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New Car/Review


Saab 9-5 SE Wagon (2001)

SEE ALSO: Saab Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 39,350
     Price As Tested                                    $ 41,390
     Engine Type        DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter turbo V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 180 cid/2962 cc
     Horsepower                                   200 @ 5000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               229 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.4"/70.5"/189.3"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3905 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          255/55R-16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.31


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/26/22
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  16.5 @ 91.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - This week we got the chance to try out a Swedish Saab for the first time, so I thought I'd bone up on Saab history. The company hasn't really been around a long time. It was founded in '37 in Trollhattan, Sweden. The Saab name is really an acronym standing for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget and as the name implies, it originally just made airplanes but after World War II, the company started making cars that were adapted from the pre-war German DKW. That first Saab was a little two-cylinder coupe that was dead-ugly, but it had been designed by aviation engineers so aerodynamics were the main consideration.

MIKELE - Now that General Motors controls the company, things have changed at Saab. It's now associated with style, performance, and luxury and the new 9-5 SE station wagon we tried is an example of Saab going mainstream. There are three different engines available in the 9-5 wagon, including two different four-cylinder turbos. But our tester was powered by a potent 3.0-liter V6 that's turbocharged to put out 200 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. It's front-wheel drive, as are most cars today, but all Saab cars have been front-drive ever since Saab Number One rolled out of the factory more than 50 years ago. The four-speed automatic transmission on the 9-5 is smooth, but I'm surprised that Saab doesn't offer an automatic stick-shift, especially in hot models like the turbo V6.

BRENDAN - It sounds like you've been doing some boning up too, Mikele. This 9-5 not only goes good, it handles very well, too, The Swedes are great on designing cars for cold weather that has lots of snow, so its traction control system is standard equipment on all the versions of the car. It's an all-speed system that modulates the also-standard anti-lock braking and an electronic throttle control system to get the best grip on the road when the going gets tough.

MIKELE - I'm impressed with that last statement Bren, even though it sounds like it was borrowed from Saab's PR folks. But mechanicals aside, I was more impressed with the Saab's interior. It was loaded to the gills, featuring every creature comfort known to the automotive world. It's been cold at night around here lately, so I really appreciated the heated front seats. And as expected, the front seats are electrically adjustable to fit nearly any build. The driver's seat even has a memory function, so it will automatically adjust to your own personal setting. The automatic climate control had separate heating controls for the driver and passenger, which was great because I get cold easy and you're always hot. The sound system is one of those hot-shot combination AM/FM radio/CD/cassette units with 200 watts of power blasting through eight speakers.

BRENDAN - Our dogs have learned to enjoy these station wagons when we get them because it's easy for them to hop up on the tailgate. The rear area has a pair of special aluminum rails embedded into the floor, and they use adjustable one-grip locks and load-securing belts to make sure that cargo doesn't shift around during sudden stops.

MIKELE - I've always loved electrically-operated and heated exterior mirrors, and the 9-5 wagon had them. It also had an auto-dimming interior rear view mirror for those pesky high beams that come up from behind. There were cup holders in the dash, console and rear center armrest, which were quite easy to reach and useful, and a glass sunroof is a bonus. Outside, our Saab was very sleek and modern although it's still recognizable as a Saab. The cars have always had a certain look.

BRENDAN - Its 16-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels gave it a hot "street-racer" appearance. Driver and passenger airbags are standard, as are head and torso side airbags. Child seat top tether anchors and heat-absorbing glass makes it a great kiddie transporter and in case bad-guys get ideas about ripping off a Saab 9-5 for a joy ride, the Saab anti-theft alarm system immobilizes the electrical system. It's the best way to stop thieves from stealing a car.

MIKELE - Those two big dogs that we usually have in the car do a pretty good job too, Bren.