Buying A Used Saab Fact And Fiction

People have been talking about weather it’s a good idea to buy a used Saab right now with uncertainty surrounding the brand. In some cases, people have even held off purchasing a used Saab because of fears that are based on assumptions. People are for one are worried about parts, but parts will always be there as it is a profitable business, no matter what happens to Saab. Whatever fears may be, there are some really interesting facts when you explore the market place.

Let’s look at the facts now about used car prices in the market place. Now, remember that I am in Canada so I will be comparing Canadian pricing. On MSN auto’s I was looking at what they were saying was the competition for the 9-3 and from that list I took the least expensive cars. Yes they compared with Volvo and Audi, but we know that and the price differences would be much greater. I took the least expensive cars to show the value in a used Saab and I used the 2008 model year because there is typically no warranty left on the cars we are comparing with. So let’s look at what I found.


2008 Acura TSX $28900

First is a  2008 Acura TSX that they have listed as a competitor. I searched the website and found a 2008Acura TSX for $28900 and it has 56199kms. Comes with a 2.4 litre I4 engine giving 205hp. This vehicle has a 5 star crash rating in all but one category.





2008 Nissan Maxima $25995

The second competitor is listed as the 2008 Nissan Maxima and I found one for $25995 with 51746kms. This vehicle comes with a 3.5L V6 engine putting out 255hp. The Maxima has 4 star crash rating in most categories.






2008 Toyota Avalon $24888

Finally was the 2008 Toyota Avalon and when I searched that I found one at $24888 with only 69967kms. 3.5L V6 is the standard engine in this car giving 268hp. Very nice car, has 5 star crash ratings. Overall rated quite high by the MSN Auto’s folks.





2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X $25988

Now’s the best part, when searching for a Saab 9-3 to compare with, I came across a couple of 2008 Turbo X’s. The highest priced of the two was $26908 and the lower priced was $25988 with only 55500kms. The Turbo X also has a 6cyl engine and is so much fun to drive. The Saab has a 2.8L V6 engine giving 280hp. We have a 4 star crash rating.




What strikes me when I’m looking at prices and comparable vehicles is that most of the others are very plain and boring looking cars in my opinion. I want a car that is going to be fun to drive and appealing to the eye, for a price that is fair and doesn’t break the bank. Even if you took a 9-3 2.0T and I saw some priced in the low 20’s, it’s a heck of a buy when you do the comparison of what you get for your money. Another variable for me if I were looking for a new slightly used car would be the ownership experience. I have to say that when I see more than one Saab owner in the same place and the conversations that are had, the smiles when talking about turbo, Saab is so much more than just a car and is something that people want to be a part of. Saab owners are different, they are drivers that love to drive their cars, something that I have not experienced in talking to the owners of the above mentioned cars.

To wait or not to wait is the question. I would say that waiting to buy a used Saab is not the way to go. Product stock for used Saab’s is already scarce and dealers are going further out of their area to purchase used Saab’s for inventory. Personally our store located in Surrey, BC, Canada has gone as far as Texas to get inventory. As much as new Saab’s move slowly, we have never had a problem selling used Saab’s and on average are selling 4-5 used Saab’s per month and currently have 9 used Saab’s in stock. That being said, now would be the time to buy a used Saab if you find what you like. Don’t wait and then not be able to find the car you truly wanted or have to settle for something else that won’t put that turbo smile on your face.

27 thoughts on “Buying A Used Saab Fact And Fiction

  1. The really sad part is that you can buy new for the price of used.

    My Saab dealer is selling NG9-5s at $15K off list, and 9-3s at $10K.

    The cost of a new 9-5 now stands at the total of my (Dec 2010) lease payments!!

    • The thing I don’t understand is that the used sells quicker then the new. New is only a little more than the used, in some cases only $5000 difference and the used keeps rolling out the door. There are definitely some great new prices out there.

      • Agree completely. Back in April I picked up a 2010 leftover 9-3 for a little over $20K. I originally was going to pick up a used car for my Son but ended up giving my Son my Wife S60 and the Saab went to my Wife. I’m very tempted to pick up a manual 9-3 myself. I’m just having a little trouble with the prospect of owning 2 newer cars whose warranties may be worthless. It may just be that the warranty issue is less of a factor on a used car. Unless it is a certified car from a Saab dealer there is less concern about Saab themselves remaining in business.

