous digit dialing and improved voice recognition accuracy. OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the and . Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Personal Calling that allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated phone calls using a powerful three-watt digital/analog system and external antenna for greater reception.