The performance of the 2009 Saab 9-5 is decidedly underwhelming, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.
The 2009 Saab 9-5 is powered by a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine with 260 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power transference takes place via a five-speed automatic Sentronic transmission or optional five-speed manual transmission. Edmunds notes, "the 9-5 is sufficiently quick, although the four-cylinder's power delivery is not as refined as we'd like." Edmunds adds, "torque steer remains an issue under hard acceleration due to its front-wheel-drive layout." Kelley Blue Book says the turbocharger “delivers its influence politely but firmly." Still, Car and Driver mentions the Saab turbo “four-cylinder must compete with sixes and V-8s in this class,” and considers it “outclassed.”
At 18/28 mpg with the manual and 17/26 mpg with the automatic transmission, the Saab 9-5 gets good fuel economy, but TheCarConnection.com notes that the drivetrain seems out of place in a high-end luxury car.
Regarding the 9-5’s transmission, Cars.com points out the automatic at least offers manual gear selection. The Auto Channel notes, "many vehicles in this class offer six-speed versions of both types of transmission."
Handling, especially under hard acceleration, is the most common complaint about the Saab 9-5. Although it has been reduced, the 2009 version still exhibits the familiar torque steer—a pull to one side or the other when you press the throttle. Kelley Blue Book notes, "the Saab 9-5 is responsive, nimble and downright quick.” However, Car and Driver observes the 9-5’s torque steer and concludes, “the handling isn't quite up to snuff.” Fundamentally, they add, the 9-5 “has the disadvantage of being a front-drive sedan in a rear- and/or all-wheel-drive class.” Automobile Magazine attests it’s “more responsive and handles better” than before, but it suffers from an “overly floaty ride.”
The Aero version of the Saab 9-5 feature a retuned suspension with tighter springs and higher damping rates, as well as a larger anti-roll bar, and it controls the wheels a little better. Ride compliance is more sporting (read: tauter), and in general, it's the most pleasant 9-5 to drive. Edmunds calls it a “worthwhile upgrade.”