KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Those who demand the sensible interior and firm driving feel of a European sport sedan, but also desire a vehicle not shared by every other premium sedan owner, should consider the 2008 Saab 9-5. Roomy, powerful and one of the few sedans in this segment still offering a manual transmission, the Saab 9-5 holds a strong appeal to purists who shun the overly high-tech approach and flashy styling so pervasive in today's luxury sedans. Available as the 9-5 Sedan or 9-5 SportCombi (the wagon), its Swedish heritage serves it well, excelling in the areas of safety, comfort, fuel economy and performancewithout breaking the bank.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you think the best things about a European sedan are the powerful yet fuel-efficient turbo engines and the relative exclusivity, you can get both for an affordable price in a 2008 Saab 9-5.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Compared with some other premium European sport sedans, the 2008 Saab 9-5 is neither as premium nor as sporty. The absence of a V6 or V8 engine option may turn off some buyers.
What's Significant About This Car?
New standard features include the OnStar Safety and Security package, rain-sensing wipers, tire pressure monitoring system and leather sport seats.
Around town, the Saab 9-5 is responsive, nimble and downright quick, benefiting from a turbocharger that delivers its influence politely but firmly. Predictably, the suspension hasn't been tuned so tightly that highway ride is anything less than pleasant. Only when you get that rare opportunity to really push the 9-5 through a few good twists and turns does the nose-heavy, front-wheel-drive 9-5 reveal its limitations. Still, even the sportiest sport sedans rarely get taken to task in such a manner, and so the 9-5 is sure to prove plenty entertaining for most.
Cool-climate drivers and passengers will appreciate that front and rear heated seats are included as standard equipment. Those further south might be more interested in the optional ventilated front seats.
Dynamic Workload Manager
In driving situations that might demand heightened concentration, the 9-5 will delay dashboard warning messages and intercept incoming telephone calls to prevent distraction.
A black-themed interior matches your choice of Black or Parchment leather seating with black carpet, black door panels and a black instrument panel. Though the 9-5's interior continues to see improvements, traditionalists can rest easy knowing the center console-mounted ignition key tumbler and three-dimensional grid air vents remain. Dark walnut trim gives way to metallic highlights in the Sport Package. A cooled glove box lets you pack lunch and a drink for the road. The 9-5 Sedan features a conspicuously generous trunk, while the SportCombi's cargo floor includes twin recessed aluminum rails that make it easy to secure loads. Most importantly, front and rear passengers are likely to find both the 9-5 Sedan and the SportCombi plenty roomy and comfortable.
Newly redesigned in 2006, the 9-5 continues for 2008 relatively unchanged. Gone, for the most part, is the automaker's familiar three-port grille in favor of a face that's more aggressive, yet less distinctive. The design changes up front included a new hood, fenders and a lower fascia. Every 9-5 rides on split-spoke 17-inch wheels.
Notable Standard Equipment
In addition to a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, a base Saab 9-5 features leather seating, power moonroof, 200-watt AM/FM audio system with XM Satellite Radio and a six-disc CD changer, automatic dual-zone climate control, tire pressure monitoring system, rain-sensing wipers, OnStar, eight-way power front seats with driver's side-memory, power windows/locks/mirrors, high-pressure headlamp washers, heated front and rear seats and a cooled glove box. Standard safety equipment includes front airbags, head and thorax side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability and traction controls.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Aero Trim includes a more aggressive suspension, sportier seats and metallic interior trim in place of wood. The Visibility Package includes xenon headlamps, auto-dimming power-folding outside mirrors and rear park assist. Additional stand-alone options include a five-speed automatic transmission, ventilated front seats and a DVD-based navigation system that bumps the six-disc CD changer to the trunk.
Under the Hood
The 9-5 is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine of 250 horsepower. Five-speed manual models benefit from a handy turbocharger overboost function that increases torque output to 273 pounds-feet in bursts of up to 20 seconds, and helps accelerate the 9-5 from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 6.9 seconds, according to Saab. With the automatic transmissionwhich features Normal and Sport modesthe same run takes 7.3 seconds.
2.3-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
260 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1900-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 (manual), 17/27 (automatic)
The 2008 Saab 9-5 2.3T Sedan's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $37,000, while the SportCombi wagon stickers near $38,500. The Aero trim adds about another $1,100 to the bottom line. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price paid for the 9-5 in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. As for resale value, we expect the 9-5's performance to rank in the bottom half of the category, well below the marks set by the Infiniti G35 and the Lexus IS 350.