IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Curt's review of the Saab 9-5

This weekend I give you a review of the Saab 9-5 written by Curt. Curt is one of my regular readers and you have probably seen his name in the comment section. Now he has written a  review of his own Saab 9-5 on a trip he did from Denver to San Francisco and he has been kind enough to share it with us all. And it seems like he did the trip in much more comfort than Jack Kerouac did On the Road!

So without further ado, here is Curt's review.

Curt's review: Trip to San Francisco 

In July, I had the pleasure to drive my NG 9-5 Aero from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco, California - a round trip of nearly 3000 miles/4800 kilometers. The car was a joy to drive and was my favorite part of the entire trip. Like any car, the 9-5 does some things very well and others not so well. Here are a few impressions of the car:

 Illustration photos "loaned" from Motortrend


Handling – the NG 9-5 Aero handles very well at high speed (80MPH/128KPH) driving through mountains, deserts and high plains. This car really hugs the roads and throws itself around sharp corners. I had no problems keeping my speed up at night when the roads got particularly twisty in the mountains of Wyoming. The car simply drives smaller than what it really is which is an excellent attribute. Even city driving in busy downtown San Francisco was no problems for the car and I was able to find parking for it without problem.

Visibility – the adaptive Xenon lighting system works great. The system is so effective in low beam that it was difficult to tell when the high beams were on. The lighting system changes with input from the steering wheel. So, when I would turn the steering wheel either right or left, the headlights would also move to the left or right making it easier to see around corners. The Xenon bulbs are very bright which can be blinding to oncoming traffic. There were a few occasions when another driver would flash their head lights at to as if I were driving with high beams on.

Performance – the 9-5 accelerates much better than reported in the press. The 9-5 easily passed cars and trucks that were travelling at highway speeds. The car is so smooth and so quiet that it doesn’t feel as if it is accelerating quickly. But when I looked at the speedometer and saw that I was over 100MPH/160KPH in just a few seconds, I realized how fast the car really is. The car accelerated well in the mountains above 10,000 feet/3350meters carrying a trunk full of luggage and one other passenger. I really was amazed by how quick the car is.

Comfort – the seats are my favorite feature of the car. They are simply the best I’ve seen. I was able to drive the entire route with no back pain at all. I drove the entire return trip from San Francisco without sleeping (nearly 20 hours) and without back pain. Normally, I get low back pain within a couple of hours behind the wheel but not in the 9-5. My passenger also loved the seats and was very comfortable for the entire trip.

Trunk space – the car has 18.5 cubic feet of trunk space and I used nearly every inch of it for the trip. I was able to fit multiple suitcases, coolers, various coats and accessories into the trunk which left the back seat open for when my passenger wanted to rest. The trunk is very well laid out with little wheel arch intruding on it.


My complaints are very minor and the issues did not affect my driving experience. Like any car, the 9-5 is not perfect and I want to highlight what I think are a few issues with the car.

Lack of spare tire – I’m not sure who at Saab decided to leave out a spare tire from the car, but it was a bad decision. A repair kit is included but it’s not guaranteed to fill the tire or that the repair would hold. I decided to purchase a spare tire from Saab USA Parts before the trip and I was able to drive with a peace of mind that I would not have had without a spare.

Fuel economy – I only averaged 25.3MPG/9.30L-100KM while highway driving. I had expected better but I guess the weight of the car does have an impact on fuel economy. I must admit though that I was driving at 80MPH/128KPH and my passenger needed the air conditioning as it was quite hot driving through Utah and Nevada. This could explain some of the poor gas mileage. My lowest highway fuel mileage was 23.73MPG/9.91L-100KM and my highest fuel mileage was 27.17MPG/8.66L-100KM

Trip computer – the trip computer that calculates the car’s overall fuel mileage overestimated the fuel economy by nearly 11% and was off by 14% on one leg of the trip. This was disappointing as the trip computer on my other Saabs have been accurate to 1% - 2%. As an example, on one leg of the trip, the trip computer calculated that I had gotten 27.7MPG/8.49L-100KM when I only had managed to get 23.8MPG/9.88L – 100KM. This was off by over 14% and is fairly normal each time I fill up the tank. I’m not sure why the system is so inaccurate. Someone from Saab needs to investigate this issue as I’m sure my car is not the only one with an inaccurate trip computer.

IPOD connection – the IPOD connection works normally for 2 – 3 hours and then the connection between the IPOD and the car stereo gets interrupted and an error message is flashed on the stereo display. The stereo then no longer recognizes that the IPOD is connected. The stereo will not recognize the IPOD until the car is turned off and then back on again. This happened on both legs of my journey and was a minor nuisance as there were very few radio stations in the Western US.


In my mind, the car is quite stunning. From beautiful lines to sharp handling to excellent performance, the NG 9-5 is a winner. I enjoyed nearly every mile of my trip across country and I’d like to take another one very soon. Yes, the car has a few niggles but none that affect performance. The issues were quite minor and hopefully, Saab can work them out in future versions. Overall, I’d recommend the 9-5 to anyone interested in a great touring car. It looks much better than the MB and BMW and is also less expensive. The 9-5 is a great value and worth every penny.