A host of features that both coddle and improve safety make the 2008 Saab 9-3 a smart buy where amenities are concerned.
Mechanically, even the base 2.0T model comes well equipped for its intended mission. Kelley Blue Book likes the sport button on the automatic transmission, finding that it “keeps the transmission in each gear long enough to boost responses smartly,” but discovers it works better with the base engine. “Rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a built-in tire-pressure monitoring system,” comments MyRide.com, round out the mechanically useful features of the 9-3.
Widely praised is the optional XWD system that goes for $2,000. A system designed by Haldex, it normally “sends more than 90 percent of engine power to the front wheels. Under acceleration or in low-grip situations, the system's electronic brain sends torque rearward to enhance traction,” states Edmunds. Calling the system’s operation “compelling,” Autoblog remarks that “the genius is that the system does all this in 80 milliseconds, long before the rear wheel on the low-grip side even hits the icy patch.” The system may also be combined with an eLSD (electronic limited slip differential) for the rear, which increases the 9-3’s abilities in poor traction even further.
In the realm of convenience and electronics, XM Satellite Radio and GM’s OnStar have been made standard for 2008. MyRide.com notes that “a hot Bose 11-speaker sound system will be optional on late-2008 models,” and they mention the optional Profiler system, which “consists of a set of steering wheel-mounted controls and a 6.5-inch-wide color display screen at the top center of the instrument panel” that has readings for most functions such as climate control, clock, and vehicle speed. This option, as well as the rest of the dash lighting, may be turned off completely with the exception of the speedometer, a feature that Saab has offered for years.
Also optional are a DVD-based navigation system and a moonroof.