Paul Eisenstein Reviews the 9-4X (Updated with Pricing Info)

Another day, another review of the new 9-4X. This is a realistic, solid review from highly respected auto journalist Paul Eisenstein of the Detroit Bureau. It’s worth a read.

He’s of course a realist, and right off the bat explains what will inevitably be Tim Colbeck’s highest priority as COO of SCNA.

Even if Saab can put Humpty Dumpty back together – and there’s no question the maker’s Chairman Victor Muller is a remarkably resourceful entrepreneur – it’s possible the recent uncertainty will convince at least some potential buyers to steer clear of Saab showrooms.  It’s hard to argue against such concerns.  Even the most inexpensive automobile is a major purchase, and at $50,000 or so, once you pay for freight, taxes and the typical adds-ons, the 2012 Saab 9-4X isn’t cheap.

That said, I’d love to hear these reviews include information about base model pricing, which is more high $30s than $50K for the Aero. Uninformed buyers who stumble onto these articles need to have a complete picture. Having watched the presentation given to the journalists in D.C., I don’t think they were ever really presented a complete and clear pricing presentation that focused on the value of this car which is in my opinion a missed opportunity. Lord knows we explained it well enough in this post.

I think his concluding paragraph sums it up best.

Based on the merits, the 2012 Saab 9-4X should be drawing (customers) into the showroom as it begins rolling out of the plant (a GM factory in Mexico that has not been impacted by Saab’s financial problems).  It’d be too bad if the headlines scare potential buyers off.  If it makes it through the current crisis – and we’re cautiously betting on Chairman Muller to pull this one off – Saab should be in a solid position to move forward.  The new 9-4X gives us reason to believe there’s life left in the old brand.


I’m including a link to the PDF of specifications page for the 9-4X for anyone who needs a reminder what options are standard and what are part of packages.

If you want to option out and see the features of each package and how they impact the purchase price, go to and find out yourself. When I originally wrote about it, there was no local pricing information reflecting accurate dealer discounts. As of this writing, there now are.

The base model goes for in while the Aero sells for $33,245 ($965 or 3% off) or $47,088 ($1,747 or 4% off). That doesn’t include the extra $1,000 your Saab loyalty bonus. These prices are for New York City.

A reminder: The Base model starts at $34,205. For an extra $1,385 you get LED lipped Xenon headlamps, auto dimming/folding mirrors, power lift gate and pedals, and rear view camera and heated seats. That brings the sticker to $35,590.

The Panoramic roof is a $1,400 option and with that it adds up to at a total price of $37,040, it makes the 9-4x a bargain (and in the configuration that nearly all customers will end up in).

XWD is basically a $2,500 option on the 3.0L models, if you add it the total is now $39,535. I expect dealers to sell quite a few of these.

34 thoughts on “Paul Eisenstein Reviews the 9-4X (Updated with Pricing Info)”

  1. It’s definitely an overwhelmingly positive review…

    But his pricing still stands. The cost out the door of a base model — shipping, taxes, tags, dealer prep — will be closer to $50K than $30K, unless there’s some serious price discounting and incentives — which typically don’t start until late summer or fall.

    • My dealer has ordered most of his almost exactly optioned out the way I talked about in my original post. Right around $39K. Only 1 order for an aero now, can you explain where you’re getting your number from?

      • Actually, I’m getting my number from your original post:

        “If you want navigation in your 9-4x, you need to opt for the premium trim which has more standard options including upgraded wheels, ventilated seats, auto air recirculation sensor, rain sensing wipers, remote start and keyless passive entry (those fancy door handles you touch and they open without needing the key), universal garage door opener, power passenger seat, and an Upgraded Bose Audio System. When combined with Nav brings the total to $43,270 ($46,265 with XWD).”

        Eisenstein’s pricing is explained here: “…at $50,000 or so, once you pay for freight, taxes and the typical adds-ons…” Navigation fits that bill, as it’s an extremely desirable option.

        His ballpark on pricing — not including the always variable discounting and other incentives — is right on the money.

        • Ehh, you’d be shocked how many Q5s and X3s are optioned without Nav these days. It’s an extremely high percentage, my local BMW dealer told be upwards of 60%.

          The head unit in the 9-4X is doubledin, so for less than $1,000 including installation a dealer could easily add their own Pioneer advanced navigation unit and still preserve all the steering wheel and USB controls.

          • I’m not sure adding a NAV unit is as easy as you think. That’s only the display screen. Don’t forget the existing controls below.

        • My mistake.
          I responded to ‘base model’ with no mention of add-ons.

