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December 2004

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2005 Saab 9-2x Aero 5 Door

The Good: All wheel drive. Accurate steering. Quick engine and stable ride.

The Bad:  Hardly any Saab character. Cheap feeling doors. Import tuner car feel. Small sunroof. Low level of insulation. Japanese style controls and dash.


           The days have come again for the station wagon, as we say in life and fashion 'what goes around comes around.'  Today's four wheel drive wagons deliver most of what you will find in a SUV with the added benefit of better fuel economy and sharp, car like handling. Saab, which set an all-time retail sales record last year in America, offers this 9-2x "sport wagon" as a new model this year as part of a full onslaught to renew its dying lineup.

            The Saab 9-2x is really not a Saab at all, with 100% of the parts content coming from Japan and its final assembly point being Ota Gunma, Japan, there is very little hint of Swedish meatballs in this car.  The Subaru Impreza WRX wagon is the corporate family member that Saab has put its badge on.  Saab has decided to create a market segment called the premium sport compact market in which it hopes this new 9-2x will be a real player. 

            "The Saab 9-2X is the ideal addition to our line-up," says Peter Augustsson, Saab's President and CEO. "Like the recently-launched Saab 9-3 models, it is extremely dynamic and is a car that you want to drive.  Additionally, its price point will attract some new, young, enthusiastic customers to Saab.  The Saab 9-2X is a milestone in expanding our model range and our customer base, especially in the very important North American market.  We see a rapidly emerging segment in the United States for a premium, small car below the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan. And being one of the first entries, we intend to shape that segment."

            At first sight the Saab looks very much like a Subaru unless you are staring eye to eye.  The exterior side profile of the 9-2x is pretty much a constant reminder of a Subaru wagon, from the functional hoodscoop to the BBS style wheels.  "As the new 9-2X range is tremendously fun to drive and since we are targeting a young and enthusiastic customer, we decided to express the strong and dynamic character of the 9-2X in its design and even add a bit more of an aggressive touch compared to the rest of our line-up," comments Saab's Executive Director of Design, Michael Mauer.  "Additionally, even though it is a functional 5-door vehicle, it shouldn't look like a traditional wagon. Therefore, we spent a great deal of time making sure it had a strong face and sleek Scandinavian lines."  The face is about the only part we thought that was Scandinavian.  We still wish for a more traditional Saab exterior with smooth panels and a rounded appearance.

            The Saab 9-2x is available in two versions, the Linear base model and our Aero test car.  The turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter, high-performance DOHC 9-2X Aero engine produces 227 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 217 lb.-ft. (294 Nm) of torque @ 4,000 rpm.  It delivers only normal gas mileage of 20 city and 26 highway.  The power plant of the Saab 9-2X Linear 2.5 is naturally aspirated and delivers 165 hp @ 5,600 rpm as well as maximum torque of 166 lb.-ft. (225 Nm) @ 4,000 rpm.  Both cars provide a standard 5-speed manual transmission; a 4-speed automatic transmission is available as an option.  The base model starts at $23,000 while the Aero is price at about $27,000.  Both models feature the same full time all wheel drive system as used in Subaru models.  The Aero model additionally offers a functional hood scoop, a more sport suspension and a leather steering wheel.

Behind the wheel the Saab is firm and responsive.  The feeling of a Japanese import racer just doesn't go away.  The 227 horsepower engine is powerful with noticeable turbo lag, which makes the real push come on around 5000 rpm.  The engine is also quite loud, something you would not typically find in a Saab but would be appealing to the sport compact market.  The clutch pedal on our test car was firm and heavy leading to a jerky gear change, especially from start.  Zero to sixty times we achieved were around 6.5 seconds, though it will mostly depend on your ability to conquer the shifter and clutch.  The Saab 9-2x also does not allow you to be in the wrong gear at low speeds.  Power suddenly disappears if you travel in fourth at only 20 miles per hour, so this model is really for those who want a very sporty small wagon and are willing to keep on shifting. 

The ride and suspension of the 9-2x is typical of a car like Mazda or Toyota.  There is mediocre amount of road feel and the medium setting of the shocks allows you to feel comfortable doing most things fast, like taking sharp turns.  The body does sway a bit, however it settles down nicely in turns.  There is also a small amount of body bounce on a bumpy road but nothing that we can complain too much about.  Saab states that it revised the suspension and steering settings for more straight-line stability and better ride.  The all wheel drive system is unnoticeable and quite good.  The vehicle moves forward quickly and grips very well with a smooth even push from all four wheels.  There was little noise emanating from the floor in this four-wheel drive model. 

