By on April 19, 2021

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The General had a healthy sales hit with the GMT360 platform in the 2002 model year, when the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, and Oldsmobile Bravada hit the showrooms. Since GM had devoured Saab in 2000 and most American car shoppers wanted trucks or truck-shaped machines by that point, it seemed to make sense to produce a Saab-badged GMT360 and extract some cash from that slice of the car-buying populace that craved both the rugged-lifestyle signifiers of a truck and the quirky-yet-sensible Swedish image of a Saab. The Isuzu-badged version— the Ascender— had had its debut for 2004, and so the Saab 9-7X appeared for 2005 (sadly, no Daewoo- or Vauxhall-badged versions were produced). Here’s a first-model-year 9-7X, found in a Denver self-service yard last week.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, tailgate badge - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere weren’t many differences between the 2002-2009 Trailblazer and its siblings, but the Saab-branding folks did what they could.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, ignition switch - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe ignition switch went into the traditional (for Saab) center console location; when Subaru Imprezas were sold with Saab badging starting in 2005, they got steering-column ignition switches.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, union decal - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsTrollhätten or Moraine, what’s the difference?

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Arc trim level got you a 5.3-liter LS engine, while the Linear came with the 4.2-liter straight-six. This car has a six, rated at 270 horsepower. No manual transmission was available.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, tailgate badge - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe engine-displacement badges give this truck more of a European look, hoped the maestros of the branding team.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, dash vents - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen you see these Refresh vent-mounted liquid air fresheners in a junkyard car, you know there was an olfactory problem that couldn’t be solved with ordinary Little Trees.

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMembers of the GMT360 family held their value pretty well for a good decade, but now Denver junkyards are packed with Trailblazers and Envoys, with the occasional off-brand version appearing here and there. Perhaps they’re too small for used-truck shoppers today.


It turns out the console position for the ignition switch reduced knee injuries, in the Saab-centric view.


Once you’ve built (barrel-shaped) jets, you don’t just build another SUV.

For links to 2,100+ additional Junkyard Finds, head over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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37 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2005 Saab 9-7X Linear...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Bob Lutz once commented that all of this vehicle platform should have had chassis tuning like the “SAAB.” None of the others did. You can have the obvious/correct idea, for decades, be a top industry leader, and GM will ignore you.

    Note to college grads: Apply. Work. Leave for a better offer.

    The ignition key moved to the console, for just the SAAB, cost $50 per vehicle! This is NUTs. This is huge! And it looked contrived; not fooling any SAAB person, all 5k of them in the U.S.

    It’s a perfect example of how GM Marketing, with no steady track record of success, could induce panic with the “upper execs” with no data. High-Five to Powerpoints. Why? The Upper Execs were basically clueless, like today.

    Zero patience. Zero Common Sense. Zero accountability. Zero … well, I’ll stop here.

    But … the Old Boys Club is still tight. All could retire 20 years ago. That’s the only thing that matters; maybe now, having a vagornia too.

    The current stupid idea: Electric $100k+ Hummer.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      Well, yeah, a $100k electric Hummer is stupid- for me to buy.
      But for GM to sell? I can assure you that their accountants do NOT think it’s stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        For product decisions, and matters of common sense for the market, and company profit and survival: all that matters is the whim of the Executive Clowns. A Powerpoint will always be made to prove it work. Nobody can disagree, lest they loose their $175k/year manager job.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I am 100% on board with you on the clown leadership but the Hummer EV as a niche seems very profitable. Now GM’s EV moves in general? Not so, but on per unit basis niche stuff should sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Sometimes stuff is expensive because it is worth a lot of money. The Hummer looks to be highly capable and given rigs like the Raptor and Ram TRX or whatever it are transacting at the Hummer doesn’t seem silly at all. They are in business to sell cars at a profit and the Hummer should do that nicely. Got it, you won’t pay 100k for it. Know what, plenty will.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A bad idea from beginning to end. The fact that GM produced this thing only 4 years before Saab closed shows how clueless they were.

    But at least those seats are pretty nice.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    These things are indestructible.

    Even in Michigan, you can find decent ones for sale today. That 4.2 six cylinder was a stout engine, and these are stout trucks. It’s too bad the 4.2 never found it’s way into the old Colorado/Canyon (it was too long!), or even the current Colorado/Canyon. I was visiting a college pal in 2012 and his 2004 Envoy XL, with the 4.2, had 191k miles. I think his son still has the truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I was hoping it would find its way into a Camaro (not sure if they were being built during this engine’s time) or a RWD sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I always liked the Atlas engine (more specifically the I-6), it was way ahead of the competition in regards of power and torque. As the time went by, it also proved to be very reliable.

