Edmunds test the 2011 Saab 9-5

We’re on SU-Lite at the moment. Hope you don’t mind.

Edmunds have had their hands on the V6 Aero Saab 9-5 for 2011 and the subsequent writeup is quite encouraging (and all true). You should note the handling comments and well… everything else, really.

This is a test that pretty much sums up everything that’s been said about the 9-5 on these pages. There’s a few equipment items they miss, but I have to say that personally speaking, the reversing camera’s the only one of the bunch that I’d spend a thought on.

I’ll give you their conclusion here. You can click through to Edmunds for the rest.


A price tag of $55,000 seems steep for a Saab, but if we are to grant this brand the right to redefine itself, we must also admit that the 2011 Saab 9-5 is a genuine player in its segment. The Aero has benchmark handling, a competitive powertrain, plenty of space and the sort of style that will get you noticed (in a good way) in a parking lot full of Bimmers and Benzes.

If price is an issue, you might consider the $38,525, front-wheel-drive Saab 9-5 with its turbocharged 220-hp turbocharged inline-4. But we have to say that the 9-5 Aero is a relative bargain compared to its German competition. Load up the BMW and Mercedes with all this Aero’s mix of standard and optional equipment and their price tags would be between $8,000 and $10,000 more.

We think the 2011 Saab 9-5 Aero’s price advantage makes up for some of the deficit in fit and finish and the less compelling brand name. If the future of Saab will be as good-looking, as fun to drive and as competitive as this 9-5, consider the brand successfully redefined.

48 thoughts on “Edmunds test the 2011 Saab 9-5”

  1. Seems like reviews for the 2011 9-5 are becoming more and more favorable. This is an EXCELLENT review, and actually states it outperforms MB, Audi and BMW at the track – wow!

    • And it will probably perform even better with the four cylinder engine and a hirsh update, due to the lower weight of the engine.

      • Hell no, 4 cyl with hirsch will not even beat V6.. V6+hirsch is way to go. With lowered springs and forged wheels with wide UHP tires like Michelin pilot super sport will ride even better.

        Do not forged also that V6 is almost silent as said by some reviewers. 4cyl wont work that silent and smooth with same amount of performance…

        • For the luxurious taste, the V6 is obviously the way to go.

          However, for the sporting taste, the 4 cylinder stick shift, XWD with Hirsch is the dream setup.

          • Stick is not about sport. It is about being cheap. Neither crappy classic AT gearbox. XWD kills lots of power. You need at least 300hp to feel advantages of XWD on dry day. Nothing sporty in 4cyl. Just another cheap, economical things. Give me V12 with tons of power. Or sporty V10 (no idea why it used it a lots of fast cars). Something crazy like L8 or V16 would be cool also. But 4cyl, v6 that’s just cheap.

        • I hear you doctor. I think there are two camps here and you shouldn’t try to split them. Some appreciate the 4cyl for the lower weight and perhaps better and lighter driving experiences and the other ones likes the power and sound of a v6. I appreciate both positive sides and just love the sounds of the V6. Let’s not argue about who is right. We like different stuff and some of us like both πŸ™‚

  2. Swade, SU-lite not an issue as you deserve a break.

    Edmunds speaks of our 9-5 being better than the competition on the track. And when said competition includes German heavyweights that truly is fantastic news.

    Well done to everyone at Saab. πŸ™‚

    • I agree. Think back to 2007 when SAAB was in “pre-disaster” mode (thanks GM). This would have never been said about any SAAB.

  3. Excellent review and well needed. Edmunds is one of few authorities in the automotive arena, and this review will definitely help Saab.
    The 9-5 seems to have done superbly well on the lap, amazing.
    Let the world know, now….

  4. when did they get this car? they are talking about pre production materials, and the pics are the same when they went to go drive victor muller’s 9-5.

  5. What is a Saab?

    An interesting question made by Edmunds. Hope Saab marketing can give the answer to journalists that will be asking that a lot in 2011.

    I’ve yet to see any ads or references to Saab as the reliable car from Sweden that excels in bad weather. Isn’t that what everybody wants?

    BTW, why can’t Saab Nordic give a four year/80k km bumper-to-bumper warranty on top of the two years no milage cover?! (like in the US). There are a lot of (older) people who won’t buy a new car with a warranty that short and we’re talking Saab here!
    My older relatives seem to think it can’t be that good if Korean cars come with 5-7 “worry free” years.

    • I’ve “negotiaced” a 4 year warranty for my new 9-3. For an extra €600, I had the extra 2 years on top of the standard 2 years. It’s actually the same warranty that you get when you buy a second hand car from the dealer. That warranty is handled by a private insurance company, not by Saab itself. I guess you can have this “option” – or call it creative thinking – in every country where you can buy Saab.

      • Smart move there BaRa. It’s just crazy that a second hand Saab is offered with a better warranty than the new one?! I’d bet a lot that the ‘mature’ and well tested 9-3s would start selling around Europe (like hotcakes) with a 8 year/150.000 km warranty.
        I myself could talk a few people into buying one (again).

