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2009 Saab 9-3

Overview
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2009 Saab 9-3 Review

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Saab claimed a whopping 2,157 changes and enhancements for its premium compact 9-3 series in 2008, so it should come as no surprise changes for 2009 are relatively few. A new Cross-Wheel Drive (XWD) option is available on 9-3 sedan and SportCombi models with the four-cylinder 2.0T. Saab's 9-3 Sedan and SportCombi compete against the Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60, Audi A4 and the Volvo V50 wagon. Saab also continues to offer the front-drive 9-3 Convertible with a fabric roof.

You'll Like This Car If...

Some shoppers gravitate toward the Saab 9-3 partly because of its "stealth" personality; it delivers more in performance and handling than its straight-forward appearance suggests. Others simply like the car's solid, tight Eurosedan feel, which is likely to be enhanced further yet when the XWD option arrives.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Even more than their Swedish Volvo cousins, Saabs used to be known for various quirks and idiosyncrasies, which fans adored but some others disdained. Things like the console-mounted ignition – a long-standing Saab hallmark – can still prove too peculiar for some.

What's New for 2009

XWD on the base 2.0T model is the big news for 2009. The V6 Aero sees a significant bump up in horsepower, while an electronically controlled limited slip rear differential is added to Aero models with XWD. OnStar 8.0 now features Turn-by-Turn navigation and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Driving the 9-3

Driving Impressions Each 2009 Saab 9-3 exhibits a serious Eurosedan personality. Confident handling is the rule, especially in Aero trim. An Aero SportCombi exemplifies what the modern wagon experience should be: Well-behaved...

under all conditions. The 2.0T steers with a rather light touch, but one that's sure-footed. Spirited reaction from the 2.0T's engine, even with the automatic, exhibits little turbo lag but suffers a bit of downshifting delay and a slight hesitation on light acceleration. The Aero's V6 feels more effortless, and you immediately notice a difference in handling and roadholding. Aeros can be pushed vigorously into curves, remaining impressively flat and centered, and they ride more taut than front-drive 2.0Ts, but not uncomfortably, overcoming most pavement imperfections without fuss. Harsher bumps produce sharp body motions, but only for a moment. Saab's manual gearbox ranks among the best for easy shifting.

Sport Button (With Automatic)
For those occasional moments when energetic driving proves irresistible, the Sport button keeps the transmission in each gear long enough to boost responses smartly. Surprisingly, it works better with the 2.0T. Sport operation in the Aero is more stern, and high engine revs get rather raucous.

XWD Availability
As a front-wheel-drive car, the 9-3 is often left out of conversations that include the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G and other rear-wheel-drive sport sedans. A new performance-enhancing all-wheel drive system should have more people talking about the 9-3.

2009 Saab 9-3 Details
2009 Saab 9-3 photo Interior

Sedans and SportCombis have seating for five passengers, versus four for Convertibles. Designers have substituted a black interior for the prior gray. Straightforward in layout, the instrument setup was clearly developed for easy and helpful reading. A big center speedometer is accompanied by relatively large fuel and temperature gauges and a sizable tachometer, but the optional navigation system's screen is rather small. Aero seats, in particular, are seriously sporty, keeping you in place and well-supported as well as comfortable and bolstered – though not excessively snug. Getting used to the console-mounted ignition key doesn't take too long.

Exterior

Influenced by the sleek Aero X concept car, the 2009 Saab 9-3 wears a sweptback face with a semi-wrap-over hood and curtly-tapered three-hole grille, reminiscent of front ends in notable previous Saabs. Aero-style wraparound headlamps can incorporate a headlamp cornering feature, which is standard on Aero models. Aeros have a unique front bumper, plus air intakes and brawny exhaust outlets that "really accent the power," according to Saab. Flared side-sill extensions and rain-sensing wipers are standard. SportCombis are a few inches taller than sedans or convertibles.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard equipment includes XM Satellite Radio, GM's OnStar communications system, rain-sensing wipers, a tire-pressure monitoring system and Saab's "quiet tuning" package. On 2.0T models, 14-spoke alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires, whereas Aeros and SportCombi XWD editions roll on 17-inch five-spoke alloys. Buyers of Aero models are entitled to a session at the Aero Academy, to learn to drive their Saabs safely and effectively. Both engines are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic transmission, and automatic Aeros may be shifted using steering-wheel paddles.

Optional Equipment

Only a handful of options are offered, including an automatic transmission, power moonroof (for 2.0T models) and a DVD-based navigation system. Semi-aniline leather seat trim, with sport buckets, also is available. The 2.0T's Premium Package includes such extra as high-intensity-discharge headlamps, foglamps, memory for driver's seat and mirrors, rear park assist and walnut wood interior trim. A Cold Weather Package adds headlamp washers and heated front seats.