      I will never understand why GM didn’t fit this engine in more vehicles. Yes, they made a bunch of badge engineering out of the GMT-360 platform, but they missed an opportunity and the fact they couldn’t fit it in the related Colorado/Canyon speaks volumes about the poor design and thinking that went into those two trucks. Even a run-of-the-mill bean counter could figure it was more expensive to design and re-certify a new engine (I-5), than use the existing I-6 and get the designers put to work into designing a slightly longer engine bay.

  • avatar
    redapple

    >Detroit X

    I worked at GM for 10 years;
    -At a GMAD Plant
    -Tech Center
    -Unnamed Powertrain Plant.

    You speak the truth. Those that stayed and got promoted were of a certain group.
    If you were smart, hard working, knew your stuff cold and spoke the truth. BAM. You became “that guy.” The one to ignore and move to 2nd shift or out the door.

    Rule #1 at GM. The more you do (work wise), the more you get. Slackers with perfect ass kissing skills shoot up the chain.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Worked several high zoot auto jobs and yes, speak up / do the right thing and all that gets you is squeezed out. The BS isn’t worth it, went self employed. Way less BS, less taxes and I chose who I work with.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Agree. It’s a sad reality at GM and many companies.

      And for ‘said companies’ to bray like a donkey of how great they are… well…

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Here in N. Colo. the GMT360s are usually in a Junkyard or on the 3rd owner with a very bad noise coming from some failing driveline component. Explorers of this vintage seem to be running on with mostly first owners. Just my observation.

  • avatar
    toronado

    I sold these new. Not many, but a few along with the 9-2X. I knew at that point that Saab was on borrowed time as these had no business at all having the Saab badge. Not bad vehicles at all, but not real Saabs, a hollow marketing attempt that only sold with the “GM Employee pricing for everyone” program. The quirky prestige the brand once had evaporated when these hit the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      At the time I thought these were a cynical attempt to grab some cash using the brand cache of Saab (whatever that was?) using the existing platform. It felt a lot more Cimmaron-like than Catera to me.

      As time has marched on I’ve softened my stance quite a bit – knowing the fate of Saab. I assume the brass knew the ship was going down and did their best to get product out in the time that was left as cheaply as possible.

      I hate SUVs but I distinctly remember seeing a Trailblazer and thinking if I had to get an SUV, that’s what I would get. It would have been more so with the 9-7. I was a closet Saab fan and nearly bought a 9-3 Areo SportCombi as a redundant silver mid-late 2000s turbo station wagon (along with my ’07 Legacy). I still regret not pulling the trigger on that one.

      All that said, it still stunk of the bad old GM badge engineering everything and thinking no one really cared as droves of their customers ran to Germany and Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I had a 9-2x and I always thought GM put more effort into the interior of the 9-7x than the 9-2x. I bought a 9-2x knowing full well what it was, but I only kept it 9 mos before unloading it and going back into the Mazda fold. Live and learn.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 9-7X Aero had the 6.0 LS engine and was essentially an upscale Trail Blazer SS. Clean ones go for decent money.

    If I had to choose a GMT360 it would be one of these because of the interior accoutrements followed by the Oldsmobile Bravada and the GMC Envoy Denali.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Yeah, I’ve been looking for a 9-7x Aero for a while. I had an Envoy XL with the V-8 and used it as our towing / hauling / construction site vehicle for about 10 years. It had an annoying penchant for eating alternators and ignition interlock switches, but other than that it ran well for 150k miles. Until it sprang a leak in the diff cover that my crew didn’t notice for several thousand miles, killing the expensive-to-replace diff.

      Mixed reliability experience aside, the truck was far more fun to drive than you’d expect for that sort of vehicle. The chassis was remarkably nimble and playful for something the size of a pachyderm.

      What I’ve heard is that the Saab team made so many detail changes to the truck, in order to meet their standards for refinement, that there was no hope of GM recouping their investment on it. But they made a pretty good truck into a reasonably luxurious SUV.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So much epic fail here. The GMT360 platform was not “near-luxury” for starters. There wasn’t enough differentiation from high-end GMC trims and as others noted Saabizing this created some ridiculous costs.

    Looks like a light hit turned into a total for a 16-year old GMT360 of a non-existent brand.

    The only thing GM did get right with the 9-7X was identifying the need for an SUV or shifting market tastes.

    In some parallel universe, Saab was never bought by GM but still was a dead brand walking that got inhaled by another company left wondering what to do with the carmaker.

    Not a defense of GM running the brand into the ground. Had Saab been able to hold out independently past the Great Recession of 2008 – maybe – MAYBE – someone could have bought the brand and helped it pivot. But its signature quirks and hatchback design wouldn’t cut it in 2021.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Saab ran Saab into the ground. GM simply failed to save them.

      • 0 avatar
        toronado

        this is true. left on its own Saab would have faded away had GM not intervened. I just wish GM could have made it work, but thats easier said than done with a car brand. Saab being such a small player I think made for an odd fit within giant GM. It wasnt high prestige so it wasnt high profit, and it was low volume. Not a winning combination long term.

