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2009 Saab 9-3

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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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2009 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 610 Ratings for the 2003 - 2011 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.5/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Love My Saab 9 3 t

By on Monday, July 18, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 143,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, good on gas, holds together well"

Cons: "Hard to find someone to work on them"

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

"I have owned my Saab for a couple of years and love it! The only problem I have is that since they quit making them it's a job sometimes to find someone that will work on them or even change the oil. The only issue I've had is the alternator went out. I bought the alternator myself and finally found a shop that would put install it. I've been told they are hard to work on because most everything is either hard to get to or it's covered."

Fast, fun to drive, for the $$ it's hard to beat

By on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Price, power, luxury, fun to drive"

Cons: "parts and service are expensive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Love my 08 AERO. I did a stage 1 ECU upgrade through Brew City Boost that upped the HP to 290. It's a monster between 40 and 80 MPH. It's simple and clean inside, very Swedish. For the price compared to similar Audi / BMW, it's hard to beat a Saab for luxury and performance."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

My favorite in 30 years of Saabs

By on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, maneuvers great, safe in traffic."

Cons: "Premium gas best, but 88 works."

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

"This is one of my last two Saabs after nearly 30 years of owning Saabs. It is by far my favorite Saab of all--the XWD is incredible, on dry pavement and in snow, and the first set of tires had nearly 50,000 miles and still weren't to the wear bar but I replaced them for winter. Car has zip and is very smooth--firm suspension which I like. I'm 6'3" and fit in the front seats well, both leg and head room. Rear leg room is tight (in contrast to our 9-5)."

Best Saab yet.

By on Sunday, June 5, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power, economy, comfort."

Cons: "None."

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

"I bought this sedan brand new, right after Saab expired. I paid about half price knowing full well there was no warranty of any kind. We added to our fleet of 3 other Saabs. There has not been one issue with this car. Tires, brakes, oil changes, filters. That's it. 30mpg at 75mph, a great cruising car. By far the most reliable of our fleet."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Stands out from the crowd

By on Monday, May 9, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 58,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun, fast and enjoyable. Seats four in comfort."

Cons: "None"

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

"Some torque steer but that's to be expected considering the technology at the time. Great summer cruiser and a real head turner. Reliability in my experience better than was expected. So called 'quirky' features are a real stand out in an unfortunate sea of sameness. Thoughtful details abound and continue to reveal themselves even after a considerable period of ownership. Roof up motoring is very snug, very little wind noise."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great Weekend Drop Top

By on Friday, May 6, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

2008 2.0T 9-3

"I bought this as I wanted a convertible, but something that wasn't a kids car nor did I want a Mercedes. We look forward to the weekends, to put the top down and just cruise the back roads. It is not our primary driver and it is not used for winter transportation, so my review may not gel with the others. I do a lot of my own work and have put on new pads and rotors, new plugs, changed the oil & filters, new battery & waterproofed the fabric top. I find it fairly easy to work on and enjoy tinkering with it. It is a 2008 9-3 2.0T convertible that gets a lot of looks and comments no matter where we go. It is garage kept, which hopefully by keeping it out of the element will extend its life. For a 4 cylinder it packs a punch. Considering what the car originally sold for and what I paid, it was a bargain. A luxury car for a fraction of the cost. These cars are not meant to be driven without keeping up with routine maintenance, but taken care of they will last for a long time. Saab may no longer be in business, but the parts end of it is and making them readily available. I'd say it is a keeper."

6 people out of 6 found this review helpful

2008 2.0T 9-3

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