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STYLING | 5 out of 10
outclassed ... when it comes to ... refined luxury and engaging performance
2008 Saab 9-5 is neither as premium nor as sporty [as other premium sport sedans]
Kelley Blue Book
still partying, er, driving like it's 1999
The Auto Channel
The Saab 9-5 sedan returns for yet another model year with minor changes, as it awaits a full model renewal in the 2010 model year. Automobile says “with the current car dating back to 1998, an all-new 9-5 is long past due.”
For 2008, there are two body styles, sedan and SportCombi wagon, and both show their age inside and out. On the exterior, the Saab 9-5 has larger headlamps and a new hood, but with age, the Saab 9-5 has become a bit frumpy. “The Saab 9-5 has not been redesigned since its debut, though it did receive a recent update for the 2006 model year that included an exterior face-lift,” Edmunds says. Motor Trend notes, “The 9-5's new front-end styling features projector-style headlamps set in a unique matte-black housing,” but adds the “nose and tail fail to hide its long-in-the tooth styling and the doors and tumblehome remain unchanged (and are showing their wrinkles).” Automobile thinks that refresher gave the 9-5 “cleaner front and rear styling.” The Auto Channel comments that even though "the 9-5 underwent a significant freshening that included an exterior face-lift" two years ago, for the Saab 9-5 2008 "there's just no escaping the fact that it's still partying, er, driving like it's 1999." Kelley Blue Book observes that it holds a strong appeal to "purists who shun the overly high-tech approach and flashy styling so pervasive in today's luxury sedans."
As to the interior, it still says "Saab," but a new cliff-like face to the 9-5 instrument panel hasn't changed the fact that it's more than a decade old. At least it has easily readable displays and ergonomic layout of switches and dials. Car and Driver praises its “restrained interior design and materials.”
The 2008 Saab 9-5 hasn’t changed substantially in 10 years—too long in auto years.