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#15

in 2009 Luxury Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,095 - $13,145
Original MSRP: $42,615 - $49,105
MPG: 14 City / 20 Hwy
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2009 Saab 9-7X Performance

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

The 9-7X's performance and engine power are adequate enough, but they still don't measure up to class leaders. Test drivers said this Saab is competent, but that all of its competitors put a stronger emphasis on hadnling, power, a smooth ride or a combination of those. 

  • "The 9-7X is generally competent, but it doesn't possess enough unique Saab DNA to compensate for its obvious GM underpinnings and lofty price tag. Competing models like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350 offer higher levels of safety, luxury and refinement. Even if you consider yourself a Saabophile, you should think twice before adding this SUV to your stable." -- Edmunds
  • "Responsive brakes, precise weighted steering, and superior off-the-line acceleration from all engines add to the superior driving dynamics. The sportier Aero boosts the 18-inch alloy wheels to 20 inches and adds larger brakes and shocks, a sport-tuned suspension, and Aero-badged leather seats and floor mats." -- Car Gurus
  • "The 9-7X's ride is the best among the GM SUVs that share this basic design. Its standard air-spring rear suspension helps smooth out most bumps, with overall ride quality being firm and composed. Still, some surfaces bring out bounciness inherent in its GM platform." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 9-7X base model comes with a 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 290 horsepower. Optional when it was new is a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower. There's also a high-performance Aero model that comes with a 6.0-liter V8 engine. The base engine received good reviews, though some preferred the power of the V8 engine options. According to the EPA, six-cylinder and 5.3-liter eight-cylinder models achieve 14/20 mpg city/highway, while 6.0-liter eight-cylinder models achieve 12/16 mpg.

  • "Both motors deliver solid on-road performance, though the six runs a little short on steam at the top end." -- Motor Week
  • "Neither [engine] conveys a sense of effortlessness under heavy acceleration and both would benefit greatly from a more sophisticated transmission than the four-speed automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 6-cylinder engine provides brisk takeoffs and adequate passing power. The 5.3-liter V8 feels measurably stronger on both counts. Hilly terrain means frequent shifting from the standard 4-speed automatic transmission; leading class competitors feature 5- and 6-speed automatics that respond more precisely to changing power demands." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The Saab 9-7X is based on the same platform as the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and critics praised the Saab engineers' improvements upon the suspension, which results in a sporty ride. Still, some reviewers noticed shortcomings including vague steering.

  • "The ride is firmer, yet still quite comfortable, soaking up choppy roads with less bob and weave." -- Motor Week
  • "Steer through a twisty corner too fast, and the rear wheels can slip even while the suspension maintains its poise." -- Cars.com
  • "Saab just wasn't able to get past the numb feel and lackluster engagement of the dual-piston [brake] calipers." -- Edmunds
  • "Though not car agile, 9-7X is an improvement over its GM cousins. The steering is direct and nicely weighted. Braking is strong with reassuring pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide