By on November 30, 2006

1200459.jpgThe Saab 9-7x scored eighth place in TTAC’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today awards. Its crime? As Jonny Lieberman wrote so eloquently, “It is a Chevy TrailBlazer with the ignition key between the seats.” With these words echoing in my mind, I set off to test the 9-7x to determine if, indeed, the Born from Jets Saab SUV is nothing more than a Chevy TrailBlazer with the ignition key between the seats.

At first glance, the Saab 9-7x looks just like a Chevy TrailBlazer. On second glance, it looks like a GMC Envoy. Stand to the side and squint and the 9-7x resembles a Buick Rainier. Behold the grille from the straight ahead and, finally, you gaze upon a vaguely Saabish vehicle. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the "TrollBlazer" (referring to the Trollhättan factory where the 9-7x isn’t built) looks like a TrailBlazer pimped-out with 18” alloy wheels. Oh, and blackened ground effects trim designed to foster the illusion of gen-u-ine SUV ground clearance.

1200447.jpgDespite deploying equally unconvincing ersatz wood and sharing many of its dials and buttons with its platform partners, the Saab SUV’s interior achieves an elegance denied its sisters under the skin. In quintessentially quirky Saab fashion, a small, fragile cupholder flips out from the dash at the push of a button. Also true to form, the ignition key is located between the seats. Nearly every other feature is standard, including leather chairs, a premium Bose blaster, moonroof, full-time all-wheel-drive and a trailer towing package. My only ergonomic complaint: the seatbelt emanates from the top of the GM-sourced seat back, placed irritatingly and irretrievably lower than my medium-height shoulder.

The 9-7x comes in two flavors: six-cylinder or a V8. The inline 4.2-liter six produces 290hp, while the 5.3-liter V8 stumps-up 300hp. Thanks to GM’s Active Fuel Management system, our always optimistic friends over at the EPA rate both engines at 15mpg city and 21mpg highway. For an extra two grand, the 5.3-liter mill also provides 53 ft.-lbs. more twist and a throaty engine note that's distinctly lacking from the I6. If you’re already throwing nearly $40k toward a fancy TrailBlazer, the larger powerplant seems a perfectly justifiable extravagance. 

1200451.jpgAlthough the 4,781lbs V8 9-7x moves with some authority, it’s not what you would call fast. If you plan on motoring from zero to sixty, you'll need to set aside a little under eight seconds of your valuable time. The quarter mile comes up (eventually) in 16 seconds. Speed freaks note: the Chevrolet Trailblazer SS has a 395hp version of Corvette’s 6.0-liter LS2 engine tucked under the hood that motivates the Nürburgring-fettled bowtie clad family truckster from zero to sixty in about six seconds, and hits the quarter in 14. Just sayin’…

The 9-7x’ engines are coupled to a knuckle-dragging four-speed transmission that's two cogs short of a quorum. Passing other road users requires an extra two seconds or so for the dim-witted mechanism to select the right gear. With so few cogs to choose from, you'd be forgiven for wondering why the 9-7x doesn't respond a little faster to throttle input. But then Saabistas might also wonder why the brand didn't stick to front wheel-drive turbo four-powered hatchbacks. Just sayin'…

Saab’s suspension tweaks are the brandgineers greatest contribution to the GMT360 platform. The loosy-goosy base TrailBlazer flops though bumps and corners like Michael Richards handles hecklers. (That is to say, dangerously.) In SS form, Chevy’s over-strung suspenders punish and maim. The 9-7x' underpinnings achieve the "just right" ride to satisfy the most discerning automotive Goldilocks. Double A-arm front suspension keeps the front wheels on track while a 1.42” stabilizer bar keeps the Saablaizer relatively flat through the corners. An electronically controlled air suspension manages the live-axle rear end like The Queen of Mean once managed the Helmsely Palace Hotel. All-season P225/55R18 tires complete the package and perform without a peep at eight tenths.

1200456.jpg With an updated tranny, this Saab’s other shortcomings might quickly diminish. But is it worth $41,240 for a TrailBlazer whose pinky finger remains politely erect while sipping tea? Most buyers will say– have said– nej. If nothing else, the price isn’t right. The Saab 9-7x is about $5k more than a similarly equipped Chevy TrailBlazer and roughly $2k more than a similarly-equipped Corvette-powered TrailBlazer SS. 

I suppose most TTAC readers who voted the 9-7x into the TWAT Hall of Shame never set butt in Saab’s SUV. Its inclusion was a vote against badge engineering and brand mismanagement. And no wonder, given the fatuous claims that the 9-7x is somehow related to Saab’s aeronautic legacy: “Have a Safe Flight,” “Skip the Garage. Get a hangar,” etc. In fact, the 9-7x says more about GM and Chevy than it does about Saab, a dead brand motoring. The 9-7x’ existence begs the question, why aren’t all Chevy TrailBlazers this refined?

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81 Comments on “Saab 9-7x Review...”


  • avatar

    The last pair of sentences pretty well sums it up for me. Seeing these things on the road is about as thrilling as gas pain. I would not ever be in the market for one of these things, but I hope your review is helpful for those who are.

    • 0 avatar
      Sarah

      I have owned a brand new trailblazer for 5 years and was very disappointed. I had it in the shop non stop and it rusted in the first three years. I now own a Saab 97x and I love it! You can’t even compare the two. You are all wrong here..the only thing that reminds me of the trailblazer is the size.

  • avatar
    OrkneyDullard

    “…Saab, a dead brand motoring.”

    Maybe in the USA, but in Europe GM has stayed away from introducing new models and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many Saabs on the road. Keeping to 2.5 models (9-3, 9-3 convertible and 9-5) has kept the brand strong. Volvo’s gone all mainstream and your discerning premium sedan buyer is all over GM’s Swedish brand.

