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2004 New Car Review: Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


With Products Like the 2004 9-5 Aero Wagon, No Wonder U.S. Cars Are Now Most Reliable

By Marc J. Rauch, Exec. Vice President & Co-Publisher

I really had to laugh when I read all the media hype about the Consumer Reports claim that American cars are now more reliable than European cars. In fact, the hyperbole was so intense that it even prompted a good friend of mine, who happens to be a Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration expert, to send me an email trumpeting America’s return to quality production (while he loves Rolls and Bentleys, he is a fervent Yankee patriot).

Although I believe the Consumer Reports story to be just another blowhard article from a publication that uses over-exaggerated commentary to attract attention, in place of an insufficient advertising budget, I also felt that there was a ring of truth to the claim, which is why I laughed. What with the two bigger “American” car manufacturers now owning several “foreign” auto makers, coupled with the fact that a number of “European” vehicles are produced here in the good ole U.S. of A, I guess you could, in a manner of speaking, say that “American” cars are now more reliable than European cars. And in much the same way that Volvo probably produces Ford’s best cars, I think that Saab’s offerings are General Motors best product.

Saab makes great cars. They drive well, they feel good, they’re fun, they’re safe, and I like the way they look. Similar to that other exceptional Swedish marque, Saab cuts a distinctive path through a forest of me-too, cookie-cutter automobile styles. However, unlike a certain Number 3 “U.S. auto maker” that is known for exciting styles and crappy production quality, Saab combines unique visual appeal with superior workmanship and performance. And the great part about extolling the virtues of a car company like Saab is that in doing so I’m supporting our great country. After all, remember the slogan: What’s good for General Motors; is good for the USA!

So far this calendar year, I’ve had the pleasure of test-driving two Saabs, the most recent being the 9-5 Aero 5-Door SportWagon. As with my previous experiences with Saab products, I came away with renewed appreciation for their vehicles. I have to admit that Saab isn’t always at the top of my mind during impromptu car-chats when people find out what I do, but they really should be. They deserve to be. Saab vehicles deserve the full attention and consideration of all car buyers.

The Aero SportWagon handles like an up-market sports sedan. It’s tight, nimble, quick, and yet it has the convenient room and roomy comfort of a wagon. The power plant is a 2.3-liter High-Output Turbo four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower (it’s hard to believe it’s just 4 cylinders). The Aero SportWagon (as well as the Aero Sedan) features a variety of sports amenities not available on other 9-5 models, such as lowered sports suspension, 17-inch wheels, chrome exhaust tips, a sport steering wheel, special bolstered leather sport seats, and metallic-finish dash trim. Other standard items include an auto-dimming rearview mirror with digital compass and integrated garage door opener, power glass sunroof, driver's seat memory, nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio, and a cooled glove box, which is particularly handy when you have a sweetheart who loves chocolate. Available options include ventilated seats, Sentronic automatic transmission, bi-xenon headlights, and a Touring Package (rain sensing wipers, rear park assist, and auto-dimming exterior mirrors). The model I tested had a base price of about $40,000; and with options and additional charges the total was just under $45,000.

So if you want a really reliable “American” car, check out a Saab. Think of it as “Uncle Saab Wants You!”