Car-buying advice needed…

Let’s help one of our regulars:

Hello all… 74stingray here with a request for some help. Now we all know that SaabsUnited is very non-biased when it comes to cars. We grade them all equally and without regard to brand loyalty 😉 OK, let’s set the stage shall we? My 21 year old son is looking to upgrade from his 2005 Chevy Cavalier to a newer car. Naturally I offered my impartial opinion as to what car he should be looking at. I suggested going to the Saab dealer and look around, check online for used Saabs and to test drive some Saabs. In all seriousness, I suggested Saab first, but also mentioned VW, Chevy, ect. Like most kids, he wants a loaded car on a basic budget…. As much as he wants a new car, it’s not feasible and buying used is the best option. Right now he is mulling around three car choices. I would like to call on my friends here, a true “consumer reports” kind of crowd to make the choice easier on him.

Subject #1 2010 Saab 9-3 2.0T, Moonroof, cold weather package, all wrapped in Carbon Grey with grey interior. It has less than 15,000 miles on the odometer at a cost of around $20k. Full factory warranty is in effect.

Subject #2 2008 Saab 9-3 AERO, loaded, Fusion Blue with parchment interior. 47,000 miles, very little time left on warranty, $20k

Subject #3 2010 Chevy Camaro, Blue, V6, moonroof and other desired options… less than 8,000 miles around $22k with balance of warranty.

This should be a fun thing and not get too scientific…

I’d go for subject #1, but that’s just me. Comments are open, have your say!

151 thoughts on “Car-buying advice needed…”

    • Well, very true but the kid has been working and saving money since he was 16…. never blow money of needless things.. But I know what you’re saying.

  1. None of the above.

    If I was 21, with a budget of 22K, I’d look at an E46 M3 and not look back. I would baby the car during the week, puttering nicely to school and/or work, then thrash it on the weekends at driving schools and HPDE events.

    …and I’d consider a Mustang GT over the Camaro. The 2008-2011 Mustangs handle extremely well…

    • None of the above.

      I consider that as the most useless answer to any “which one of these” question one can imagine.
      If someone has worked their way to a selection, what in heaven’s name is the purpose of answering “none of those”?
      I can only imagine the drive is a need to get attention. Instead of being one of the masses actually trying to help, one is surely more visible acting like a smart buttock Mr “I know it all”…

  2. Subject #1 first choise subject #2 second choise. Another Saab is the third choise!

    “there can be only one” as someone said in Star wars (I think).

    The dude must drive the Saab right!

    • I would have made the same choise right now, but if I was 21 again and with that budget I think I would have looked at some other cars to. 🙂

      Oftopic: “there can be only one” isn’t from Starwars. It’s from the film Highlander.

      • Right! Highlander it was.

        Sporty, European, turbo with enough power and not mainstream plus a great look. And
        a choise that says to your friend that I´m an individualist and smart. What´s wrong with
        a 9-3SS Vector or AERO. Maybe I´m to Saabish nowadays, When I was in that age the only
        car I want was Volvo but I´m from Sweden and didn´t have that kind of money (for a car).

        I have looked at the US prices of GSXR and they are really crazy, crazy low. I can totally understand
        why there are so much cars and stuff around the American middleclass. Therefor I would have used
        20K on a Suzuki GSXR 750 -K6 and a Saab 9-3SS. 20K$ would be enough to really get some fun at any road and in any speed, beleave me.

  3. I know what I was like driving at 21 and I’m glad at the time I only had an old Ford Capri with under 100hp.
    However out of all of them ‘subject No1’ sounds the better option. It will also give greater room for tuning later when the insurance premium drops once he gets older.

      • I had a light blue Monza wagon with a 4 banger. I never grew up. I now have a light blue 9-5 wagon with a 4 banger. The 9-5 holds the corners better though.

        I vote subject #1. The 2.0T is about as much fun as the Aero and is cheaper on the gas. More warranty and less miles for about the same cost throws it to the 2.0T, especially if the Aero is the V6. The V6 in the 9-3 had some tech alerts out on it. My ’06 9-3 Aero had the cooling system pressure issues.

      • Can’t quite remember the professionals but I’ll take either.
        I just know that at 21 I must have lost a few lives with my driving habits. I’m sure with more power under the hood of my car I may not still be here today, that’s for sure.

  4. Camaro or Mustang. He’s 21! Drive the pony cars while you can and then pick something grown up and more refined much later. Besides, if he is like most kids he doesn’t want an aux cord sticking out from the front of the dash. New car designs (the 9-3 is not new, even a 2011 model) have tech packages that suit the iPhone generation a lot better. Better iPod integration might even prevent an accident. Let him wait for the next 9-3 (if there is one) and enjoy the flashy and fun car for now.

  5. i would settle for option #1. AEROs are often ‘beaten up/worn out mechanically’ by their former owners. a 2.0T will get you from A to B quick enough.

    coupé’s are not practical, Chevrolet = GM, need i say more?
    (i just bought a Nixxan 100NX to get me through the winter…)

  6. Back when I was 21 I was driving my very first Saab; a 1979 99 Turbo ! It was my dream come true….
    When most of my friends were driving BMWs, VWs, Opels etc I wanted something totally different, and… I never regretted it.., and so began my lifelong passion for Saab. So I’d say go for a Saab, in the end it’s the right choice at any age..
    And at 21, I’d surely go for the Aero !

  7. Being that I’m almost the same age as your son (I’m 20 yrs old), I know which one I would pick…
    Surely the Camaro will wow the girls, and a mustang would probably wow ME, but honestly, since I can remember, I’ve always wanted an Aero…

    So #2.