While driving, wind noise levels are a bit high especially with the sunroof open.  At high speeds engine and road noise is very noticeable.  This may be in part due to the pillar-less door design which does let in more sound than we would like.  This is no luxury car by any means.  We would however like more of a upgraded package for the Saab name.  An important drivetrain feature lacking is stability control which is something that most drivers should have in today's world.  Overall the driving experience is not what you would expect from Trollhattan but is very similar to cars such as the Mazda 6.

The interior of the Saab 9-2x in our Premium trim two-tone leather is attractive and a bit more Swedish than Japanese, thank god.  Front seats are very sporty with big side bolsters making getting in uncomfortable but holding you nicely for spirited driving.  The rear seat is also comfortable but just a bit too flat.  Legroom is adequate as well in the rear for a car of this size. 

All dash controls are decidedly Japanese with plastic trim in silver color and flush stereo buttons.  The stereo offers a built in six disc CD changer.  Power seats are not available nor are remote stereo controls on the steering wheel, something we feel are essential on a car in this price range.  The xenon headlamps were a great help at night and offer a switch to manually lower the beams in three levels so as not to offend oncoming traffic.  The headlamps automatically shut off after you lock and leave the car even in their 'on' position.

The automatic climate system also works well and keeps a nice warm temperature for us without blowing hot air in our faces.  In icy conditions we would like better defrosting of outside mirrors and side mirrors.  A heated mirror feature is available in the optional cold package which our test car lacked.  The climate control system is a bit loud when blasting air in its automatic setting, but it does actually feel like it is working.  A digital clock is located in the center of the dash and exterior temperature is shown in the instrument cluster.  Electronic dual mirror adjustments are also standard and the switch is found on the door next to the window buttons.  We did find the sunroof buttons and interior lighting to be dated just as in the past Subaru models.  Overall everything is simple and easy to use in the 92x.

While this is a compact wagon with a sporty nature, it can hold about 28 cubic feet of cargo with the seatback up or 61 cubic feet with the seatback folded down.  The rear trunk opening is also quite large for easier access.  A 60/40 split fold down rear seatback is standard in all 9-2x models.

Safety is something Saab vehicles have built a great reputation upon.  The 9-2x features active head restraints, driver and passenger dual air bags as well as side airbags for the front seats.  Window airbags and side airbags for the rear passengers are not offered on this mode.  Anti lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution all help the all-wheel-drive system to provide an added level of safety.

Our Aero model starts off at a base price of $26,950.  A sport package was added for $1,950, which included 17-inch alloy wheels and performance tires as well as a power sunroof.  The premium package added $1,695, which brings with it xenon lights, leather appointed seats and door inserts.  No charge scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles is also standard on the Saab, a great benefit.  A four year 50,000 mile standard warranty is offered as well. 

Compared to other vehicles in this category, the Saab 9-2x is a good value for the money, however it just does not stack up to the German quality found in a Audi A4 or the quirky Volvo v50 which costs a bit more.  The Saab feels like a Japanese car much more than it should.  The competitors are more solid, better built, and offer a more stable ride with less overall noise.  While this is a good type of car for Saab, we just feel that Saab should have made the entire car from scratch and should have priced it in the low to mid 20's.  Using its heritage and engineering ability it surely could have come up with a real competitor in this market segment.  We feel that we should have the right to drive a true Saab when we actually buy a car with the Saab nameplate. 


Base Pricing 25,603 26,950
Destination 695 695
Automatic, 4-Speed w/Overdrive 1,238 1,250
Cold Weather Pkg
Includes Heated Front Seats, Heated Mirrors & Wiper De-Icer.
1,559 1,695
Premium Pkg • Aero
All Models Include Leather Seat Trim & HID Headlamps.
1,469 1,650
Sport Pkg • Aero
(N/A Linear) Includes Alloy Wheels, (4) P215/45R17 Tires & Power Moon Roof.
1,794 1,950


