9-7x and Saab history

The 9-7x becomes an even more important short to medium term player now. The cancellation of the 9-6x project makes it Saab’s main SUV contender for at least the next 2 years. Like it or not, and I certainly don’t mind it to look at, the 9-7x is here and has a very important role to play.

The Washington Times has a good article today. It’s more of a review of the vehicle than a real road test, it goes into a little Saab history prior to giving readers an overview of the vehicle.

Though never a major player in five decades in the U.S. market, Saab developed a loyal, occasionally zealous, following. It was one of the first modern manufacturers to offer front-wheel drive, and it gained its footing in this country with bup-bupping two-cycle engines that had only three cylinders.

Except for the Sonnett sports cars, Saabs always evidenced a practical bent, with roomy interiors and giant hatchbacks that could swallow davenports and beds.

If sometimes balky and expensive to maintain, which they were, they were forgiven because they were rewarding to drive.

Rewarding to drive – exactly. Sometimes I’m hardpressed to come up with justifications for being such a Saab loyalist. The 99 Turbo I drove here today has a leaking sunroof, no interior headlining, a very questionable noise in 3rd gear and it blows a little bit of turbo smoke. So why do I remain so devoted to it? It’s a bit like pizza (and some say – sex): even when it’s bad, it’s still really good. I may relieve myself of the trouble and expense of maintaining the 99 sometime soon, but only if I secure the right Saab to replace it. They are rewarding vehicles indeed.

But back to the 9-7x……

9-7x river.jpg

I’m yet to see one in person as I live on the other side of the world….BUT…..having studied the photos pretty closely, I’ve gotta say I’m sometimes perplexed by the people that give the interior of the vehicle a bad review. Usually these are Saabists with a preconceived bent against the model to start with. Having taken a good look at all the pics I can get my hands on, I tend to think they’ve done a pretty good job with the interior. Sure, the seats aren’t quite what a 9-5 Aero owner would be used to, but the inside’s a heck of a lot better than the 9-2x.

The WashTimes seems to agree:

To both GM’s and Saab’s credit, Swedish engineers and designers were tasked to design the modifications — within limits, of course — to turn the Trail Blazer, et al, into the 9-7X. From the standpoint of looks and interior ambience, they succeeded……

…..Inside, in the driver’s seat, you’d swear you were in a 9-5, Saab’s flagship sedan. The instrument panel is similar, and the ignition keyhole is down on the console, where generations of Saab designers said it belonged. Interior comfort for four is first-rate, with large and supportive seats front and back. The center-rear seating position is shortchanged, but acceptable.

I’m looking forward to my next family trip to Vancouver in 2006 where I’ll grab SaabKen and head down to the nearest dealer to take one of these babies for a spin. I’m not a fan of the SUV class, but for those that are, this seems to be a pretty capable vehicle and by all accounts one that is modified from it’s base enough to warrant the badge on the hood.

The historical ball-n-chain types, the ‘true believers’ may like to disagree, but hopefully time and progress will see them come around.

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2 Comments

  1. I got to test drive the 9-7x at the U.S. Saab Owners’ Convention in August. While I agree that the interior is very nice, and Saab-like, it’s a bit much to claim that it’s just like sitting in a 9-5. The radio, in particular, is GM-like and not Saab-like.

    Saab did a really good job of tightening up the handling. I’ve rented some TrailBlazers and the 9-7x is a vast improvement in handling. The steering feel is actually quite good — it feels better and the overall driver’s experience is more interesting than, for example, the Volvo XC90.

  2. Greg,

    I thought the writer went a little overboard on the 9-5 comparison too. But, some of the criticism I’ve heard has just been rediculous, esp when you consider the non-revision of the interior in the 9-2x.

    I’m looking forward to driving one too. Everything I’ve heard so far seems to correlate with what you said about the handling being quite precise, esp in comparison with platform-brothers.

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