With a new, powerful engine option, Saturn ION continues to offer an inviting blend of power and fuel efficiency to small-car buyers. The ION is available in two trim levels, including the ION 2 and ION 3 sedan and quad coupe body styles. The performance-oriented ION Red Line remains in the lineup, while the ION 1 sedan has been discontinued for 2006.
New for ’06 is an available Enhanced Performance Package on ION 3 models. At the heart of this package is a new 2.4L Ecotec inline four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (VVT) that delivers an impressive 170 horsepower (127kw) and 162 lb.-ft. (224 Nm) of torque. The Enhanced Performance Package also includes modifications to the suspension to provide a firmer, sport-oriented ride. Valves that control the flow of hydraulic fluid within the suspension struts are modified to provide more resistance, and the stabilizer bar diameter is increased. In addition to the firmer ride, the changes reduced body lean when cornering.
All 2006 ION models feature redesigned wheel packages that offer fresh styling and contribute to the overall appeal of the entire lineup. Sixteen-inch, six-spoke machined alloy wheels are standard on the ION 3. Sixteen-inch painted alloy wheels are optional on the ION 2. Fifteen-inch steel wheels with restyled covers are standard on the ION 2.
New exterior colors for 2006 are Cypress Green and Golden Cashmere, replacing Dragonfly Green and Golden Wheat (Ion 2 / Ion 3 sedans); Fusion Orange (quad coupe); and Laser Blue (specialty color available mid-year).
Inside the 2006 ION, the most apparent change is a redesigned center console/center stack that provides additional inboard knee and leg clearance with enhanced fits and appearance. The new design provides additional storage above the radio for storing sunglasses, mobile phones, spare change or other small items. New fabric in the ION 3 interior, as well as new inserts in the Ion Red Line’s Recaro seats, enhance the overall interior appearance. An available leather trim package (Ion 3) offers additional refinement with leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped shift knob. The ION interior continues to feature a distinctive center-mounted instrument 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.
The quad coupe continues to offer dual rear-access doors. Combined with a front-passenger fold-flat seat (ION 2 and ION 3 models), the wide-opening 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 compact car.
Combining track-capable performance and comfortable daily driving experience, the ION Red Line features a 2.0L supercharged and intercooled version of the Ecotec four-cylinder engine that generates 205 horsepower (153 kw). The Red Line is capable of achieving 0-to-60 mph (0-to-97 km/h) acceleration in an estimated 6.2 seconds.
The ION Red Line features a higher-capacity five-speed manual transmission (F35) than other ION models, mated with a short-throw shifter. A 4.05:1 axle ratio complements the performance-oriented transmission and performance characteristics of the engine. The Red Line package also features sport-compact tuner-inspired front and rear fascias, rocker moldings and available rear wings. Projector-beam foglamps also are now standard on all Ion Red Line models.
For 2006, the Red Line Competition Package includes a Quaife limited-slip differential packaged within the five-speed gear box and 17-inch forged wheels with gunmetal finish. Also included in the package is a boost gauge combined with an industry-first, programmable ladder tachometer mounted directly in front of the driver on the top of the steering column.