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1999 Saab 9-5 REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

Con: Saab's premium sedan is no longer available with a hatchback, rendering it less useful to people who don't want an SUV or wagon, but who need to cart a lot of stuff around.

Pro: Satisfying performance, impressive luxury, reasonable price, wagon availability.

What’s New: Saab's replacement for the 9000 line of cars is called the 9-5. Available as a sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder or turbocharged V6 engine, the 9-5 is designed to compete against conventional cars like the BMW 5 Series and Infiniti I30.

Review: Saab has got a new car to sell and they want you to take a look. Called the 9-5, that's nine-five, not ninety-five; Saab's new premium sedans are designed to compete with everything from near-luxury models like the Lexus ES300 and Cadillac Catera to full blown sport sedans like the Mercedes-Benz E430 and BMW 540ia.

Since the 9-5 is a Saab, expect things to be a little different from your garden variety offerings from Cadillac or BMW. All 9-5s in the lineup are equipped with turbocharged engines. The lowest rung model has a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder motor that produces 170 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 1,800 rpm. The mid- and upper-level 9-5 share a 3.0-liter asymmetrically turbocharged V6 engine that pumps out 200 ponies and 229 foot-pounds of torque. The entry level four-cylinder 9-5 comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission; V6 models get a driver selectable four-speed automatic.

Standard equipment levels are high on the 9-5 sedans, offering up not-so-basic items such as antilock brakes, traction control (V6 models), automatic climate controls, premium stereo, side-impact airbags and an active head restraint system. Options are kept to a minimum, but the ones present are appreciated. They include heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and a power moonroof, which is standard on the SE.

Perhaps the nicest thing about the 9-5 is its sporting character. The 9-5 feels much more solid and screwed together than the model it replaces. This enables drivers of all ability to take advantage of a lonely stretch of twisty road. Precise steering and powerful brakes further enhance the driving experience, giving the 9-5 a solid European feel.

The entry-level 9-5 stickers for just under $30,000 and includes a high level of standard equipment. This makes it a relative bargain for most people shopping the near-luxury class. Consider the 9-5 before traipsing off the lot with an Acura TL or Lexus ES300, you'll be rewarded with a unique car that is attractive, comfortable and fun to drive.


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