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PAYSON, Ariz. — Many car reviews lead off with prose about tire-torturing capability, or descriptions of a silky, brown-mustard-elegant ride.

The catchwords that will sell the newest Saturn are a little more mundane, but more important to its midsize family-car niche: respect, safety and value. With the launch of the larger L-Series sedan and wagon, Saturn is finally ready to give fans of its smaller sedans another dose of those values, albeit in a bigger package.

The L-Series doesn’t arrive a moment too soon. Saturn’s launch almost 10 years ago was an unqualified success, but recently, sluggish sales had the naysayers smirking. The small-car segment had been bypassed by the buyers, they said, and most of the interest had shifted to larger, more luxurious and more rugged cars and trucks. And they were right.

There were fanciful dreams of quickly making Saturn a full-line brand, with convertibles and even pickup variants, but the logical step was to produce a larger car for the loyal buyers to move into. The midsize segment, as sharply competitive as ever, is the heart of the passenger-car market, and that’s where Saturn is aiming with the LS sedan and LW wagon.

Upsized and upscale

On sale just in time for summer pleasure trips, the 2000 Saturn L-Series features solid performance and safety features. The brand’s popular retail experience, with no-haggle pricing and customer-friendly attitudes not always found in car dealerships, are provided gratis.

2000 Saturn L Wagon

2000 Saturn L Wagon

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The LS and LW fit comfortably into the midsize class. They feature Saturn’s vaunted dent-resistant polymer body side panels, which the company says helps keep Saturns looking new longer. A modified space-frame body structure surrounds the passengers with a rugged steel safety cage to support the body panels, while computer-designed crush zones front and rear help absorb crash energy.
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