The Saab 9-7X debuted in 2005, giving the automaker an entry into the luxury SUV fold. It's structurally related to the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy and is built in Ohio, not Sweden. Despite those underpinnings, GM aims its 9-7X at upmarket SUVs such as the Volvo XC90 and Volkswagen Touareg. New wheel choices and a new exterior color — Cocoa Metallic — are the only changes for 2008.
All-wheel drive and 18-inch tires are standard. Two engines are available: an inline-six-cylinder and a 5.3-liter V-8 that gains Displacement on Demand technology to reduce fuel consumption. An electronic stability system is standard.
The five-passenger interior features leather-trimmed, heated front seats.
For 2008, a new Cocoa Metallic paint choice is offered on the 9-7X, whose signature styling cues produce a more European look. Saab's traditional three-port grille sits up front, and the company says the 9-7X doesn't have any protruding shapes and forms, resulting in a clean, uninterrupted appearance. Aluminum-alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires. Built on a 113-inch wheelbase, the 9-7X is 193.2 inches long overall.
Chassis enhancements made by Saab to the SUV's GM foundation include a lower ride height, firmer springs and shock absorbers, larger brakes with steel front calipers, a strengthened frame, steering revisions and a thicker front stabilizer bar. A self-leveling rear air suspension is installed.
The OnStar system has been upgraded for 2007 to include Turn-by-Turn navigation, which allows drivers to talk to a live adviser who sends directions to the car. The directions are then spoken to the driver.
Five people fit inside the full-size 9-7X. Saab cues include a distinct instrument panel, and certain components hail from the automaker's 9-5 sedan and wagon. For example, the ignition switch is mounted in the center console, which has long been a Saab hallmark, and the air vents have a traditional Saab look.
Automatic climate control, XM Satellite Radio and GM's OnStar communication system are standard. The six-CD changer works with a Bose audio system. A backseat DVD-based entertainment system is optional. Cargo space totals 39.8 cubic feet with the 65/35-split rear seat up and 80.1 cubic feet with that seat folded.
Under the Hood
Two engines are available for the 9-7X. GM's 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder produces 285 horsepower and 276 pounds-feet of torque. The 5.3-liter V-8 generates 300 hp and 321 pounds-feet of torque and comes equipped with fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology, which disables half the cylinders when they're not needed. Both engines mate with a four-speed automatic transmission. All trims have automatic all-wheel drive, and V-8 models can tow 6,500 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain airbags work with a rollover sensing system.
Despite this SUV's already-familiar GM foundation, developers have managed to inject a substantial selection of Swedish styling and behavior into the 9-7X. Engineers developed a long list of changes to the suspension, steering and brakes, and the result is a notably different SUV experience from that provided by the TrailBlazer or Envoy.
Markedly more confident than some rivals, the 9-7X is strictly SUV underneath, though directional changes occur with greater-than-expected precision. Steering effort is moderate and the ride is generally good, but rough pavement produces considerable choppiness. Still, the taut suspension recovers smartly and cushioning is satisfying, though lumpy roads yield too much body motion.
The V-8 delivers plenty of vigor, and the transmission is generally well behaved. Awkward downshifts sometimes occur when attempting to pass — only a little trucklike drone is emitted. You can tell the V-8 is pushing quite a bit of weight on steep grades. GM's six-cylinder engine is noisier on hard acceleration and less refined, but it yields sufficient energy for most applications. The six-cylinder version actually feels a bit more stable and secure on twisty roads.
Saab has created a classy, refined variant of GM's basic midsize SUV, lacking true luxury cues yet exuding a premium personality.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||October 18, 2007|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||August 1, 2007|
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