2008 Saab 9-7X

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Key Specs

of the 2008 Saab 9‑7X. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-8 performance
  • Front-seat comfort
  • Lots of standard features

The Bad

  • Ride on rougher pavement
  • Dated styling
  • Gas mileage
  • Six-cylinder noisier than V-8

Notable Features of the 2008 Saab 9-7X

  • Six-cylinder or V-8 power
  • Standard AWD
  • Electronic stability system
  • Seats five

2008 Saab 9-7X Road Test

Kelsey Mays
Editor's note: This review was written in January 2007 about the 2007 Saab 9-7X. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what details are different this year, check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Don't let the sleek styling fool you: With its truck-based underpinnings, outdated drivetrain and drab interior, Saab's all-wheel-drive 9-7X is an archetype of yesterday's midsize SUV — powerful and comfortable, but inefficient and rough around the edges. Its frontal crash-test ratings leave something to be desired, too. It's no surprise drivers are leaving this segment for car-based crossover SUVs, which offer similar utility but better road manners and gas mileage. Unless you're looking for serious towing power, do as most do: Pass up the 9-7X in favor of a Lexus RX 350, GMC Acadia or other crossover.

Traditional SUV Strengths
Saab says it hustled the 9-7X to market in 2005 to stem the flow of owners leaving the brand to buy an SUV. To make it happen, the Swedish automaker called on parent company GM, whose midsize SUV platform — think Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy — seemed like a good candidate to bring Saab into the SUV fold.

Saab's 9-7X uses that GM platform, but its sheet metal, interior and chassis have been modified. The drivetrains remain the same: A 4.2-liter six-cylinder with 290 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque goes in the 9-7X 4.2i, while a 5.3-liter V-8 ...

Editor's note: This review was written in January 2007 about the 2007 Saab 9-7X. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what details are different this year, check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Don't let the sleek styling fool you: With its truck-based underpinnings, outdated drivetrain and drab interior, Saab's all-wheel-drive 9-7X is an archetype of yesterday's midsize SUV — powerful and comfortable, but inefficient and rough around the edges. Its frontal crash-test ratings leave something to be desired, too. It's no surprise drivers are leaving this segment for car-based crossover SUVs, which offer similar utility but better road manners and gas mileage. Unless you're looking for serious towing power, do as most do: Pass up the 9-7X in favor of a Lexus RX 350, GMC Acadia or other crossover.

Traditional SUV Strengths
Saab says it hustled the 9-7X to market in 2005 to stem the flow of owners leaving the brand to buy an SUV. To make it happen, the Swedish automaker called on parent company GM, whose midsize SUV platform — think Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy — seemed like a good candidate to bring Saab into the SUV fold.

Saab's 9-7X uses that GM platform, but its sheet metal, interior and chassis have been modified. The drivetrains remain the same: A 4.2-liter six-cylinder with 290 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque goes in the 9-7X 4.2i, while a 5.3-liter V-8 with 302 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque powers the 9-7X 5.3i. Both engines team with a four-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard.

My test car had the V-8, which proved to be an excellent motivator. After a moment of accelerator lag, there's plenty of oomph right from the start, and the power builds smoothly as you speed up. Contrast that with many crossovers, whose technology-laden V-6s need to be revved higher to produce strong acceleration.

The four-speed automatic wastes little time reaching top gear, though its shifts sometimes feel abrupt along the way. Thanks to the engine's prodigious torque, the transmission seldom needs to downshift, so passing power is seamless. I had no trouble hustling from 60 to 70 mph in fourth gear at 2,200 rpm.

Add a trailer hitch, and Saab says the 9-7X 5.3i can tow up to 6,500 pounds. The six-cylinder version tows 5,500 pounds — still more than double some of its car-based competitors.

Traditional SUV Weaknesses
As with most truck-based SUVs, the 9-7X's biggest problem is its dismal gas mileage. Even with a cylinder deactivation feature that cuts fuel delivery under low-load conditions, the 9-7X 5.3i is rated at just 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The 4.2i, which doesn't have cylinder deactivation, achieves identical ratings.

Partly to blame is the four-speed automatic. Five- and six-speed transmissions have rapidly become the norm, and they offer incrementally better fuel economy — as high as 8 percent better than four-speed gearboxes, according to Automotive News.

Click here to see how the 9-7X's gas mileage stacks up against truck-based competitors, and here to see how it does against car-based crossover SUVs. Bear in mind that premium fuel is recommended for Lexus' RX 350, while all the others in these comparisons can run on regular gasoline. The 9-7X's gas mileage ranks about even with its truck-based competitors but is noticeably worse than the crossovers.

Poor fuel efficiency isn't the Saab's only shortcoming. Despite having a chassis tuned for more carlike dynamics, I thought the 9-7X's body-on-frame layout made for a rather trucklike ride. Potholes induce enough cabin disturbances to make the armrests and center console quiver. On all but the smoothest pavement, highway speeds are accompanied by a discomforting case of the jitters.

The steering wheel feels more communicative than most in this class, but that isn't saying much. It turns effortlessly, rendering course changes without undue sloppiness, and it firms up at higher speeds, imparting more carlike responses.

The suspension offers a sportier ride than that of the Saab's GM siblings. It encourages spirited cornering thanks to commendably little body roll, but it also offers little warning when the tires have reached their handling limits. Steer through a twisty corner too fast, and the rear wheels can slip even while the suspension maintains its poise.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. The pedal feels spongy, and heavy braking causes the suspension to dive forward — typical of truck-based SUVs, but something many of the 9-7X's car-based competitors have managed to mitigate.

A Chevy in Saab Clothing
Thanks to its integrated bumpers, headlights and grille, the 9-7X's front end looks much more upscale than those of its GM stablemates. In back, however, it's the same old story: The tailgate leaves considerable gaps where it shuts, and the fender flares are little more than molded strips. These sorts of detail lapses might be acceptable from a lesser brand, but luxury shoppers expect more.

Inside, the dashboard has elements that recall Saab's cars — like crisscrossing air vents and a center console-mounted keyhole — but the overall shape still took form six years ago in a TrailBlazer. The design looks even more outdated when stacked against the modern cabins in GM's latest full-size SUVs. In comparison, the 9-7X's plastic moldings and '90s-era controls are low-rent, not near-luxury.

The front seats feel comfortably wide and good for the long haul. Anyone more than a few inches over 6 feet could get cramped, however, as the seats don't move back very far. There isn't much storage space, either, with a small glove compartment and narrow door pockets. Those who pony up for the rear-seat DVD entertainment system should note that the remote control and dual headsets take up all of the space in the center console compartment.

In back, the three-seat second row sits low to the ground, which left me short on thigh support. Legroom in the outboard seats is adequate. A third-row seat is not offered.

With the second row folded, the 9-7X offers 80.1 cubic inches of maximum cargo volume — more than most of its competitors. The cargo area proved just big enough to fit a 60-inch TV that a friend of mine bought and needed help with. (Obviously, he is not a journalist.)

Safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Cars.com's preferred tester, has not crash-tested the 2007 9-7X or its siblings. In frontal crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the 9-7X three out of five stars for driver safety and four out of five stars for front passenger safety. Both ratings trail those that NHTSA awarded to many 9-7X competitors.

Neither NHTSA nor IIHS has administered side-impact crash tests for the 9-7X, but the organization did award the SUV a rollover rating of four out of five stars.

Standard safety features in the 9-7X include side curtain airbags that can maintain inflation a few moments longer during a rollover, as well as four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system.

Inside, all outboard seats have head restraints. Latch child-seat anchors come in the outboard rear seats, and top-tether anchors are installed in the floor behind. The setup seems needlessly cumbersome, as the lower anchors are buried beneath a flap at the base of each backrest. Reaching them requires flipping the seat cushion forward to lift the flap, which looks unsightly when the child seat has been removed. You'll need to flip the cushions forward to stow the flaps, then repeat the whole maneuver next time.

Features & Long-Term Ownership
Starting at $39,190 without the destination charge, the 9-7X 4.2i comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather upholstery, a six-CD audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof and power front seats. For $2,000 more, the 9-7X 5.3i swaps the six-cylinder for a V-8 and adds a handful of other features. Options include a navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Using Cars.com's Total Cost of Ownership comparison tool, here's how the 9-7X stacks up against two of its competitors over five years:

Total Cost of Ownership, Five Years
2007 Saab 9-7X 5.3i2007 Lexus RX 350 AWD2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 Overland
Original MSRP$41,190$38,800$42,690
Depreciation$23,906$18,908$24,869
Fees & taxes$2,673$2,688$2,716
Financing$6,242$6,469$6,339
Insurance$7,960$7,315$10,752
Fuel$10,929$9,692$11,633
Maintenance$3,038$2,534$3,295
Opportunity cost$6,079$5,848$6,683
Repairs$1,182$907$907
TOTAL$62,009$54,361$67,194
Values based on national averages at time of publication; your state may vary. For more details, see the Total Cost of Ownership feature under each vehicle summary in Cars.com's Research section.

Saab 9-7X in the Market
Saab spokesman Jan-Willem Vester conceded the 9-7X is not a final solution to the brand's need for an SUV. That could come down the road, as Vester said Saab is busy developing a new SUV from the ground up.

For now, SUV shoppers should look elsewhere. The 9-7X's raft of standard features, including an electronic stability system, deserves some credit, but many competitors offer similar equipment — not to mention a third-row seat, better front crash-test ratings and superior gas mileage.

There is no hiding the fact that the 9-7X is built on dated architecture. It's yesterday's car, and in an age of fast-changing designs and increasing choices, there are better ways to spend $40,000.

Send Kelsey an email 



Latest 2008 9-7X Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.2)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Great car!

by JasonW from Orlando, FL on April 7, 2018

Have owned for around 8 years. No major problems. Drove it nearly everyday. Great reliable car. Decent gas mileage. Sporty and stylish. I loved my Saab! Read full review

(4.0)

Saab upgrade of the Trailblazer

by tkar from Annapolis, MD on December 18, 2017

GM was on the right track if only they could have made a more distinctive SUV. It has the amenities that the Trailblazer lacked, with much better styling. Great for towing with either engine Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Saab 9-7X currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2008 Saab 9-7X has not been tested.

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All Model Years for the Saab 9-7X

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The 9-7X received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

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.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

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.

What is included in 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).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

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.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker