By on March 15, 2019

Would you like a luxury CUV that’s based on a Cadillac, but contains many unique and unobtainium parts? So many rare parts, in fact, that an owner might be scared to put it on the road? Well then, here’s a Saab for you — it’s a 9-4X, from 2011.

In 2011, the Saab brand was just about finished. General Motors relinquished control a year prior as it reorganized and shed brands in its bankruptcy proceeding. Supercar manufacturer Spyker purchased the company, and kept on building Saabs. The 9-4X was forced into existence after the Swedish brand cancelled the planned 9-6X model (based on the Subaru B9 Tribeca). The 9-6X project ground to a halt when General Motors sold its 20 percent holding of Fuji Heavy Industries in 2005.

Realizing the brand needed an SUV offering to replace the GMT360-based 9-7X, GM got to work on the smaller 9-4X. It utilized the upcoming Cadillac SRX platform for economies of scale. The design debuted in near-production form for the 2008 edition of the North American International Auto Show.

The 9-4X was produced in Mexico (a Saab first) on the same line as Cadillac’s new SRX. Two engines powered the 9-4X, both borrowed from Cadillac: an uplevel 2.8-liter turbo V6, and a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter unit. All examples shared the same transmission: a six-speed auto.

Production began in February of 2011, but didn’t last long. Saab was under Spyker ownership, and inked a deal to purchase every 9-4X from General Motors. The fresh 9-4Xs joined the existing 9-3 and 9-5 models in the remaining Saab showrooms in 2011.

But Spyker wasn’t doing well, and it looked like Saab would soon be up for sale again. The company hadn’t exactly paid its bills to GM for the delivered 9-4Xs. General Motors would have none of it. Wanting to prevent a modern platform and engine from falling into the hands of a competitor, GM cited that the proposed change in ownership would not be in the interests of GM shareholders. The General cancelled the selling arrangement. Thus, 9-4X production wrapped up in November 2011.

Surely one of the rarest Saabs, 9-4X production totaled 814 examples. The vast majority were 2011 models, but a reported 60 were labeled as 2012s. Today’s Rare Ride is a 2011 model in top Aero trim. The 2.8-liter engine powers all four wheels via XWD, which is regular all-wheel drive with an “X” in the name. Rear fold-out entertainment screens match well with the dash buttons that already lost their finish. Located north of Tampa (which is in Florida), the silver beauty asks $19,999.

[Images: seller]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

61 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Saab 9-4x – One Last Gasp From 2011...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    For those who want a Cadillac, but want less reliability and more “WHY’S!!??” from their friends. The first time it breaks, you’re screwed. These should only be sold in pairs so you have the parts you’ll need down the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Null Set

      This simply isn’t true. I had a SAAB 9-3 turbo Aero for over a decade and, yes, it had its share of mechanical problems (making it in fact no different from any Honda or Toyota these days), but repairs were swift and effective and I was never left without a car to drive. I certainly was never “screwed”. The amount of 20 and 30 year old SAABs I see on the road today should have been a clue.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        From what I read the GM SAABs all fell into 2 buckets, you could get one that was perfect and never required anything greater than regular maintenance and the car behind it on the assembly line could be a horrible mess that can’t make it to 100k miles without $15k in repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        @ Null Set: Uhmmm, I think Dwford was referring to the problems one might have with buying the 9-4X featured in the article and based on the Cadillac SRX.

        Not Saab 9-3s.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Seller’s asking $19,999. I can’t argue with his ambition. His sanity (or sobriety) may be another matter.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I don’t even think this is worth $10K.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lol, people need to realize that rarity doesn’t always equal desirable or highly valued.

      Then again, hes probably just waiting for a sucker to come along. He’d probably have better luck posting it on eBay, where some Saab fanatic with more money than sense would have to make it theirs.

    • 0 avatar
      Null Set

      SAAB afficianados are like Alfisti. There aren’t many of them, but they are pretty rabid about older models. That said, this model is not just rare, but inconsequential to the SAAB mystique. It’s just badge engineering, like that ghastly Subaru crossover they stepped in. SAAB lovers will never see them as true avatars of the brand and its legacy, and won’t pay anywhere near that kind of money for them. I did, however, get $10K for my ten year old SAAB 9-3 with 130K miles on it, from someone who begged me to sell it to him. So there.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That is one ghetto looking “near luxury” interior (even without the worn out switchgear). Those flip up rear seat screens look like they are encased in Coleman coolers.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I think it looks better than the Cadillac.