Under the Hood

In the base-model 2.0T, a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 210 horsepower, driving a six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic (six-speed auto with XWD). A 280-horsepower, 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine goes into Aero models, with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Each automatic includes a manual-shift provision, with a Sport mode that holds gears longer during acceleration and alters the shift points for braking..

2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
210 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
221 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/29 (manual); 19/26 (automatic, sedan), 18/24 (automatic, SportCombi), 18/26 (manual XWD), 17/27 (automatic, XWD)

2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
210 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
221 horsepower @ 2000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/29 (manual), 19/28 (automatic), 18/26 (manual, XWD), 17/27 (automatic, XWD)

2.8-liter V6 Turbocharged
280 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1900 rpm (XWD)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24

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Buying this car?

2009 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 581 Ratings for the 2003 - 2011 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.5/10
    Performance
    8.9/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Best daily driver I have owned

By on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 144,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Best balance of quick, little sedan on the cheap."

Cons: "Black door handles fade, radio knobs can glitch."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I purchased this car used with 113k miles for $4800 at a local dealership, I've put 30k+ miles on it since then. The only problem I have encountered is a headlight going out, which did cost a few hundred $$ because it is HID. Overall I would say the car is reliable, fairly powerful for everyday driving, and comfortable. I've had more problems with my wife's new 2014 Chevy Malibu (it is in the shop getting warranty repairs now). I feel like Saab really made some quality cars and I am sad to see that they stopped production. I'd say that after 2+ years of owning the car that it is the best bang for buck purchase I have ever made, hands down. The headlight has been the only problem on a 10+ year old car, even the original leather seats have no signs of ripping. I'll keep driving this car for as long as it will let me."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

It's like the car is a part of me when driving

By on Tuesday, December 02, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,572

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Takes me where I want to go and fun getting there"

Cons: "not the best bluetooth"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Full Control, even in bad weather. Best stopping ability I ever had in a car. Turn wheel and I am already there. Take corners faster than my old Mitsubishi Spider!! Take it for a ride if they ever export again. Happy they started up the factory in Sweden again and hope they export at some point. My favorite car right next to my Plymouth Duster 360."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

very nice mature care to drive with lots of power

By on Monday, December 01, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "very fun to drive lots of power"

Cons: "lack of dealer support"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"several saab car owner, but the 2004 saab aero is a delight to drive, lots of trunk space and interior is well sorted, power is always there and then some. Only con is that saab went under but one day these newer saab will bt hard to find."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Best 9.3 ever - finally got it right

By on Friday, November 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Many GM parts - it turned out to be OK"

Cons: "I miss the dealership culture."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"There was no need for the warranty in four years. Mechanics are happy to work on this vehicle. It is some Swede and some GM. This is a really sturdy car."

1 person out of 5 found this review helpful

Affordable, versatile and sporty

By on Thursday, November 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Sporty versatile and affordable convertible."

Cons: "Saab's are known for frequent bulb replacements."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Very good car with excellent driving dynamics even though there is some torque steer when punched. For the most part this is a 3+ season car, good traction in the snow and a drop top in the summer. Trunk is more than adequate. I have a 60th anniversary model so there are some upgrades in the sound system and interior. Saabs are known for frequent bulb replacements, however, one can replace them with little trouble. Access is good to all the bulbs. This car has 82,000 miles on it at the time of this review. I am the second owner as it was a Florida lease car with 13K when I bought it from a dealer out east."

5 people out of 9 found this review helpful

I would not say this is the best vehicle I have

By on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 119,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "reliable, good styliing, gas milage good"

Cons: "drivers seat cracks in leather, fuel sending unit"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"I have owned this car for four and half years, I have put just a little over eighty - thousand miles on it. For the most part the vehicle has been very little " fan fare ". Only major problem to date, has been a left front spring that broke. But reading and talking to people this is a common thing. In fact I believe the right front is also going? One other thing I have learned by reading NHTSA web site, that apparently there is an intake valve problem with excessive ware. I not sure my car has this problem yet, but it does display some of the symptoms?? Having owned older SAAB's for numerous years, it's really hard to compare the newer SAAB's. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Let's say this, In all of my years owning SAAB's I have never replaced a spring of any type and never had any type of engine issues. You can draw your own conclusions? lastly fuel sending unit went at 85,000.00, again what I have heard and read is common for this car, little over three hundred - dollar job, did go a whole year without a gas gage, add a little excitement to one's life!! -++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++"

11 people out of 23 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?