Road Test: Saab 9-7x Aero – PE.com

What I assume must be a local news service, PE.com (it could be Public Enemy’s website for all I know!), have recently published a road test of the 2008 Saab 9-7x with the stonking big Aero engine.

The 9-7x is, of course, one of those polarising vehicles. A Saab fan with either accept it or not, and usually the “not” is accompanied with a reasonable serve of vitriol. I was the same way at first, but reading the reports of several owners on forums, and interacting with a few here as well, I noticed one thing – all of them seemed very happy with the vehicle.

Would I have suggested a 9-7x if Saab asked me what to do about the lack of SUV in the lineup? Probably not. But they did engineer the vehicle to make it the best in the GM360 stable and they’ve one what they set out to do – attract and retain some clients.

All of that is one long preface to a review where the author seems to like the vehicle a great deal, but dislikes the fact that it’s wearing a Saab badge.

….And like Porsche devotees, Saab fans are nothing if not loyal to their marque. Understandably, many were nervous when GM acquired their favorite automaker in 2000. They were nervous because they feared a vehicle just like the 9-7X — a vehicle more General Motors than Saab.

As I metioned, though, the over all impression of the 9-7x is favourable, as it should be. It’s been well engineered and well made.

To be fair, GM and Saab did tweak the TrailBlazer/Envoy a bit to make it more Saab-like. Obvious changes include the 9-7X’s front end with Saab’s trademark “three-port” grille. The lattice-grilled air vents on the 9-7X’s dash will be very familiar to Saab sedan drivers. The interior of my test truck, trimmed in wood and handsome black leather, looked appropriate to a European luxury vehicle. And yes, Saab lovers, the ignition switch resides on the center console between the front seats.

But what’s more important is what isn’t readily seen. The 9-7X is about an inch lower than its Chevy/GMC cousins, and Saab engineers changed the suspension settings to give a sportier, but firmer, ride. On a drive up and down Highway 18 in the San Bernardino Mountains, I discovered that for a truck, the Aero handled surprisingly well. Its steering was nicely weighted and there was minimal body roll when rounding the curves. I appreciated the 9-7X’s standard all-wheel drive and StabiliTrak anti-skid system when snowflakes began to fall.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call this much more than a reluctant review. That is, the author sees the value in what’s been done, but not necessarily the value in doing it. I suspect many an established Saab fan would feel the same way.

But those 9-7x owners sure seem happy.

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4 Comments

  1. My wife and 6-year-old son are still pleased with their 9-7x Aero. “Pleased” is an understatement, BTW. We had to upsize out of the 9-3 and 9-5 class. The “9-4” is too far off. I’m glad we could stay with Saab and support the brand. The Mrs. also informs me that the Saab service department is so much better to deal with than other local Chevy and GMC counterparts.

    Only peeve so far, besides the not-so-Saaby seats, I saw a TrailBlazer SS. The rims are the same as the 9-7x. Ugh. Badge engineering rears its ugly head.

  2. Just took a look at the 9-7X last Friday at the dealers. Not that I am interested (can’t pay the fuel bills at € 1,45/liter) but because my dealer liked to show me around. I am perfectly happy with my 9-3 SH/SC/SE.
    Finishing of a 9-7 is way below the SAAB standard. Seating position in the back is peculiar.
    And maybe this might be the best GM360, I stll believe a SAAB version of the Cadillac SRX would have been a better way to go. Even the SRX as it is now is more SAAB than the 9-7X

  3. I read this article a couple of days ago when it came across my Yahoo! news feed and I thought that it was a little odd — the writer can’t make up his mind about whether the 9-7x is good or bad. Good for a GM SUV is not really a good answer.

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