Saab 9-5 Anniversary Review

Redesigning the 9-5 was a divisive move by Saab. That much is a given. Some like the new look and some don’t. Personally, whilst I still prefer the classy aggression of the 05 model, I’ve become much fonder of the Dame Edna 9-5 as time has progressed.

ag_07saab95_sedanfrt.jpg

Our host at About.com, Aaron Gold, isn’t so forgiving, but then he had to have something to complain about and he had no complaints whatsoever about the way the 2007 Saab 9-5 drove.

Aaron was a participant in the 60th Anniversary event in San Diego in early February 2007. He got to spend a day driving Saabs, both old and new. This review concerns the 60th Anniversary Edition of the 2007 Saab 9-5 Sedan.

A few salient points from the review:

Saab was years ahead of the industry in applying technologies like turbochargers and front-wheel-drive, and to this day their cars have an air of individualism that adds greatly to their appeal.

GM would do well to write that in big bold letters at wherever-it-is that Saabs are designed nowadays.

….for 2007 Saab ups the ante with a longer warranty and an appealing 60th Anniversary option package. But that doesn’t change the fact that the basic 9-5 design is still in its ninth year. How’s it holding up? Better than I expected, that’s for sure.

That’s because something that’s well designed, properly conceived and engineered will stand the test of time. The 9-5 is holding up well because it’s a fine car.

When I drove the BioPower version in January my first thought was how good it was to be back driving a new version of an old friend. The fact that it’s nine years since the first model just means they’ve got the bugs ironed out.

Make no mistake. This is one heck of a good car, people.

….the 9-5’s interior … needed rescue, and here Saab really came through. Gone are the Clinton-era steering wheel with its oversize airbag enclosure and zillion-button controls. Today you’ll find a new dash with a svelte three-spoke steering wheel, three-dial climate controls and a touch-screen stereo/navigation system (overpriced at $2,945) that’s almost too simple, with just a handful of buttons and a big black plastic surround that contrasts with the wood trim around it.

Each to their own. I think a mild re-style of the old dash would have been more Saaby. Bring the top vent into line with the centre section and incorporate the hazard button and all of a sudden it looks more streamlined. Employ some better color coding as per the new layout. OK, replace the steering wheel if you must, but there’s nothing wrong with the old one.

It’s just the buttons on the old style are very intuitive and easy to use and if you want to play on your jets heritage then the old unit has it all over the new one. Just my 0.02c.

Comparative old (left) and new (right) dashboards below….

old9-5dash.jpg new9-5dash.jpg

But it’s here that our digressions end.

This is a very well appointed car that drives like a dream. I know it, and Aaron was reminded of it in San Diego….

….Materials are top-notch….

….remarkably comfy front seats….

….The sedan has a nice-sized trunk, but the wagon’s cargo bay is really impressive — it’s so big you could rent it out as office space…..

….I’ve always liked this engine; it pulls like a V6 and gets great gas mileage….

….The 9-5’s automatic does such a nice job of managing the turbo engine’s power and promptly serving up lower gears when acceleration is needed that I think it’s the way to go. That said, the gentle clutch and well-chosen gear ratios mean that those who do buy the stick-shift won’t regret it when they get stuck in stop-and-go traffic….

And the bottom line:

I went into this test drive regarding the 9-5 as the elder statesmen of European cars…..the 9-5 can still hustle with the best of ’em, and that’s what really counts.

Absolutely.

Read the
full 2007 Saab 9-5 review at About.com Cars

You may also like

12 Comments

  1. As to Swade’s comments on the interior design, I personally prefer the new steering wheel and gauges, and otherwise the old stuff.

  2. Now if only they would de-chrome that front end ala the Rinspeed 9-5. Just goes to show too much chrome in the wrong places can spoil a look of a car soooooooo much!

  3. I liked the review, but really wish he hadn’t made the fubar under Cons by saying:
    “Stability control and side curtain airbags not available”

    Saab’s great ESP is standard equipment and sales are going to be lost because of people taking that statement for granted. I can’t find a simple way to respond to him without becoming a member.

  4. Agreed.

    Older 9-5 look – although very similar – is nicer.

    I’m not quite surte what it is that rubs me the wrong way about the new design, but I think its the new plastic center display that adds more hard plastic, and removes some of that nice wood and other nicer materials.

    IMHO the 2006+ interior looks worse in person than in those two comparison shots above.

    I’m also time and time again surprised by how people complain about the buttons in th eolder 9-5’s. I’ve never thought that there were too many of them or that they were confusing. It’s the most intuitive button layout ever, and the window controls on the center console are BRILLIANT. Perfectly located near the shifter.

    If anything, the less busy design of the 2006 interior looks somewhat cheapened.

  5. in some ways i like the new interior and dislike it. the new one imo has the better guage and steering wheel, but the old one imo had the better center stack.

    btw the about.com loves his saabs. he even semi-praised the 9-2x.

  6. The only thing I like about the new 9-5 is… nothing…

    I think the new steering wheel is there because it’s cheaper to share with other GM cars. I don’t remember many Saabs dials straying too far from green and yellow. I don’t find anything wrong with my 9-5 layout, even with more buttons w/o the nag system, it’s great. The whole interior definetely looks cheaper on the new one.

    I haven’t driven the new 9-5, nor have I owned one, so please feel free to disregard my opinion if you own one :).

  7. I like the car in general, but I think those wheels look ugly. They don’t get very well together with the overall design.

  8. I prefer the old interior with all the buttons, but I can understand why they had to move away from the design.

    I remember the first time I drove my 9000, a far more simple design than the 9-5 by far. Trying to figure out the climate control was extremely frustrating. The little pictures meant NOTHING. After I got used to it, it all made perfect sense and I could use it without even looking at it. I was kicking myself for being so baffled before.

    Saabs make for far better old friends than they do new acquaintances. People need to be impressed during a ten minute test drive. The new design appears to be doing that quite well.

    ((Also, I like the new front end, but then again, I also LOVE the current Subaru front end as well…))

  9. Deep breath…..love the new nose, hate the wonky rear lights, like the return to true Saab rotary dials, agree those alloys not very ‘easy on the eye’.

    Overall, has the 9-5 had this refesh 4 years ago instead of 06, would have been more relevant.

  10. I’m a little late here… but a keen reader pointed out my error about the Saab 9-5 having ESP standard. Oddly enough Saab’s media site didn’t list it. Oops. The error has since been corrected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *