in 2009 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $10,989 - $11,544
Original MSRP: $40,405 - $42,000
MPG: 17 City / 27 Hwy
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2009 Saab 9-5 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Saab 9-5 wins mixed performance reviews. Its turbocharged four-cylinder engine outperforms many competitors' fours and a handful of V6's, while sipping at the gas tank. But for those luxury car buyers willing to spend a little more at the pump for V6 power, Saab has no other options. And many reviewers have complaints about the car's stiff suspension. The EPA has not published fuel economy figures for the 2009 model, but 2008 models with manual transmission earned 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. Models with automatic transmission averaged 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway

  • "It's largely smooth and comfortable, but the front-drive 9-5 is feeling a bit old. The engine is outclassed, the handling isn't quite up to snuff, and it's pretty boring." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 9-5 cruises easily on the freeway, accelerating quickly and smoothly at higher speeds and over steep terrain." -- CNET.
  • "Ride and handling are agreeable, if you don't mind the hobby-horsing caused by the stiff suspension and the short wheelbase." -- Autoweb

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Saab 9-5 comes only with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a pair of turbochargers. The inline-four puts out 260 horsepower -- as much as many competitors get from V6 engines. Most reviewers are impressed with the powerplant. A five-speed manual is standard, and a five-speed automatic is available -- but seems outdated compared to the six- and seven-speed autos that most competitors now offer.

  • "Once its turbo spools up, the 2.3-liter delivers plenty of power for this class, though not in as refined a manner as we'd like. Unlike most sport sedans and wagons, the 2008 Saab 9-5 is preferable with the automatic transmission, as its shorter gearing is better suited to the turbo engine's unusual power band." -- Edmunds
  •  Acceleration is "strong, given an engine that's small relative to those in other premium midsize cars, and reasonably linear, given that it's turbocharged. Throttle response is delayed by moderate turbo lag, however, and by the automatic transmission's occasionally slow downshifts. Manual transmission suffers from long throws, imprecise clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The automatic actually works quite well with the turbo engine -- the opposite of what you'd expect with a small-displacement turbo'd four." -- National Motorists Association

Handling and Braking

The 2009 9-5 handles like a competent sport sedan, but it has some limitations. This is a front-wheel-drive car competing against mostly rear-wheel-drive models, and its suspension allows for a stiff ride that left some reviewers disappointed.

  • "The 9-5's relatively low curb weight gives it a nimble feel through the corners. Many competitors have sharper reflexes and a better ride quality, however, and torque steer remains an issue under hard acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Secure and sporty. Any 9-5 responds alertly to changes of direction with nicely weighted steering. Rapid acceleration from a stop and from low speed triggers torque steer. Braking is swift, powerful, and consistent." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Only when you get that rare opportunity to really push the 9-5 through a few good twists and turns does the nose-heavy, front-wheel-drive 9-5 reveal its limitations." --  Kelley Blue Book
  • "Handling and suspension felt solid, and we were able to smoothly swerve away from road debris, albeit with some noticeable body roll." -- CNET