Tag Archives: Saab

First Drive – 2010 Saab 9-5: Holy Crap Saab’s Alive!

Do you remember a car company called Saab? Don’t worry, I won’t fault you if you don’t. Just this past year they almost shuttered their doors forever. Crazy when you think about it. Well, they didn’t close the doors. In fact, they were bought by another car company called Spyker. Some of you haven’t heard of Spyker either, but that is for another post.

When Spyker bought Saab, the new 9-5 was already done, ready to roll down the assembly line and into dealerships. The production process was shut down during negotiations and then restarted once the deal with Spyker was inked. With new 9-5’s showing up in dealerships right now, I was eager to get behind the wheel and take one for a spin. Let’s go for a quick drive.


It’s funny, because I swear I’ve seen this look before. Oh that’s right, the new front end is very similar to the Aero X concept from a few years ago. The headlights have a light pipe on the bottom and the entire lens has a blue tint to it. The front clip is aggressive but not overly so.

There is slight sculpting on the side, tightly integrated near the bottom of the doors, while a character line runs the length of the vehicle. The rear is just….gorgeous, With the Saaby (yes, that is now a word) C-pillars and light pipes that run the entire width of the rear, I’m in love. The tail lights feature LEDs which play a part as a significant design element. The rear deck lid is short, but not odd looking in person. Overall, the exterior is a huge win.


Take a Saab 9-5 interior that you imagine, throw great materials in it, terrific seats and a flat bottomed steering wheel. You now have the new Saab 9-5 interior.  And yes, there is a flat bottom steering wheel! The navigation unit is a touch screen, but it has plenty of buttons to get you around.

While the ignition is now a push button, Saab has not forgotten its roots. The ignition button is on the console in between the driver and passenger, just like it used to be. The night panel button (another Saab tradition) also remains. Let’s not forget about the green lightning and egg crate vents with single rotating knobs. There is a few GM parts bin items, like the wiper and turn stalks, but they work just fine. The gauge cluster has that trick round center screen also found on the Cadillac SRX. The rear seats have plenty of legroom for people over six-feet tall.

There is a lot of black surfaces in the new 9-5. This leads to a somewhat darker cabin. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is something I noted. The heads up display was easy to see in sunlight and you can turn it off if it proves distracting. Did I mention the comfy seats? I’ve gone on and on. The interior isn’t perfect, but it is worlds better then the last 9-5.


The first 9-5’s will come in the highest trim level (Aero XWD) with the 2.8-liter turbo V-6 as standard. This setup puts 300 horsepower to all four wheels. 2010 is a very short model year for the 9-5, and the 2011s are slated to show up very soon. MY 2011 will bring a lower priced model, with a standard 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 220 HP. It will be available in front-or all-wheel drive forms.

The 2.8 liter turbo in my tester builds speed quickly, hitting 0-60 in around 6.8 seconds. This isn’t a “OMG that’s fast” feeling. It is more of a silent thrust forward. You will never be thrown into the back of your seat. While I haven’t had the chance to drive the 2.0-liter turbo yet, I heard that might be the engine for the enthusiasts. While down on power, it is also down on weight. Also, you can get the smaller engine with a six-speed manual – the turbo V6 is available only with a six-speed automatic.

The bottom line? This is the car that is supposed to help save Saab. It was developed by General Motors and is being launched by the new owners Spyker. With the right marketing this car could work. Of course, the company can’t survive off one car, but that is another story. The new Saab 9-5 is everything I hoped for. Comfortable, sporty and darn good looking.

Cars & Café – June 5, 2010

Another month means another gathering for Cars & Café out at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.  As I woke up at 5:50 am to get ready and then hop into the 300ZX, I looked out the window to see rain coming down.  I instantly decided taking the 300ZX was not happening – not this month.

