2008 Saab 9-7X

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2008 Saab 9-7X Review

By KBB.com Editors

The 9-7X represents something of a philosophy change for Saab, a company that built its reputation producing midsize performance vehicles with off-beat good looks. With no SUV in its portfolio, Saab turned to parent company GM for a quick fix. Borrowing a platform shared by the GMC Envoy and Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Saab engineers have produced a vehicle that looks the part, but falls somewhat short in the areas of ride comfort and engine refinement - at least as expectations of those characteristics might be for a Saab. Still, for Saab loyalists looking for something bigger than a SportCombi, the 2008 Saab 9-7X has much to offer, including off-road and towing capabilities no Saab car can possibly match.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're in the market for a practical SUV, but would rather be shopping for a European sport sedan, you may find the 2008 Saab 9-7X delivers the utility you need, the badge you want and an attractive window sticker as well.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If a European badge means nothing to you unless you get the typical European driving characteristics along with it, the Saab 9-7X's truck-based architecture may send you running from the Saab dealer straight into the arms of the competition.

What's New for 2008

No major changes for 2008.

Driving the 9-7X
Driving Impressions

Unlike the scores of increasingly popular car-based SUVs, truck-based SUVs like the Saab 9-7X still struggle to combine a smooth ride with confident handling. So, although stiffening the suspension imparts...

... the 9-7X with increased straight-line and cornering stability, it also results in a rougher ride, especially for those in the rear seat. In addition, while the in-line six-cylinder and V8 engines offer plenty of power, neither conveys a sense of effortlessness under heavy acceleration and both would benefit greatly from a more sophisticated transmission than the four-speed automatic. Steering and brakes are both responsive, and a tight turning radius helps make the 9-7X surprisingly easy to maneuver in parking lots.

Leather Seats
Big, supportive, comfortable leather seats provide a creamy center for the 9-7X.

Sound System
An impressive in-dash six-disc sound system is both loud and clear.

2008 Saab 9-7X Details

Saab purists, rejoice. Unlike the Subaru Impreza five-door that wears a Saab badge and a 9-2X nametag, the 9-7X has its ignition cylinder right where Saabs have always had them: Between the front seats. That, in addition to the sport-styled seats and chrome-ringed gauges, helps reinforce the European performance mindset while contrast stitching, wood-like trim and familiar air vents help further differentiate the 9-7X as a premium European-like vehicle. Interior space is as generous as you'd expect from a mid-size SUV, and the big leather seats are comfortable.


Given that most of its exterior panels are borrowed from its domestic-branded cousins, Saab's designers did an excellent job of giving the 9-7X its own identity. Key differentiators include a familiar three-port grille, wraparound-look rear glass and sporty 18-inch aluminum wheels. Combined with sleek bumper treatments, an inch-lower ride height and tastefully flared wheel arches, the 9-7X comes across as far sportier and more sophisticated than any of the vehicles with which it shares so much. The view from behind includes silver, clear-lens taillights that evoke Chevy's smaller and less-exclusive SUV, the Equinox. And, a trailer hitch beneath a Saab logo may seem odd.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

A base Saab 9-7X 4.2i is complete with a full stock of standard equipment that includes a 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, leather seats, wood-like trim, moonroof, Bose audio with in-dash six-disc changer, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows/locks/mirrors, heated power front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, load-leveling rear air suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and front and side-curtain airbags.

Optional Equipment

Stepping up to the Saab 9-7X 5.3i delivers not only the 5.3-liter V8, but also xenon headlamps and power-adjustable pedals. Optional on both trim levels are a navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Under the Hood

Although the big V8 makes the 9-7X a more capable hauler (maximum towing capacity is 6,500 pounds), the in-line six will prove plenty powerful for most drivers. If you're leaning toward the V8, it's nice to know that the mileage penalty isn't that steep, thanks in part to active fuel management technology which allows the engine to operate on just four cylinders when the power of all eight is not needed. Unlike other European SUVs, the 9-7X doesn't offer manual tap-up/down shift capability.

4.2-liter in-line 6
285 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
276 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 14/20

5.3-liter V8
300 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
321 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 13/19

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