    Full disclosure: I own a distinctly retro ’92 900S. It is awesome. I am happily biased.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Having driven the Saab 9-7x and actually owning a Trailblazer SS, I would agree with you on the suspension tuning. On more than one occasion, I wished my TBSS was tuned a bit softer – because the chassis doesn’t have the torsional rigidity to pull off the spring rates when you hit bumps just right. And I live in south Florida, where the roads are glass smooth – I couldn’t tolerate it in other areas of the country.

    That being said, I like the exterior styling of the 9-7x over the TBSS. They made the most of the GMT-360 platform in my opinion. I thought the fit and finish of the 9-7x was just as poor as my TBSS, though, and generally abysmal – panel gaps ranged from large to Grand Canyonish – and I’m sure it suffers from all the normal quality problems that continue to plague the GMT-360 platform even in it’s 5th year of production.

    However, if you like speed – the LS2 overcomes all that – and once you learn how to launch it, will turn in sub 14 second quarter miles. And the aftermarket parts market for the LS2 is overwhelming – a few hundred dollars and 10 minutes and your LS2 powered vehicle can add another 30-40 HP. More HP is just a mouse click away, typically.

    Plus, thanks to GM’s “Bleeding Red” Tag prices last December – out the door, tax, tag, title, mine was $29,203. I know they’re whoring the Saab, too, but not that much.

    I think I a lot of people think the perfect GMT-360 would be an LS2 powered vehicle styled like the 9-7x, but not wearing the Saab badge. It would dilute both the Chevy and Saab brand. Kinda like this one does.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Having lived with the aforementioned cupholder in a 9-5 for several years I can assure you it's not fragile. But I suppose it's difficult to accurately ascertain such details when you are in the throes of beating the **** out of a dead horse.

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    This is precisely what is wrong with GM. Please kill this monstrosity before it kills Saab.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    “Trollblazer” – very funny, even better than Saaburu! AND a reference to Leona? Monty, you are on fire, man!

    Besides the fact it is a Trailblazer with inconvenient ignition, the 9-7 is an affront to the SAAB brand because the safety scores of this platform are rather lame. Until now, SAAB took a lot of pride in the safety of their vehicles, and the 9-7 doesn’t measure up.

  • avatar
    ash78

    This is the one car reviewed on this site over the last couple years that I have never once seen in person. It’s not a Saab-aversive area, I see them daily. And it’s definitely not GM-aversive. But apparently many people just can’t meld the two this closely, mentally (myself included).

    In our market, Saab is the brand of the “Kerry 04″ and “bright blue dot” bumper sticker, the conspicuous consumption crowd that finds Audi and BMW just too plain and common (and surely who want to deny Saab’s true ownership). GM is the other end of the spectrum, the everyman vehicle. Maybe it’s just basic cognitive dissonance.

  • avatar
    noley

    As a long time Saab guy, I’m not even vaguely interested in the Trollblazer. To me and others, it’s no more a Saab than the 9-2X. I haven’t driven one, but when I sat in one at the local Saab store I found my head hits the roof, even with the seat all the way down. And I’m not unusually tall, just 6’2″ and have lots of headroom in my 9-5 and even in my 9000.

    Adding this “car” to the Saab line up is typical GM-think: have something for everybody in every brand. Works great, too, especially if you want to kill an entire company. Which seems to be the plan.

    Interestingly, here in NH, which has a heavy Saab population, I see few 9-7s. Lots of newish 9-5 wagons, but people who prefer Saabs know a Chevy when they see one, even if the ignition key is where it belongs.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Again in a very Saab friendly area, I have seen one of these. Perhaps the driver brought his 9-3 in for service and got stuck with this as a loaner.

    I imagine this disaster is supposed to compete with the XC90, X5, Toureg and M-Class. Does it at all? That list is pretty strong and the amount of XC90s and X5s on the roads demonstrates that BMW and the other Swedish company must be doing something right.

    This demonstrates what is wrong with GM – this offering is so uncompetitive,why even show up at all? Maybe Saab dealers were clamoring for an SUV, but this SUV is not it. The damage this car does to Saab, which after the Saabaru just shows they cannot design their own vehicles will take years to recover from. Saab’s customers are supposed to move from a 9-3 or 9-5 to this? This goes back to the whole question of Saab’s existence- does the 9-7 even help? Does Saab existing even help GM? Would killing Saab (at least in the US) be cheaper than letting it suffer? Without as many dealers as the other brands on life-support this might be a solution. But the wiser solution of which I dream is that Subaru will take Saab.

    Imagine those cars. Saabs and Subarus sold alongside each other. Subaru could strengthen their luxury/premium offerings and Saab would exist.

    K.

    • 0 avatar
      Majestic7

      Obviously most of these comments about Saab 9-7x are based on assumptions by people who have never got into one of the vehicles. I have owned 2002 Trailblazer, 2004 Buick Rainier and also own 2002 Bravada which are all Saab 9-7x siblings and have nothing but praise for the way they perform as well as quality of all the 3 SUVs. The 4.2L inline six has been flawless on each of the above and just enough power unless you are towing smthng. Saab also shares the interior of the ’04 Buick which is excellent quality and all the electronics worked perfectly. It’s a lot more I can say than the Jeeps I had owned prior to switching to GM and I’ve been driving for some 20 years. Jeeps had constant electronic, overheating and steering components issues. I also find that the engine is placed lower on the GM siblings as oposed to the Jeeps whose engine is higher, which cosequently reflects in sharper handling of the GM brands. 
      No, you won’t be winning any races with the above vehicles however if you want a powerful flawless engine (inline 6), comfortable and roomy interior and dont want to spend a fortune on ‘sporty’ Range Rover or overpriced Lexus or Toyota or Infinity, then the above GM vehicles provide very good value.  It all comes down to how much power you need how much do you want to spend on a vehicle $30,000 for the above GM brands or double $60,000 for the comperable foreign brands.

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    This is amusing. Go to:

    http://www.saabusa.com/comparator/saab/comparevehicle.jsp

    and try to compare a Saab 9-7x with a Chevy Trailblazer.

    The website won’t let you.

