2008 Saab 9-5

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2008 Saab 9-5 Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Saab 9-5 was new.

The 9-5 delivers sporty handling and great safety ratings, but can't match the ride quality of others in its class.

Pros & Cons

  • Good safety ratings, though not award-winning like its smaller 9-3 sibling
  • Impressive output from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • Sporty handling
  • Ride is overly firm, too choppy for many drivers
  • High base price, compared to competitive European and Japanese upscale sedans

Research & Ratings

Currently, the Saab 9-5 has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 40 pieces of research and data.




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.4
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2008 Saab 9-5 Overview

Saab is proud of its aircraft-building heritage, and with good reason. Many reviewers say the sedan's four-cylinder engine is capable of jet-like speed and acceleration. But most consumers and critics expect more from an entry-luxury vehicle. A rough ride and not-quite-silent interior are sore spots for test drivers. The 9-5 sedan does live up to its Swedish reputation for strong safety ratings and a clean, if dated, design (it was updated in 2006 but is otherwise a 1999 car). But for a design that lags behind competitors for newness, the 9-5 leads the class with the highest MSRP.

If you are in the market for an upscale sedan, consider the prestige and all-around excellence of a BMW 3-Series, or the luxurious Lexus ES.

  • "The 9-5 is the senior Saab, a mid-size front-drive sedan that aspires to the lower ranks of the European luxury-car class. However, there's only one engine…and it also has the disadvantage of being a front-drive sedan in a rear- and/or all-wheel drive class." -- Car and Driver
  • "Saab enthusiasts should be satisfied with what amounts to a faster, sharper, better-looking, and best of all more affordable 9-5. For the rest of us, all-wheel drive and V6 power can't come soon enough." -- AutoWeek
  • "As always, any 9-5 is a good choice for drivers who don't want a cookie-cutter car." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "It has a higher price than many competitors, it's average in most every way, and it lacks an all-wheel-drive option. The result? A good 9-5 lost in a sea churning with better alternatives." -- Autoweb
  • In its 2006 review, CNET reports the 9-5 "might not be the brightest star in the galaxy of near $40,000 passenger cars, but the Swedish four-door certainly isn't the dimmest." -- CNET
  • "I went into this test drive regarding the 9-5 as the elder statesmen of European cars and came away with a new-found respect for it. Yes, it's been around a while, and its face bears the scars of questionable plastic surgery. But the 9-5 can still hustle with the best of 'em, and that's what really counts." -- About.com

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