2011 Saab 9-5 Page 1

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The all-new 2011 Saab 9-5 might have arrived just a little too late. Saab's future stands uncertain; but the new 9-5 is its best-ever mid-size sedan—and a better sedan for family duty than many of the offerings from more established luxury brands like BMW or Infiniti.

The 9-5 earns an 8 out of 10 on the FamilyCarGuide scale, for its standout design, excellent seats, and tight, quiet cabin; a sticker price that's hard to justify remains one of the key hangups.

We like how the 9-5 doesn't look like any other luxury sedan; it dodges the creases and cutlines for smooth, glossy sheetmetal and a softened design—except for the aggressive front end. The smooth interior styling flows neatly around to the doors but doesn't forget about Saab's design heritage.

The 2011 9-5 could be Saab's saving grace; it's a classy, comfortable, and well-designed flagship, with a lot more character than most luxury sport sedans.

Front seats are among the best on the market—soft yet supportive, with extending thigh supports—and that's one of the reasons the 9-5 would be among FamilyCarGuide's top picks for long-distance comfort. There's space for long-legged adults in back, with excellent materials and trims (although the leather might prove a little too delicate for kids and dogs).

The 9-5 is a joy to drive, too, at least compared to other luxury models that aren't all-out sport sedans. Its steering is surprisingly good and well-weighted, and ride quality is firm but absorbent. We'd recommend the four-cylinder engine over the thirsty turbo V-6 in Aero models.

In terms of safety-features and infotainment, the 2011 Saab 9-5 comes close to top sport-sedan rivals from Germany, with a lane departure warning system, park assist, and even a heads-up display, as well as excellent surround sound, and rear DVD entertainment. These features come with a few more buttons, but distracted parents will probably appreciate them to the sometimes-perplexing interfaces such as BMW's iDrive or Audi's MMI.

The one wrench in the wheel is price. It costs nearly $60k for a well-optioned 9-5 Aero. That's far more than a comparably equipped Volvo S80 and nearly the same as an optioned BMW 535i—and, quite simply, too much, given Saab's current status as a brand.

The 9-5 is classy, comfortable, and well-designed. If you can look past all the unanswered questions when you're shopping for your next family sedan, and focus on the car itself, the 2011 Saab 9-5 is one of the best picks.

For more information, including links to related news on Saab, see our full review of the 2011 Saab 9-5 over at The Car Connection.

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