2011 Saab 9-4X
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2011 Saab 9-4X Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
While the Saab 9-4X probably won’t be a star on the track, reviewers say it performs well in everyday situations. Most drivers feel that opting for all-wheel drive improves the SUV’s handling and makes it even sportier.
- "It took actually sitting behind the wheel to appreciate this new crossover. It is fun to drive, all things considered.” -- MSN
- "The 9-4X clearly skews toward the sportier end of the luxury crossover arena, eschewing leather-lined kinschleppers like the Lexus RX and Volvo XC60 in favor of chasing sportier entries like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and BMW X3.” -- Autoblog
Acceleration and Power
Saab has taken its top-of-the-line turbocharged engine from the Cadillac SRX and added it to the premium Aero trim in the 9-4X. Journalists haven’t had a chance to review the naturally-aspirated engines that come in the lower two trims, but they say that the turbocharged powerplant provides enough power to get through most everyday tasks. However, they also predict that the naturally-aspirated engine that comes with the lower two trims will likely not be powerful enough for most drivers.
Base 9-4X 3.0i and 3.0i Premium models get a 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 265 horsepower routed to the front wheels. The top-of-the-line Aero is only available in all-wheel drive, and comes with a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2.8-liter V6.
All 9-4X models come with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Aero models have standard paddle shifters.
The EPA has not yet rated the 9-4X for fuel economy. But, since the 9-4X shares a frame and drivetrain with the Cadillac SRX, it is likely that their fuel economy ratings will be similar. The two-wheel drive SRX gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. The naturally-aspirated, 3.0-liter V6 with all-wheel drive gets 17/23 mpg city/highway, while the turbocharged all-wheel drive V6 gets 15/22. Comparably, the two-wheel drive’s numbers are pretty good within the class, but the turbocharged all-wheel drive model’s mileage is more in line with what you would find on a large SUV like the V6 Dodge Durango with four-wheel drive.
- "We were immediately impressed with the surge of power from the twin-scroll turbo. It makes for a surprisingly capable engine, one that never felt winded or in need of more torque. We also never experienced any frustrating turbo lag while waiting for the boost to come on; the sensation is entertaining when it does.” -- MSN
- "The six-speed automatic -- with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifting standard on the Aero -- operates smoothly and responds quickly when shifted manually.” -- Examiner.com
- "With the Aero’s standard 300-hp, 2.8-liter turbo V-6, it delivers acceleration that’s adequate -- maybe a little better than adequate in two-lane passing situations -- but a long way from thrilling.” -- Car and Driver
- "Given that the 2.8-liter feels on the healthy side of adequate, we're guessing the standard model won't make many enthusiasts' shopping lists.” -- Autoblog
Handling and Braking
Reviewers say that the Saab 9-4X handles fairly well for a tall, heavy crossover, though you’ll never forget that you’re driving a machine that weighs twice as much as a Fiat 500. They say that Saab’s all-wheel drive system significantly improves handling, and that the SUV’s steering is nicely weighted.
If sporty, car-like handling in an SUV is at the top of your shopping list, don’t rule out smaller SUVs like the BMW X3. The 9-4X is relatively large for a small SUV but relatively small for a midsize SUV, and in general, smaller SUVs have better driving dynamics.
The 9-4X Aero trims come with an adjustable suspension with Comfort and Sport settings, as well as standard all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on 3.0i and Premium trims, and standard on Aero trims.
- “Under most conditions, the [all-wheel drive] system is completely transparent. Only during hard cornering on muddy roads or extra-exuberant freeway interchanging did it make itself known.” -- Motor Trend
- “The electronically supervised torque-vectoring limited-slip differential is unobtrusive in its jockeying of power from side-to-side, allowing for more entertaining handling and turn-in with real conviction.” -- Autoblog
- "Of course, it's still a fairly large vehicle, and you can feel its height and weight - roughly 2.25 tons - come into play as the car reaches its limits. The brakes feel strong and reasonably progressive, but it is obvious that they are tasked with slowing quite a heavy piece of machinery.” -- MSN
- “The 9-4X rarely lets the driver forget its substantial mass. Although the steering is tactile and nicely weighted, transient responses are deliberate. This is not a rig that wants to be tossed into turns or snaked through a slalom. … On the other hand, ride quality is surprisingly supple in both suspension settings; no noise finds its way into the cabin via the suspension; and the six-speed auto is much smoother than the SRX turbo’s we tested last August.” -- Car and Driver