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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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2009 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 569 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
    9.0/10

90% of mileage is highway. Reliable

By on Monday, July 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 220,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Excellent exterior, great gas mileage 28-32 mpg"

Cons: "Needs electronic sensors to be replaced."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"Engine has seen regular synthetic oil changes from 18k every 8000 miles. It has never burned a drop of oil. Gas gauge sensor, and rear wheel electronic sensors need replacing. AC is intermittent. Local mechanic is working on the issue."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

By far the best vehicle I have owned

By on Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I have had many vehicles in the past 40+ years, but this is the best by far that I have owned. Very comfortable for long trips, excellent sound system, plenty of power for merging onto interstate highways, very large trunk, and I have no problems with the car mechanically. A delight to drive and to own!"

14 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Sporty sedan that handles and drives very well.

By on Thursday, May 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "True Sport Sedan, great puch, with sure foot stops"

Cons: "No longer made, parts are expensive"

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

"Awesome in the snow, the Saab 9-3 Aero, has plenty of punch and can stop very well. It's sure footed, with large 17"tires, and is a solidly built sturdy vehicle. The car is mediocre on gas, but how you drive makes it a big difference on how much it will sip. The car has many high end nice features as automatic wind shield wipers, heated front seats,fog lights, awesome windshield cleaning system with high volume 3 spout output.Transmission is a 6 speed automatic that is fluid and smooth at the same time. The car has terrific high output head lights, that really light up the road.The only drawback is now that Saab is out of Business, parts are expensive and repairs are costly, plus time consuming."

12 people out of 16 found this review helpful

love, love, love this car

By on Friday, April 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 164,000

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
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Excellent power, great gas mileage, solidly built"

Cons: "Minor cosmetic flaws, plastic dash"

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

"My husband suggested this car and I am so thankful he did. Absolutely the most fun to drive of anything I have ever owned. Bought with 134000 miles and now 164000 and still going strong. Owned now for almost 3 years. New tires, new front springs and a thermostat are the only things replaced. Too bad they aren't making this beauties anymore. I will seek another Saab for my next vehicle if this one ever stops."

6 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Fun to drive! Beautiful looking.

By on Monday, April 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Looks, ride, fast, great handling, great seats."

Cons: "Stiff suspension."

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

"This is the funnest car to drive that I have ever had and I've had Volvo turbo's and a 1969 Camaro. I get compliments every time I put the top down how nice it looks. The Aero option is a must. The suspension is stiff and not good on bad roads and over railroad tracks but on nice roads and when cornering it is a dream. Back up sensors are great for parking. The Nav system is dated but works fine. Oh yeah, it is a bullet off the line from a dead stop."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Good driving car. Sporty looks and reliable.

By on Friday, April 04, 2014

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

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive"

Cons: "Seems to go through head light bulbs"

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

"No major repairs since purchase. Enjoy the ride and the sporty look with the top down. Fun car to drive"

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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

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