  • avatar

    When I drove both vehicles, I found more to dislike with the ride quality of the Saab than the TB SS. But I didn’t drive them back-to-back or over the same roads. So if the TB SS owner above says the Saab rides better, I’ve got to believe him.

    The sheetmetal of the 9-7X is very similar if not identical to that of the Buick Rainier, which adopted most of the sheetmetal of the discontinued Olds Bravada. The Olds was designed to be more car-like than the TB and the Envoy, to be the SUV for people who would otherwise have a luxury sedan. The Chevy and GMC both have more angular styling, and also differ from one another. I think these vehicles look more different than people give them credit for.

  • avatar

    Great write-up. As a former owner of an ’03 Trailblazer, while I enjoyed it, it most definitely was bloated and lacked refinement. The one thing I will say, is that the Trailblazer/Envoy/Rainer/97 handled pretty well for such a bloated body design that’s very prone to body roll. Much more so than the previous generation of Blazers…

    I don’t know why anyone would choose the Saab except to say “well, I didn’t buy a chevy”.

    Alas…these can’t hold a candle to the Toyota 4 Runner, the Acura MDX, or the Grand Cherokee anymore…

  • avatar

    I think the 9-2x is more Saab than this is. And least it is semi quirky.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I used to have a warm place in my heart for Saab, but this bastard child of an ill considered affair should have been left somewhere near the artic circle where the Detroit-to-Sweden GM executive jets criss-cross. Saabs should make one dream of spending long Swedish winter nights curled up with a Nordic delight. Instead, the 9-7 makes those nights just seem long, cold and pointless.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Gee, look what the Isuzu Ascender has done for that brand :(. Just how many mediocre vehicles can GM build out of the Trailblazer? Poor Isuzu, relegated to selling copies of the Trailblazer and Colorado. This should be a lesson to any company thinking of tying the knot with GM.

    Fiat, Isuzu, Saab, Subaru …. at least Subaru managed to keep the Detroit idiots out of their shorts for the most part. Building a few Saabarus isn’t likely to do Subaru any real harm. Luckily for Subaru the GM era is soon to be a distant bad memory. Isuzu is going the same way as the newest member of the Toyota clan. Every time GM gets rid of something, Toyota picks it up and makes something usefull out of it.

    I still think that some smart Swedish folks should buy Saab from GM and Volvo from Ford and use the two to make a kick-ass car company with a distinctly Scandinavian viewpoint.

    John

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    I still think that some smart Swedish folks should buy Saab from GM and Volvo from Ford and use the two to make a kick-ass car company with a distinctly Scandinavian viewpoint.

    Great idea, if Ford could let go of Volvo.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Just another instance of badge engineering and dilution of a brands focus. Saab should stick with the quirky sedans and hatches, maybe offer more with AWD. The only good think about GM owning them is you can get 5k off the invoice price on a 2006 9-3 and that isn’t half bad.

  • avatar
    htn

    I just realized a problem with badge engineering for me. I have owned Volvos and thought they were wonderful cars. The problem now is I am not willing to do the research to make sure I am not buying a Mazda or other Ford with Volvo badge. Same probably holds for Saabs and Jags. The badge is not worth a 10-15% premium in price. I would just buy the similar Mazda, GM or Ford.

    This issue probably less of a bad effect than degrading the Brand with rebadged cars but certainly stops me from even looking at Volvo, Saab or Jags when I am in the market for a car.

    Howard

    Howard

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    JT
    Just so ya know you got that colorado canyon thingie backwards. The colorado canyon is an Isuzu, designed by them. Chevy should feel bad having to sell a copy of it.

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    The only part gm had in it was the electronics and the engine and trans. Isuzu supplies the rest.

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    jazbo123: And call it “Saabolvo”?

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    Kinda like the new equi and torrent which are suzuki XL7′s half engineered in canada and built there.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    hawaiiJim:

    …or Volvaaba

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    HawaiiJim:
    And call it “Saabolvo”?

    Volvaab.

    Mind you, I’ve always wanted to buy a Mazda3 with the ignition key between the seats.

    *Boratishly Long Pause*

    Naat!

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Brendan McAleer:
    Mind you, I’ve always wanted to buy a Mazda3 with the ignition key between the seats.

    *Boratishly Long Pause*

    Naat!

    That’s funny because the Mazdaspeed 3 is basically a cheaper, better handling Saab Viggen — funky looking, FWD, 2.3l turbo, 5 door hatchback, stinking fast, wish it was AWD, can haul a couch, comfy front seats.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Brendan McAleer:
    November 30th, 2006 at 12:55 pm
    HawaiiJim:
    And call it “Saabolvo”?

    Volvaab.

    If they build enough of them, they could call the shipment a Salvo.

  • avatar
    86er

    JT
    Just so ya know you got that colorado canyon thingie backwards. The colorado canyon is an Isuzu, designed by them. Chevy should feel bad having to sell a copy of it.

    Agreed. GM should have merely put a shrink ray to their Silv/Sierras like Dodge did with the Dakota.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    Cavendel:
    If they build enough of them, they could call the shipment a Salvo.

    We have a winner.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    “Born from Jets”. 1. When did GM ever build jets? 2. Note the fine print on their ads – “not affiliated with Saab Aircraft”. Other than the fact they had money to burn at that moment (because their mid-size cars were category killers back then), why did they buy Saab? Saaburus and Saableblazers. Sigh. They could go with that whole Scandinavian thing, Vsaabvo.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Should Volvo and Saab merge? Perhaps. I’ve suggested MB+Volvo and BMW+Saab.

    Remember when Volvo AB (=trucks) wanted to buy Scania? Then the Germany-bribed EU-people said NO, because the market share in Northern Europe would be too big… Now Volvo+Saab isn’t that dominant as Volvo+Scania would have been, but you never know…

    Volvo+Saab was suggested around 1980, but failed due to fwd vs rwd and some other issues. Another idea was Volvo + Norwegian Oil, now that would have been a great deal for Sweden. And perhaps that would have helped the norwegians too, now they have around 100% tax on cars. Having a brand of their own would probably lover that tax.