    That is all.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I would rather have any (silimar condition) Oldsmobile Bravada ever.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The Bravada was the cousin of the 9-7x aka trollblazer. The 9-4x was based on the Cadillac SRX. The 9-7x Aero had the 5.3 V8
      essentially a Trailblazer SS.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I guess I’m not sure of your point. “I would rather own any model year Olds Bravada, offered from 1991 to 2004, over the 9-4x.” It doesn’t make any difference that the 9-4x and Oldsmobile never shared a platform.

        And the 9-7x Aero used the 6.0L LS2.

  • avatar
    la834

    Careful with that windshield! It’s unique to the 9-4x and not shared with the SRX or any other car or crossover. I understand they are no longer in production.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    For anyone who hasn’t clicked the seller’s link, they OUGHT TO!!

    Can’t stand ads like that. The dude’s trying to make his poor car buying decisions sound like a feature. And “first tank of gas is on us!” Lol, trying to get that thing as far away as quick as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      LOL at the ad (!!!) and asking price. I owned a rare-ish car once and it wasn’t a fun time. We had a ’08 Volvo C30 and just 4,299 such cars were sold in the US. While that number is huge compared to this 9-4X I can tell you parts and service quickly became a nightmare for this odd ball vehicle. The car was great… until things started to break. For example it was involved in a minor fender bender and the body shop had never seen one before. They managed the repair just fine, but the scramble for parts and head scratching was worrisome and time consuming. Over the years we owned it I had to source a headlight and the lift-gate handle. Both items were expensive and difficult to locate. Some consumables (like brakes) were shared with other cars. This was during the Volvo / Ford / Mazda partnership so you had to know what you could swap with, the guy at the parts counter was no help. Having a rare car is fine if its a weekend toy or a Cars and Coffee show thing but as daily driver? No way!

      • 0 avatar
        SlowMyke

        That’s sad to hear about the c30. I have an irrational love for that car. And were it, or the non-base v40, more readily available in the used market, I’d have definitely bought one. I was still in college during their heyday so new was definitely out of the question. Seems used is now out of the question as well.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          The C30 was brilliant – perfect size, hatchback versatility, sexy body, fantastic interior, quick turbo. Downsides were disappointing mileage, somewhat rough engine (5 cylinders to blame?) and the constant expensive trips back to the dealer. Ours was used with very low mileage when purchased (several years ago). Even back then only 3 with the options we wanted were available state wide (in FL) so that was clue this car was unknown.

          Sadly lots of stuff went wrong with ours and every time is was expensive to fix. For example the little headlight washers that pop out of the bumper broke 3 times. Each time the new part had to be ordered and painted to match. There was a problem with the steering column requiring a tow, the rear lift gate handle broke off in my hand, headlight lense cracked, it burned thru 2 xenon bulbs per year and developed some odd clutch pedal issues. We even switched to an independent “Euro car” mechanic to avoid the insane dealer prices on parts & service. During the clutch issue even this guy admitted defeat and nearly gave up trying to repair it. We owned a B5 VW Passat which the internet will confirm is an unreliable mess, yet our little C30 was worse.

          It was a shame because the car was unique and perfect for the wife. It was like an upscale Mini Cooper, perfect for zipping around town. She LOVED it… but we couldn’t stand the repair bills.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Bonus: a sparkly vampire drove one.

            https://www.imcdb.org/v197314.html

            Sincerely,
            FreedMike, who had to suffer through endless repeated viewings of “Twilight” with his pubescent daughter during his long divorce.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            It’s always been a dream car of mine, the C30. But I owned a B5.5 Passat, so I’m obviously a masochist.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I tend to favor vehicles that they sold lots of for this very reason. My daily driver is 22 years old, but parts are still dirt cheap and plentiful.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Gotta love dealers that falsely advertise in the “owners” section.

      I’ve seen worse though, locally theres a Volvo 850 T5 for sale where the ad states stuff like “great interior, I ripped out the headliner but no ones noticed!”, “super rare! Will go up in value!”, “Beats Chargers and Camaros at stop lights!”.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I flag any ad by a dealer posted under “by-owner”. The way I see it, they’re being dishonest from the very start, even before I make contact.

