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Should you buy a Hummer, Saab, or Saturn?

Consumer Reports News: July 16, 2009 03:28 PM

Buying from these three orphans of the General Motors bankruptcy process carries newfound consumer risks, making it difficult to endorse buying their vehicles right now. Further, there are just three models between them that meet Consumer Reports standards to be recommended: Saab 9-3 sedan, Saab 9-5, and Saturn Aura XR V6. And of those, the Saabs are decidedly dated cars overdue for a redesign.

While Hummer, Saab, and Saturn are not part of Motors Liquidation Company, where the so-called bad assets from the former GM corporation are staged, these brands are pending imminent sale or other resolution. Think of them as the kids who didn’t make the varsity team. They may get picked for junior varsity, or simply sent home.

Each brand has a likely purchaser lined up (Hummer – Tengzhong, Saab – Koenigsegg, Saturn – Penkse Automotive Group), though the deals have not been finalized. We can report on the current vehicles and state expectations that parts, service, and warranties will be honored by the next owners. But the reality is, we don’t know for sure what the future holds. Do you want to gamble with your own money, even though incentives are likely to be high?

Another factor is the dealer body. Many dealerships have closed under the weight of the recession, while others will be relinquishing their franchise rights when they expire. Hummer, Saab, and Saturn dealerships are not nearly common as Chevrolet stores. If the local dealership closes, how convenient would it be to visit another? And, what if the new owners withdraw from your region, choosing instead to focus on areas that would maximize per-store volume?

Plus, there is an underlying concern for consumer protections with lemon law and personal injury claims, as reported previously with Chrysler and GM.

The bottom line is that there are significant unknowns that add risks to buying what are in most cases mediocre vehicles. If your heart is set on purchasing from these brands and you are looking from a great deal, I suggest you wait a few months to see how the ownership situation shakes out.

Read: "What the post-bankruptcy GM means to you."

Jeff Bartlett

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