  • avatar
    1984

    Bubba Gump,

    The XL-7 is all Torrant/Equinox. No real Suzuki content.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    CliffG,

    RE: Born from Jets

    Agreed. To me, the most putrid thing about the Trollblazer is the whole SAAB jets claim. Go to Saab’s Web site or read the 9-7x product brochure – page after page of aircraft references. GM must really think that their potential customers are morons to believe this relationship.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Howard-
    Volvo, Mazda and Jaguar suffer from platform engineering. There only seems to be some similarities between the s40 and Mazda 3 sedan. What strikes me about the Volvos, is how much is stamped, “Made in Sweden.”

    Mazda and Volvo demonstrate how to share platforms- but differentiate between two entirely different brands.

    K.

  • avatar
    1984

    Saab is born from Jets….

    Toyota Trucks can survive the Lockness Monster…

    The CRV can drive it’s self and dodge jewel thieves…

    The Dodge Nitro can travel through the center of the earth…

    The Caliber is fairy resistant…

    It’s advertising… Get over it.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Imagine if more manufacturers played on their distant historical connections, no matter how tenuous?

    BMW – The Ultimate Killing Machine
    Mitsubishi – Wake Up and Bomb
    VW – Sudetenlandvergnugen
    Jeep – Ho Chi Minh Trail-rated

    Those probably wouldn’t work as well.

  • avatar
    BimmerHead

    jthorner, you took the words right out of my mouth, regarding isuzu…

    How does a company go from building a truck deamed worthy to carry a Honda badge to what is arguably the most bottom feeding position in the automotive lexicon in less than a decade?

    I guess the answer is they signed a deal with the devil (GM).

  • avatar
    BimmerHead

    1984, advertising that clearly isn’t quite working on you… its the Rav4 that can drive itself and dodge jewel theives :).

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    It’s certainly nice to know that there’s some engineering difference for the extra money one would pay to get the SAAB version of the Trailblazer. Why is the Trailblazer as refined in its handling indeed? As the driver of an old crock of a Volvo, who grew up reading the late Warren Weith’s great columns on both Swedish marques, I second the notion of someone buying both and making them into one “kick-ass” Swedish car company. But I don’t see that happening, unfortunately – unless maybe someone can get Captain Kirk to sell all of his GM stock and use the cash to do that. Wouldn’t that make a hell of a story for the business section of every paper and web site around the globe? My hunch is the 9-7x will join the “SAABaru” 9-2 in the next year or so, in that Sargasso Sea of old nameplates.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Meant to write, “Why isn’t the Trailblazer as refined in its…”

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about, I’m thrilled to see that GM brought the Bravada back. Now, I wonder when I’ll be able to order my new Cutlass Supreme…

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    RE: 1984: It’s advertising… Get over it.

    I don’t have a problem with Jeep Liberty’s erupting from volcanoes, Joe Isuzu blasting past a 911 on the Autobahn, or any of the examples you cite because they are complete fiction. I do have a problem with the Trollblazer / Jet relationship because it is an intentional falsification of the factual history of Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, which does not include the development of an American SUV.

    The ads proclaim that Saab was founded by 16 aircraft engineers. You would think that these Sweeds are still building away, applying adapting technology from today’s fighter jets. Not true. If any of them are still alive, their greatest concern is the health of their prostate because Saab Automobile AB was founded in 1949 when the only SAAB jet in production was the 21R, a British turbojet-powered variant of a WWII era push-prop airplane. This is a far cry from the modern jet aircraft featured in the ads and it has nothing to do with the truck designed in Detroit and built in Moraine, Ohio. I’d be happier if GM said that the 9-7x could rocket to Mars or slay dragons.

  • avatar

    You mean it can’t slay dragons? That’s it; I’m crossing the 9-7x off my Xmas list.

  • avatar
    1984

    1984, advertising that clearly isn’t quite working on you… its the Rav4 that can drive itself and dodge jewel theives :).

    Awww crap… I guess I zone out everytime I see a cute-ute.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Well said Mr. Montgomery, that is what I detest about the SAAB ads, their intentional falsity. I can live with the Joe Isuzu’s, even the beer ads promising better looking women and good times, it is the D****’s (ooh, the old Amway thing now in yellow and built in Malaysia!) type crap that drives me crazy. Better to claim that Hummers are direct descendants of DUKW (which GM built in WWII), and thus are just as tough and can ford rivers.

  • avatar
    blautens

    RE:supremebrougham

    Now THAT’s funny.

    Saabravada?

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Jazbo123: Having lived with the aforementioned cupholder in a 9-5 for several years I can assure you it’s not fragile. But I suppose it’s difficult to accurately ascertain such details when you are in the throes of beating the **** out of a dead horse.

    I will defer to your experience regarding the frailty of the Saab cup holders, but they certainly look and feel flimsy. Measuring durability takes more time (e.g. months and years) to determine than can be measured in a typical test drive.

    I also don’t think I was beating on the 9-7x other than for its incestuous relationship with other GM SUV’s. I point out that it has authoritative acceleration, an elegant interior and refined suspension. It’s not best in class in any of these categories, but overall it’s a decent vehicle. If only…

  • avatar
    1984

    Saab born from jets…

    And then partial-born aborted by GM.

    Whatever it is it’s the best looking T360, not that it justifies the name or the cost.

  • avatar
    Commuter

    Here’s another example of GM messing up what could have been a decent idea.

    Ever go to a Saab dealer? They have 2.5 cars to sell. The non-selling 9-2 (1/2 car) Impreza that doesn’t fool anybody, the 9-3 which is their bread and butter and the slow selling 9-5. Not a lot of choice on the lot. A cross-over would have given them a something to bring more people onto the lot. But what did GM do? Chose one of the most mediocre products they make, a lackluster truck-based SUV. Born of Jets? Not even born of cropdusters.

    What these jokers should have done was use the Caddy SRX as the basis for the Saab 9-7.