        And, yeah, I’ve seen some pretty stupid crap on dealer ads. This Toyota Sequoia is a “gas saver”? Compared to what, an F-750? Boeing 747? The QEII?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a dealership. NADA doesn’t even show a value for the model but a loaded up 9-5 shows retail at north of $15k… so $19k for a higher level car isn’t too unrealistic for a starting point.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 2.8-liter turbo V6 in these was also in the 9-3. It’s a nice performer with 280 hp but tough to wrench.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I like to state that I have seen one of these in the wild, in a small town hundreds of miles from the nearest (ex) Saab dealership. I think that’s worthy of noting in itself these are so rare. The only thing I can think of rarer is the 56 total 5-speed Manual H3T. But at least that has 5600 non-Manual siblings running around.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I never realized any of these were available as 2012 models. Same may true then for 9-3s and 9-5s?

    I wish more OEMs would use that speedometer design — each 10 mph increment marked and hash marks at 5 mph intervals (except at extra-legal speeds).

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    Shortly after Saab officially went under, a small Chevy dealer in central Wisconsin showed about a dozen 9-4X vehicles in its inventory. All were 2011 models with 5,000-11,000 miles on the clock and priced in low $20,000s.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I got behind a 9-4X about a year ago on the way home from work. I had no idea what it was or how rare it was until I got home and googled it. What a bizarre orphanmobile.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    It would be an interesting buy as a collectible. If you could afford to buy it and wrap it in cotton wool then this could be one of those cars that sells for silly money based on the fact that there are hardly any.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Maybe if it were something noteworthy (other than low production) I would agree, but a American owned – Swedish manufacturer that had a Mexican built crossover, will probably not be high on the list of desirable vehicles any time in the future.

      It is cool however and given one I would drive it until a simple $30 unobtanium part broke leaving it as a big paperweight.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Specifically, the suitors that were courting Spyker for the purchase of Saab were Chinese. GM was particularly wary of IP rights in that country, especially when it had (and has) considerable interests there.

  • avatar
    MLS

    Someone in my neighborhood (downtown Boston) has a well-kept 9-4X and parks it on the street. Such a rarity ought to be garaged!

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Only a Saabaphile who has a phobia against seeing cars on the road like the one he’s driving would be gung ho about spending 20 grand for an 8 year old fake Saab pseudo-truck with worn out “guess what this does” dash buttons. Good luck to the seller.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    the funny thing is SAAB nuts claim GM killed the brand, when it reality they gave it a 10 year stay of execution.

    SAAB was doomed no matter what.

  • avatar

    I recall seeing the first year SRX, with a turbo. Intrigued, I googled this until I came across this corporate twin-and yes, that is a 6K windshield.

  • avatar

    Logged on just to say I never knew this existed and that the button layouts of Saab dashboards always annoyed me.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I own the other rare saab a 2011 Saab 9-5 I think about 2000 were made that year, and getting parts is not really bad at all. But Body parts may be a bit*h, I would assume the 9-4 would be worse but truth be told most Ins companies total Saabs when they get in accidents bc of the high cost of repairs. I have seen all of one 9-4 and I live in Nj a mile away from a now dead Saab dealer. I see maybe one every other month of the NG 9-5. This seems way over priced. I owned a 1986 saab 900 turbo ragtop 5 speed one of about 100 made but that did not make it worth big bucks. At 10-12 K this 9-4 is a good buy , yes you take some risk but not to much at that price point, they are safe, mine is well put together , you do not see one every day and very good seats, not Volvo but pretty damm close.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’d rather roll the dice on a 9-2X with the Subaru parts underneath.

    If you really love Saab you’d be better off finding one with a bad engine/transmission, picking it up for peanuts, and putting the body parts on your XT5.

  • avatar
    NutellaBC

    The Saab 9-4X is not really “based” on the Cadillac SRX as both were developed together by a Saab engineer based in Michigan, Peter Dörrich. In a sense, the SRX might be more a Saab than the 9-4X is a Cadillac !


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ponchoman49: Well GM is in a race with Hyundai on who can de-tune their 2.0T engines the most. Currently Hyundai is...
  • Russycle: This. Although how Plymouth built a retro-hotrod without a V8, I can’t even. Still a very nice...
  • HotPotato: It’s always been a dream car of mine, the C30. But I owned a B5.5 Passat, so I’m obviously a...
  • FreedMike: Drunk in Denver? Take an Uber!
  • ponchoman49: Well under the current leadership GM is a row boat without oars drifting aimlessly about making...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States