The Saab 9-4X has been available at dealers
in the United Sates for about a 6 weeks now. I did not have a chance to check out Saab's new crossover yet because there aren't any Saab dealers where I live in Northern Michigan. I was in Chicagoland last weekend so it was the perfect opportunity to find out more. Chicagoland is the common name for the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs and counties.
I checked online to find a dealer with a good selection of 9-4X in stock first. Motor Werks
in Barrington had 13 of the 9-4X in stock which is quite a large inventory. This dealer also sells Cadillac besides Saab. These dealers seem to be doing better than stand-alone Saab dealers as they are not as much affected by the current Saab situation and lack of sales of new Saabs. The sales guy was friendly, patient and knowledgeable about the brand and the current problems at Saab.
All their 9-4X were stored at a parking lot not too far from the dealership so we drove a Cadillac SRX there. The SRX is Caddy's crossover based on the Saab 9-4X. The exterior of the SRX is quite a visual overload and the interior was no different. I guess Cadillac buyers prefer it that way but it is just not my style. We picked out a silver base 3.0i 9-4X with the Power package, XWD
and sunroof. As you probably have seen before, this sunroof is huge and let's in a lot of light. This is definitely a must-have option for me if I would buy a 9-4X.
It wasn't a very long test drive but still possible to get a good feel of the car and the way it drives. First impression is that it is a much larger vehicle than my current 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero SportWagon. But you get used to that pretty quickly and it handles like a much smaller vehicle. Suspension is comfortable, especially compared to the sport suspension of my current Saab. This is something you really appreciate on many roads in this country. Engine power of the 3.0i non-turbo engine is adequate but you definitely need to step up to the Aero with the 300hp 2.8T engine if you are looking for real performance.The 3.0i will be fine for most people but don't expect the kick and exhilaration of the usual Saab turbo engines.
Fit and finish is very nice and it seems a step above the current Saab 9-5. Outside view is also better than the 9-5 because the windshield and side windows are larger. Seats in the 9-4X are larger and more comfortable than the base 9-5 seats. Those are just a bit too narrow for me and seat bottoms are shorter and narrower than the 9-4X. If you're a bit larger build or taller than average, the seats in the 9-4X will be a better fit.
Something I didn't like about the 9-4X is the (lack of) visibility towards the back. There is a pretty large blindspot and a backup camera (standard with the Premium and Aero models) definitely is a very nice feature to have. The green screen of the standard radio and information display looks a bit out of place in such a nice interior but that is something you probably get used to.
Gartner Saab in Aurora is another dealer in the Chicago area. I wasn't to go make a stop at another dealer but was so intrigued by the 9-4X that I had to take another look. The very knowledgeable and enthusiastic sales guy almost insisted I take the 9-4X for a drive. I was easily convinced to take a second look. During the test drive, we talked about everything Saab and the current situation. He was part of the Save Saab convoy in 2010 and definitely has a passion for the brand. I later talked with the sales director as well and we had an interesting conversation about Saab in general, the current challenges and the future of the brand.
This second test drive was even better than the first one. I drove a Saab 9-7X a long time ago and also owned a Chevrolet Trailblazer in the past. I didn't think I ever wanted another SUV or similar vehicle again because they just were not fun to drive. I do like the utility and more comfortable road manners and suddenly there was something about this 9-4X that just clicked. I thought I was going keep my Saab 9-5 Aero forever because it is the best Saab I ever owned. Until I drove the 9-4X. Now it has become an object of desire and hopefully there will be a 9-4X in my future. I definitely would want to own one of these.
And I didn't even mention the fantastic good looks of the 9-4X yet! You have seen the pictures but it is even better looking in person. All proportions are just right and the entire design has an understated but classy look. Like all other Saab designs, this will age very well and still looks fresh in 5 years from now. It's not flashy but still sophisticated and that's the best part of Saab design.
Saab 9-4X in Diamond Silver. It looks a bit blue in the pictures but my camera was challenged by the bright sun.
Many question if the 9-4X is a real Saab. I asked myself this many times and I thought it was going to bother me the 9-4X is manufactured in Mexico. I always thought a Saab can only be a Saab if it is made in Europe and preferably in Trollhattan. My history with Saab only goes back to 2006 when I picked up my Saab 9-3 at the factory through the European Delivery Program.
This may not be a true Saab to the vintage Saab owner. It also may not be a Saab to the enthusiast who prefers turbocharged cars. Saabs have been made in many different countries and it is sometimes difficult to define what a real Saab is. This 9-4X fits in nicely with Saab's history and has all the design cues and characteristics of a real Saab. It's an entirely new kind of vehicle for Saab and they could not have done a better job with this.
During these difficult times for Saab, there could not be a better vehicle for the North American market right now. While the factory in Trollhattan has been sitting idle for the last months, Saab 9-4X are rolling off the production line in Ramos Arizpe. Some sources say start of production of the 2012 model year is not sure yet but others mention they are already in the delivery schedule for the dealers in the US.
The common outlook and attitude at these two Saab dealers is still very positive and everyone thinks Saab will make it through these difficult times. Looking at the current 9-5, this new 9-4X and the still competitive 9-3, the company just can not fade way. Not now after all it has been through. Not ever. There is too much history, too much positive attitude among all Saab enthusiasts and too many great products and future potential.
If you haven't driven the Saab 9-4X yet, go visit your local dealer before the 2011 models are gone. Some offer quite a nice discount in co-operation with Saab Cars North America. There also is 1.9% financing available to sweeten the deal even more more. It is not that difficult to find the base model starting at $30,000 which is a fantastic price for a fantastic vehicle. But I must warn you. People who test drive a Saab usually buy one.
Make sure to check out Jay's pictures and impression of the Saab 9-4X at Just Saab in Cincinnati a few weeks ago: http://saabworld.net/f85/saab-9-4x-a...personal-2474/
I found this video on YouTube which gives a detailed impression of the 9-4X.
The size of the 9-4X compared to the previous generation 9-5.
The current 9-5 and 9-4X
Another look at the Shark Grey interior.
Three white 9-4X, a 9-3 and 9-5 waiting for their new owner.
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