  • avatar

    @Montgomery

    I’m in tune with what you write, but thought I’d correct a few things. SAAB was founded in 1937, to build aeroplanes. As WWII ended the company was suddenly without orders. Sixten Sason (later designed the first Hasselblad camera) was asked to design the car, in a team led by Gunnar Ljungström. The ursaab was presented in 1947 – basically two aeroplane wing shapes merging into one car. Brilliant solution to provide extremely low drag (0.32).
    Saabs aren’t born from jets, but from necessity – and were created by a twenty man team.

    Today, Saab Aircrafts and Saab Automobiles are separate companies. And speaking of born from jets and using jet whines in the ads is more than a bit devious, since it’s Volvo that builds the engines in Swedish jet fighters.
    Yet when GM bought a stake in Saab the connection between the two companies was stronger, and one could have made that claim with greater certainty. GM wasn’t interested, as they felt that the jet link was played out in the 80′s and because they wanted to build a luxury sedan. (I know, since I began working with creating advertising for Saabs in the mid 90′s and butted heads with robot GM-managers who refused to accept what Saab is all about.)

    The 9-2x and 9-7x are abominations. (And I suspect that the “sixteen man team” from the ads is the result of some copywriter getting his facts mixed up with Sixten Sason’s name. :-)

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    The problem with the 9-7x is that it is ill-concieved from the beginning. First, Saabs SUV was supposed to share a platform with the Cadillac SRX. Now, That should have been a great idea! A true contender to the X5/XC90-crowd. Cheaper, softer and more intelligent than the SRX. But Cadillac said no. Something about “brand dilution”. I don’t know what they were talking about… Then, the Saab SUV was supposed to share platform with the Subaru B9 Tribeca. Until GM sold their shares. That would have made sense also, as the late fifties Saab 93 seems to have been separated at birth from Subaru. At least they share some similarity in the front. Put a Saab sticker on a B9 and it is just perfect. Ugly, quirky and intelligent. Just look at this picture and compare:

    http://www.nnauto.cn/nnauto/Factory/Saab/1956_Saab_93-02.jpg

    But know, five years later, building an SUV on the GMT360-platform, almost seven years after its debut, is just silly. It is truly an insult, and those involved should be ashamed. I can’t possibly imagine how the GM-people thought when they thought that sticking the ignition-key between the seats would make a Saab of this monstrosity. One can almost feel the pain that those engineers must have felt just looking in the mirror while shaving and not be able to see themselves in the eyes. The horror, the horror, they thought…

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Ingvar,
    You’re right about the 9-7 originally being built from the SRX. I remember reading that the SAAB guys did such a great job engineering their version that it put the SRX to shame, and Cadillac through a hissy fit to get it cancelled.

    As far as a B-9 SAAB goes, that IS a scary thought. Just think of what that cloned flying vag would have looked like. Speaking of which, I can’t shake the image of Britney getting out of Paris’ car.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Speaking of which, I can’t shake the image of Britney getting out of Paris’ car.

    Well, Britney recorded most of her hits in Sweden, with Swedish songwriters/producers (Max Martin et al)… I belive one of the first k-fed&brit pictures were taken in Sweden – so that connection is not that bad at all.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    While I agree that the SRX is quite good I don’t – notwithstanding its Northstar drivetrain – picture myself driving one. To me the 9-7x is the more practical way to go: body on frame, smooth and efficient inline six; and due to its Chevrolet lineage, more plentiful supply of parts and skilled technicians. While the SRX may carry a certain Cadillac cachet – the 9-7x does have its own sense of SAAB elitism..

    But here’s the catch: The SRX works out to be cheaper once you factor in GM Card earnings and you can get Magnetic Ride Control on the SRX. This makes loving this SAAB very difficult indeed.

  • avatar
    lostpoet

    I’ve got two (real) Saabs in my garage and I think the 9-7X sucks. Any true Saaber would rather have a 9-5 Aero wagon.

  • avatar

    @SherbornSean

    Yes, the Saab engineers wanted to use the Sigma platform developed for Cadillac but weren’t even allowed to create a Saab prototype as far as I’ve been told.
    Cadillac engineering just said “get lost”. Which took them to the ancient Trailblazer platform.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    GM completely missed the mark with the 9-7X… and the 9-2 as well. They don’t seem to understand that the upscale brands need to get the newest stuff first. The upscale brands here got the repurposed stuff after the lower-end brands have had it for years. Bad branding, BAD!

  • avatar
    Humourless

    To paraphrase Rainman:

    “9-7X… bam! The future (and quite likely the end) of Saab’s ability to roll!”

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    I must be the only one who isn’t mortally offended by the 9-2x. The marriage of Saab and Subaru makes fantastic sense from a conceptual standpoint, as the similarilities of purpose and philosophy of both companies is pretty apparent. The 9-2x should have been the first step down a great partnership between two aircraft- and rally-inspired carmakers who are similar in their iconoclasm and commitment to creative solutions to automotiove engineering problems (even if that commitment makes them weird). Utility, uniqueness, character, traction, efficiency and performance are historical hallmarks of both brands. The 9-2x was to have been a placeholder for the next generation platform share, would would have been far more differentiated.

    Add to that the fact that the 9-2x is based off of a terrific platform, that upholds the two carmaker’s shared commitments described above, and you have a great car. It obviously shouldn’t have been priced the way it was priced, given the only-slightly-differentiated-rebadge job, but at the usual discount the 9-2x shines.

    The 9-7x, on the other hand, violates most of Saab’s commitments — utility? Well, it does carry a lot. Uniqueness? It’s a bland warmed over clone with many brothers and sisters across the GM portfolio. Performance? Nah. Character? None. Efficiency? Not with 21 optimistic highway mpg, and the interior room efficiency (including headroom) ont he platform is really crummy for its size. Traction? AWD, I guess. Unique engineering solutions? Just the hack-job relocation of the ignition key.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Didn’t GM say it cost $50 extra per 9-7x because of the relocated ignition key?

    GM actually expects people to care?

    Oh, its not a trailblazer, because of where we put the key?

    Certainly some GM/Saab engineers and employees have to be smarter than this. The question is how do these problems happen- isn’t there management in place to push back on ridiculous ideas like the 9-7x. When announced, everyone knew it was a terrible idea- why didn’t GM?

  • avatar
    c1josh

    jazbo123:
    November 30th, 2006 at 9:29 am
    Having lived with the aforementioned cupholder in a 9-5 for several years I can assure you it’s not fragile. But I suppose it’s difficult to accurately ascertain such details

    “not fragile” well I beg to differ.

    I too have lived with said cupholder, and once it’s broke, you don’t want to know how much it costs to fix ($75 dollar part + a couple of hours labor). My coffee now sits wedged between the door and seat

    I like my 95 wagon but I would never even consider the 97.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Certainly some GM/Saab engineers and employees have to be smarter than this. The question is how do these problems happen- isn’t there management in place to push back on ridiculous ideas like the 9-7x. When announced, everyone knew it was a terrible idea- why didn’t GM?

    This is not the engineers fault, it is a management problem. No engineers in their right mind would come up with a stupid idea like that. No, this is bean-counters talking. Bean-counters that have absolutely no idea what Saab is all about, or for that matter, what GM is all about. No car guy would put their name on this “thing” without putting their reputation on the line, and no car guy would buy this “thing” without realizing that the only thing it is, is a Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats and a hefty pricetag. And that’s the problem. The buyers can see through the scam. And that’s why the public is sick and tired of this “thing” without ever having seen one. And that’s why it scored on TTAC:s twat-list, without actually being a badly built car. It is sad, it really is.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    I don’t think I will ever buy a GM car. Why take the good brand like SAAB and bastardize it?
    So, now they are going to move production to Germany for future SAAB’s. Basically, a Opel with a SAAB badge-SAAOPEL :(
    GM always take the easy and cheap way out!
    Thank God, Toyota rescued Subaru.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “Thank God, Toyota rescued Subaru”

    Toyota does a much better job of leveraging it’s partner companies than GM manages. The recent tie-up with Isuzu, another former GM partner, is going to give Toyota access to excellent diesel engines. I wonder what is to become of the current Isuzu US organization, such as it is. GM managed to almost entirely kill off Isuzu in the US.

  • avatar
    scottdh

    If the Saab 97X is nothing more than a Trailblazer with the ignition between the seats, with the same ground clearance and headroom, why is it the only one of the GMT360 platform siblings not required to have a warning label about the risk of rollover? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    …why is it the only one of the GMT360 platform siblings not required to have a warning label about the risk of rollover?

    Saab-owners doesn’t “roll over”. Like old money, they just wither and die…

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    I live in Boulder, Colorado.

    This is Saab, Volvo, and Subaru heaven.

    Liberal yuppies, college professors, and trustafarians literally crawling out of the woodwork.

    I’ve seen one Trollblazer.

    One. A single, blandly silver, seemingly embarrased-of-itself example.

    GM screwed the pooch with this one.

  • avatar
    max1138

    GM should give back to Sweden!GM is messy up one of my favorites car companies.I once owned a 85 900s it was great.The swede should take back they cars.now there only 2 swedish imports I know of Blackend death metal and Ikea.I miss driving my Saab with Dissection playing full blast!!!!

  • avatar
    estrand03

     I own a Audi A6, which by all accounts is the standard of interior refinement. Ashtray cover fell off, Stereo cover quit shutting, Vanity mirrors will not open (too much glue from the factory, windows will not roll back up if rolled down, Sideview mirror button broke off. All of this plus too many recalls to even count. 20 years ago, I inherited my mom's chevette. Never, ever, ever had one problem with it. My cars: Audi A6 1998, and 06 97x Saab. I love the saab and yes I drove the Porsche, VW, Lexus, etc.. They were nice, but I got a deal on the Saab and I almost never see another one. Which I actually enjoy. Proud GM Saab Owner with an AUDI for Sale.

  • avatar
    WaterDR

    Wow, not sure if I have ever read so many negative comments about a single vehicle, yet, lacking of any sustance. Seriously, all anyone has done is made fun of a brand. Does Saab/GM deserve it? Perhaps, but hell, let’s focus on the car.

    First of all, Saab is no where near dying. Ever been to Europe? They are everywhere and well considered.

    As far as the 9-7 being something that should have been dumped before starting, let me just say this: “Has anyone tried to buy one recently?”. I own a 2003 9-3 and happen to be in the market for a medium-sized SUV, so the 9-7 pops up on my radar screen. Did you know that you can buy a 9-7 for $10k under sticker right now? Either this is testiment to a problem child, or a silly way to buy a pretty dam, nicely equipped SUV for $30k.

  • avatar
    rweiss

    After reading the reviews, I’m not a big fan of this CT rendition. HOWEVER, before ever reading any reviews, we picked up a brand new 07 9-7 fully loaded for a mere $311 bucks a month on a short term 12K mile lease. No $ or trade down. It’s a descent ride for the price and our 6 year old loves the rear dvd.

    When the jig is up next year, we won’t be getting another. It’s fun while it lasts!!

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    The comparison chart on the SAAAB site now allows you to compare the trailblazer to the SAAB.

    http://www.saabusa.com/comparator/addVehicle.do?divisionCode=sb&modelYear=pvc=50300&pvc=null&cmpModelYear=2009&cmpMakeName=Chevrolet&cmpModelID=5966&cmpModelTrimID=24967&

    The SAAB is 10 grand more than the trailblazer.

    And for some reason, the Saab loses 5″ of legroom in the front (due to the key on the floor?).

    What is interesting, is that the Saab is about the same price as a BMW X5, which I already have. The X5 holds about 50% of its resale value every 5 years.

    They are offering 0% financing on the SAAB 9-7x (don’t bother asking if your credit score is below 740, though). But as CNN/Money noted in an article today, even at fire-sale prices, you’ll still take a bath on an American car in terms of resale value.

    The last (and I mean LAST) American car I bought (for $25,000, or $7K off list price!) was worth about $8,000 after five years and 65,000 miles.