By no means did this mean I was not going, rather I just did not feel like taking the 300ZX out in the rain.  I went back to bed, because the reality is if you do not plan on showing a car, getting to the AutoMotorPlex ridiculously early is not a huge deal.  After getting a little more sleep, I found myself pulling into the event at 9 am.  Things were already hopping.  There was a line of cars still flowing into the complex, although a few Porsches were actually leaving.  As I was walking down the hill, a Carver County Sheriff pulled in and asked if he could show his car (jokingly of course).  Gotta love the panther cars!

The fact that the weather was not amazing did not stop car lovers and onlookers alike from flowing in and filling up the AutoMotorPlex.  In fact, certain cars ended up being turned away to park at the top of the hill due to the sections filling up.  Notably missing (at least I did not see it) was the Scion XB with the taped on LED strips to the headlights.  I also did not see the 240SX with the zip tied body kit.  That was all fine because the first thing I saw was a black BMW Z8 and I just love that car. The license plate on the Z8 read HOUSPMT, and while I did not meet the owner the car was in great condition.

Other notable cars included a terrific looking Saab 900 (I assume a Turbo but it was debadged and the hood was not open).  I was really digging the car – until I saw the rear which has what can only be described as – you know those aftermarket lights that can go on trucks, with four squircles to make it look similar to a Corvette?  Yeah, those!  Anyways, they were um …well ugly compared to the traditional taillights or even some other aftermarket options.  The rest of the car, I lust after.  A very nice R Design Volvo C30 was in attendance with the license plate BORK.  That is just classic.  I really loved the Audi GT Coupe with great blue paint.  A very nice black 300ZX Twin Turbo was there – and while it may be fast its not Uncs Z (that story is coming someday).

A 1964 Volkswagen 1800 convertible was being shown and it was just classic.  A true Michelle Naranjo vehicle if I have ever seen one – she probably dreams of it now that I sent her a picture of it.  Another cool car I had yet to see in the flesh was a Shelby GT500 Super Snake.  Blue with a black and white interior the car was just gorgeous.  Other cool appearances included the VW Bus that been at all three Cars & Café’s so far this year.  I spoke with the owner and he mentioned a new paint job would be coming towards the of the summer.  Sad, because I actually dig the current look.

Overall, the turnout was great.  Even though it rained the lot was packed.  Good times, donuts, coffee and great people – all with a common passion.  Maybe next month we will get sunshine instead of clouds and rain.  Until next month,  heres to good motoring and safe driving.

Video – Introducing The New Saab 9-5

Is Saab Reaching With The New 2010 9-5 Pricing?

The all-new 2010 Saab 9-5 is almost here.  Yesterday, the pricing was announced and I was shocked at first.  The lineup will be launching with the range-topping Aero model, with a sticker price of $49,990.  That is a hefty chunk of money, and a nice increase to the Aero’s price.  Though this is a much larger and modern vehicle, the last generation 9-5 Aero started at $41,425 (not that anyone actually paid that price).  The Aero will be coming standard with the 2.8 liter turbo V6 putting out 300 horsepower via Saab’s XWD, which is an all-wheel drive system that features Haldex’s trick torque vectoring.  They mentioned it will feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, so apparently the Aero model (at least at launch) will not have a manual transmission.  The Aero model should go on sale in July.  The entry-level model will feature Saab’s 2.0-liter turbo and will have a base price of “under $40,000.”  That is all that was announced for the pricing on that model for now – it should be arriving soon after the Aero model.

With the increased dimensions of the new 9-5 and upgraded content (available heads up display, cooled glovebox, lane departure warning, and many others) the question is the pricing.  This is deep into midsize luxury territory.  With the 9-5 being priced right in the middle of the new Infiniti M37x, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and the Audi A6 3.0T, can it compete?  Is the price too high?  This car will likely have many things at that price level that the competition might not (though we have not yet seen the ordering sheet and option pricing).  Time will tell how this new vehicle fares, but without question Saab enthusiasts have been waiting for a rebirth of their brand and this might be the car to start that.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 24: “Ideas Episode”

Episode 24 starts with introductions including Justin Loyear from Cheers and Gears and this weeks guest William Maley also known as realmudmonster on Twitter.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon I was in for the past week along with the Chevrolet Equinox Colin was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured a Toyota Avalon plane TV commercial. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing ideas you would like to see on a Ford?

