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2011 Saab 9-5 Review

The 2011 Saab 9-5 is a stylish alternative to the usual Japanese and German class hallmarks, with an upscale interior and comfortable handling. However, the 9-5 doesn’t offer enough to compete with most cars in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Composed ride
  • Spacious interior
  • Great safety score
  • Large trunk
  • Lacks refinement of competitors




Critics' Rating: 7.4
Performance: 7.2
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.1
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Saab 9-5 Overview

When it was new, reviewers liked the 2011 Saab 9-5’s unique styling and comfortable, upscale cabin. Most said it felt reasonably quick, but relented that the 9-5 is not a sport sedan. Still, critics generally liked the 9-5, but some said that it offered few advantages over its more popular competitors. One advantage it does carry is that it was named a 2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick. 

Base 9-5 sedans are propelled by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 220 horsepower. Critics said this motor was sufficient to move the 9-5, but didn’t make it particularly entertaining. Opinions of Turbo6 and Aero models were slightly better, thanks to their 300-horsepower turbocharged V6 engines. Critics said that the turbocharged V6 makes the 9-5 feel fairly fast, but most weren’t ready to give it the nod over rival sport sedans. Four-cylinder models are front-wheel drive, while V6 variants have all-wheel drive. A base 9-5 with a manual transmission achieves 20/33 mpg city/highway, which is fairly good for the class. However, adding an automatic drops this to 18/28, and AWD V6 models do slightly worse. The 9-5 has one of the most cavernous trunks in the class, with 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space.

Critics liked the overall cabin theme and comfortable seats, noting that even the back seat has generous legroom. Base models come standard with dual-zone climate control, power front seats, Bluetooth, leather seats and a nine-speaker stereo with auxiliary input and USB capability. Higher trims add things like a panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, lane departure warning, rear-seat DVD system and navigation with a 10-gigabyte hard drive. Those who opt for the top-of-the-line Aero trim will also get a sportier steering wheel and seats, in addition to various performance and exterior cosmetic upgrades.

See the full 2011 Saab 9-5 specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the 9-5, you may also like the 2011 Buick Regal, which was named our 2011 Best Upscale Midsize Car for Families. The two have a similar suspension and powertrain, so both have a comfortable, composed ride, though critics preferred the Regal’s handling when it was new. The Regal doesn’t have as much trunk space, though.

Another vehicle you may like is the 2011 Volvo S60. Critics said this fellow Swede has an upscale, refined interior, a composed ride and a strong engine. Both cars earn good safety scores, but the S60 also comes with standard all-wheel drive, and is a class leader with unique safety innovations, making it a good choice for families.

Compare the 9-5 to the Regal and S60 »

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