    GM has to work on the resale value problem. It may be a problem of perception or the customers. The types of people who buy American cars treat them like dixie cups – they use them and then throw them away.

    Myself, I can’t see spending nearly 50 grand on a disposable car.

    FWIW.

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    The two previous comments to my last commment are interesting. I have to wonder if they are from my former co-workers at GM, shilling for Generous Mothers.

    Leasing is NEVER a “good deal”, even with “nothing down” and “only” $311 a month. That’s nearly $4000 thrown away in a year. Add in the extra cost of collision and comprehensive insurance for a brand new car (at $500 deductable) and you’re spending easily $5000 to drive around in a new car for 12 monhts.

    Oh, and don’t go over those milage limits or put any scratches or “excess wear” in the car. Tell Junior not to spill in the back seat – Daddy doesn’t really own this one.

    To many people, the idea of a perpetual car payment “makes sense.” But for about four years’s of such payments, you can own outright, a secondhand car that will easily last 8-10 years or more. Meaning that you can put another 20 grand into your 401(k) over that time period.

    Leasing a “bargain”? Never.

    The road to middle-class povery is paved with lease agreements and car payments.

    I live on retirement island, and I see firsthand what happens to people, who, in their 40′s leased brand new cars every year or two. They said they could “afford” it at the time. But now they are in their 60′s and broke – ouch. Living on Social Security is not fun.

    As for the SAAB 9-7 selling for “about 30 grand”, this illustrates another big problem with GM and American brands in general. They put joke prices on cars and then discount them dramatically.

    When I see my local car dealer offering “$10,000 off!!!” on a new American-made car, this does NOT entice me to buy, but rather the opposite. Since their basic pricing is so clearly premised on a LIE, I am less inclined to do business with them.

    If you get into a business arrangement with anyone, predicated on a LIE, then don’t expect things to improve later on. And they warned you at the outset what kind of businesspeople they were, so you have no one to blame when it goes horribly wrong later on.

    The new-car-buying experience at most dealers is already a horrible nightmare of being jerked around. Having these ridiculous prices and discount games makes it even worse.

    Thanks but no thanks. The best “deal” out there is a well-maintained secondhand car that you pay cash for. I’ll keep my old BMW X5, thanks. It’s paid for – no one is taking it away in 12 months, and I paid a lot less than 30 grand for it and it holds its resale value better than the SAAB 9-7x.

    Is the SAAB 9-7x the new Oldsmobile Bravada? (Remember those?) Since the demise of Oldsmobile, was SAAB recruited as the badge brand for tarted-up Chevies? If so, how sad.

    Note also, that the SAAB comparison page conveniently forgets to list gas milage. In this day and age, I’d have to think twice before buying another full-time AWD vehicle, considering how many times I’ve used the AWD on the one I have.

    Query: Can Sweden really support two car companies in this day and age? Given the platform engineering of both Volvo and Saab, what is the compelling case to be made for either brand? As car designs coelesce into a few basic shapes and forms (and a lot of common engineering, even between competing brands) why do we need so many brands?

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    robertplattbell :
    January 5th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Leasing is NEVER a “good deal”

    Well, at some times it can be. Both the BMW 7-series and VW Phaeton have high prices, in part to create status for mentioned cars. So at times, there has at least in Germany been very favourable leasing deals to be had on these cars. Since BMW and VW doesn’t want to lover the prices (=lower prestige) they just “sold” them at very favourable leasing rates. At times I’ve heard that the 7-series was almost as cheap to lease as the (then new) 5-series.

    Query: Can Sweden really support two car companies in this day and age?

    It all comes down to if the companies have the owners and staff to create cars that customers want to buy. AB Volvo and Scania both do great building large trucks etc., so a small country doesn’t make it impossible to have two car companies. But perhaps harder – due to small domestic market.

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    Query: Can Sweden really support two car companies in this day and age?

    The problem for a small car company is this: Certifying a car for US sales is a prohibitively expensive task. Not only do you ahve to meet EPA certifications, but crash-testing as well.

    Add to this the cost of developing a new car platform, and the concept of a small car company is financially impossible. That SAAB and VOLVO were sold off to larger companies was not unusual, it was inevitable. Perhaps if they had merged, they could have survived alone.

    Most cars today are developed on common platforms. Very few companies have unique platform structures. While BMW may survive this way, note that BMW is famous for re-using old parts and components and using the same components across model lines. The rubber isolation mounts for a secondary air pump on a 2002 BMW is the same part as an air cleaner isolaton mount on a BMW 2002 (circa 1973).

    A friend of mine rented a Mazda 6 recently, and I was chagrined to see that the electronics on the car were nearly identical to the new BMWs. It would appear they are using a common supplier.

    So, even if SAAB were to be “independent” as a car company, many of the components would come from the same suppliers as other car companies, so the product would not be as unique as before.

    While the old SAAB 900 was an intersting car, like the BMW 2002, it could not be built today. The cut-under doors (with recessed rocker panels) would never survive side-impact crash test requirements. The bolt-upright windshield would never pass muster from an aerodynamic point of view.

    And a small company in a small country could never afford to develop all the safety components and engine systems needed for a modern car.

    World automotive production capacity was already 20-30% over demand BEFORE the current recession started. Now that the shiite has hit the fan, the luxury of having underperfoming factories in order to satisfy national automotive pride is a luxury no one could (or should) afford.

    GM will have to downsize dramatically. SAAB will be sold off. The question is – who would buy it?

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    Leasing is NEVER a “good deal”

    Well, at some times it can be.

    * * * *

    BMW, like most automakers, is trying to wean customers from leases. GM is doing the same thing with their financial promtions, giving incentives for leasees to BUY their next vehicle instead of leasing it.

    IN the past, BMW could lease a new car for ridiculously low rates, based on the premise that the used cars had such high resale prices that the depreciation was not significant.

    However, the recent recession has affected BMW resale prices, which were already starting to take a hit. Unfortunately, later model BMWs have become more and more complicated, and as a result, less reliable. As a result, these cars can be a nightmare to repair once out of warranty (ask me how I know, I have four).

