The exception is the 2011 Saab 9-3—which last got a mild refresh for 2008 and is arguably a bit dated next to most compact to mid-size sport or luxury sedans. An all-new 9-3 is in the works—due within a couple of years—but in the meantime the 9-3 actually remains a decent family choice (and a 6 out of 10) if you don't let potential brand ugliness like resale value get in the way. The 9-3 isn't for sport-sedan enthusiasts, but it still has a lot of appeal for families looking for a comfortable, manageably sized, European-flavored sedan—and something different than staid German rivals.
The turbocharged V-6 of previous model years is now missing from the lineup, so all 9-3 models come with a 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; from a previous driving experience, we've noted that it can be a little coarse but otherwise has plenty of power to move this almost-mid-size sedan. You can get a six-speed manual gearbox as a no-charge option on any of the models; other 9-3s come with either a five-speed automatic if they're front-wheel drive or a six-speed auto with the XWD all-wheel drive system.
The 9-3 is also quite fuel-efficient; gas mileage rates up to 21 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive.
We like the size of the 9-3 and think many small families will, too; it lands between compact and mid-size by U.S. standards, and feels small and maneuverable enough in the city yet has an interior that feels notably roomier than the likes of compact sport sedans like the Audi A4 or Volvo S40.
All 2011 9-3 models come with leather upholstery, along with cruise control, full power accessories, and cruise control; but it's a bit of a letdown that Bluetooth is optional. Other extras include XM satellite radio, a navigation system, and rear parking sensors.
For more, see the review pages on the 2011 Saab 9-3 over at The Car Connection.