in 2011 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,771 - $21,796
Original MSRP: $38,525 - $49,565
MPG: 17 City / 27 Hwy
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2011 Saab 9-5 Performance

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

According to most reviewers, consumers who are interested in the Saab 9-5 should not expect class-leading performance. While Saab may not have designed the 2011 9-5 for the racetrack, it has engineered the car to drive smoothly and quietly. For 2011, Saab offers the 9-5 with two engines and has tuned the chassis and suspension to provide a relaxed ride. While many testers agree that the Saab makes a fine cruiser, it gets beat up by the competition when its driving experience is compared to class leaders.

One point that is consistently mentioned in tests is the 9-5’s weight, which is considered hefty. Because of this, the majority of critics prefer the front-wheel drive, four-cylinder turbo version. It’s lighter weight make it more fun to drive, and its standard manual six speed transmission make for a more engaging drive.

  • "What the 9-5 lacks in raw pace, it claws back by delivering power in a refreshingly refined and stress-free fashion." -- Edmunds
  • "The Aero’s V-6 is reasonably fast but lags behind class champs such as the Infiniti M37, BMW 535i, and Audi A6 3.0T, with a claimed 0-to-62-mph time of 6.9 seconds." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 9-5 turbo-four models are dynamically the best-ever." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Noise, vibration and harshness have been utterly exorcised by the supple chassis, a plethora of sound-deadening material and engine and gearbox tuning intended to make progress effortless." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

For 2011, the 9-5 has two available engines. The base motor is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 220 horsepower. The 9-5 Aero has a 2.8-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Most testers find the power adequate but lagging behind competitors, however, auto writers say the V6 is ample for highway passing.

The EPA estimates that the all-wheel drive V6 9-5 gets 17 miles per gallon in the city, and 27 on the highway. Data on the four-cylinder motor have not been released.

  • "The V6 is smoother than any Saab engine in memory, and it's strong enough to move a substantial car with some urgency." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Aero’s V-6 is reasonably fast but lags behind class champs such as the Infiniti M37, BMW 535i, and Audi A6 3.0T, with a claimed 0-to-62-mph time of 6.9 seconds." -- Car and Driver
  • "Put your right foot down, and the strong midrange torque and quick gearbox response makes overtaking easy." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Engine smoothness at speed is impressive, and the speedometer always seems to be climbing quicker than our senses indicate." -- Kilometer Magazine

Handling and Braking

While reviewers find the 9-5’s power supply adequate, many don’t think it’s built with handling in mind. In fact, many reviewers believe that the 9-5 doesn’t have the capability to hang with more performance-oriented sedans like the BMW 5-Series or Infiniti M. Reviewers say that 9-5’s equipped with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive are too heavy while the four-cylinder Saab is more engaging, with better handling.

  • "That steering is incredibly light, something that Saab's engineers say is intended to boost a character unique to their company. In practice, however, it just removes all feel from the driving experience." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "In sport, the ride becomes quite firm, but the benefit is much better body control in the corners, as well as steering feel that’s much more positive." -- Car and Driver
  • "Steering is crisp and responsive and braking is reliably strong. The suspension takes a set and holds on through tight and faster curves" -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Forced on-center steering feels a bit robotic compared to others in this segment.” -- Winding Road