Saturn, General Motors' experiment at matching the wizardry of Japan's car manufacturers, took nearly a decade to expand beyond small cars with the midsize L-series. It debuted on March 31, 1999, at the New York Auto Show and went on sale that summer.
The L-series, derived from a heavily modified Saab 9-3 and Opel Vectra chassis and platform, was Saturn's first crack at shaping plastic body panels onto a midsize car. It was available as a sedan or wagon with the 2000 model year.
The car's 2.2-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine made only 137 hp. The engine, featured on the LS and LS1 sedans, as well as the LW1 station wagon, was all-new and exclusive to Saturn. The New York Times called it the best small engine GM had offered in the United States and the company's quietest small dual-cam engine yet to date.
The LS2 featured a British-built, 3.0-liter V-6 that was a variant of an Opel engine used in the Cadillac Catera and Saab 9-5. It produced 182 hp.
The four-cylinder models were paired with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic gearbox. The V-6 was available only with the automatic transmission.