2008 Saab 9-7X Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 2, 2008

The 2008 Saab 9-7X carves a respectable SUV out of GM’s older running gear, but fuel economy and crash scores are decidedly unlike other Saabs.

The resident sport-ute fans at TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of road tests to write this definitive review of the 2008 Saab 9-7X. TheCarConnection.com’s truck experts also drove the Saab 9-7X and have added driving impressions and details where they help you make the best decision on a new truck or sport-ute.

The 2008 Saab 9-7X is an anomaly--the only real truck in the Saab lineup, it seems out of place with its big six- and eight-cylinder engines, its truck-frame construction, and its American assembly-plant heritage.

At least it looks like a Saab--from some angles. Designers did a commendable job in creating a Saab persona for the same mechanicals that underpin the Buick Rainier. The front grille fits right in with Saab's newer 9-3 range, and the interior's richer textures and linear styling are a big improvement on GM's versions of the ute, which also include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. A special Aero edition gets even better, with blingy 20-inch wheels, a cocoa-colored paint job, and special trim. From the side, though, the 9-7X reveals its heritage--and it's not so modern or alluring.

Two engines power the 2008 Saab 9-7X. The 4.2i version gets its go from a 290-horsepower, 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine that's commendably smooth. The 5.3i and the Aero use a high-torque (generating 330 pound-feet), 300-horsepower V-8 powerplant. It's good for 0-60 mph runs in less than six seconds, but bad for fuel economy. The inline-six musters 14/20 mpg; the V-8, a low, low 12/16 mpg.

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All engines are fitted to a four-speed automatic transmission, and a fully automatic all-wheel-drive system with a limited-slip rear differential comes standard, as does a fully independent suspension with electronically controlled air shocks in the rear. Think "sport-ute" and the capabilities shine, with towing and low-speed grunt particularly good. However, on the road, the Saab 9-7X's ride gets busy, and the steering becomes as vague as a campaign promise. The front seats are good for longer trips, but the second row is somewhat tight for adults, and there's no third-row seat offered.

The 2008 Saab 9-7X comes with good standard features, such as an AM/FM/XM six-disc, in-dash CD changer with rear-seat audio controls. An in-dash, DVD-based navigation system is available, as is OnStar turn-by-turn navigation. Other options include a DVD entertainment system, an upgraded Bose audio system, and a power sunroof.

Standard features include anti-lock brakes, front and side-curtain airbags, and stability control. Still, the Saab 9-7X only gets three stars for driver front-impact protection, and four for the front passenger. In side impacts, the Saab 9-7X rates five stars, and it merits four stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2008 Saab 9-7X as "acceptable" for front impacts and "marginal" for side impacts. (The IIHS's crash tests are done at higher speeds than the federal tests, so results vary.)

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