I admit I try to do it all. I’m a wife and a stay-at home mom who squeezes in a career as an automotive journalist and business owner between diaper changes and play dates. Like all moms out there, I have a full plate. I fantasize about escaping it all for a quiet weekend of R&R at a B&B. I can’t have that as much as I’d like, so I have to take what I can get. This usually includes a few moments of motorized meditation while my two young daughters have drifted off in the car. I take a deep breath, turn on some relaxing music and enjoy being present.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in the all-new 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero. The base model arrives with a five-speed manual transmission (automatic is available for an extra $1,250). That’s right, a stick shift. I haven’t driven a stick since college. Well, I guess it’s like riding a bike – it’ll all come right back to me. This one proves to be extremely difficult. In order to depress the clutch all the way to the ground, I have to crank the driver’s seat so far forward my right knee competes with the steering wheel for space.
Although I only stall the vehicle twice during my extended test drive, I dread driving it. I actually avoid it a few times. Heck, who needs milk and cereal for breakfast? The kids will survive on water for a day, right?
When installing the car seats, I’m struck by the lack of legroom in the backseat. A rear-facing infant seat would be an extreme hindrance for the seats in front of it. My children are in forward-facing car seats, and they both end up riding with their feet on the back of the driver/passenger seat and their knees up to their chests.
The narrow body design of this car means there’s no hope of fitting a third child in the center rear seat. The seat belt for this position is very awkward, as well. It pulls down from the rear of the cargo area and is threaded through a strange plastic bar that protrudes up and out from the side of the headrest (an annoyance when looking through the rearview mirror).
On the plus side, the low ground clearance of the Saab 9-2X makes entering and exiting the car easy for children big enough to do it on their own.
The driver’s seat looks pretty spiffy. It has woven textile sport seats that are reminiscent of wingback chairs; fine for a living room, not so great in a car. The wing portion gets in the way of my elbows.
It’s a good thing this car comes standard with a six-disc CD changer, because the center console is so puny it won’t even fit my travel CD case. Need a spot for your cell phone while it’s charging? Forget it – the cord gets in the way of the stick shift.
Small cars such as the Saab 9-2X Aero typically don’t have air vents in the backseat. The theory is that air circulates easily from the front vents to the rear. It’s not true. Unless you’re able to position the vents just so, the air takes a very long time to reach rear passengers. If you have kids and live somewhere with temperatures above 70 degrees at any time during the year, do yourself a favor and buy a car with rear air vents. A comfortable child in the car means a relaxed mom driving the car.
I was thrilled to learn that my test drive would be cut short by three days. After a week of driving the 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero, the toes on my left foot are very sore from the heavy clutch. Saab has its work cut out for it in the next year if it’s going to make this car work. As it is now, it’s not worth the $28,000 – and it’s definitely not worth the hassle.
*For more information on the Saab 9-2X Aero and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.