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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
The 6-cylinder engine provides brisk takeoffs and adequate passing power
Manage only questionable fuel economy
Car and Driver
Plenty of oomph right from the start
For a company whose slogan is "Born from jets," Saab vehicles, you would expect, should move around town pretty quickly. The 2008 Saab 9-7X does just that, especially when outfitted in Aero trim with its 390-hp V-8, but that performance comes at the price of dismal fuel economy.
Edmunds writes that the engine options on the 2008 Saab 9-7X range from a "4.2-liter inline six-cylinder good for 285 hp and 276 pound-feet of torque" on the 4.2i up to a "6.0-liter V8 cranking out 390 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque" on the 9-7X Aero. In between the two rests the Saab 9-7X 5.3i, which "comes equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine putting out 300 hp and 321 lb-ft of torque," according to Edmunds. When driving the lower-output six-cylinder engine on the 9-7X Saab in 4.2i trim, ConsumerGuide finds that it "provides brisk takeoffs and adequate passing power," and Kelley Blue Book appreciates the boost from "plenty of power," although they note that neither the engines on the 4.2i nor the 5.3i "conveys a sense of effortlessness under heavy acceleration." Moving up engine outputs, the 300-horsepower V-8 provides excellent power for all maneuvers. For those who simply crave more, however, Saab offers the 2008 Saab 9-7X Aero, which Car and Driver says is "fast...as you'd expect of nearly anything with a 390-hp Chevrolet LS2 V-8 under the hood."
Despite its undeniable quickness in Aero trim, the 9-7X Saab can't outrun its many performance shortcomings. Chief among the complaints in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com is the four-speed automatic transmission. Kelley Blue Book laments the lack of any other transmission options, saying that all versions of the Saab 9-7X would "benefit greatly from a more sophisticated transmission than the four-speed automatic." Cars.com, however, feels that the "transmission is generally well behaved," although "awkward downshifts sometimes occur when attempting to pass." Other common complaints included references to the Saab 9-7X's unimpressive (to put it mildly) fuel economy. Car and Driver finds that "lesser 9-7Xs already manage only questionable fuel economy -- the thriftiest engine is rated at 14/20 mpg," while the 390-hp Aero "returns a bottom-of-the-list 12 mpg in the city and 16 on the highway." The EPA's official estimates for fuel economy on the 2008 Saab 9-7X are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for the 4.2i and 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway for the 5.3i.
Another critical component of the performance category is handling and driving characteristics, and here the Saab 9-7X performs with old-style SUV manners. ConsumerGuide praises the "direct and nicely weighted" steering effort, while Edmunds finds that the 9-7X has a "more stable ride and more responsive handling than any of its GM cousins." Although they both agree that the 9-7X offers responsive handling, the two differ sharply on their review of the brakes on the 9-7X. Edmunds says that "brake feel" is a "sore point, as the pedal lacks the progressive and confident response associated with a premium vehicle," while ConsumerGuide counters by saying that "braking is strong with reassuring pedal feel." Kelley Blue Book finds that "although stiffening the suspension imparts the 9-7X with increased straight-line and cornering stability, it also results in a rougher ride, especially for those in the rear seat."
The 2008 Saab 9-7X goes fast and stops quickly, but gas stops will be frequent.