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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.
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.