Truck Trend on the 9-7x

I’d like to dedicate this one to MPH-Online’s Editor in Chief:

The 9-7X looks, smells, and sounds like a GM midsize SUV. It’s even built on the same assembly line. But it sure doesn’t feel like one–actually, it feels better. Our initial driving impressions of the Saab 9-7X–the first SUV offered by the GM-owned Swedish car company–is that it rides and drives better than any of GM’s GMT360 SUV platforms.

So begins the road test of the Saab 9-7x in Truck Trend, Motor Trend’s SUV spinoff website.

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Here’s an important passage of text for those of you that think there’s little, if any differentiation between the 9-7x and it’s GM stablemates. I’ve been embroiled in a “Saab does nothing for GM / Saab doesn’t even have any engineers left….” type argument at another forum, so it seems poignant to me that this test has emerged.

The 9-7X……shares 80 percent of its parts with the TrailBlazer, Rainier, and Envoy and is powered by the same 4.2-liter inline-six and optional 5.3-liter V-8.

But it’s the Saab touch on the other 20 percent that sets the 9-7X above its kin and puts it on a pedestal alongside Acura, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo all-wheel-drive midlevel luxury SUVs.

Before you gripe, know that such praise doesn’t come lightly. We spent a long day driving the 9-7X over 200 miles of narrow, twisting, rolling Canadian highways in northern Quebec, where smooth pavement is the exception, not the rule. Such distance and road conditions allowed ample time to get to know the new truck.

After a few minutes behind the wheel, we were surprised to discover that Saab chassis and suspension engineers have done in two years what GM’s truck designers haven’t been able to do in 10: Give a GM midsize SUV the handling and ride quality of a sports car without sacrificing the utility of a frame-on-chassis truck.

Geez, maybe there’s some engineering gone into this vehicle after all.

It’s a good read and gives a great overview of the 9-7x. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of that are interested in this type of vehicle, well, let’s let the author have the final word…..

The Saab 9-7X SUV reflects the most recent (and maybe the pinnacle) of General Motors’ GMT360 platform.

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As an aside, Truck Trend have definitely let one error escape through the editorial process. The publishing date at the beginning of the review says November 2005. But the latter part of the article states that the 9-7x is to be replaced by an SUV based on the B9 Tribeca.

So, we either have an older article that’s been republished, or a lazy editor that hasn’t been mindful of the altered landscape.

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In other 9-7x news, GM has announced plans to cut 8 manufacturing plants in North America and in doing so, shed 30,000 jobs by 2009. Other plants may not be eliminated, but will instead have their capacity reduced. One such plant is the Moraine, Ohio plant, which will lose it’s third shift in 2006. The Moraine plant is the one producing the 9-7x.

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2 Comments

  1. Swade: I guess you’ll really be looking forward to test driving that 9-7X when you visit Vancouver now, huh?

    That’s a great review. I can’t ever see owning an SUV myself, but it is good that SAAB has the best of the GM360 variants.

    The best part is that demand is high and this vehicle is profitable for SAAB. I say keep selling them as long as they’re profitable!

  2. That comment about what the SAAB engineers have done to tune the chassis is ironic. I was a manufacturing engineer assigned exclusively to the development of this vehicle, and the only thing that was done by the swedes for this car was the design of it. The ride tuning was done by engineers in the US. The same ones that did the development for trailblazer, envoy, rainier. Yes, they did get it right this time, but I just like to see credit given where credit is due. By the way, the suspension is the same as the suspension that is on the Trailblazer SS.

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