          The cost out the door of a base model — shipping, taxes, tags, dealer prep — will be closer to $50K than $30K, unless there’s some serious price discounting and incentives

          And you’re right, it does get expensive when you add expensive options. 😉

  2. Unless there are some serious discounts/ lease specials this entery price will be a problem for the average consumer.

  3. The NA base is $33,400 plus destination (825). $50k is a bit of a stretch with tax. $38 grand on the high side with tax. Throw in Saab loyalty, and now your out-the-door under 37 grand. And that is selling at full sticker. Few cars sell at sticker.
    The 9-4X is actually priced very well for the NA market. I can’t speak to the rest of the world.
    We just need to get through this cash crisis so we can start to rebuild our brand image, which will be a monumental task. Not impossible, just monumental. 🙂

    • The prices in Europe are all quite interesting, normally lower than the 9-5 Sedan and allways better price than the smaller Q5 or X3.

    • saabdealer,
      Nice to hear about the base model pricing in the US because that should mean that when we get Canadian pricing that we will start somewhere around $40,000 with freight. That price may seem high to people not in Canada, but we sold Saturn Vue’s for that kind of money and sold lots of them and I think it’s fair to say that the 9-4X is a lot more vehicle then the Vue ever was. I think this will be a winner for North America. I really hope GM is open to building more for Saab and that 12000 is only a starting point, not the maximum they will build.

      • HI Jason,
        if the price of the 9-4x is similar to the price of the Vue, then Canadians should buy thousands of 9-4x’s.
        The 9-4x is much more car than the Vue.

        • Hey Red,

          I totally agree, the 9-4X is way more car then the Vue. My comparison was more of one that if it’s priced anywhere near a full load or even redline Vue was, then we will sell lots. We as a dealer were the number 1 dealer in BC for Saturn and a large number of our sold vehicles were Vues and not base model 4cyl’s. I expect prices to be higher then that of the Vue, but if we have a base price anywhere near the loaded price of the Vue, then we will sell lots. I hope there is the option to build more then the 12000 that has been mentioned before as I think that number is low.

          • Jason,
            you must know lots of people that could be interested in an 9-4x, I mean those Vues are quite old by now, aren’t they? 😉
            And regarding those 12.000, I don’t know were this figure comes from, but I’ve never been able to find it in any GM or Saab published document or an interview.

          • Red J,
            Yes we do have lots of people still in them and being serviced here, so when we get the 9-4X we should be able to find owners. I’m sure I saw that 12,000 number somewhere, not sure where I saw it though.

          • You saw it in the original post I linked to above 😉 12,500 actually, 10,000 for the US and 2,500 for the rest of the world. I’m not sure if that 2,500 includes Canada though.

            I don’t know how many ways I can say this– the 9-4X is the best deal on the market for any car over $30K. The SRX is outselling any Cadillac in recent history, and the 9-4X is a better car.

      • Mike,
        Neither was I if you read, thanks. The loaded up V6 Vue with leather and sunroof was about $35000 and the Redline FWD was about $40,000.

        not base model 4cyl’s

        was what I said if you want to see above. What I was saying was that the cheap base model Vues were not the bulk of what we sold, so on that note I’m excited about the 9-4X as any of us should be. When you added AWD to a Vue, the prices were north of $40,000 loaded. Thanks for your comments, very helpful.

        • Mike, my point more then anything is that if a base model 9-4X starts where the Vue ended, then that should be a good thing. It’s a hell of a lot more vehicle then the Vue was and the Vue was a great vehicle, can we agree?

        • The base model comment was directed at “saabdealer.”

          Your points are valid, but no one shopping a 9-4Z is really going to remember or care about the Vue. 😉 They’ll likely have the SRX in their comparison list, along with some of the others. The 9-4X should be extremely competitive when compared side-to-side.

          But my only point here was that the reviewer’s pricing was accurate…..

          • It may have been accurate but it was certainly misleading. The fact that you can drive one off the lot with dealer incentives and Saab loyalty bonus for $31K plus tax is a testament to that. He should have at least mentioned that. You get a LOT for that price too.

          • I guess we can agree to disagree a little. I of coarse have people that will care about the Vue because they drive one now and I can offer them something to replace it with now (I get what you’re saying about the price shopper, but that’s marketing more than anything). If I look at the number of Vues I sold as a Saturn dealer from 2006-2009, it would average about 108 a year which in turn would be about 9 a month and the dealers in the east sold more than us, so there is a big list of potential customers out there. The reviewer’s pricing was accurate based on a more loaded model, the base in the US with no Nav (which a lot of dealers will order) is closer to $35000 before tax, no? Side by side to the Caddy, doesn’t the Saab start at just over $1000 less? If this is truly the case, I think Saab can beat some Caddy dealers because if a customer is shopping against a Caddy, I’m pretty sure a Saab dealer would be more than happy to take out a GM dealer given the history of feeling abandoned by GM. I know you don’t like GM bashing, but that’s not really a bash, I just think it’s a general feeling out there amongst dealers and managers and some people will just like the look of the Saab better. The only real risk I see is awareness again. I remember customers coming into my lot with a new Malibu and seeing the Aura and saying they wish they new the cars were pretty the same because they like the style of the Aura over the Malibu, so awareness should be huge.

