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.

“Dear Jonathan” – it seems Saab GB are listening

It’s great to read stories about Saab responding to feedback. In this case, it’s the boatload of negative reviews that eminated from the British motoring press about the driving characteristics of the new Saab 9-5 on British roads.

The response?

Britain is one of the key markets in Europe for Saab, which is why they are treating the customers there with a specially upgraded version of the new 9-5 sedan with no change in pricing. The model is based on the Vector SE trim level and features leather trimmed seats as standard, replacing the previous leather and textile interior trim.

What’s more, they offer a set of 18 inch Carve alloy wheels, improving the aesthetic appeal of the car, replacing the regular 17 inch Blade alloy wheels.

In addition to the new wheels, they’ve also tweaked the chassis to enhance the dynamics and comfort. The previous sport chassis fitted as standard has now been replaced with a revised comfort chassis specification, so you get a sweet ride with the 2.0-litre TiD 160PS models equipped with manual transmission.

Jonathan Nash had this to say….

These improvements are the result of feedback from the UK automotive media. The improved driving characteristics address issues related to ride comfort on UK roads. The fact that the engineering team have managed to make the changes without affecting the impressive CO2 emissions of just 139g/km for the manual 2.0-litre TiD 160PS car show that the small independent Saab engineering team can respond very quickly to market requirements.


It’s great news, a great response, and I look forward to a new round of press reviews for the Saab 9-5.

Now, if only we could get some responses to issues raised from those November Saab sales in the US…..

NYT review Saab 9-5

This one’s been discussed fairly extensively in comments, even before I got the dozen or so emails about it in my inbox (thanks all).

The word “spin” has already been mentioned in comments, so I was loathe to bring the whole thing to the front page. Why go over this if people aren’t going to read it with an open mind (and funny that they’ll take everything in the NYT as gospel but voluntarily come here and be cynical about what I might write).


The New York Times has published a review of the Saab 9-5 and it would be fair to class it as “a mixed bag” of bouquets and bricks.

The reviewer – Laurence Ulrich – loves the fact that the 9-5 exists and even likes a lot of things about it, but feels that it shows too many signs of its GM origins and that it fades once you introduce it to some competition.

I’m not going to bother with addressing his more contentious points one by one in detail. There’s not a single thing in this review that’s new to a regular Saab reader, so any points I’d make are well known to you all. There are some things in this review that are fair points that I think Saab will address in coming model years (interior) and there are some things in the review that are just downright wrong or inappropriate (the unqualified comparison between an Aero model Saab and a base-mid model Buick).

Instead, I’ll bring these two things to the table.

1) The fact that everyone we’ve heard from who’s actually bought a Saab 9-5, loves it.


2) something that Hugh W, a New Yorker, posted in the comments discussion:

……while all of us wish that he would have said this is the car of the year, run out and buy it, I don’t think that it will do too much harm, and will likely help a lot. Let me explain. The NYTimes reader is intelligent and perhaps a bit cynical. They know that nothing is all good or all bad, that reviewers are sometimes concerned about little things that are of no concern to them, that to be a reviewer implies that there will be some not=picking and criticism. On the other-hand, there are enough good things said about the 9-5 to tickle the interest of anyone who has ever owned a Saab, especially those that have owned and liked their GM era 9-3s. But most importantly, it brings to a wide readership the fact that Saab is alive and has a new car, warts and all. For those that Saab was closed, for those looking for an alternative to the Germans, this is huge!!! They at least know now that there is a new kid on the block that’s worth checking out. Will they all buy? certainly not, but I’m equally certain that it will increase traffic into dealer’s showrooms and potential buyers and evaluate and decide for themselves.

The New York Times review of the Saab 9-5, which may require registration, is here.

Owner review – Saab 9-5 TTiD XWD

UPDATE – Pictures added

When XWD was first released, one of the most desired vehicle combinations was TTiD with XWD. The drive system gives you the traction and the diesel gives you the low-end grunt.

That combination is now available in the new Saab 9-5, and a guy who signs in here with the name TTAero recently picked one up. He’s sent in the following for your consideration.


Today, this afternoon, we have had our TTiD XWD for 8 days. And this is my third new SAAB.

The dealer gave us an hour to walk us through the most important features in the car and check all the chosen options.

This happened just before closing time so we took the first trip in on cold, dark and icy roads. We took her for 190 km straight away. The car felt comfortably and stable. This night wasn’t the real testing night, but the impression was very good.

The lighting is phenomenal, and it’s a feature I need where I live because moose, reindeers and deers comes running up the roads. Probably the best safety feature there is and a feature many car makers just don’t care about. All the electronic assistants in the world can’t help you if you don’t see the road or the surrounding areas.

We now have 1100 km on the meter and have done some more testing. The car feels even better now than the first 600-700 km. The fuel consumptions is down and the car makes “less resistance” when changing gears and accelerations. It’s getting smoother. I knew this was going to happen because the same thing happened in my former 9-3 TTiD SC. I guess the car will be broken in after 6-7000 km.

Some thing I did notice and frankly got a bit worried about was the engine sound. At first, it sounded like a pimped bimmer M3 with an exhaust pipe the size of a waste bin when doing 80-110 km/h uphill or accelerating. But after some driving during cold climate I realized that the sound was only apparent until the engine got up to working temperature. And if the outside temp is under 30 degrees C then it takes a bit longer. The temperature inside the car is not a problem since it is equipped with an electric extra heater. I didn’t realize at first that my car was “actually freezing” one bit when I had a warm and comfortably ride. The first 7 days we had no higher temperatures than -20 C. And the record was 32 degrees below zero.

This morning, when driving to work I tried hard to hear that sound. It’s gone! No matter how hard I accelerated, the smoothness, comfort and stability was great.

Now, lets go to the road handling… it is so good. It’s feels surreal and it’s difficult to find the words. I have stopped a couple of times just to “manually” check if the road is slippery. The grip just don’t let go if I’m not provoking it. And if you put your foot down in corners, there is nothing dramatic about it, just a nice flow thru and a constant acceleration.

WARNING: This is addictive.

We have now tried the entire configuration range (Drivesense) and my choice of chassis settings during the cold, dark and icy part of the year is “comfort”. It smoothens out the small but hard ice vibration we have gotten used to and the direct contact with the roads are seldom possible since there is a layer of packed snow or ice in the roads.

This is by far the best winter vehicle I’ve ever driven. Overtaking with 15 cm of snow between the lanes is not a problem. Just turn, accelerate, turn back and you are done!
I do many rentals in my work and compared to those the XWD 9-5 is nothing but wonderful. The A6 (the old), VW Passat, Volvo V70, Skoda Octavia, Toyotas, Ford Mondeos and so on just don’t measure up to this. I’ve tried the Volvo, Audi and Passat as a 4×4, but still there isn’t the same stability, grip and comfort as in my new 9-5. Astonishing is the only word that I can find to describe what I feel.

Saab 9-5 road test

I’m not sure that Bedford Today is known as a motoring publication, but by my reading of this Saab 9-5 road test, I’d be happy to say that the people in the region are well served in the automotive department.

It’s not just that it’s a favourable test for the 9-5, it’s more because it’s a very fair test that covers a bit of history as well as the 9-5 itself.

The all new Saab 9-5 Saloon signals the start of a new era for the brand. Sleek, sophisticated and unmistakably Saab, it’s got stand-out looks as well as a fair smattering of advanced technologies and brings a fresh alternative choice to the premium saloon segment.

It seems Saab GB really might be sorting out their test car issues. As with the quick few words posted on EVO last week, this British writer seems to have a grand old time, albeit in the 220hp petrol vehicle.

The 2.0 litre 220hp petrol engine in our test car was the epitome of smoothness once first and second gear had been dispatched. Below that it proved difficult to iron out the fact that it was very eager to get up and running and hence eliminate jerky gearchanges.

No doubting the level of comfort though, which few can surpass.

OK, to be fair, there isn’t a whole lot about actually driving the car in this review, but it was driven and obviously left the writer in a very positive frame of mind, which is a wonderful thing.

Recommended reading.

