2006 Saab 9-5

MSRP ?

$34,100 - $36,195
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Engine Engine 2.3LI-4
MPG MPG 20 City / 30 Hwy
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2006 9-5 Overview

Depress the clutch (right foot on the brake, please), reach down between the seats, and twist the key, putting Saab’s 2.3-liter on turbocharged notice. [Long] throw the gearshift into the lowest of the transmission's five available forward ratios, and point the 9-5's Darth Vader proboscis down the road like you mean it. But hang on a sec. In true anorak fashion, before engaging in a bout of Swedish shenanigans, turn off the engine, get out and pop your gourd underneath the hood to see what sort of vehicular fury Saab's engineers have rendered. The 9-5's inline-four marshals a respectable 260 horsepower (ten more than last year), and indeed, offers damned-near class-leading torque incredibly low down in the powerband-- particularly impressive for such a small engine (try 258 lb.-ft. @ 1,900 rpm).  But here's the thing: Saab has loosed those steeds from the corral via the wrong gate-- the one out front. Overly analytical-types are invited to carp about foul-weather practicality all they want, but in a proper sport sedan, the front roundies are best left to deal with turning and braking duties (or at least sharing power-distribution chores with the rears). Expecting the lead wheels to cope with Saab's turbocharged brand of gumption is a program for corrupted helm feel and understeer, and the 9-5 reads the recipe chapter and verse. (Click here for a complete dynamic assessment and tons more wallpaper-grade high-res photos!) Admittedly, when driven in isolation (particularly at 7/10ths or less), the Saab largely manages to escape most criticism. Despite being down two-to-four cylinders on its competition, forced induction goes a long way toward balancing the scales. This is particularly true out on the highway, where the 9-5 makes for a credible long distance cruiser, with 5th gear at 75 mph keeping the turbo on the lip of its tipping point for excellent passing reserves. But even if Saab has managed to extract class-competitive numbers out of its inline quadbanger, refinement remains an issue, as revs arrive and depart neither quickly or sweetly. Fortunately(?), said revolutions don't exactly have to fall from a great height -- the redline is pegged just a hair north of 6,000 rpm. Not exactly banshee wailers, the Swedish. One might expect to reap big dividends at the pump given the Saab's thrifty-sounding mill. But given the 9-5's class 'heavyweight' status, the engine’s reserves are called upon more often than might otherwise be the case, and mileage suffers as a result. According to the trip-meter, we averaged about 17 mpg in spirited city driving, with a tankful or two of highway high-test quaffed to the tune of 25 mpg. In other words, resolutely average stuff. Given what was surely a sow's ear budget, Saab has somehow scrimped together nearly 1,500 changes for the 2006 model year. We've a distinct feeling that a goodly portion of those adjustments are the parts-count stemming from the 9-5's exterior restyling, but regardless, Saab has been kind enough to re-jigger the suspension, …
Full Review

2006 9-5 Overview

Depress the clutch (right foot on the brake, please), reach down between the seats, and twist the key, putting Saab’s 2.3-liter on turbocharged notice. [Long] throw the gearshift into the lowest of the transmission's five available forward ratios, and point the 9-5's Darth Vader proboscis down the road like you mean it. But hang on a sec. In true anorak fashion, before engaging in a bout of Swedish shenanigans, turn off the engine, get out and pop your gourd underneath the hood to see what sort of vehicular fury Saab's engineers have rendered. The 9-5's inline-four marshals a respectable 260 horsepower (ten more than last year), and indeed, offers damned-near class-leading torque incredibly low down in the powerband-- particularly impressive for such a small engine (try 258 lb.-ft. @ 1,900 rpm).  But here's the thing: Saab has loosed those steeds from the corral via the wrong gate-- the one out front. Overly analytical-types are invited to carp about foul-weather practicality all they want, but in a proper sport sedan, the front roundies are best left to deal with turning and braking duties (or at least sharing power-distribution chores with the rears). Expecting the lead wheels to cope with Saab's turbocharged brand of gumption is a program for corrupted helm feel and understeer, and the 9-5 reads the recipe chapter and verse. (Click here for a complete dynamic assessment and tons more wallpaper-grade high-res photos!) Admittedly, when driven in isolation (particularly at 7/10ths or less), the Saab largely manages to escape most criticism. Despite being down two-to-four cylinders on its competition, forced induction goes a long way toward balancing the scales. This is particularly true out on the highway, where the 9-5 makes for a credible long distance cruiser, with 5th gear at 75 mph keeping the turbo on the lip of its tipping point for excellent passing reserves. But even if Saab has managed to extract class-competitive numbers out of its inline quadbanger, refinement remains an issue, as revs arrive and depart neither quickly or sweetly. Fortunately(?), said revolutions don't exactly have to fall from a great height -- the redline is pegged just a hair north of 6,000 rpm. Not exactly banshee wailers, the Swedish. One might expect to reap big dividends at the pump given the Saab's thrifty-sounding mill. But given the 9-5's class 'heavyweight' status, the engine’s reserves are called upon more often than might otherwise be the case, and mileage suffers as a result. According to the trip-meter, we averaged about 17 mpg in spirited city driving, with a tankful or two of highway high-test quaffed to the tune of 25 mpg. In other words, resolutely average stuff. Given what was surely a sow's ear budget, Saab has somehow scrimped together nearly 1,500 changes for the 2006 model year. We've a distinct feeling that a goodly portion of those adjustments are the parts-count stemming from the 9-5's exterior restyling, but regardless, Saab has been kind enough to re-jigger the suspension, …Hide Full Review