    Of course insuring the thing would probably cost more than the actual car payment here in NJ…. 🙁

    Tell him to live a little, get the Aero and show those Audis and Beemers who’s boss !

    • Ronnie… thanks for the input… actually, we’re neighbors since I’m in SEPA near Philly. His insurance will go up only $85 for a 6 month term over his Cavalier. I know it does not help my son when mom and dad both drive AERO… and we both bought our used.

      • Ahh I see. Well in that circumstance, I wouldn’t get a 9-3 then 😀 . Does he like the last gen 9-5 Aero? They came wonderfully equipped!

        and thats a very modest insurance increase!

        Eventually when I graduate from Rutgers and sell my Jetta (the most god awful, problem ridden thing I have ever had the displeasure in owning. I will stay far away from the VAG cars for the foreseeable future.) I’ll be swinging for a 9-3 Aero myself.

        I wish him and yourself good luck!

  8. if the car condition is good, i would go for #2 because of the aero. anticipating will have the saab for 4-6 years, it will still be fine.

    are you sure, that he can handle the 300+ hp in V6 Camaro ?

    • well, if he’s going to act like a jerk, the 250HP in the AERO will provide the same silliness as the Camaro. Honestly, I think the Camaro is UGLY as sin…

      • It may be ugly, but its a newer design in every meaningful way. The 3.6 liter in the Camaro makes more power and gets better fuel economy than the old 2.8 turbo. In fact, it’s the same engine that the 9-4X badly needs and the Caddy got this year. The nicest thing about the Aero really is the XWD. If it snows where you are, the Camaro will probably be a pain to drive.

        Its a shame that he can’t wait to see if a Griffin arrives in the states. The much improved turbo 4 is a more palatable engine. Bumped up to 260hp it is probably a better overall choice than the 2.8 turbo. Too bad nothing else meaningful on the Griffin is changing.

  9. I would suggest you consider a new Saab. Here in Detroit, both Glassman Saab and Suburban Saab are offering $10k off 2011 Saabs, someone near you probably is too. Yes your purchase price would be slightly higher, but financing would be cheaper (unless you simply have $20k end of story). Insurance would be higher, but maintenance would be free, repairs would be free and no one else will have mistreated it.

    I’ve never been a used car person, so I’m biased. But I don’t think the savings are as great as some seem to feel. When you put $10k (or 25-30% off) in the picture, I don’t think used is the best option.

  10. I cant fault him for looking at the Camaro, but rwd in our bad weather- ice snow and rain, not the best idea.

    I’d say the aero, but you already a fusion blue- my favorite color- and no one wants to drive their parents’ car.

    I think you should look to deal on a 2011, I think the $8-12,000 discounts are here to be had. He may be able to pick up an 11 at the price of the 10.

    Perrine has a loaded 2010 red 9-3x, you could always upgrade and sell him yours!

    • Please…. I don’t need reminded about the Red 9-3X at Perrine… been drooling over it for a week now.

      As far as “driving parents car”, he’s always begging to drive either one of our Saabs… I would say in this case… “it’s not your fathers Oldsmobile”

      • All the more reason to have him buy yours. You guys could make it a bonding experience to road trip to Jersey. Lol. It’s easy spending someone else’s money.

  11. Back when I was 21, I used public transportation, or my feet!!
    Option # 1. R could always Maptun it later for more hp. Liking the idea of the car being under warranty. As to the Camaro, not a great winter car….
    My 08 was used and it’s a great car. Then again so are yours!!

    • After having owned the 2.8, I find the 2.0 engine to sound anemic at best. Whenever I’m driving a loaner for service I lament the lack of umpfh 🙂

      • Hum..I do understand the feeling if you are driving a untuned one.

        I would say that the smaller weight gives better handling, and with a little fiddling the 2.0T will outperform the 2.8T. Oh yes, and shed the XWD and put in a LSD ..less weight and better reaction

        • That’s always, always an unfair comparison and is made frequently around here. If you’re going to tune the 2.0T, why would you not also tune the 2.8T? VTuner will make 320HP and 350 ft. lbs. of torque. The 2.0T doesn’t come close to comparing when you treat them equally.

          • Yes, maybe

            The 2.0T will make as much or more. You have more possibilities with the 2.0T.
            But that wasn’t my real point.
            Lower the weight and the Hp doesn’t really matter.
            And the car is better balanced with a 4-banger, which I find more interesting
            But it’s all a matter of taste, not really an attack on the 2.8T

            And totally OT:

            I just tried a Porsche Panamera 4S yesterday.
            That car could maybe qualify as a suitable replacement for my 4-banger Saab.
            4 Doors and a Hatch..fits the bill, and drives nicely 😉 Not sure if I can fit a towbar though
            Only slight problem is that it costs about $550K here… Oh well

  12. Thanks to all for playing along.. Keep the feedback coming!

    I wanted to pose this question not only to help out my son, but to break some of the ice around SU. A little fun to take our minds off the situation.

  13. I really don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but…
    if my son had $20,000 to spend I’d steer him towards buying (potentially-appreciating) real estate instead of the depreciating asset (car). He could continue to commute in the Cavalier and watch his buddies throw their money away on rent.
    Our North American priorities are slightly skewed, are they not?

    • Ever try and tell a 21 year old to buy property instead of a car???

      Not to mention, $20k gets nothing around here… and I mean, nothing. I see your point… but most kids at 21 are simply not interested, no matter how much sense it makes.

    • Bob,

      Are you seriously insinuating that you think it’s smarter for a 21 year old kid (still a kid in my opinion) to purchase a home with his 5-years worth of savings? With what credit history? I can’t think of one bank that would loan to him the sheer amount of money for any metro-Philadelphia property.

      Paying for a $20,000 car is a heck of alot cheaper than a ~$200,000+ home or condo.

      • I think if StingSaab was looking for advice how to raise his child and how to teach him the value of money I think he have that capability himself or searched advice elsewhere. He asked for CAR buying advice.

        I’d go for number one. Main reason, besides it is a great car, you know your son is travelling as safe as he can.

  14. Go for The safest car possible. 21 and probably accident prone….. go any Saab!
    Put your dearest in The safest possible set of wheels.

      • If any 21 year old wants to be seen in a Volvo i’d be concerned for their mental health, stability, and capacity. Ugly as sin.

        It’s been statistically proven that 21yo males that buy Volvo’s do not get any attention from the female gender ! (I just made this up, but most statistics are made up anyway).

        Happy trolling!

    • So you showed us that you all know how to misbehave. If the gentlemen would be so kind to go and read the comments policy…
      Don’t want to have to shut down the comments on a fun post like that because of some silly boys. Thanks for your attention.

      • And what, may I add, is the particular section of this comments policy that we should be taking note of again?

        Its pretty obvious that the above comments were plain satirical in nature and tongue and cheek, since the volvo guy is here, it was a half-assed effort to get him rallied up (as I suspected he would…they always do).

        If you want to threaten to close down comments -again- then it wont be the first time, and more than likely not the last.


        • Too much effort to even reply to him. But I guess you know what I meant. 🙂

          Btw. I drove a S60 recently. Handling alone makes it feel unsafe IMHO.

          • Volvo and the Volvo cars are superior to Saab in all measurable ways, you cannot argue against it, without being silly. The only arguments you can use is purely subjective “Volvos are ugly”, “Volvos are boring”, “Volvos feel unsafe”, blah, blah, blah… Can you prove it?

            I’m here to read and study your reactions during Saab’s final days until its closure. Occasionally I cannot resist to write a post. But now I will be silent for a while and just study you.

          • You are a bad example of a Volvo person I hope.
            My GF is an absolute Volvo Fan and wants one.
            That is until she sat in a NG9-5 SC last week , but that’s another story

            I think you will make her feel uncomfortable buying one.
            You really reflect badly on your marque of choice.

          • Volvo Man,
            I must say, you are by far my favorite troll.
            Everytime I see an article on Saabsunited I cannot WAIT to run through the comments section and see what you wrote. I love it. Just makes my day.

            But not for the reasons you may think. You see, I just love to study you. You are the perfect example of someone who will just never get it. None of your arguments make sense man ! How can anyone “prove” that volvo’s are ugly? beauty is in the eye of the beholder. or volvo’s are “boring”? Excitement is in the heart of the person. Unsafe, now thats something I CAN prove. and so can numerous studies. got Google?

            If you are so happy with your Volvo, don’t like Saab, or don’t believe in it, then why are you here? That’s what Autoblog and is for. But please continue trolling, it shows not only your interest in us…but also for Saab.

            RR (and probably all of SU)

          • I’ve test driven the C70 on several occasions, and it offers great handling… compared to a boat. And I’ve been a passenger in a new S80, which wobbled over the road whereas a C-class felt like bolted to the tarmac. Which doesn’t mean Volvo doesn’t also build good cars. But they’re not all good.

          • I just don’t get Volvo Man… as long time Volvo lover and a new Saab owner, how can you not love both? I think all of them are beautiful… even my 740 ‘brick’
            Like my kids, none of them are perfect and I love them all.

    • My teenage sons both had wrecks with our 740 Volvo (non-turbo) wagon. We repaired it with cheap junk yard parts. My first son was ticketed for going 100mph in the car.
      My second son had a slightly angled, head-on collision with a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee. They wrote him a ticket and loaded the Jeep, which was leaking oil and coolant, on a flatbed truck . My son picked up the Volvo’s rubber bumper cover, put it in the back and drove home. After his 3rd accident in his senior year of high school we stopped repairing body damage. That had an effect on him.
      If you have a choice, get him in something that will help him survive his poor choices.

  15. I’m kind of surprised how few suggestions there were for ‘classic’ Saab. Though if you’re looking to spend around $20,000, an older used car looks pretty cheap.

    If you want to go new, or like-new (a few years old), the car I would get is the Mazdaspeed 3, which is advertised as around $24,000. Personally, I don’t care much about the current generation, so I would try to pick up a used one. Someone made a good point about avoiding the Aero because they tend to be abused by their owner, and I’m sure that advice goes double for these cars. Still, if your son is into the current style, go for it! 2.3 liter I-4 turbo, big hatchback, 6-speed manual transmission ONLY. If the Speed 3 is too much, but he still likes the car, the non-Speed Mazda 3 hatchback is the same thing, just not turboed. I find it… reminiscent of ‘classic’ Saab: four-cylinder turbo, sporty-practical hatchback. I’m not sure how people in general feel about Mazda in terms of build quality, ride and safety. I’ve only sat in one, haven’t driven one yet. They’re not the BEST built cars… but I think they’re pretty good. They’re pretty popular among the youth, college and high school kids.

    That would be the affordable route I’d go if I was shopping around for a NEW car. Best of luck to you and your son!

    • According to swedish bilprovningen the og9-5aero is overall in better shape after a few years on the road than the other og9-5s.

      I’d pick #1 because of the 4cyl.

      • This makes sense because I would think the people buying the old 9-5 Aeros weren’t going to race them or anything like that. Some ‘spirited driving’ now and then, but mostly a comfortable, delightful ride from point A to B. Viggens and SPGs/Aero (900) seem to be the Saabs to look out for in terms of being driven hard. Not saying they’re all driven into the ground, but to just be careful. I’m pointing out the obvious though 🙂

        On that note, I DO see a lot of og9-3s and 9-5s, compared to other Saabs I mean. The old stuff seems to be dying out, even the C900s and 9000s. Respectable/respectful people drive og9-5s.

  16. Err, methink that doesn’t make much sense. Not knowing what your son wants, how could anyone give concrete advice? I suggest that your son comes up with a requirements list or something similar, including weighting.

  17. I’d say #1, because of the warranty and also because the engine is just fine as it is, later it can be massaged up a stage or two.

  18. #1. But your lad is a lucky guy to be able to afford $20k at 21. In the UK he’d need about 25% of that budget to insure an Aero or similar, if he could actually get someone to quote. (But do 21yo’s take advice from the old man or his mates???)

  19. I would suggest getting a new 9-3. I live in Ohio. Saab is running some crazy deals on new cars. They had a 9-3 listed at $36,000 selling for $21,000. As a matter of fact, I bought the new 9-5 Aero XWD that stickered at $53,350. I got it for $34,800 out the door. Now the Camaro would be a pretty cool car for a 21 year old.

  20. I’m amazed your son is even asking for your opinion 😉 because mine (22 yo) went and bought his car behind my back. Anyway, I asked him what he’d vote for of the given options, and he said the Camaro, no question. He also said that in his (unsolicited) opinion, a 9-3 was an old person’s car…

    The young today. They know nothing. Nothing.

    • Surprisingly enough, the kid does value my opinion. When it comes to cars, he knows I know a little bit about them given the fleet we currently have. Like I said, this was for fun and to let him know really any are a good choice in one way or another. The Carbon Grey 2.0 seems the be the well rounded of the trio… unless he decided to buy new.

      Also… the 9-3 is no way a old person’s car….. and if it is.. the 9-5 is a car for the end of life people.

      • 74StingSaab

        I am 60+ now, but [and this is OT] when I was 17, I bought a MG Magnette [pre-used of course].My dad had a Wolseley 4/44 [both from the BMC stable].
        After many rows with my Dad, because the thing ate clutches like dinner,the last being a major one, he said to me ‘What’s the point arguing, with the age gap. & I said, ‘There’s no such thing’…..

        Oh, how right he was, but good to see your’s is sensible…

      • My sons didn’t want to drive my wife’s New Beetle because it wasn’t masculine enough. I can see it not being their favorite car, but they didn’t even want to be seen driving it…. I just don’t get it.

  21. For me, it’s about 3 things, especially for my son:

    Safety, fuel economy, warranty.

    The 2.0 is fast enough, no need for the V6. And option 1 get better MPG, is a newer car, plus has the longer warranty. Having said that, 20k is too much. You can get a new one for almost that. It’s the fall and dealers are clearing out inventory.

  22. 22 yr old here

    my choice would be option 4

    2007 Saab 9-5 2.3T Sport Combi, manual, 75k miles located in Road Island $14,995 (talk em down a bit)

    plus a track car of some sort like an E30 BMW, or 1st gen Miata.

    however if like me and he is interested in drifting, a Nissan 240SX or Mazda RX7. The E30 and miata also make decent drift cars as well.

    the rest of the cash he has left should be saved for any repairs and tires.

    • Well, if you’re going that direction, I’m trading in my 2003 9-SW manual next week (really do want those updated safety features and alas, I couldn’t wait any longer – I already waited a year for the 2011+ 9-5SW) and it would be a lot cheaper than that. Of the options, I liked Option 2, although I hesitate about the idea of an Aero and a 21 year old re: safety and all. Love the blue color. But Option 1 makes the most sense. Maybe he should ask his insurance company if there is an appreciable difference b/n the Saabs and the Camaro.

  23. I have a 25 y/o son that’s also looking for a new car in the summer of 2012. He won’t consider a Saab, even a certified one. Guess I failed as a father in that respect. Anyway, he has his eye on a new VW Jetta or Passat TDI Wagon. Prior to this he owned a Ford Focus ZX3. We’ve been out test driving many different makes and models since he’s not brand loyal like me. Honestly, the VW is a nice car! Simplistic on the inside and nicely appointed not to mention the great mileage.

      • As a Sport Combi driver I found that it drove every bit as nice as my 9-3 and has much more rear passenger leg room than my SC. My son has a lot of gear he has to haul around (being in the military) and is an avid bike rider. At almost 240 ft/lb of torque, das boring is really das exhilerating! Shocked the heck out of me!

          • The VW CC is a vastly better car than the base 9-3 in every respect, with the only hitch being the unknown reliability of the (wonderful) DSG transmission. ….but…you know VAG will be around in a couple of years. The Saab factory warranty might not mean much in a while.

        • You should try a Hirsched 9-3 TTiD 😉
          240 ft/lb would feel pretty boring after that.

          PS. Don’t listen to Mike. He’s becoming quite the VW and Bimmer salesman. But I admit if Saab doesn’t get its s**t together rather quickly many are forced to look at these German vehicles if they want a new car. Especially in Europe 🙁

          • First off, the TTiD isn’t available in the US. Secondly, Hirsch is a joke. 🙂 (But it’s OUR joke, the only one in town. 😉 ) It barely brings the car up to the level of stock competition.

            The CC is every bit as safe as the Saab, has a better warranty, and vastly better aftermarket support so that if more power is wanted, it can be done for a fraction of the cost of Hir$ch. Ditto for the Passat TDI, which doesn’t have the same amenities as the CC, but it’s far less expensive.

            Seriously, there’s no logical reason to buy a Saab when you look at other cars on the market, and objectively judge on price, performance, reliability, and resale value. BUT…..there’s a huge emotional tie that makes many here — myself included — keep coming back, despite logic.

          • WOW…
            If you don’t have any logical reason to own/drive a Saab you should move on to VW. I’m serious.

            BTW I know you can’t get a diesel Saab in NA. It’s a shame though. It beats a VW TID every time in performance (from the factory, with warranty), consumption and reliability.

          • RS, I drove a 2011 9-3 2.0 — the same car as being considered by the original poster — back to back against a VW CC. Had the Saab for a full day, then brought it back to the rental company, and switched it out for a VW CC. Both were base models, driven on the same roads, in the same conditions.

            Members of my Saab-loving family (14 Saabs owned between the three of us, stretching back decades) also got to ride in it. The verdict was unanimous: the CC won hands down.

            The CC had more power, better shifting, handled better, and a far better entertainment system — with integrated Bluetooth, BTW… — and had an amazing interior with the first seats in the VW product that match or beat the Saab 9-5 Aero seats for comfort and support. The Saab’s dated platform is showing its age when driven against its competition. It’s more on the par of a Hyundai Genesis sedan (although the Genesis trounces it in power). The CC list price is cheaper than the Saab MSRP, but the recent fire sales at Saab will probably make the price competitive.

            I say this with a heavy heart caused by reason over-ruling emotion: Nearly every manufacturer has a car that beats Saab on price, performance, interior, and reliability. Some have several. I’ve owned six Saabs, and have two in the driveway currently. Those will likely be the last.

          • Mike, you are spouting lies.

            The CC is not safer than the 9-3. Volkswagen no longer offers active head restraints (because of cost-cutting, as they offered them when the ’05 Jetta debuted), has sloppier high-speed handling, and far inferior braking.

            You said the CC has more power. Wrong, as the VAG 2.0T has 200hp and 207 lbft of torque. The Saab 9-3 Turbo4 has 210hp and 221 lbft of torque.

            As far as the CC’s seats, did you try them on a day warmer than 75 degrees? That nasty vinyl gets hot and stays hot, forcing its occupants to show off the CC’s inferior climate control. Speaking of seating, did you try the rear seats? First of all, you can barely get in thanks to the form over function greenhouse, and then there are only two seats with scant headroom and legroom.

            The Volkswagen warranty is three years or 36000 miles bumper-to-bumper. The Saab’s is 4/50. (I am assuming you are in the States).

            Plus a tiny trunk, dangerously poor outward visibility, a transmission that is brilliant in concept but poor in durability, and a pathetic tow rating.

            Next time, try a CC for a week or a month, and not for a couple of hours.

          • Peter, perhaps you should actually drive other cars instead of living inside a pretty Saab bubble. 😉

            It’s not the numerical power on the sticker…it’s the power delivery. The DSG in the CC provides max torque across a wide range from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm. The Saab peaks at 2,500 rpm, then drops off from there. The peak torque value isn’t what determines how a car actually feels, it’s the area under the torque curve. That’s why the CC goes 0-60 a half second faster than the Saab, despite having less power on paper.

            As for the CC’s seats and temperature, I actually happened to drive the car in Florida. In summer. The climate control was completely fine. Rr: getting into the car…I’m 6’2″, with a 36-inch inseam. I got into and out of the car fine. Perhaps I’m more limber than you?

            The warranty is a wash, as the VW warranty is 5 years on the powertrain, 3 years on other components. So if there’s a problem with the DSG, it’s covered for a full year longer than it would be on the Saab.

            So you’re left with cargo capacity and towing capacity.

            Alas…you win. The Saab has a whopping three cubic feet more cargo space than the CC, allowing you carry that critical extra two bags of groceries. And the rear seat in the CC only carries two comfortably, making it an impractical car for a family. (VW is changing that for 2012). And the CC isn’t much good at towing anything, but the Saab can handle a tiny trailer and a couple of jet skis. Yay.

            Let’s leave it there. If you don’t mention towing, I won’t bring up the standard touchscreen entertainment system with integrated Bluetooth in the CC that blows away the “Infotainment” display on the Saab.

          • Mike,
            You ignore what you want to (quite a few facts), and I’ll ignore what I want to (VW’s infotainment budget).
            Unfortunately, my bubble is not Saab exclusive though I honestly wish that it could be. I’ve spent plenty of time with both the Ecotec 2.0T and the VAG 2.0T. I even had the pleasure of driving a DSG-equipped car for an entire year (the exceedingly rare 12 month lease).
            Saabs have never been defined by their peak torque. Look at Saab literature from the last 30 years. They have always gone out of their way to describe a torque plateau in lieu of a peak. I am not arguing that the VAG 2.0T is a lousy engine. I am arguing that your previous post was wrong. The Saab has more horsepower and torque. Fact.
            The vinyl didn’t bother you in Florida? I envy your sweat resistance. You got into the back seat of the CC without noticing the difficulty of ducking your head to the height of your shoulders? Limber is most definitely the word.
            The CC is not safer. Try an emergency maneuver in both cars and you will quickly see that. Also, if I remember correctly, the CC needed an asterisk on that safety rating.
            As far as infotainment, if you have been paying attention for the last ten years then you know that is a low blow. Saab was to be the first automaker to introduce Bluetooth to the U.S. market with the debut of the 9-3 in the fall of 2002!. Unfortunately, Saab’s owners at the time wanted to sell Verizon minutes through an OnStar phone. Instead of further development of the sky-was-the-limit bus-based infotainment system that Saab had, GM canceled the project and/or cut funding, and the 2007 refresh/cost-cutting left us with the HHR’s head unit. Not fair, but yes the VAG system is superior.
            When the public reacted with disgust at the 2006 Passat’s ungainly look, VW brass noticed. What they also noticed was a Mercedes “4-door coupe” that they saw a very different public reaction to. So they quickly moved a huge amount of cash from here to there to rebody the Passat as the CC (also adding the DSG). So the CC’s platform is only three years younger than the supposedly archaic 9-3.
            I’m not opposed to the commentariat talking up other makes and models. There are quite a few interesting cars on the market these days. I am opposed to BS presented as fact.