  2. hallo,
    I by a saab convertible griffin in april2011.Well i deleted today my new saab here in belgium,the dealer of mercedes cal me everyday!!?but today i have by a saab convertible vector in the white color whith bleack leather seats,
    model 2009,
    he is from 2009,20000KM dealer in belgium beherman liege

    greats an all

  3. As they always say: First we have good news and then we have bad news so which first?

    On the sweet side I was relieved to find that with the price of used cars being up across the board if I did have to bail on my car it seems we don’t have to worry as much.

    On the down side I worry if there is still the pool of people to buy the car?

    Is there a statistic that indicates that there is a break point where there is little effect? By that I mean are the wealthy not feeling this so in one market niche there is no effect. So, the 9-5 would not feel the same effect as the 9-3 or perhaps with BMW, the 3 series would take more of a hit than the 5 or 7 series?

    • rallyho, not sure where you are located, but where I am I would say that there are still a lot of people buying the used Saab’s. Typically things are not that different then they were before and about the 3-4 year point of ownership is where your break point is where there is little effect which is where it has been for many years. Obviously if you put money down on the car when you bought it, that speeds this process up.

      • In the “hot bed” of Saab in the northeast NY-NJ-CT area. By the varied books such as Kelly or Edmunds, the cars have held value. We bought straight up since I always intend to hold them for a long time.

        The bad news for me is the loss of both local dealers. When you get older over an hour of bad traffic is a chore and that will be a deciding factor. I had only a fifteen minute drive north or south to a dealer but four years ago. For folks in the mid west they may travel far for service but it’s not bumper to bumper.

  4. Selling a 2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T because the wife wanted something smaller. Can’t find a buyer to save my life. Not to turn this thread into a sales pitch, just asking how to find buyers. Craigslist isn’t cutting it.

    • Jonathan, not sure where you’re located, but craigslist for us has worked wonders. It has been my best and cheapest form of advertising. My suggestion would be to check what similar cars are being offered for at dealer lots and price yours lower. People feel a little more at ease buying from a dealer and we see more customers that didn’t come with the intention to buy a 9-3, but saw it while searching our lot. I say to price it lower then the dealers because a dealer in peoples minds is someone they can go back to if something is wrong, not so much with a private sale. Other option would be to see what a dealer would give you.

      • I’m located in Hawaii. Saabs aren’t too well known, the Japanese imports tend to sell better here. But I think my price is pretty low. The KBB for my car in “Good” condition (it is more like excellent) is about 17K, I’m asking 15,5K. I had a dealer from Washington State, who flies down to Hawaii for the vehicles with low miles, offer 13,5K. That was hard to turn down, but we weren’t that desperate to sell yet. The car is wonderful and it’s painful to part with, but we just can’t manage the extra expense (loan payment, insurance, gas). Someone just needs to see and drive the car and it will sell itself.

        • I can’t believe you haven’t sold this car yet, absolutely beautiful. If you weren’t in Hawaii, I would hazard to say it would be gone by now. It would pain me to be getting rid of this to go to a different make.

    • Just curious, Jonathan,… your wife interested in something smaller for better fuel economy or other reasons? I guess I never thought of the 9-3 as a particularly large car.

      • Yeah, the fuel economy is an issue. She averages just under 20mpg. The car isn’t big, but she isn’t that comfortable parking it. Also the nose is long and low, so she has a hard time judging where the front is. She still loves the car too, but likes the new gadgets that new cars offer, like backup camera, heated seats, and bluetooth. I know, I know, except for the backup camera, those other features are options on new Saabs. We already had that discussion. What can you do? I’m hoping to switch back when the 2013’s come out.

  5. But what criteria did you classify the cars to be comparable? Because at least the Maxima and the Avalon are 20 cm longer and assumably have a larger interiour size as well. I would compare them with the 9-5 I.

    • I actually didn’t pick them, I was on MSN Autos and they had compared these vehicles. This is what the non Saaber could be comparing us to because when searching for comparable vehicles this is what comes up.

  6. Interesting statistics regarding crash safety which have not been put into the correct context.
    You seem to have compared 2008 models which presents a certain picture.