          • Jeff, it wasn’t misleading at all. 😉

            It was a pretty accurate ballpark of what a model with the typical desired options — nav, XWD — would cost. To say that such a car is approaching $50K isn’t a gross exaggeration. It’s fact.

          • Listen Mike, Paul is a friend, and even I’m saying it’s misleading 😛

            Even the most inexpensive automobile is a major purchase, and at $50,000 or so, once you pay for freight, taxes and the typical adds-ons, the 2012 Saab 9-4X isn’t cheap.

            By not putting, “the top of the line model,” or “a fully optioned out” or the like, it’s misleading. Go to your dealer. Ask what model they’re selling the most of. Then ask the price they’re selling at with freight and tax. It’s around $40K. $10K is way off of $50K. Way off. Heck, even $45K is far from it (the price on truecar of an actual 3.0L with every option on it in my area, with loyalty bonus it’s $44K). He never once mentioned the actual base price of the 3.0L, just that there’s one “for those who want even better mileage,” which almost makes it sound like it costs more as if it’s some sort of benefit. When someone is casually cross shopping these cars, it puts off a buyer looking at a Chevy Equinox or Nissan Murano. Yes, they’re cross shopping the 9-4X 3.0. I know someone personally who is weighing that decision.

            The fact that you’re even arguing me only proves one thing. You like to argue 🙂 I still like ya, though 😉

          • Ahhh…..But the price quoted above, from your own post, isn’t fully optioned out, nor the top-of-the-line model.

            It’s not the lowest-trim base model, no….but it’s a configuration that will likely be common: XWD and nav.

          • Alright, XWD and NAV– $44K at your dealer, possibly less if you’re able to negotiate. That’s not $50K, it’s over 10% less. All I am saying is that most of these 9-4Xs will be sold for around $40K, without Nav. You want further proof?

            On the Cadillac SRX, which has a much cheaper/easier package to include Navigation relative to the total cost, when I do a search on to do a quick and random sample of dealer inventory of all 2010 and 2011 SRX models, only 2,797 out of 9,083 have nav vs 6,286 that don’t (you can’t just search for “Navigation,” you have to manually search for actual terms like NAV, NAVI, Navigation System, etc. since all models have a standard option called “Navigation by Telematics” aka OnStar). In other words, it’s a 30/70 split of cars that have Nav. Hardly the majority.

            Here’s another eye opener for you. Only 153 of that 9,083 had the 2.8L engine– and even though I’m sure more Saabs will be Aero than Cadillacs are turbos, it’s still going to be an extreme minority.

            So again, by Paul saying that the car sells for around $50K or so with freight, options, and taxes, is straight up misleading. Most people won’t pay within 20% of that figure. Why leave that important piece of info out?

      • It also comes across as if he is quoting a base model when you read this:

        Even the most inexpensive automobile is a major purchase, and at $50,000 or so, once you pay for freight, taxes and the typical adds-ons, the 2012 Saab 9-4X isn’t cheap.

        I know he tested the Aero, but that line there makes it look like the cheapest one is $50,000 or so.

  4. Paul provided a very nice and encouraging review, consistent with what others are saying. But, I found some inaccuracies in a couple of specific things he said that I’ll point out here. This isn’t opinion-related. Perhaps Jeff can collect this sort of feedback and get it back to Paul. I didn’t want to create another login to yet another site to comment directly to the posted story.

    First, he wished the 9-4X had adjustable pedals. It does! For example, the one at the NY Auto show had the feature. The knob for making the adjustment is on the right of the steering column, close to the dash. Since he had an Aero, it should have been there unless it is an add-on option.

    He quoted the 2.8 l V6 with the correct 300 hp but attributed only 223 lb-ft of torque. Torque should be 295 lb-ft – he confused the torque figure with 3.0 l V6 engine.

    He did indeed have a nice ending, especiall with

    On the whole, the Saab 9-4X provides a good balance of styling, room handling, performance and fuel economy

    Where have we heard that before!

    I just read the Car and Driver review. It wasn’t as positive as Paul’s but wasn’t overtly negative. It did detail all the pricing for he 5 variants and it did get the hp and torque right for both engines.

    • At first, I thought that knob was for adjustable peddles, but then I sat in a Cadillac SRX and it was for the power-adjustable steering wheel.

      Can anyone confirm adjustable peddles? At 6’7″, it’s a selling point for me.

      • It’s for the pedals. I thought it was for the wheel too, but it’s not (and it makes the steering wheel controls feel a tad cheap but ehh, I’ll get over it). The knob you thought was for the steering wheel on the right side of the steering column is most definitely for the pedals. It’s a standard feature on the premium models too (and part of the very popular tech package for the base model), meaning you can get it in a $35.5K model. Again, not something you normally see in any car for that price.

        • God, I can’t wait for it to come out already… I’ve been following this vehicle for over a year. I’d like to wait until March to purchase, when my wife’s car is paid off, but I don’t know if I can wait!

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