  2005 Saab 9-2X
Aero 4dr Sport Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
2004 Audi A4
1.8T Avant quattro AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
2004 Lexus IS 300
SportCross 4dr Wagon (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
2005 Volvo V50
T5 AWD 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M)
2005 Dodge Magnum
SXT AWD 4dr Wagon (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
MSRP $26,950 $28,750 $30,805 $28,910 $27,900
Invoice $25,603 $26,147 $27,108 $27,211 $25,780
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders flat 4 inline 4 inline 6 inline 5 V6
Base Engine Displacement 2.0 liters 1.8 liters 3.0 liters 2.5 liters 3.5 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
20 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
20 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
Compressor turbo turbo Not Available turbo Not Available
Horsepower 227 hp @ 6000 rpm 170 hp @ 5900 rpm 215 hp @ 5800 rpm 218 hp @ 5000 rpm 250 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque 217 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 166 ft-lbs. @ 1950 rpm 218 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm 236 ft-lbs. @ 1500 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm
Tires P205/55RR16
all season
all season
all season
all season
Brakes - Front ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc
Brakes - Rear disc disc disc disc disc
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Traction Control Not Available Standard Standard Standard Standard
Stability Control Not Available Standard Optional Optional Standard
Xenon Headlights Optional Optional Standard Optional Not Available
Turning Circle 35.4 ft. 36.4 ft. 34.1 ft. 34.9 ft. 38.8 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 62 cu. ft. 61 cu. ft.   46 cu. ft. 72 cu. ft.
City 20 mpg. 21 mpg. 18 mpg. 19 mpg. 17 mpg.
Highway 26 mpg. 29 mpg. 24 mpg. 27 mpg. 24 mpg.
Exterior 9-2X A4 IS 300 V50 Magnum
Length 175.6 in. 179 in. 177 in. 177.7 in. 197.7 in.
Width 66.7 in. 69.5 in. 67.9 in. 69.7 in. 74.1 in.
Height 57.7 in. 57.2 in. 56.7 in. 57.2 in. 58.4 in.
Weight 3210 lbs. 3516 lbs. 3410 lbs. 3399 lbs. 4159 lbs.
Wheel Base 99.4 in. 104.3 in. 105.1 in. 103.9 in. 120 in.
Front Headroom 39.7 in. 38.4 in. 39.1 in. 38.9 in. 38.4 in.
Rear Headroom 37.3 in. 37.2 in. 37.7 in. 38.1 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 52.7 in. 55.1 in. 52.6 in. 55.2 in. 58.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 52.9 in. 53.4 in. 53.5 in. 54.1 in. 57.6 in.
Front Hip Room 53.3 in.   52.8 in. 53.7 in. 56.2 in.
Rear Hip Room 51.9 in.   53.9 in. 50.7 in. 55.5 in.
Front Leg Room 42.9 in. 41.3 in. 42.7 in. 41.6 in. 41.8 in.
Rear Leg Room 33.7 in. 34.3 in. 30.2 in. 34.4 in. 40.2 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 27.9 cu.ft. 27.8 cu.ft. 21.8 cu.ft. 14.7 cu.ft. 27.2 cu.ft.