        PS. Its not what you say but what you do.

  6. “How good is the 9-5? The Aero’s handling numbers at our test track bested the Audi A6 3.0 T, BMW 535i, Infiniti M37S and Mercedes-Benz E350 on the skid pad and beat all but the M37S in the slalom. Even then, the difference with the rough-riding Infiniti was a mere 0.4 mph.

    Besides XWD (cross-wheel drive), credit the 9-5’s steering, which is characterized by crisp turn-in and the sort of response and road feel that BMW has recently lost.”

    Yes !

  7. Very good review, with the negative points to be improved in the mid 2011 refresh of the interior. But: The XWD also works in the 9-3 and 9-3x, and not just in the short-lived Black Turbo. This message should be spread to Edmunds as well.

  8. Very good review indeed.
    I also liked the 55(!) photo’s that come with it: very well done and really informative, with details I hadn’t seen earlier on any other photo of this model.
    Click on the article’s ‘Photos’ tab to see them.

  9. Hey Doctor Donk,
    I do think you are right. I picked up yesterday my hirsched Aero V6 XWD and I can’t wait till the autobahn is free of snow to test it. 330 PS and da Vmax of 260 km/h, we should cal it black mamba. I nw have km 9.100 in total on the clock and the car is just a dream. If the new 9.5 aero V6 XWD is something like 100 % my former 9.5 OG, hirsched to 300 PS, is max. 75 %.


    • Let me guess. It will go straight as a bullet compared to many of the domestic rivals. Have to admit I’m a bit jealous of your car and the -no speed limit- motorways πŸ™‚
      SAAB UP!

      PS. To sell premium cars in Germany you must have flyby capabilities.

      • I will provide photos, but you have to wait. Keep quiet and calm down. I will take a picture of the HUD with 265 km/h on it, I promise!
        To be totally honest; it’s just a great feeling to ship 330 PS and noone knows.
        BTW; my average fuel consumption on mixed traffic over 9.000 km is 11,1 liter per 100 km. I will let you know if and how it will change after Hirsch tune up.

        The black mamba (owned by a serious man)!

          • I am in the US(Boston) so I apologize for my metric ignorance. I am getting 22-23 mpg all around driving. I have a 50 mile round trip commute daily, combination of back roads and highway, some stop and go traffic. Not bad for WXD V6.


        • 11 liter per 100km is about 21 mpg, for average driving in mixed traffic that’s pretty unimpressive for a modern car.

          Btw, GerritDE is the guy racing on the Autobahn in his black 9-5. GerritN is the guy chugging along on the US highways in his Viggen. Just to keep the records straight.

          • 11 liters per 100km in Germany (autobahn, winter conditions, Aero-beast …) is something utterly different than a standardized consumption measurement. Apples and oranges…

          • If that is the REAL mixed fuel consumption for a 300 hp two ton car with automatic transmission and all wheel drive, I am really impressed!

  10. When you buy a car lease, there was no difference in the price of the car ($ 55000 or $ 65000 a).
    Then the cost advantage Saab disappear without trace 😐

  11. Wow! this is quite a positive review and needed. Lets hope that 2011 brings more positive reviews for Saab and more importantly increased sales.

  12. Finally! Someone in the media realizing what a deal the car actually is compared to the other brands, hopefully the word spreads. Once they get that interior updated, reviews will be even better.

  13. It seems to me that reviewers that drive Saabs for a more extended period than the one-day- splash-and-dash get a much more positive and well-informed view of the cars…..maybe that’s something for Saab to think about…..”sure we’ll lend you a car to review but you’ll have drive it for a week” Saab’s….an aquired taste ?

  14. Great review, but I absolutely hate how everyone is once again on Saab’s “deficit in fit and finish”. I had such high hopes based on preproduction photos, they really need to get rid of this drab piece of black plastic in the centre console. It ruins an otherwise awesome overall impression.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather buy a car whose only fault is the black plasticky central console, than a boring BMW or an Audi (which I find even more incredibly boring than BMW).

      Usually, whoever chooses a car in this price segment based solely on the look of a bit of plastic, knows nothing about cars and is only after the social status that comes with it. And he’d be better off buying a Merc.

      I drove the car, I even ordered one and I’m a bit tired of saying it: that piece of plastic is nothing, nothing at all (well, it is a piece of plastic πŸ˜€ ). Is not like you stare at it while driving, is not like your friends are going to say “Oh, that piece of plastic is disgusting….”, is not like the police will stop and fine you for driving a car equipped with such an offensive central console. And you don’t touch it all the time while driving.

      I showed the car to some friends and they were genuinely impressed by the look of it.

      Saab is what it is. Not BMW, not Audi. It’s what keeps us going on with so much passion.

      • It’s not about what my friends will say (they all wonder why I drive a Saab to begin with), it’s about how I feel with my purchase.

        Completely agree that Saab should be Saab -> that is, be better than Audi and BMW in every aspect, incl. interior quality. If Saab is to get to moving 120,000 units in 2012, it needs to address the issues which are obviously being brought up by lots of people. It’s great that you and I may still buy a Saab with the plastic console, but it’s not okay that 8 other people won’t. That’s my point.