    And BMW offers some of the shortest warranties in the business. No 10-year powertrain warrenty here. And BMW automatics have a nasty habit of breaking at 70K miles (many were GM boxes to begin with). If you buy a BMW, get a manual transmission, IMHO.

    Ford used to dump cars in super lease deals at the end of the year to keep the Taurus and Escort in their “most popular” categories, and yes, these could be a “good” deal, compared to a regular lease, but still expensive.

    Even at a “good” lease rate, you are still “buying” the immediate and most dramatic depreciation a car can have – the first 10 minutes it leaves the lot.

    A car that is a year old with 12,000 miles on it is nearly indistinguishable from a brand new car – it wil last about as long (with proper care) and even has a warrenty nearly as long. However, even though you are getting 5-10% “less” car, you will pay 20-30% less in terms of purchase price AND lose less in depreciation over time.

    So no, leasing is never a very good deal, even with these “givaway” leases. The more complicated you can make any financial transaction, the easier it is to rip-off the consumer. Most consumers look only at monthly payment (the sure road to poverty) and gloss over COM (Cost of Money) and puchase price (yes, there is a purchase price in a lease, and many leasees pay over sticker!).

    And, as many a leasee has discovered, at the end of the lease, they will nail you with “gotcha” fees, including excess milage and “wear and tear”.

    For example, most leases limit milage to 12,000 miles a year. Most Americans drive and AVERAGE of 15,000 miles a year. What are you going to do, skip work once a week? From the get-go, the lease is designed to nail the customer at the end of the lease.

    Over a three year lease, that comes to 9,000 miles in excess milage, which at 25 to 50 cents per mile can run from $2250 to $4500 in overage charges. Not chump change. If that was added into the monthly cost, the “bargain” lease rate doesn’t seem to “bargain” any more.

    (add in the fact that many leasees pay up-front fees, or sacrifice their trade-in as a down payment, and these are really loser deals).

    For example, one friend of mine turned in his truck at the end of a lease, only to have the dealer claim that the Rhinoliner (spray-in bedliner) he had installed would have to be removed (impossible to do) or he would be charged “excess wear and tear” on the vehicle.

    Of course the irony here is that, if he had not put in the bedliner, he would have been charged for the inevitable scratches to the truck bed.

    He ended up leasing another truck for three years from the same dealer (excess wear threats are often used to coerce leasees into leasing another vehicle).

    For what he spent in six years of truck lease payments, he could have OWNED outright, the original truck, which would be six years old now, with easily another six years of life left in it, or a resale value of $10,000.

    But with the lease, he is WALKING after six years, with no truck at all.

    (Or, for the same monthly lease payments he made to buy a “loaded” truck, he could have made loan payments on a more pedestrian model, and owned it outright after three years).

    I dunno know about you, but TEN GRAND is a lot of dough. So I don’t see how leasing can be a “good deal” if you come out that far behind over time.

    No car payments is really the best way to go, IMHO. I have six cars, and they are all paid for.

    FWIW.

  • avatar
    jmmille2

    I have to say I was a bit disappointed after reading this article about the 9-7x but then again it was written by someone who typically drives a vehicle for a test drive or just looks at them and gives their opinion. I have owned the Volvo XC90 as well as the BMW x5 and can honestly say the SAAB is much better. People that have driven with me have also made comments that driving in the SAAB compared to my other vehicles is extremely soft and smooth. The interior in the Volvo was very plain and the leather not that great in my opinion. The BMW was like taking the tires off and driving on the wheels themselves it was so hard. It was a tight handling vehicle I will say but also pretty simple inside. The SAAB is simple inside but the leather was by far softer than the Volvo and BMW as well as much more comfortable to be in. I live in an area where there are a great deal on the road so their sales in this particular have done well. As far as mileage I drive about 35miles/day and get on average 17mpg which is better than I got with the BMW and Volvo. As for looks, no one yet that have seen the vehicle has thought it was a trailblazer. Most ask what kind of vehicle it is. All in all I am very happy with the vehicle. I purchased it one year used with little miles and got it for a great deal. The only other vehicle I would compare it to is the Lexus 350 with has a completely different body style but handles ok. Actually it handles more like an upscale Toyota but that’s all it really is. I also work in the insurance industry and when it comes to repairs most that I have spoken to prior to purchasing state that cost to repair is much better than Volvo and BMW and damage was much less when compared to the other two in similar accidents. I’ve owned a few BMW’s in the past but my overall opinion of them is that they are much too expensive and are just ok as a vehicle. I believe SAAB, Volvo and Audi are much better vehicles. I also believe that you can’t really give a vehicle a true rating unless you have driven it more than once.

  • avatar
    brighterdougG8

    As the owner of the “Original” design, 2004 Oldsmobile Bravada, I really liked the styling of the Saab. And the 6 liter V8 sounded like fun. Now this last month I have added another extinct vehicle to my garage. Pontiac G8! With the 6 liter V8! So now I can go off road in the Olds. Smooth ride with the air suspension. And go really FAST on smooth roads with the G8! As for the GM build quality: my 1986 Sunbird went almost 180,000 miles. A 1996 GMC Jimmy is rolling along with 201,000 miles. The Olds has 72,000. And nothing besides oil changes, basic maintenance. Hope the new GM can move ahead and do it right!
    .
     

  • avatar
    Lawdog1892

    I had a 2004 Trailblazer LS with the 4.2L V6 standard with the 275hp output. The car’s standard 16″ wheels and crappy M+S tires were pathetic. I put on 22″ wheels and 265 tires and it changed the whole dynamic of the car from a big wallowy car with no grip to a very compliant and comfortable car that holds corners pretty well for a big SUV.

    It was super reliable. Never had any issues with maintenance or rust but I live in SoCal so it’s not that big of an issue. I used the car to tow extensively and the engine held up very well to the duty.

    Sold it afterwards but it’s still one of my favorite cars that I have owned.


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