2006 Saab 9-3

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$25,900

starting MSRP

2006 Saab 9-3

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Maneuverability
  • Ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Stability
  • Manual-shift operation
  • Construction quality

The bad:

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

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2006 Saab 9-3 trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

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

2006 Saab 9-3 review: Our expert's take

By Sara Lacey

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:


Maybe your summertime reading included something light, something in the romance genre? If your idea of the perfect review reads something like a Harlequin novel with Fabio on the cover, you’re in luck (any help in the form of a fake, airy accent you must supply on your own). When I first lay eyes upon the 2006 Saab 9-3 Wagon, it looks winsome. My Scandinavian has metallic blue paint that is reminiscent of the Swedish sky. Handsome yet accommodating, attractive yet approachable, the Saab is a fine, gallant escort to take me through the day’s journeys. The sporty seats are strong and masculine. Beige leather with charcoal accents beckon me, wrap around me just so, and the heated seat option makes my heart flutter.

This 9-3 is not to be taken lightly. As I drive the car through my neighborhood I get longing glances from other ladies. Not typically vain, I can’t help but feel proud to drive the Saab. I am cautioned by my instincts, however, which remind me I’ve been burned by this kind of car before. Beauty and unreliability rule in this blueblood’s family lines. Can my test car make up for years of wrongdoing by previous models? Or will I trust in a Saab only to get an enjoyable ride followed by heartache? I take the plunge and continue on to preschool, casting aside my judgment for now.

Once out on the road, I find this vehicle’s unbridled power disconcerting. This car is moving too fast, I feel a little out of control and I’m not sure I can handle it. My blood pumps and I enjoy the rush, but like an equestrian on a young foal I realize I must search to find stability. The steering is a bit jerky and the braking harsh, but I know this can be overcome. I wind up compromising much in the Saab, from the controls down to the seating. While I delight in the ride when it’s just my youngest and myself in the car, I cannot fit my whole family in the Sportcombi. My innate desire is to comply with some of this car’s shortcomings, except the one about not driving my whole family in it at once. Upon closer inspection of the Saab, I am disappointed with the finish of my manly escort. There is a feeling of luxury at first, but upon closer inspection, I wake to the illusion. Much of the 9-3 feels plastic-y, many exposed seams and a flimsy cup holder shatter my dreams. The lack of attention to detail is disappointing.

What startles me most is the cost to get in to this Swedish military family. Born from jets, I’m told. How is a common domestic woman such as myself expected to break into this tradition of excellence without forcing my children to school in tatters? A starting price tag of $32,900 reminds me this car is an entry into an elite class. And for the $39,260 price of my gentlemanly test car, I would expect much better execution. The 9-3’s a lovely specimen, no doubt, but a year or two at finishing school should smooth the rough edges, I suspect. My darling Saab-io, you are handsome. I will send you off with the promise that I might wait for you. Should you provide an excellent warranty upon your return and a few mannerly improvements, I will reconsider an offer of your kindly attentions.

*For more information on the 2006 Saab 9-3 Sportcombi and its safety features visit Cars.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair (for a family of 3)

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.3
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.4
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.4

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Most reliable car I have ever owned

This car was amazing. It lasted 12 years and 190,000 miles before a tree landed on it and it needed too many repairs. Over those 12 years is only needed an alternator and a seat rip repaired, that is it. The car was excellent as it handled well, it got great gas mileage (averaged 26 mpg in the suburbs, 35 or 36 mpg on the highway), and had nice acceleration with minimal turbo lag. The fact is was so durable made you overlook to some degree the unusual controls. The turn stalk felt flimsy like you could break it easily but over all those years nothing went wrong with it. The key is in the center but that was fine and Saab claimed they did it so you would not hit it with your knee in a car accident, and break your kneecap. This car even had one USB port even though it was a little before its time. The heads-up display worked well. Even though the car was badly damaged by the tree as I had to go off road and damaged the underside of my car badly, my mechanic bought it from me, fixed it, and sold it to a college student. Now it is 13 years old and has over 200,000 miles on the original powertrain. If that is not durable I don't know what is. No car I have owned has lasted as long as that one - not Toyota, not Honda. They also have lasted a long time but the transmissions on both of them died by 160,000 miles for the Toyota, by 140,000 on the Honda. If I could buy a relatively new one again I would but of course I cannot as they are no longer in business. Too bad, despite their quirks, they were durable, reliable, efficient cars.

5.0

love the 9-3

I have had this 2006 9-3 for 11 years and has never once failed me. The turbo allows for performance yet i about get 30 MPG.

4.1

Absolutely love this car

First vehicle I?ve owned and have had no issues great gas mileage for the power you get great in the snow with decent all season tires and extremely comfortable seats

See all 63 consumer reviews
See all 2006 Saab 9-3 articles