          • Peter, you’re choosing to ignore several things. 😉

            The CC has lower HP/TQ numbers on paper, but again…it’s actually faster in real life. The CC reaches its max torque faster and holds it longer. That’s a fact. For those sad folks who compare cars on paper, instead of actually driving them, the Saab might look better. It’s just not, and I say this as a person who has driven Saabs for 25 years.

            I answered your comments about safety with a link. 😉

            And yes, Saab introduced a very basic version of Bluetooth integration that was quickly surpassed by Ford, VW, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Toyota, Acura, Lexus, etc…and I was wondering when the obligatory “It’s GM’s fault” comment would pop up! That’s generally the last-ditch argument ender.

            Those same tired tropes generally make the rounds at least once per thread. I’m not completely unsympathetic to them. It’s true that GM made a lot of cuts to try to squeeze some profitability out of a company that was circling the drain.

          • Mike, enough with the winking smileys. You lied.
            I never challenged your 0-60 observation. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a Saab knows that streetlight races are not going to turn out well. You claimed:

            “more power, better shifting, handled better, and a far better entertainment system — with integrated Bluetooth, BTW… — and had an amazing interior with the first seats in the VW product that match or beat the Saab 9-5 Aero seats for comfort and support. The Saab’s dated platform is showing its age… ”

            The CC isn’t more powerful.
            The CC doesn’t handle better. Road & Track recorded .86g on the skidpad for the 9-3 with 17″ wheels. They never tested the CC, but Car & Driver did: .86g with 18″ wheels.
            The CC’s interior is not amazing, and the 9-5 Aero seats are superior. Ask anyone on SU!
            CC’s platform is only three years younger.
            On the Bluetooth front, I was not referring to the current setup through OnStar. Saab would have been the very first make here in the States to get Bluetooth, if it weren’t for OnStar. I am more than happy to blame GM for certain things.

            You like safety links? Here are both the CC and the 9-3.

            Why don’t you try VWVortex if you want to peddle your CC lies?

          • Peter, do you actually read what you post? 😉

            I stand by what I said, and if you fail to understand the difference in a car’s stated power and the real-world application on the street, that’s a severe knowledge deficit you’ll have to fix. The Saab has marginally better output on paper, but feels slower on the road. If you do most of your driving in the pages of magazines, then by all means, get suckered by the numbers.

            The skidpad numbers made me laugh. 🙂 A skidpad test shows one measure of a car’s grip, not handling, Peter. It says nothing about the way the car handles dynamically.

            The CC interior is leaps and bounds better than the Saab’s, with the exception of the funky rear seat…that will be changed in 2012. The front seats were excellent and very comparable to the 9-5 Aero seats. I stand by that statement. As far as the steering wheel, the console, interior touch surfaces, electronics — that’s where the Saab fared worse. (And your comment ‘Ask anyone on SU” is laughable, at best. That’s like asking for impartial, objective comments from a mother about her bratty kid. 😉 )

            And thanks for clarifying your original claims about Bluetooth, which reinforces how far behind Saab has gotten in ICE. (The new 9-5, however, is stunning and a class-leader…) And double thanks for posting the safety data that reinforces my argument that the CC is objectively as safe as the Saab. Both received equal ratings of excellent. 🙂

            So, unfortunately for you, your best defense ended up fortifying my argument. 🙁

          • None of the three cars to be considered was a VW CC.

            But I think you broke the most important premise of this exercise…This should be a fun thing and not get too scientific…

          • Curiously enough, the people on this site do tend to favor Saabs. Who knew?

            The choice for my new car was between the 9-3 and the CC. My wife convinced me that I needed a wagon (which I do) and I got a massive discount from Saab. I still loved the CC.

          • Mike, this is the kind of ”support” I’ve never understood from (former) Saabers. You’ve been on SU for, what a year now telling us how much better these German cars are. It’s getting really boring like VW. I’ve seen enough of them fall apart through the years when Saabs keep on going. There are even a few German Saabers on here also you know. What’s wrong with them? (wink)

            Not only are your arguments plain obvious i.e. a Passat CC has a more modern interior and sound system than a 9-3 (thank GM) but some of them are borderline ignorant, things like a VW Passat CC got better seats than a 9-5 Aero or a Saab engine torque peaks at 2500 rpm and so on.

            Just so that we don’t spread fals facts here, what Aero seats are you talking about? NG, pre-2000, post-2003, sport or comfort etc. etc. It’s not like there would be only one that supposed to fit all. Personally I like the NG9-3 cloth comfy seats and they are 10 better -for me- than the Passat CC ones, you think so highly of.

            Peak torque: You want an engine that shows no torgue until 4000 rpm? Buy a traditional naturally-aspirated car. It will move nowhere unless you rev the hell out of it. You have to downshift for every overtaking but I guess that’s why the DGS is good for? Fake spirited driving and a better 0-60 time by a fraction. WHO CARES. It’s 60 to 100 mph that counts and provides safety on the highways (power when you need it remember).
            With a flat torque curve you have horses through the scale and you get better fuel efficiency like it should be. If you already got 260 ft/lb at 2000 where do you go from there? Should Saab drop low end torque so you would experience more of a kick?
            Don’t think so.

  24. Ok, I speak as a mother, then 😉

    This car will make your wonderful kid stay alive, not drive too fast (hopefully) and be safe in case
    that somebody else isn´t driving carefully.

    He will have really good car for several years to come, perhaps even as a family father to his firstborn? 😉

    No way! Dream on! To fast, to much power.. no, no, no!

