• (4.5) 53 reviews
  • MSRP: $1,536–$9,352
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 23-26
  • Engine: 210-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/auto-manual
2006 Saab 9-3

Our Take on the Latest Model 2006 Saab 9-3

What We Don't Like

  • Confusing radio controls
  • Snug backseat
  • Price
  • Slight turbo lag when Aero is pushed hard

Notable Features

  • Available 250-hp turbocharged V-6
  • Sedan, convertible and wagon body styles
  • Manual or automatic
  • FWD layout

2006 Saab 9-3 Reviews

Vehicle Overview
The 2003 redesign of Saab's compact 9-3 transformed it into a premium sport sedan with a long wheelbase and a wide track, which promised improved handling. The 9-3 came in three trim levels. The base-model Linear featured a 175-horsepower, turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine, while the luxurious Arc and sporty Aero editions got a higher-pressure version that made 210 hp. A convertible joined the lineup in 2004, and a new SportCombi wagon arrives for 2006. The wagon features an available 250-hp turbocharged V-6.

For 2006, the Linear and Arc become a single base model with the 210-hp engine. The Aero model gets the 250-hp turbo V-6. Both trims are available in sedan, convertible and SportCombi wagon configurations.
(Skip to details on the: 9-3 Convertible | 9-3 SportCombi)

Base models feature 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-speaker sound system and a power driver's seat. The convertible adds standard leather seats. Aero models include the more powerful engine, 17-inch wheels and slightly larger brakes. Both trims offer manual and automatic transmissions. The 9-3's competitors include the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60.

Styling features include a coupelike silhouette, an integrated grille and headlights, short front and rear overhangs, and a steeply raked windshield and back window. The automaker says negative wheel camber reinforces the 9-3's sporty stance and wedgelike profile. With its low 0.28 coefficient of drag, the 9-3 sedan's aerodynamics are appealing. Low lift forces at the rear axle should improve high-speed stability.

The 9-3 sedan accommodates up to five people and features a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. According to Saab, the instrument panel "arcs around the driver." The gauges light up in green, and buyers can specify a Night Panel that suppresses most instruments. Red walnut trim is available in the sedan and wagon. The sedan's trunk holds 14.8 cubic feet of cargo.

Under the Hood
The 9-3 offers two engines. Base models receive a 210-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that generates 221 pounds-feet of torque. The new SportCombi wagon features a 250-hp, turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 that churns out 258 pounds-feet of torque. The V-6 features variable valve timing and is standard in all Aero models. Base models offer either a five-speed manual or five-speed-automatic transmission, while Aero models get six gears in either arrangement. Both automatic transmissions offer manual shifting capability.

A long list of standard safety equipment includes seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side curtain-type airbags, Active Head Restraints, traction control, and an electronic stability system with all-disc antilock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution.. Convertibles get side-impact airbag head extensions in place of the curtain airbags. Across all configurations, Aero models get slightly larger disc brakes.

Driving Impressions
Saab promotes the sportiness of its 9-3 sedan, and the claim is valid. In tight, quick maneuvers, the 9-3 holds its own easily against the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Though it is stable and confident on the road and easy to drive in town, the 9-3 doesn't have the same overall sporty feel of some rivals.

With the base engine and automatic transmission, throttle response is eager once you get rolling; only the barest hint of turbo lag is noticeable. The manual gearbox works with light, easy action and positive clutch behavior. The cockpit and seats are driver-oriented, and the sedan doesn't feel cramped up front. Backseat space is cozy but sufficient.

9-3 Convertible
After launching the redesigned compact 9-3 sport sedan for 2003, Saab released the 9-3 convertible as a 2004 model. Both feature the same chassis dynamics. Saab claims the 9-3 convertible is nearly three times as stiff as its soft-top predecessor. The convertible got an all-new suspension layout, and supplementary "ring of steel" reinforcement compensates for the loss of structural rigidity that convertibles ordinarily suffer. The seat belts are integrated into the seat frames, and the rear seats have pop-up roll bars.

All convertibles come in either base or Aero form, with the 210-hp turbocharged four-cylinder in base models and the 250-hp turbocharged V-6 in Aero editions. Leather seats are standard. In base models, a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic is available. Aero models offer a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Driving the 9-3 convertible is virtually effortless. Performance is comparable to the equivalent sport sedan. The soft-top exhibits a magnificent highway ride and precise steering and handling. Back to top

9-3 SportCombi
The SportCombi wagon joins Saab's 9-3 lineup for 2006. Saab says the SportCombi carries on the hatchback tradition that Saab owners enjoy. It features a signature wedge-shape profile ending in vertical, LED-lit taillamps and an integrated roof spoiler.

The SportCombi also debuts the 9-3's first V-6 engine. Displacing 2.8 liters, the turbocharged V-6 produces 250 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque — a significant increase over the turbocharged four-cylinder's 210 hp and 221 pounds-feet of torque. The latter engine is still available in base-model SportCombis.

Tested on autocross, slalom and wet-handling courses, the 9-3 SportCombi Aero performs with grace and precision, responding with satisfying certainty to steering-wheel inputs. Steering is a bit on the light side despite Saab's claim of greater weighting. Acceleration is enthusiastic with either the manual or automatic transmission, but there is a touch of turbo lag when accelerating after a tight autocross turn. The automatic transmission's manual-shift mode may actually detract from performance — even when the paddle shifters on the steering wheel are used.

Smooth roads yield a near-gentle ride and appealing control through turns. Saab's electronic stability system is highly beneficial through wet curves, yielding an appreciated level of confidence. Braking from high speeds is swift at times but less assertive on other occasions.

Backseat headroom and toe space are abundant, but legroom suffers if the front seat is adjusted rearward. The center occupant must endure a high, hard perch and straddle a tall floor hump. Cargo space is appealing. Back to top

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 53 reviews

Write a Review

Most reliable car I have ever owned

by Saab_9_3 from WILTON on October 31, 2017

Bought this car new in 2006. Now nearly 12 years old and with over 162,000 miles it still runs great. Have had to only replace an alternator, a power steering pump, and a seat rip over the 162,000 m... Read Full Review

Read All Consumer Reviews

6 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2006 Saab 9-3 trim comparison will help you decide.

Saab 9-3 Articles

2006 Saab 9-3 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Saab 9-3 2.0T

Head Restraints and Seats

IIHS Ratings

Based on Saab 9-3 2.0T

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
Overall Rear
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.


There are currently 3 recalls for this car.

Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $4,400 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.


Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years