    Considering the 9-3 was developed 2003 the crash performance was at that time ( 2004 ) up there with the best with 17 points. ( using the main crash tests )
    Honda came out best with a whopping 19, Volvo, Mercedes and Kia with 18 , Audi, BMW,Mazda and SAAB with 17 and then came the American flock from 16 & south. Toyota received 15 points.
    Interestingly enough BMW had a Safety concern raised on Side Driver test

    SAAB received a 5 for side impact and is the only manufacturer that over the vehicles lifecycle has improved safety in tests and ” Real Life “.
    9-3 is still pretty much the same vehicle as it was in 2003 and is still up there !!

  7. This is a little reassuring, but did I not read here that all the OG 9-5 tooling has been sold to the Chinese? If so, then body panels etc could be hard to come by, even if GM-type mechanicals/electricals are easier to find.

    • 2 words: junk yard. lots of og 9-5’s were made, lots of good parts are available used. I have 2 c900’s and it’s a breeze to keep them running… much cheaper than newer cars… don’t worry!


  8. I have been debating with the same question of to Buy now or wait for a final resolution of SAAB survival. I could not resist anymore the amazing offers you are able to get now in the US. So I just bought a SAAB 9 5 aero with such discount that it compensate whatever outcome with the brand. Comparable competitors are selling for thousands of dollars more. Grab them meanwhile they last!!!

  9. I don’t mean to be insulting (consider it constructive criticism), but imho, you’re not selling these very well…

    1) that’s the worst safety comparison I’ve seen for the 9-3ss! I didn’t realize it *doesn’t* still get the highest ratings – remember, it was the first car ever to get an IIHS double best pick. It was designed before IIHS SUV side impact testing + passed it beautifully the first time! All other manufacturers (Audi, Acura, even Volvo) either failed it first try + redesigned, or actually withheld current models from testing (pending redesign) to avoid tarnishing their reputations because they knew they would not pass! Everyone in North America cares about IIHS numbers, so I’m surprised that’s not what you would cite…

    2) otoh, “5 star ratings” don’t tell the whole picture, and again, I’m surprised you wouldn’t emphasize the Saab real life safety… In North American terms, HDLI injury numbers tell a lot, and all Saabs are typically 50% safer than the average car in a given HDLI year (ditto for Volvo, and some Audis + Subarus are close also). Acura, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota tend to fall in the average or worse than average part of the spectrum in real life. All this data is readily available on

    An interesting side note to that is the og9-5 (in spite of a lower IIHS score and no side curtain airbags) is (slightly) safer than the 9-3ss in real life! Even the last few years of it compare favourably in real life (HDLI numbers) at 50% better than average (about as good as it gets)… sure, it would have been nice if the 2006 redesign got side curtains, but it shows how important good structural design (eg the folding B) and overall design, is more important than features when it comes to safety!

    3) I’m from Canada. I know you pulled this comparison up from MSN, and fair enough. But really, none of these are competition for the 9-3ss… maybe the Acura (slightly)… I’m surprised Hyundai didn’t make your list (Sonata/Optima), as lots of price sensitive sedan types seem to be defecting there (including the previous owner of our 9-5)… Anyway, I know I wouldn’t even look at any of them… I *hate* driving Asian cars (rented many)… and none of them make wagons! I suppose I wouldn’t ever waste my time looking at MSN either… What I, and most of my friends (young active families with kids, good incomes, do snow sports, etc), cross shop is Volvo, Audi, and Subaru. In Canada, Saab is (or should be) a unique marque that represents safety, snow capability, + practicality, all packaged in beautiful European design. That our local dealer ordered + sold 1 in 10 Saabs as wagons explains why they are no longer in business.

    So comparing those brands’ wagon offerings (I know this is different than the sedan case, but see point 3)… brand new, a similarly equipped Subaru Forester or Outback in Canada costs a bit less than a 9-3 (especially 9-3X). After discounting (Subaru hardly discounts at all, because Subarus sell like hotcakes to their lemming clientele that doesn’t even cross shop), they are exactly the same price. Volvo is comparable to Saab. Audi is way more. Used, when we looked a couple years ago, off lease same km’s (50k range) same condition (very nice), a base Impreza with cloth seats listed for the same as a 9-3ss (both at their respective dealers). Volvo was maybe $5k more. Audi more still. It’s not until Audis hit the 100k major service where the price drops… because that service is big $$$!