  • avatar

    Saab died due to the 2010 financial crisis. Banks stopped writing car leases for a while. Saab and Volvo were the ‘near luxury’ choices, and the vast majority of buyers were stretching…leasers. (forget the enthusiasts you see now) A local business paper got a quote from our local Saab store-“we usually lease 30 cars and sell 2” but “we couldn’t get leases”.
    I had two, the OG 900 Turbo, a car truly ahead of it’s time (2.3 turbo) and the 9-3 on the Opel platform. The 9-3 was still Saaby but diluted.

    The SRX with the 2.8 liter turbo was another odd offshoot…

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      Saab was destined to die because it could not evolve with the times.

      Saab was the answer to the question in the early 1980s: fairly sporty, fairly classy, NOT a gas-guzzler, not slow, which meant a good 4-cylinder with front-drive.

      When gas prices stopped rising, as they did in 1979-1981, that was strike 1. When the dropped in the mid-1980s, that was strike 2 and 3. You can only go so far with turbos and front-drive—especially when mass-priced 1985-95 Honda Accords and Toyota Camry are really closing the OBJECTIVE gap with your high-priced front-drive car–who needs a Saab?

      Saab wasn’t big enough to change. The last year of the Saab 900 convertible was 1992, right? That 900 came out in 1979, and was an improved, version 2.0 Saab 99 from, what 1970? GM took over 1980s winner in the 1990s–a little too late, then poured money it didn’t really have into it. Nice

  • avatar

    The 9-4 was a one year only car, and built off the Cadillac SRX frame…the Caddy got a 2.8 liter turbo meant for the 9-4, and when it disappeared, so did the blown 2.8. 9-4 can keep most things going with SRX parts, but not all…instaclear windshields are worth mad money.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    I wonder if the Saab 9-7X is on display at the SAAB museum in Trollhätten. On my bucket list to visit. Not sure The 9-7X would physically fit inside the museum considering most vehicles on display are half the size and weight.

    Also wonder if the Saab 9-4X (GM Theta platform) is also on display. Since this is based on Cadillac SRX platform, parts should be easy to finds (other than the body panels).

    I wonder how die hard “Trolls” feel about the above.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The 9-7X at least addressed the unbelievably cheap feeling that the other GMT360s had inside and out. But they all seemed to get used up fast. The engine is decent so I have to guess there were other mechanical or electrical weaknesses.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      They were used up fast, but there wasn’t anything really bad about them. I own three Saab’s- two 9-3’s and a 9-7x (Mine is a 2006 with the same engine as this one). The 9-7x’s only problem was the air ride- the bags could fail. You either had to drive with the butt of the car riding low, replace the bag, or convert to a standard suspension. You can get the parts- it’s the Trailblazer SS system.

      The one I bought came from a salvage auction- it was in a light collision, and totalled out. I bought it as a work truck (I tow a trailer for my job), and instantly fell in love with her. So much to the point that I bought a 2006 Mountaineer Premier to tow with. So, mine has an easy life now- it’s not used much, and never worked hard. For all the people that whine about the badge engineering, all I’ll say is that I was impressed with mine so much that I went from a guy who forgot Saab existed, to owning three of them. And I’m looking for more. I really want to pick up a Classic 900, a 9-5 wagon, and a V8 9-7x someday. As soon as I find the right 9-7x with a 5.3, that Mountaineer is out of here.

      Both the Mountaineer and the 9-7x are the same year- I think you could cross-shop the two, kinda. My Saab is a pretty well equipped Linear, and the Mountaineer is the top of the line “Premier” trim. After driving both, there’s a night and day difference. I’d take the Saab in a heartbeat every time.

      Us Saab guys are hard to understand. That NG 9-5 you saw is how a lot of them are. We don’t look at a Saab like a car. We look at a Saab like an endangered animal. We take care of them and love them, because there’s nothing quite like a Saab.

      I’ve owned a lot of cars- everything from a $700 Buick to two Audi’s. Nothing makes my heart smile like driving a Saab. I have three now, and that number I know will go up at least a couple. If I “had” to drive a Saab for the rest of my life, knowing what we know now, I’d take that deal in a heartbeat and never look back

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        +eleventy points

        I have a similar affection for my 244, the newer Volvos just seem like drama queens to me (and I have one in the shop now so we’ll see).

  • avatar
    Mustangfast

    Laugh as we may at how GM decided to make a Trailblazer into a Saab the Saab treatment took these from craptastic plastic to a decent SUV for the time. The basic design wasn’t terrible and proved robust over time. Their problem was not feeding some or most of these changes back to the other models. I remember my aunt was getting a Chevy in the early 2000s, and looking for recommendations on what to get, given she didn’t want a pickup this was arguably the next best thing on the lot if you couldn’t afford a Tahoe/Suburban sized vehicle. The rest of the lineup was pretty much crap.

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