EVO talk about British Saab 9-5 road tests

The Saab 9-5 received very good reviews except when tested by British motoring magazines. This has obviously been pretty distressing because Great Britain seems to alternate between being #2 or #3 on the Saab sales chart.

EVO were one of the few British publications to come out and proclaim an enthusiastic admiration for the Saab 9-5, so like many of us, they were wondering why the Saab 9-5 had been panned by the their countrymen.

In a piece that’s actually written about the 2011 European Car of the Year winner (the Nissan Leaf), they come up with an answer:

Other cars which weren’t on my shortlist were the Meriva (all doors and no driving delight), the Volvo (nothing outstanding here at all) and the Dacia Duster (cleverly designed to be remarkably good for something so cheap, but old in technology and hardly a Car of the Year). So my hit-rate was just three out of seven. My four that got away were the Jaguar XJ (it should have won, given the opposition, but it’s against today’s austerity mood), the Peugeot RCZ, the Nissan Juke and – a wildcard, this – the Saab 9-5.

Let me tell you about the 9-5. It felt good on the press launch in Sweden, but has been almost universally panned here on the basis of the UK-market road test cars. The combination of a lumpy, agitated ride and an overall wooden-ness of feel are the chief reasons, although some have disliked the cabin’s pervading blackness. Saab GB made the disastrous mistake of specifying its press cars with Sport suspension, big wheels and ultra-low-profile tyres, and this was the result.

Stung by the criticism, Saab converted one car to non-Sport spec. I tried this car on disintegrating UK roads and it was brilliant: crisp but fluent, agile well beyond its size, an unexpectedly capable cross-country weapon. This was the car I had in mind when I said on the launch that I’d rather have one than a new 5-series or an A6, and it was a relief not to have to change that view. It deserved its place on my shortlist, being rather more engaging than the Volvo. Sadly, perhaps because some judges hadn’t experienced the Saab in the correct form, too few others agreed with me.

Chalk it up to experience. An expensive experience, but experience nonetheless. Saab have to get these launches right, first impressions and all that.

Thanks to “Me” for the link.

Saturday Morning MADNESS snippets

Another day, another sponsor for the Saab (unofficial) ad competition!

With prizes hitting the $1,000 mark, I think we’re going to have to move from a winner-take-all stance to a 1st-2nd-3rd.

More prizes means more winners, so get your entries in!


It’s going to be a MAD weekend here due to the preparations I’ve got to make prior to the LA trip next week. Posting will be slower as a result and this snippets entry will be link with minimal filler because of it.


The Saab 9-5 didn’t make the cut in the European Car of the Year finalists. I still think that award was sewn up by the Alfa Giulietta some time ago.


The Saab 9-5 has been listed as a finalist in the Motor Trend Car of The Year awards, which is a great achievement and good publicity for the company.


I might have to buy a PS3 on November 24. Gran Turismo 5 finally has a date.

Unfortunately, there are no Saabs in the lineup.


The lads over at Saablog-in have found a truly unique Saab 9000 for sale in Sweden.

9000 Wagon, anyone?


Top Gear pose the Saab 9-5 against an Infiniti something-or-other and decide that you should buy a 5-series.

They like the Saab, by the way.

It’s probably a good read if you’ve got time, but I don’t.


Thanks for your questions prior to the LA Auto Show. A number of them have already been answered in these pages over recent weeks, so I’ll probably skip those.

To answer a few:

– there’ll be no 9-4x diesel at launch and Saab won’t identify who they might be talking to about a bigger diesel, either, but I believe they’re working on it (quite earnestly) but these things take time.

– detailed customisation options for any vehicle aren’t likely to be around in the next year or so. You’ve got to bed down the basics before you can move to this stuff.

– I will be asking about global website development, but one should note a comment by Seth on this issue as I believe he’s “in the know”

– I believe we’ll see the 9-5 wagon at Geneva prior to it going on sale Q3 of next year.

– We won’t see the successor to the Saab 9-3 until just before it’s scheduled release (end of 2012). Saab will show a concept car at Geneva next year, but it’s more of a ‘dreamscape’ concept that will point to Saab’s future design language.


From Flickr, Hirsch get all dreamy in Zurich….

Hirsch Saab 9-5 Zurich

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.