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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.

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. 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 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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