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Car Review: 2005 Saab 2X Aero

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MODEL: Saab 9-2X Aero
ENGINE: 2.0-liter H-4
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 227 hp @ 6,000 rpm/227 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm 
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
WHEELBASE: 99.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 173.4 x 66.7 x 58.5 in.
TIRES: 215/45R17
ECONOMY: 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway/21.7 mpg test
PRICE: $31,290

When Saab was looking to increase its model line from just the 9-3 and 9-5, it turned to General Motors, a major owner of Saab. GM, in turn, turned to Subaru, another company in which it holds a major stake. The three got together and created the Saab 9-2X. Our tester is the Aero, or Turbo version. But it really is a Subaru Impreza WRX, which isn't a bad car. It's definitely more Subaru than Saab, despite the abundance of Saab labels.

Like all true Saabarus, it's all-wheel drive. It has a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that's rated at 227 horsepower. And all four wheels are driven through a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic is available.

As with all Saabarus, it was assembled in Japan of 100 percent Japanese parts. That aside, the Saabaru 9-2X Aero is a solid little vehicle. It's a four-door compact car designed for four passengers. I guess you could fit a small child between two adults in the rear, but that child would be squeezed tightly. Also, there isn't a lot of rear seat legroom if the front passengers choose to put their seats back any respectable distance from the air bags.

During our test, we drove the 9-2X over a wide assortment of roads that included a tight and twisty mountain road, Interstates, and urban and rural streets. So we had a lot of experience with the 9-2X.

It's a very solid vehicle, well-built. We drove in a lot of rain during our Interstate test and a lot of traffic in that rain, and found that the Saabaru handled quite well in this inclement weather. If we had to go through snow, I'm certain that handling would have been equal to the task as well.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is rated at 227 horsepower and 227 pound-feet of torque. Still had to do a lot of sawing through the gearbox to get the best performance from the engine. For example, anything lower than 3,000 rpm forced us to downshift if we encountered a hill. During our twisty mountain section we kept it in second or third and never tried to go for the higher gears, because it just wasn't worth it.

The suspension I thought was good. It was excellent on winding roads and fairly good on Interstates. It was choppy on the highway, but this is a car with a 99-inch wheelbase that only weighs around 3,000 pounds, so you can't expect a limousine-style ride.

The 9-2X is listed as a small station wagon, but in reality it's a four-door sedan with a hatchback. The rear bench seat folds down 60/40, and we were able to get a lot of luggage in there. Cargo volume is listed at 61.6 cubic feet and it was all useful, We carried most of the Thanksgiving dinner plus goodies for the grandbabies.

We had manual seats on both sides, with no heat. We also had power door locks, mirrors and windows as well as a power sunroof that wasn't practical in the rain, of course.

Instrumentation is standard with a 140-mph speedometer in the center, tachometer on the right, and a combined fuel and water gauge on the left. These is a digital exterior temperature meter in the combo gauge. In the center of the dash is a digital clock. Audio was an AM/FM radio with a six-disc CD changer in the dash. The HVAC system was manual.

Our tester was jet black (midnight black mica). The interior was more charcoal with light gray inserts in the seats and on the door panels.

Fuel economy was pretty good at 21.7 mpg. The fact that we beat the city rating and neared the highway rating was due to many Interstate miles. We drove the Saab for many miles, and despite the fact that there were two senior citizens in the car for most of the time there were no complaints. My wife said she would have preferred heated seats (($600 Cold weather package), but she survived.

We had a pair of cupholders for the driver and front passenger; none for the rear passengers in this alleged station wagon. Visibility toward the front was good. The mirrors and A-pillar did not obstruct the front view. Toward the rear, the headrests got in the way. The center rear headrest is smaller than the two outboard headrests, making the rear view better.

The Saab 9-2X is relatively noisy, which can be expected from a four-cylinder engine. There was also considerable wind noise that forced us to turn the audio volume up. Overall, the Saabaru 9-2X is a good vehicle as is the WRX. It's a shame that it doesn't have more Saabishness to it. It still seemed more Subaru than Saab. It had none of the quirkiness that Saabs are noted for.

At $31,290, it's a bit on the pricey side, but it's in the range of the Subaru WRX.