    Used Saabs are a no-brainer easy sell (I’ve got 3 ;-). What Saab needs is to sell *new* ones. 2 of my friends just traded in older Subarus for brand new Foresters with manual transmissions… yet the husbands aren’t that happy with the handling (wives don’t care + like the cars)… I put 5000km on a Forester, and I would say it is a steaming pile of poo (terrible handling, automatic transmission also)… my friends never test drove a 9-3X (or anything else)… Do something to get suby owners in the showroom. I can’t see how one can drive a 9-3X and a Forester back to back and drive away in the Suby… if dealers were more on the ball with this a year or 2 ago, the current liquidity crisis might have been averted… Suby outsells Saab, Audi, + Volvo combined + many long time Saab + Volvo wagon owners defected there over the last decade, at least in eastern Canada + NE USA!

    sorry for the rant!


    • Hey James, no problem. I wasn’t actually trying to sell or provide a big safety comparison, I was more or less pointing out what I found when comparing with what MSN Autos had published. I chose what I considered cheaper cars from the list of competitors that they had on purpose and that was to show the tremendous value in the as you say “no-brainer” purchase of a pre-owned Saab. I didn’t feel the need to get too into the star crash ratings because I thought we had covered that quite extensively in the post that we had last week that I posted of David’s story about real life safety:
      That being said, I know what you mean in regards to Safety. In the same article, IIHS gave a G rating which is the highest available for the 9-3. I guess I should have added that somewhere, but I didn’t want to leave out the NHTSA findings and have anyone questioning why, I rather be questioned for leaving out good news.The one point you make about ” if dealers were more on the ball with this a year or 2 ago, the current liquidity crisis might have been averted” I just don’t see that the dealers had that kind of power. I know from the Saturn side of things, GM had a lot of control over what we could order and how to order and gave us % of inventory had to be certain packages and such. The dealer would typically order what would be nationally advertised cars because you knew they would be your volume leader as that was where the manufacturer was spending advertising dollars and if anyone needed to be more on the ball, I would point to the manufacturer. That being said, I ordered 5 combis and I have sold 1. On the used side of things, I think I have sold about 7 in the last year. In BC, it would seem that most people like the sedans, I like them both and will continue to stock both.

      • Thanks for the clarification wrt how ordering is done… model tastes can certainly be regional. Our local dealer also claimed sedans were more popular. But almost none of my friends (active young families) drive sedans. They all drive wagons or SUVs. It could be that GM’s approach was to push luxury sedans + SUVs, but that doesn’t really take advantage of what Saab is: practical (hauling capability) + performance (driving experience). Luxury was added into the mix later in the ’80s, but not in the sense of Merc or Lexus… Where Saab is going today (9-3 hatch, 9-5 sedan/wagon, 9-4x sporty SUV for those who must have one) is imho the perfect mix…

        So anyway, my point was, maybe it is better to target young affluent outdoorsy families looking for safety, practicality, and performance, vs the luxury sedan buyer who cross shops the Germans and Japanese luxury brands? It’s tough to convert a BMW guy… It really strikes me that the typical Subaru buyer (STI boy-racers aside) is the ideal Saab buyer… and in fact many Saab buyers became Subaru buyers during the last decade (eg one of our c900s was traded in on a Subaru)… Subarus are surprisingly expensive + the ones I drove were surprisingly inferior to Saabs! I think there is opportunity there with the right marketing! Especially for the 9-3X… How popular are Subarus in BC? They probably outnumber Hondas in our neighbourhood!

        Personally, we gave up looking for a used 9-5 wagon because there were so few (that met our criteria anyway) and got a 9-5 sedan because we value the other Saab attributes… but would much rather have bought a wagon (have kids + are very active + load the car, biking, skiing, etc)… still, it is a fine car, and we enjoy it very much!

        all the best,


        • Thanks James, we too have a lot of Subaru’s in BC but Honda would still out number the Subaru’s. You are right too, that with the right marketing there is opportunity….. It’s a lot to ask for from the dealer though, realistically we a manufacturer spend on advertising too.

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