    Okej, this one will be something to pick up some hot chicks. And maybe he is not driving to fast in this
    one either, due to fuel consumption…

  25. He will have really good car for several years to come, perhaps even as a family father to his firstborn?

    Grandpa 74StingSaab. Too young. VolvoMan epitomoses OvloV drivers….not too clever my half. The new S60 looks nice though.

      • Hehe

        You will probably get used to the title over time 🙂
        I can happen suddently.
        I am at the tender age of 47 a grandfather of 5, and have a 8 year old daughter at the same time.

        Regarding your sons choices and the topic of the post:

        If he is anything like me at the age of 21, the one to get is the one with the biggest engine and the biggest stereo…and RWD.
        Safety is not really high on the list of features at that age.
        He may be more sensible than I was though 😉

  26. I suggest Subject #1 2010 Saab 9-3 2.0T. I have an ’06 Aero and even with my best efforts, the front spoiler has been scrapped an dented due to its low ground clearance. A replacement is at least $200 painted and installed. The parchment interior of the Aero would be difficult to keep clean. The Carbon Grey of #1 is a dynamite SAAB color! It says here is a precision and classy thinking person’s automobile. Sorry, but I recoil from the Camaro. To me it is an un-SAAB car. The world is littered with them. Yes, most SAAB owners are fiercely loyal to our marque. It is the ingratiating character of SAABs that made us that way.

    • My ’06 Aero is a SportCombi and it is fast. I got a SportCombi for its cargo-carrying ability, part of the joy of owning a 3-door 900. I am just currently bummed with the susceptability to damage of the spoiler. I suppose one can blame that on the driver though.

        • Yes, one a few drawbacks of the pre-2008 Aero, front spoiler too low. I’m now on my third in 2+ years…
          I need marshaling to most mall parking to…
          Anyways, just passed a hundred opinions on the matter, all very objective and logical…

  27. At great risk of being burned at the stake for heresy on this WEBsite, my recommendation would be a new Ford/Focus. It has a lot of the Saab-ish characteristics that we all seek at a price that would allow him to purchase a new one on his budget.

  28. I think “Trued” above made the most sensible suggestion to a father:
    “Go for The safest car possible. 21 and probably accident prone….. Put your dearest in The safest possible set of wheels.”

    That’s what I would do. Given that the son likes to own that specific car.

    • Safest set of wheels would be a tank….Or something along the lines of a GMC Denali.

      I’m going to stick with my original choice: E46 M3.

      Even used, it will be worth more than a new Saab.

  29. I don’t know how safe the Chevrolet is.

    Buy the 2010 Saab. It is almost new.

    Or pay a little more and buy a 2011.

    A 2010 Saab could easily last to 2020 without many problems. By then, if he studies hard and becomes successful, he could buy 2 new Saabs. Or, if he goes to medical school, he can still be in residency training and need to use the 2010 car for a few more years beyond 2020.

  30. Have we established the Aero is XWD? Auto or manual? (in both cases). In any case this is choosing between diamonds and rubies (in respect of the Saabs of course!).

    Assuming XWD on the Aero (not so different from the Turbo X[2008]) I’ve had both in the driveway (2009 2.0T, identical to 2010). At the end of the day I’ve always preferred fewer miles to more…deals on brand new cars are extraordinary too in US. XWD has snow-belt edge, properly tired. Rock-solid x2 at 40,000 km.

    BTW: Each car is well suited — and transformed — with tuning (Maptun; Hirsch; VTuner, among others..even in the first stages). The 2.0T in particular benefits massively from it (my experience is via Maptun for the 2.0;VTune on 2.8 — both via CANBUS…so can be swtiched on or off at will and leaving no obvious trace for warranty purpose), and automatic even more so. Spacers on stock wheels all round give a more aggressive stance (Maptun’s 3 mm ones wouldn’t even require a bolt change) and the Hirsch aerodynamic kit for Linear/Vector (not carbon fiber) is reasonably priced IMHO in America now (Budget: Hirsch front splitters, on their own, ups the visuals significantly…still with ‘Sleeper’ look ) Moral: Both are well suited to several stages of tweaks (as young — and not so young — often do…)

    Puzzled by the assumption that Camaro will snare The Birds better…done rather well by the Saab myself [Sssshhhhh 🙂 ] . Jetta?????? As a young guy, you want to carve out some individuality, surely!

  31. I’d go with #1, assuming that you probably live somewhere that gets cold in the winter. That snow thing would shoot down #3.
    Having worked with a large number of parents in the same boat, your insurance will be happier with #1 on two fronts – your son is under 25 and is thereby expensive, and he’s way more likely to get busted speeding in option 2 or 3.

    Happy Hunting!

  32. @74stingray

    Firstly, I’m 24 and I’d buy a Saab in a heartbeat.
    If I were to choose from those 3 options, I’d take. the Aero, if it has the 2.0T (i don’t know if that is possible in the States), otherwise th option #1.

    If it were my money I’d buy a 2007 9-3 Aero Convertible. I saw quite a few of them in your budget.

  33. Having over 20 years in the car business and having sold many a youngin’ their car, #1 is the way to go all day long of the choices presented. Good safety. Fun engine, but not TOO fun ; ), and good fuel economy. The Aero is way too much car for a young driver. The Camaro is just a silly choice considering you live in the NE and this is to be his daily driver. The only other SAAB option would be the new 2011 (which I would also be happy to quote to you) if he can spend slightly more than the $20K budget.
    The VW is a good product but oh, so boring. The Ford Focus is an awesome car and always has been IMHO. I owned one in 2001 and was recently in one of the new 2012’s and it handled well, accelerated well, and had great conveniences with the newest technology for integrating things like cell phones and iPods. The importance of this as a safety aspect cannot be discounted. Texting or calling while driving kills many people every year. Unfortunately, the SAAB will not allow for the same kind of integration as the Ford.
    There are pluses and minuses to every decision in life. He should “ben franklin” himself. Put 2 columns on a piece of paper- one for the SAAB and one against. Place all the reasons in the column they belong in and see where you end up! I’ve used this on many a decision I’ve had to make.
    Good Luck!

