I decided to pull out a part of the comment thread from our earlier 9-4X Test Drive post for discussion on the main site, since this subject often gets a lot of attention around here. Commenter dbv thinks that the 9-4X’s gas mileage is going to be a “deal breaker” for him, I’m assuming on price. I’m not trying to be argumentative with him at all (don’t mistake my sarcasm in my comment for facetiousness, it’s late here :)), I just thought it was about time to let the numbers tell the real story. Maybe it will shed some light for International Saabers why I really don’t think the lack of a diesel option is going to kill the 9-4X, especially in the US market. Click past the break for the full thread.
dbv May 3, 2011 at 04:13
I think the gas mileage is a killer too, especially as gas prices continue to go up in the US. We were going to trade our Mercedes GL320 Bluetec in for one of these, but assumed the gas mileage would be better (since it is a smaller SUV). That is probably a deal breaker. Saab definitely needed a diesel version or a gas engine that really beats the competitors at mpg. It is too bad, really wanted to support Saab and buy a 9-4x to go with our 2010 9-5 Aero. Probably will not now.
Bravada from GMI May 3, 2011 at 04:25
Knowing you can afford those kind of vehicles, does the hypothetic MPG (which has as little to do with actual consumption as possible from my experience) really matter that much to you?
SaabKen May 3, 2011 at 04:43
Problem is, actual consumption *generally* is higher than EPA estimates, even the revised ones by SAE. Fuelly.com gives the *best* real-world figures based on actual users inputs.
74StingSaab May 3, 2011 at 04:48
BUT…. there were a few here who months ago said to a post of mine ” people who usually look at and who can buy these cars don’t care too much of fuel economy”
I am sure that tune changes for some of those people now that gas is close to , if not exceeding $4/gal
Having a Saab I feel safe in and enjoy driving is still worth the price of admission to me. Used or new, people buy what they want and can afford… sometimes “cost of ownership” is overlooked.
I want the 9-4X to sell many units but it’s just coming at a terrible time. It should have been here a year ago.
Jeff May 3, 2011 at 05:34
Bravada, I’m right behind you…the epic post deserves an epic comment of its own (which I’ll make a new post in a minute).
Hey dbv. Let’s analyze what you’re saying…
You wanted to buy a midsize SUV/CUV, correct? Obviously since economy is important to you, price is of upmost concern in your buying decision.
Assuming you’re looking to downsize from your GL320 CDI which is more in the large SUV category, your diesel choices in the midsize SUV field consists of:
1. Mercedes-Benz M-Class DieselI: $52,165 ($61,090 with nav/xenon/heated seats etc)
2. VW Touareg TDI Sport: $48,770 ($52,620 with nav/panoramic roof/heated seats etc)
3. BMW X5 35d: $57,975 ($63,425 with nav/power liftgate/heated seats etc)
That’s about it. Porsche used to have one, but right now they don’t. Those are your diesel options.
As for your concern that the competition is going to blow away the 9-4x’s numbers, fear not. It’s well known (at least around here) that Saab is much more accurate about their real observed fuel economy than most other brands. I’ll let Car and Driver explain this for me, excerpted from Erik Johnson’s post in the January issue:
Contrary to the downsizing hype, however, Q5 2.0T buyers may end up with no real mpg benefit compared with the V-6, especially if their right feet are as heavy as ours. Although the respective EPA ratings for the four and V-6 are 20/27 mpg and 18/23, we got only 19 mpg with the 2.0T versus 21 with the 3.2. The cold weather during our 2.0T test surely affected our number, as did our tendency to lean on the gas pedal during the couple of beats it takes for the turbo to spool. We’ve seen similarly deflated real-world fuel economy from Ford’s EcoBoost V-6, and this test provides further evidence that the power and efficiency claims of engine downsizing are generally realized exclusive of each other.
I browsed around Audi forums and Truedelta.com and saw similar statements about the Q5′s observed mileage figures (between 16 and 22 mpg). Be that as it may, if we just go by the sticker price of the 9-4x (not even the purchase price, which we know will be lower with lower margins than the competition).
9-4X 3.0 Premium (265HP) : $41,070 ($46,265 with nav/moonroof/xenon HID lights)
9-4X 2.8 Aero (300HP): $48,835 ($50,285 with moonroof)
Now assuming you’re say, oh I don’t know, near Akron, Ohio , I’d guess that the cheapest gas you could buy is at Murphy USA on Tuscarawas & Valleyview Ave NW for $4.04 and the cheapest gasoline you can buy is $3.94 at Marathon on E Waterloo Rd & Massillon Rd. I know these prices fluctuate, but it’s a known fact that diesel costs more than the US, and has for quite some time. That’s not changing anytime soon.
So based on information available to us today, you can drive for 10¢ cheaper per gallon in a 9-4x than any of the diesel options. Based on these figures, the annual cost of running each of the diesel models above with 12,000 miles per year is as follows (using real life figures from truedelta.com, not marketing BS) and based on diesel costing $4.04/gallon:
1. Mercedes M-Class Diesel (24.8mpg avg): $1,954.84
2. VW Touareg Diesel (24.0mpg avg): $2,020
3. BMW X5 35d: (22.0mpg avg): $2,203.63
Since the Saab has only been tested by journalists who reported it was in line with it’s claimed fuel economy numbers, we’ll average it at 21mpg for the 3.0 and 19mpg for the 2.8, assuming gas costs $3.94/gallon, and just for kicks I’ll give the Aero premium which costs $4.17 at good ol’ Murphy USA.
1. Saab 9-4X 3.0 XWD Premium (21mpg avg): $2,251.43
2. Saab 9-4X 2.8 XWD Aero (19mpg avg): $2,633.68
So for all of you who wanted to know the general difference between driving a 9-4x 3.0 vs Aero, you’re looking at around $400 difference if you drive 12,000 miles a year, gas hovers around $4, and you live in Ohio .
I hate to exhaust you dbv, but you so clearly are saddened by the subject (I believe you used the words “deal breaker” actually) that I am compelled to finish.
The differences between the diesels and the Saab are represented below (Aero costs in parentheses).
Annual Fuel Costs
1. Mercedes ML vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $296.59 ($678.84)
2. VW Touareg Diesel vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $231.43 ($613.68)
3. BMW X5 35d vs Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $47.80 ($430.05)
Difference in Purchase Price (with options)
1. Mercedes ML vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $14,825 ($10,805)
2. VW Touareg Diesel vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $6,355 ($2,335)
3. BMW X5 35d vs Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): $17,160 ($13,140)
Here’s the fun statistic: Months it would take to reach break even
1. Mercedes ML vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): 600 months (191 months)
2. VW Touareg Diesel vs. Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): 330 months (46 months)
3. BMW X5 35d vs Saab 9-4x 3.0 (Aero): 4,308 months (367 months)
I’ll admit, the VW comes close if you compare it to the 9-4x 2.8L Aero. If you keep it 4 years or more, you’ll break even. But you’re forgetting one last cost, maintenance. Saab covers it. So does BMW and VW. Mercedes, not so much as you’re probably familiar with your GL320CDI. So chalk up a few hundred bucks more a year for that too if you pick the M-Class.
What does this all mean? The 9-4x is a freaking bargain compared to the competition, and I haven’t even included dealer incentives in its purchase price. If you’re realistic about real world gas mileage and stop kidding yourself that a 5,000 lb SUV must be a diesel or it won’t get sales, stop kidding yourself and just do the math on your own. I might make this a table and break it out internationally if I get enough requests and help to do so.