2008 9-5 New Car Test Drive
For nearly 50 years, Saab has offered savvy buyers a unique alternative to the mainstream European sedan. Turbocharging, front-wheel drive and cutting-edge safety technology have made Saabs popular with those living in northern climes, whether in Sweden or the United States. A distinctive design heritage and idiosyncratic details, mounting the ignition on the center console among them, endear Saabs to people all over the world.
Saab's first larger sedan, the quirky 9000, debuted in 1985 and quickly built a cult following. When the 9000 evolved into the 9-5 for model year 2000, Saab made its largest car even more powerful and, as some Saab-philes believe, more mainstream. Since then, the 9-5 has been steadily refined.
Saab updated the 9-5 with a new front and rear sheetmetal and a revised instrument panel for the 2006 model year. For 2007, Saab has added a sporty 2.3T Aero model to replace the previous Sport package.
The Saab 9-5 (pronounced 'nine-five') is available as a sedan or wagon called the SportCombi. Each is offered in 2.3T or sporty 2.3T Aero trim levels.
The Saab 9-5 is among the less-expensive cars in the near-luxury class. All 9-5s are comfortable and sporty, and the wagons are excellent alternatives to gas-guzzling SUVs. As always, any 9-5 is a good choice for drivers who don't want a cookie-cutter car.
The Saab 9-5 2.3T sedan ($34,370) and wagon ($35,370) are powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 260 horsepower at 5300 rpm and 258 pond-feet of torque from 1900 to 4000 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic ($1350) is optional.
The equipment list is impressive. It includes leather-seating surfaces and front seat heaters; eight-way power-adjustable seats with memory, a leather-trimmed, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; wood interior trim; dual-zone automatic climate control; cabin air filter; power windows; power locks; trip computer; AM/FM stereo with in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 connectivity and standard satellite radio; variable-intermittent wipers; automatic headlights; front and rear fog lights; 17-inch alloy wheels. Also standard are a host of features you'll pay extra for with many cars in this class: a cooled glovebox, heated exterior mirrors, sunroof, and headlight washers.
Saab 9-5 2.3T Aero sedans ($35,465) and wagons ($36,465) have the same powertrain and standard equipment, but add a lowered sport suspension, sport seats, metallic interior trim, and power steering calibrated for increased effort. Aero buyers also get enrollment in the Saab Aero Academy driving program.
One major option package is available for all 9-5s. The Visibility package ($1295) includes rear obstacle detection, self-dimming outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and xenon headlights. Other options include an expensive ($2945) navigation system, GM's OnStar assistance ($695), ventilated seats ($995 2.3T, $895 2.3T Aero), and roof rails ($250) for wagons.
A special 60th Anniversary Edition package ($1595) includes dark walnut interior trim, xenon headlights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear obstacle detection, rain-sensing wipers, and special wheels.
Safety features include dual frontal airbags, front head and torso side-impact airbags, side-impact protection beams, Saab Active Head Restraints, LATCH-style child seat anchors, and front seatbelt pretensioners. Active safety systems: antilock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and power assist, traction control (TCS), and electronic stability control (ESP). Rear obstacle detection is optional.