    • Pfft.. if dad buys anything, it would be a red 9-3X.. However I still have a Corvette equipped with a punk whooping 7.4 liter ground pounder under the hood (shameless sales pitch) collecting dust in the garage as I have not been able to get it sold.

      So.. until it sells, no 9-3x anytime soon. Besides, my combi does just fine.

  34. I`ve got a new Carbon Grey 9-5 Sedan. The colour has attracted several good comments. Tell your son it looks upmarket and go for it. It might well attract girls – and that`s me a 70 year-old saying it!

    Incidentally, moderators, you show me as living in Newcatle-upon-Tyne. I actually live in the city of Lincoln which is in the English Midlands not the North-East of England.

  35. At 21, I graduated college and was in a similar situation. I bought a certified ’08 Aero FWD (one of the titled but not really sold used editions, so it was essentially brand new [140 miles]). I cross shopped it to the Infiniti G35x, Mazdaspeed 3 and Mazdaspeed 6, and the Audi A4. I loved that car and it performed like a champ. The automatic transmission began to weigh on me over time as I’d chosen it for the ease of dealing with Boston’s abysmal rush hour/red light combination special. I ended up wanting all wheel drive and yet more performance, so just last month I picked up a manual Turbo X…now that’s a fun car.

    So that being said. I’m not a fan of the 2.0T, maybe the new one with 220HP will be nicer, but good luck waiting. I would also encourage AWD/XWD for the weather we get. Just say no to the Camaro, I had the pleasure of driving one at an event specifically to highlight it and the V6 was underwhelming.

    AutoTrader ID’s below:
    If I were looking for performance only and didn’t care about an econobox interior, I’d look at one of these 2009 Lancer Ralliarts: AT-124D22A9, AT-1248C1BE, AT-125CAE13
    There’s an ’08 XWD Saab 9-3 Aero with 38k miles for just under $24k but it’s not the most 21 year old son color (though it has touring, cold weather, and nav): AT-1237392D
    And there’s an ’07 Mazdaspeed 6 for around 20k with only 36k miles on it: AT-125E8807

    If I could change the color, I would recommend the XWD Aero in a heartbeat, but… ehhh, that’s not the end of the world if he likes it. grey on grey in one of your examples just does nothing for me and weighs against the speed 6 as well (though I think it’s grey on black).

    My s.o. drives a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 and it’s a really fun drive and you can get a brand new 2012 in red or white for just under 24k: AT-124BB20E / AT-12512979 and older models for less.

    It’s a tough call. I love the 9-3, I think the recommendations here for a VW CC are laughable, and he’d be best served with a XWD Saab or a Mazdaspeed 3.

  36. As a 24 year old I was going to give you some additional suggestions, but I’m in the UK and from the comments I gather you’re in the US so I thought I’d better check my suggestions were available first as I knew the US had some different brands.

    What I hadn’t realised, was how few brands you have. No Fiat, No Citroen, No Renault, No Peugeot, No Vauxhall/Opel, No Seat and many of those you do have are missing many of their coolest cars. I can’t believe you don’t get the Volvo Estates, no wonder you were bashing the brand above. I see the XC70 is sold though, that’s worth pointing out to him though as it still has most of the presence of the Volvo estates (even if the 4×4 cladding can look a bit tacky in some colours and it apparently doesn’t drive as well as the standard cars).

    I guess it makes it a lot easier choosing though. Four or five different brands instead of a dozen plus.

    How about Subaru? Do they offer anything over there he may be interested in?

  37. Deqar 74 StingSaab, oh this question does bring out the boy in me. I recall my first ever car, a fairly clapped-out 1970’s Mini 1000. What a deathtrap that was, and how proud I was when I bought it. However, my parents hated it so much, they gave me an MG-B GT for my next birthday 😉 How could I refuse such a present 😉

    Re which one to choose? I’d go for option 1. Better deal, if anything were to be wrong you have a decent warrantee behind you.
    I am impressed with the fact your offspring actually looks at Saabs. So he knows what quality stands for.

    And, I cannot resist this one @VolvoMan. If Volvo’s were so superiour, pray do tell me why I have 2 A4 folders filled with correspondence with Volvo the Netherlands regarding my (thank god) ex Volvo XC90? Honestly, I have never ever driven a bigger problem on wheels. Even my Mini I described above was better plonked together. 120.000 km got me through umpteen thousand software updates, it conked out so often that the local RAC guy knew me by my first name…..

    4 turbos blew up, I had 3 autobox replacements, the tailgate rusted within a year, the sunroof was known as the shower roof, whenever it rained outside, one could bank on a spontaneous shower whilst going round corners… Not to mention the navigation system losing its track more often then I could manage to take the wrong turn… 4 major engine replacements. All in all, quality even a Hyundai Pony would be ashamed about 😉

    I am sure there is something magical about them Volvo’s, but hey, it sure as heck got pretty well hidden in the factory where mine was built. When I parted with it, when the engine at its crankshaft bearings for the 4th time, I just accepted the offer from a dealer. It cost me in excess of 83.000 euros when new, after 3,5 years of pain and misery, I was left with less than 23.000. What about depreciation?? It shed more value then my 3 month’s old puppy sheds flees.

    But I am sure they are real quality cars, them volvo’s….. 😉

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