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2010 Saab 9-3

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2010 Saab 9-3 Review

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After a rather rough year, Saab's future seems secure for now. With a new owner and a new lease on life, the Swedish manufacturer continues to offer a small but competent line of luxury sedans, convertibles and wagons. The bread and butter of the lineup remains the 9-3, a car whose unique styling, quirky peculiarities and distinctly European driving dynamics endear it to a small but loyal group of driving enthusiasts. For 2010, the Sedan and SportCombi models with the four-cylinder 2.0T compete nicely when placed beside the Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60, Audi A4, as well as the Volvo V50 Wagon.

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. The 9-3X SportCombi offers the rare combination of a turbocharged engine, six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel-drive in wagon body.

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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. Eccentricities are minor nowadays, but perception tends to outlast reality.

What's New for 2010

For 2010 the V6 turbo is dropped from the line up, while a new, all-wheel-drive variant of the SportCombi is added. A reduction in the standard equipment list allows for a slight price reduction across the 9-3 range, and the overall model count is reduced from 14 to 9.

Driving the 9-3

Driving Impressions Each 2010 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. 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.

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.

2010 Saab 9-3 Details
Interior

Sedans and SportCombis have seating for five passengers, versus four for convertibles. 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 doesn't take too long, but still seems odd.

Exterior

Influenced by the sleek Aero X concept car, the 2010 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 an optional cornering light feature. 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. The 9-3X SportCombi is 1.4-inches taller than the 9-3 Sedan.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard equipment includes rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, dual heated power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD and auxiliary audio input, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, leather seating surface and a power driver's seat. Standard safety features include traction and stability control plus front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags. On 2.0T models, 14-spoke alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires, whereas Aeros and SportCombi XWD editions roll on 17-inch alloys. The 9-3X SportCombi adds front and rear skid plates, 17-inch wheels and fog lamps. The 2.0T, Aero and SportCombi trims can be had with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions, while XWD trims offer a six-speed automatic.

Optional Equipment

Only a handful of options are offered on the 2.0T trim including an automatic transmission, Bose audio, OnStar with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and SIRIUS/XM Satellite Radio. The Comfort Package adds a power moonroof, heated front seats, garage door opener, headlamp washers and "Express Up" power front windows with remote control. The Premium Package adds a memory driver's seat, a power passenger seat, Rear Park Assist, HID cornering headlamps, Bose audio and power folding auto-dimming outside mirrors. A DVD-based navigation system is also available.

Under the Hood

The 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). Automatic transmissions include 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: 21/31 (manual, FWD Sedan); 19/28 (automatic, FWD Sedan), 21/31 (manual, SportCombi) 19/27 (automatic, SportCombi), 20/29 (manual, XWD), 17/27 (automatic, XWD)

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2010 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 596 Ratings for the 2003 - 2011 models.

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

Sport Sedan

By on Monday, August 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "handeling, Turbo, Gas mileage, Snow driving."

Cons: "Premium fuel,"

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

"This car has treated me very well! My first Saab but won't be my last. This car is basically a Chevy cobalt with a stock turbo!!! So parts are cheap and Gas mileage, performance, and image are all above the Chevy trash. On a recent trip I calculated 43 MPG!!! I would buy this car again and again. I bought the car with 155000 on it and only the usual repairs were needed such as bulbs, and alternator. I do the work myself which results in a $200 alternator job. Definitely the cheapest Euro car work out there. (because its not actually euro). I highly recommend these cars, they just don't die."

Great car!! Highly recommended

By on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very reliable, great in snow"

Cons: "audible road noise"

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

"I bought my 2007 from the dealer in 2010 as a pre-owned. I have had no major engine problems at all and regularly maintain it. Solid handling on any road. On a 2015 highway trip I got 32 MPG."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

love my 9-3

By on Monday, July 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

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
7/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"I own a 2003 9-3 and it runs perfectly. Can barely tell from the exterior that it is now 12 years old. Drives very smoothly."

7 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Quirky Commuter - Sportcombi -

By on Friday, June 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, Reliable, Comfortable, Economical"

Cons: "Headlights go out often, want more speakers"

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

"I have had this car for 10 months/11,000 miles now, only service it has needed was for the driver side window switch which my independent SAAB mechanic replaced with a used switch he had in the shop on the cheap. I drive daily. The car handles well and has ample acceleration. Threw some Michelin X-Ice snow tires on for trips to the local ski resort, cut through the snow no problem. The heated leather seats are a dream. I average 24-26 MPG combined and use standard 87-octane unleaded fuel. SAAB was showing lots of promise with this model, it is a shame they are no longer made...Next car will probably be a Volvo V60."

10 people out of 21 found this review helpful

I love this car.

By on Saturday, May 09, 2015

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
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun drive and great price."

Cons: "it has 2 cup holders in the front and 2 in the bac"

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

"I love this car. It's comfortable.it does 31 miles per gallon.and it's luxury and dynamic. Quality sound system Bose and it has a lot of power for 4 cylinder. I am in love with my Saab. My next car it will be a Saab."

11 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Just as good the second time around

By on Thursday, April 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 168,999

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Speed, Luxury Feel, Sexy Look and the Feel!"

Cons: "Not being made anymore :("

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

"This car is nimble and comparable to the BMW 3/5 Series and Audi. I previously had a 2008 9-3 2.0T and got around MPG 28 City/32 Highway at 50K miles (2011) I traded it in for the same color and model and it was equally exciting. I find the car to be very reliable with a classy and sporty feel. I can maneuver in tight traffic situations because the turbo is quite nimble and quick from the takeoff. As a result I plan to keep this one as Saab's are no longer being made and they are a niche vehicle type."

9 people out of 13 found this review helpful

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