Last we discuss the past week on our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.  The week in review included- my editorial on negativity in the auto industry and my review of the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado.  Cheers and Gears had a post on a new Subaru Legacy commercial.  Colin had a post about by the numbers in Germany.

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Used Saab: Honest Marketing

My buddy was surfing the infamous Craigslist to find a used gem.  Along the way he stumbled upon this hidden treasure which he quickly sent me the link to check out its collectors status.  This just has so much win about it.  The best part is that it is truly honest marketing.  They are up front about the car needing some work.  It has already been put to a vote on Twitter and this absolutely makes it into the running for the best of Craigslist.  Leave your marketing spin on this gem in the comments.

Source- Craigslist (be warned- as with any Craigslist posting the link will be broken once the ad expires or is taken down thus the embedded screen capture)

Review – 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo

After my first run in with the SRX I had strong opinions, both good and bad.  The new SRX is a valid contender in this automotive segment and pushes the envelope for Cadillac both in quality and as a class competitive product.  My largest gripe was that the base powertrain is weak and affected the driving experience.  A simple question: would the optional turbo V6 engine fix the driving experience?

The main highlight of the SRX Turbo is larger engine which is funny because the engine in not actually larger because it is a 2.8 liter while the base V6 is a 3.0 liter.  The extra power in the this V6 really comes from the turbo, putting out 300 hp and 295 ft-lb to all four wheels all with max torque coming at 2000 rpm.  The all wheel drive system is the torque vectoring unit from Haldex.  This is the same unit that made its debut in the now dead Saab TurboX a few years back and can transfer up to 90% of the torque to the rear wheels at any given time.  The torque can also be distributed between the wheels side to side.  All of this gets put to the ground through a six speed automatic transmission with manual shift capabilities.  So the question still remains:  does this extra power fix the SRX driving experience?

The answer is yes and no.  Yes, the driving experience is much better.  In fact, leaps and bounds better.  In normal and spirited driving the car does not feel strained like the base 3.0 liter V6.  Even pulling away from a stoplight, you notice the difference.  In normal driving the engine does not feel like it is working hard.  The revs are easily kept under 3ooo rpm’s unless pushed.  When pushed, the engine responds quickly with no noticeable lag.  The turbo is going almost constantly whenever you have your foot on the gas.  Something to note is that you cannot put the needle into the red on the turbo gauge.  Why would you have the red there when you cannot put the needle in that zone?  The first thing people said to me was to put it in the red and I had to respond sadly, “It does not go that high.”

The downside to this engine is the gas mileage.  Rated at 15/22, this engine could definitely be described as thirsty.  I cannot decide what is worse about the mileage;  the fact that it is just terrible for this vehicle class, or that it is coming from the engine putting out the power that this vehicle really needs.  That mileage is no joke either.  I averaged 15.3 mpg during the week and it is worth noting that the gas it is guzzling requires premium.  I did not really stretch the SRX Turbo’s legs so I cannot comment on the highway mileage though I can assume that it matched the EPA rating pretty close to dead on.  Again, that city mileage is really not good and is so bad that it starts to dip into body-on-frame SUV mileage.  For example, the much larger body-on-frame Chevrolet Tahoe is rated at 15 mpg in the city with a V8.  If SRX Turbo engine had direct injection it would post better fuel mileage numbers and would be more competitive.

As mentioned in my previous review of the SRX, the interior styling is very well done. The materials all look and feel great. It uses the center stack from the CTS (minus the tiny climate control screens on each side) and the door handles are uniquely shaped.  These little details help set it apart. That said, the back seat is somewhat short on leg room with a taller driver.  The cargo area has a terrific cargo management system with sliding tie down brackets and there is a decent sized storage cubby below the rear floor that can hold items away from public view.

