Saab 9-7x: Misunderstood or not?

One thing dawned on me as I read this review of the 9-7x in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Americans, in increasing numbers, get this car. Many Saabisti don’t, but your North American consumer with an interest in SUV’s, with cash to spare and low-to-medium concern over the price of fuel – those of that ilk that manage to come accress the 9-7x – they get it and they like it.

This is one of the demographics that I’m sure Saab USA were aiming for when they developed and launched the 9-7x. We all heard the stats about 30% of Saab owners trading their ride for an SUV, blah blah blah. That’s one thing they were trying to change. But any car manufacturer has to constantly chase the elusive conquest sale, attracting new customers as well as retaining their old ones, especially a small player like Saab.

The 9-2x was developed with this goal in mind, too, but missed the mark by a long shot by being way too underdeveloped. The GM platform underpinning the 9-7x received a myriad of changes and whilst the silouette might look frighteningly similar, a large number of motoring journos seem to agree that the 9-7x is the best model to come from this platform. Including our reviewers above:

Obviously, the Saab 9-7X was developed from the same SUV elements that make up the Chevrolet Trailblazer and a few other General Motors spinoffs. That’s not bad, however, and the 9-7X is the best of the bunch in my estimation.

If you read the whole review, their lack of familiarity with Saabs becomes evident. This makes the esteem they hold the 9-7x in even more prominent. They’re not Saab people, yet they appreciate the differences that Saab have made to a platform that’s probably quite familiar to them and they hold the refinement of this model in pretty high regard.

I’m sure that’s what GM and Saab USA had in mind all along. It’s good to see it executed properly. The good thing is that those who might have looked at an X5 or another marque are seeing the 9-7x as a legitimate alternative, and they’re doing so in increasing numbers. Still small potatoes really, but you gotta start somewhere and as you can see the trendline is looking good.

9-7x sales.jpg

The 9-7x is not going to be the answer for many of you dedicated Saabisti that have an interest in an SUV. For those that do like it, more power to ya. For those that don’t, live and let live. The 9-7x is doing it’s job and the best thing is, it’s doing it well and it’s winning new friends along the way.

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5 Comments

  1. Swade, you make an excellent point about “winning new friends along the way”. I’m looking forward to seeing the reverse statistic someday–the percentage of Saab 9-7x owners who are looking for a sedan or wagon to put in their driveways that end up buying a 9-3 or 9-5 instead of another car. Both of these models offer a ton of features, practicality, and excitement for the motorists’ hard earned cash. Worst case scenario is that none end up doing that, but my guess is that we’ll see 2 Saab families sooner rather than later.

  2. This Saabistis SUV days were over when I sold that POS 69 Ford Bronco and bought a 67 popcorn popper. But the 97 is startin to grow on me. Hire me and Ill weld a 5cyl twinturboD/hybrid in that testmule tout suite.

  3. I live in SUV-crazy Atlanta and the only place I’ve ever seen a 9-7x is on the dealer’s lot. Only once have I seen a 9-2x on the road. 9-3SS, 9-5 and older models are all over the place. People do not buy the badge-engineered crap.

  4. Swade, I love your sight but your respect for the 9-7x is irrational! It is as just as obviously a tuned Chevy as the 9-2x was a Subaru. I have seen one on the road here in Virginia (it was black – at least the guy chose the best color), and it just does not look even vaguely European/Nordic. It looks like an Envoy that was pimped by West Coast Customs, then painted by the US Secret Service. It may be well made and offer tons of features, but it looks really insincere. It wasn’t going to sell well regardless, but now that gas is over $3 a gallon in the US, people aren’t buying SUVs at all. That vehicle is doomed.

  5. I take exception to the “badge-engineered crap” comment. I’ve driven a 9-7x, and it compares quite favorably to any of the European mid-size luxury SUV’s. It drives and handles better than the XC90, and as well as the X5 (although it has a slightly different character, which leads to a subjective Saab v. BMW debate that should be familiar to all of us).

    Plus the 9-7x is $7,000 to $10,000 cheaper than the XC90 and the X5.

    “Badge-engineering” is slapping different sheetmetal and badges on the *exact* same car. In contrast, the Saab version of this SUV platform has some real improvements underneath the metal. That’s why it’s making a place for itself in the market. (And that’s why it’s a success and the 9-2x is not — because the complaint of “badge-engineering” is closer to the mark on the 9-2x than it is with the 9-7x).

    As far as gas prices go, it’s the mammoth SUV’s (Hummer, Expedition, etc.) that are taking the real hit, not the mid-size SUV’s that in many cases get mileage numbers not all that different than the AWD wagons that the environmentalists love to drive. (Example – I’ve rented a number of TrailBlazers on business trips, and I’ve consistently gotten about 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving. My wife’s Mercedes E320 wagon with AWD gets almost exactly the same mileage).

    The 9-7x is a good vehicle, very competitive in its segment and attractively priced.

    Profits from the 9-7x will help design the next 9-5 and 9-3. In my mind, this is a very good thing.

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