        And for the record, to me owning a Saab also has a social status attached to it: being different. πŸ˜‰

  15. The good news here is that Edmunds is considered a fair reporter. Edmunds has gained a lot of respect of the last twenty years, where some of their competitors are regarded as out of touch, Consumers Reports and so on. A good report from a “fair” judge. That is good news.

  16. Finally someone who can make an objective judgement of the 9-5, no more, no less. They mention the price but also that if you go for a german one you will pay 8-10 thousands more for a equally equipped car. If you find your BMW interior or whatever worth an extra 8000 grand thats fine. Got a drive with my father in law today in his Audi A8 MY 06. Quattro, V8, 335 HP but with only 85000km on it. Every paper a read is about Audis quality. It’s like a safe more of less. Ok, when he starts up the V8 the Audi complains about the dynamic suspension. Electrical failure. It goes in to some safe mode and if you are lucky enough in winter time it is not the lower sports mode. Also the electric trunk is warning that it is not working. Ok it is -15 degrees outside but please don’t put quality and endurance in the same sentence. With that said. I think the interior engineers at Saab should put some more attention to the Audi interior. Don’t copy it, just build it the same way because that is what the journalists love.

  17. “A bigger concern could be that the 9-5 does not offer some of the features its competitors do, like a rearview camera, power-adjustable steering wheel, blind-spot warning, night-vision warning cameras and adaptive cruise control. Perhaps these are costly extravagances in an already expensive car, yet they put the 9-5 Aero at a disadvantage compared to its luxurious German competition.”

    Personal thoughts on the paragraph above:

    1. Power Adjustable Steering Wheel…complete waste of technology…how often soes anyone need this? Once when you buy the car perhaps? OK if you car share I guess this may be relevant but really it is a total waste in my opinion.

    2. Blind Spot Warning…I have not yet owned a Saab that actually had a blind spot and have enjoyed explaining to people this very fact, due to the excellent door mirror design. Has that been lost in the new 9-5? Surely not!

    3. Adaptive Crusie Control…I thought this was an option on the new 9-5? I’m sure I read so???

    Superb review though. Excellent and fair in most respects. Good to read one in which Saab is given ‘a fair crack of the whip’ as they say.

    • Mirror design on Saabs is indeed excellent, esp. if properly adjusted. However, that doesn’t mean your average buyer/driver knows what the benefits are – most people are happy to stare at their side-panels in their side-mirrors.

      The fact of the matter is perceived innovation is more powerful than actual innovation. Companies such as BMW and Toyota have figured that out to their success. Just the other day and right before F1, I was watching an Acura editorial commercial on Speed. The “professional drivers” kept bragging about the SH-AWD and how it vectors torque between the rear wheels. That’s something XWD does, too – but I don’t recall seeing a mocumentary advertising it.

      You can make the best cookies in Brussels, but that would be of no use if nobody knew about them.

    • Night vision camera would represent a useful add-on and would be a safety feature, that fits into Saab philosophy

  18. In case anyone missed this section…

    “Test Driver Ratings & Comments

    Acceleration comments
    Highly responsive to pedal overlap at the start. Remarkably linear power delivery and smooth upshifts. Manual shifts are too delayed to be of use here. Obviously with AWD, there was no chance of wheelspin.

    Braking comments
    Excellent consistency and despite 58 percent front weight bias, remarkable flat cornering attitude. Medium/firm pedal and no fade whatsoever.

    Handling comments

    Skid pad:
    Excellent balance with very mild understeer — I assume there’s some power being shifted around, but I couldn’t sense it at all. It just goes where it’s pointed without drama. Also, couldn’t detect any interference from ESC-on laps.

    Trustworthy, crisp turn-in, takes a set quickly and transitions as well. Again, very neutral behavior but for the last two cones where it began to understeer mildly so I stood on the gas, which helped the front tires pull the car past the timing lights. This is a well-sorted chassis and all-wheel-drive system.”

    Wow that’s a pretty fantastic set of comments from a test driver. Impressive.

  19. Ralph: thanks for pointing to the photographs. I had only seen a black interior on IAA. In the lighter colour, the interior is absolutely fantastic. Design superior. It is beyond me why anybody with some taste in the brain would choose one of the teutonic three over this car. Those are just kitsch in comparison (and frankly, not only in comparison).

  20. I think the design of the 9-5 interior is perfect. Plain, simple and self-confident. Where will the Germans add wood next time – must be on the outside? Doesn’t matter. Not available in reasonably priced trim packs anyway. What could improve are the some cases of interior fit. Button consoles on steering wheels and edging around center consoles shouldn’t flex that much while pressing them a little. But how important is that when summing up an overall impression of a CAR?

    • Right. Saab could start selling Germans the infamous ‘wood texture tape’ they used in the 99 beneath the glovebox to get that premium look πŸ˜‰
      Boy, when it started to curl up due to temperature changes, lol. Never wanted a “wood trim” since.

      Happy New Year!

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