2011 Saab 9-3 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 23, 2011

While Saab tries to bootstrap itself as an independent automaker with a three-vehicle lineup, its oldest model gets a trim for the 2011 model year.

Spyker-owned Saab has dropped the turbocharged V-6 from its 9-3 lineup of sedans for the 2011 model year, while it launches its large 9-5 sedan and wagon, and preps for the introduction of its 9-4X crossover vehicle.

With few changes other than the loss of the turbo six, and the repackaging of some features and options, the 9-3 is pretty much where it's been since a 2008 revamp. It's a roomy compact model that borders on mid-size, despite the fact that it's now the smallest model in the company's lineup. The 9-3 comes in sedan and versatile wagon (SportCombi) body styles, as well as a convertible.

The 9-3 comes in two models: Turbo4 and Aero X. A 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engine propels both models; the high-performance 280-hp, 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine has been dropped from the Aero X, leaving it as more of a trim package on the standard-issue car.

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A six-speed manual is standard equipment on the 9-3 Turbo4 with front-wheel drive; it's a no-charge option across the board. A five-speed automatic is optional on the Turbo4 FWD, while it's specified as standard on the Aero FWD model. A six-speed automatic is standard on both models when they're equipped with Saab's XWD all-wheel-drive system, which is optional on either model. Fuel economy ranges from 21/31 mpg on the front-drive, six-speed models to 17/27 mpg on XWD versions.

A navigation system and rear parking sensors are the major options on the Aero models; base models must opt up to a power passenger seat, Bluetooth, and XM satellite radio, though all 2011 9-3 sedans come with power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, and leather upholstery.

Safety features include dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes and stability control. No rearview camera is offered, though rear parking sensors are available on Aero models, bundled in a package.

We're awaiting a test drive of the Saab lineup under its new owners. While we're readying a new review, see our most recent coverage of the 2009 Saab 9-3 lineup.
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