PERFORMANCE   Linear   Aero
2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, 165 hp    
2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, 227 hp    
5-speed manual gearbox    
4-speed automatic gearbox    
All-wheel drive (AWD)    
ABS Anti-lock Braking System    
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)    
Fully independent suspension    
16" 5-spoke alloy wheels, 205/55 R16 all-season tires    
16" twin 5-spoke alloy wheels, 205/55 R16 all-season tires    
17" twin 5-spoke alloy wheels, 215/45 R17 high-performance tires    
1 1
Integrated color-matched body kit    
Rear roof spoiler    
Bright-finish exhaust tailpipe    
Integral front fog lamps  
2 2
Metallic paint    
Woven textile seats    
Woven textile sport seats    
Leather-faced sport seats  
2 2
2 2
Aluminum sport pedals, manual gearbox    
Metallic-décor trim    
Metallic-framed instrument panel    
3-spoke sport steering wheel    
3-spoke leather sport steering wheel  
2 2
Leather-trimmed gear lever and handbrake  
2 2
AMENITIES   Linear   Aero
Air conditioning    
Automatic climate control    
Cabin air filter    
Tinted glass    
Electrically operated windows, driver's-side express down    
Electrically operated exterior mirrors    
Heated front seats  
3 3
3 3
Height adjustable driver's seat    
Interior light with delay    
Xenon headlights  
2 2
2 2
Power moonroof    
1 1
Cruise control    
Adjustable intermittent windshield wipers    
Rear window wiper/washer    
Windshield wiper de-icer  
3 3
3 3
Rear window defroster    
3 3
Heated outside mirrors  
3 3
Central locking with remote control    
2 cupholders in the center console    
Front ashtray with lighter/12V outlet    
Split/folding rear seat back (60/40)    
Retractable cargo area cover    
Tilt-adjustable steering wheel    
Space saver spare wheel/tire    
2 keys, 2 remotes, 1 valet key    
Dual sun visors with vanity mirrors    
Dual overhead map lights    
AUDIO   Linear   Aero
AM/FM single CD audio system, 4 speakers    
Premium AM/FM 6-CD audio system, 6 speakers  
2 2
BENEFITS   Linear   Aero
No-Charge Scheduled Maintenance    
Limited Warranty    
Roadside Assistance    
Crested Butte    
Anti corrosion warranty for 6 years, unlimited mileage    
Adjustment and wear item coverage for 1 year or 16,000 miles    
SAFETY & SECURITY   Linear   Aero
Active head restraints, front seats    
Driver and passenger front air bags    
Head/thorax side airbags, front seats    
3-point seatbelts for all seating positions    
Seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters, front seats    
Lower child seat anchorage points, rear seats    
Child seat top-tether anchors, rear seats    
Security system    
PACKAGES   Linear   Aero
Premium Package, includes leather-appointed seats, door inserts, gear knob, handbrake boot and steering wheel, 6-Disc CD changer, audio system upgrade, front fog lamps & Xenon head lamps    
Premium Package, includes leather-appointed seats and door inserts & Xenon Head Lamps    
Cold Weather Package, includes front heated seats & outer mirrors and wiper de-icer    
Sport Package, includes 17" alloy wheels, high performance tires, and power moonroof    
Engine type
4-cylinder, 4-stroke gasoline engine
2.5-liter (2,457 cc, 150 cu. in.)
2.0-liter (1,994 cc, 122 cu. in.)
Power output
165 hp @ 5600 rpm
227 hp @ 6000 rpm
Max. torque
166 lb. ft. @ 4000 rpm
217 lb. ft. @ 4000 rpm
Compression ratio
Max. boost pressure
13.5 psi (0.95 bar)
Normal aspiration
Turbocharger with intercooler
Bore x stroke
3.92 / 3.11 in.
3.62 / 2.95 in.
Engine management
Ignition/fuel injection
Direct ignition/multi-point fuel injection
Horizontally opposed
Valve train
Cylinder block
Aluminum alloy
Cylinder head
Aluminum alloy
Cooling system
Water cooled, thermostatically controlled electric radiator fan
DRIVETRAIN   Linear   Aero
All-wheel drive (AWD)
Manual transmission
5-speed manual transmission for all-wheel drive
Automatic transmission
4-speed automatic transmission for all-wheel drive
Transmission ratios:
5-speed manual 4-speed automatic
3.454 2.785
2.062 1.545
1.947 1.545
1.448 1
1.366 1
1.088 0.694
0.972 0.694
3.333 2.272
Final drive
3.9 4.111
Manual, 5-sp. Automatic, 4-sp.
Est. mpg, City
22 23
20 19
Est. mpg, Hwy
29 29
26 25
Top speed (mph)
124 117
141 130
STEERING   Linear   Aero
Power-assisted rack and pinion
Steering ratio
Turning circle
35.4 ft. (10.8 m)
Turns (lock-to-lock)
Front suspension
MacPherson strut type
Rear suspension
Independent, dual-link strut type
Braking system
4-wheel hydraulic disc with power assist, 4 channel ABS, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), ventilated front discs
Brake disc diameter
Front 10.7 in., Rear 10.3 in.
Front 11.4 in , Rear 10.3 in
205/55R 16 all season tires
16" x 6.5" 5-spoke alloy
16" x 6.5" twin 5-spoke alloy
99.4 in.
Front track
57.7 in.
Rear track
57.3 in.
Overall length
175.6 in.
Overall width
66.7 in.
Overall height
57.7 in.
Aerodynamic drag
0.35 Cd 0.34
Fuel capacity
15.9 Gallons
Curb weight (base curb weight with standard equipment.)
3,070 lbs (Manual) 3,110 lbs (Auto)
3,179 lbs (Manual) 3,225 lbs (Auto)
Max. gross weight (full equipment)
3,116 lbs (Manual) 3,155 lbs (Auto)
3,252 lbs (Manual) 3,296 lbs (Auto)
Distribution front/rear (max gross weight)
1751/1365 56%/44% 1775/1335 56%/44%
1880/1372 58%/42% 1918/1378 58%/42%
Seating capacity
Passenger volume
90.4 cu. ft.
Front head room
39.7 in.
Front leg room
42.9 in.
Front shoulder room
52.7 in.
Rear head room
37.3 in.
Rear leg room
33.7 in.
Rear shoulder room
52.9 in.
Trunk capacity (cu. ft.)
27.9 / 61.6 (rear seat down)
WARRANTY   Linear   Aero
4 years/50,000 miles
4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside Assistance
4 years/50,000 miles
6 years/unlimited mileage




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