The styling is terrific.  I am still undecided about the front air dam being so low and whether it makes it look better or worse.  The rear taillights hark back to the “tailfins” on older Cadillac’s and play nicely with the overall design.  The rear diffuser finishes off the rear while integrating the exhaust into the overall design.  The A-pillars in this vehicle are ridiculously huge and they make sight lines a problem in a few instances and the rear window is tiny and makes visibility awkward so the back up camera is definitely useful in a parking lot.  The twenty inch wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely and look great because they are painted aluminum wheels instead of chrome plated.  Another thing that still bugs me is the GM chiclet.  I mentioned this in my original review, and again, I assume the tooling was already set before the decision to ditch this “Mark of Excellence” was made.

The SRX Turbo I had was a premium model with almost all of the bells and whistles.  The rear seat entertainment system package with dual rear screens and wireless headsets with remote adds $1,295 to this package and  I like the way this system is set up with screens in the back of the seats and separate video inputs for each.  The second option was the crystal red tintcoat which will set you back $995.  All said, including destination fees, the total sticker price of this particular SRX Turbo came to $54,475.

I want to take a second to talk about the competition.  The SRX is really going head to head with the Lexus RX. It was developed and bench marked against that vehicle and the marketing pitches it that way.  As I mentioned earlier, the price on this SRX Turbo was close to $55,000 and that is a lot of coin while there are a lot of other great vehicles for that price.  The SRX Turbo starts under $50,000, for that price you can get a nicely equipped Acura MDX or an Ecoboost Lincoln MKT and, while the Ecoboost MKT is a much larger vehicle, it just goes to show the breadth of this segment and price range.

There must be something about the SRX because each time I have had the vehicle we have gotten whacked with lots of snow here in Minneapolis.  The SRX Turbo handled it like a champ plowing through the white stuff with the all wheel drive sending power to the wheels with traction.  It felt weird but sometimes I thought the electronic stability control was slow to kick in.  The front wheel drive SRX handled the snow with its low profile, all season tires better than expected, so this all wheel drive version had absolutely no issues.

As with the other SRX I reviewed, I do like this vehicle.  When you compare it with the direct competitor, the Lexus RX, you see the SRX is a more engaging and dynamic vehicle.  The optional turbo powertrain definitely fixes the anemic feeling but at the large expense of gas mileage and in reality, the bulk of the SRX’s sold will be equipped with the base 3.0 liter V6 and that engine will be fine for those who are more concerned with the gas mileage.  For those who really want to take the SRX to its full potential, you will have to take the hit on the gas mileage and option for the turbo V6.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 14: “Say Your Goodbye”

Episode 14 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included January’s numbers and Betting on the Little Guy.  We move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • Latest Toyota recall recap
  • GM deciding to keep the Renaissance Center
  • Current Saab 9-5 ends production
  • All new Saab 9-5 hitting showrooms in Q2

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured the preview from the documentary on closure of Ohio GM plant which earned an Oscar nomination.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss our main topics.  This week those topics included a goodbye to Saturn and Pontiac along with Colin making the argument that Kia might be in a crisis.

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AutoBird Podcast – Esp 13: “Toyota Recall Redux”

Episode 13 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included Dodge’s three new Charger ads and GM to manufacture it’s own electric motors.  We move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • Toyota recalls an additional 1.1 million vehicles
  • GM has appointed Ed Whitacre as permanent CEO (for now)
  • Opel confirms another 8,300 jobs to be cut
  • The upcoming new Ford Explorer
  • Ford earned $2.7 billion in 2009

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured the later then it should have been Chrysler holiday ad.

Last but certaintly not least, we discuss our three main topics.  This week those included Chrysler’s future, the sale of Saab to Spyker and Toyota’s latest recall woes.

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AutoBird Podcast Episode 10

Episode 10 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included 2009 sales numbers, and my post about why strippers are important.  We move along to talk about NAIAS (the Detroit Auto Show) and the things we will be seeing.  That list includes the next generation Ford Focus, the Chevrolet Aveo RS concept, Ford’s MyFord, and the Buick Regal GS concept.  Next we discuss the new Dodge naming scheme and announced Chrysler powertrain updates.  The last topic continues to be the Saab story that continues to unfold.

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