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2008 Saab 9-5

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2008 Saab 9-5 Review

A decent vehicle that's beginning to show its age.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Saab 9-5 was first introduced in the 2000 model year, making it one of the oldest vehicles on the market as of 2008. The 9-5 has had a few changes over the years, however. The engine is simpler and the mechanics have been tweaked for better performance. However, the Saab 9-5 has remained relatively unchanged all these years. Although the Saab 9-5 offers a range of nice features as well as plenty of room for the family, the mechanics and engine are far behind what is offered by the competition. If you’re feeling nostalgic, go for the 9-5, otherwise seek out newer models.

The Range

Body Styles: midsize wagon, midsize sedan
Engines: 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Saab 9-5 2.3T, Saab 9-5 Turbo

What's New

Only minimal changes have been made to the Saab 9-5 in the 2008 model year. OnStar is now available. Sport seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers are also new.


The Saab 9-5 is available in two different body types: wagons and sedans. Two years ago, the Saab 9-5 received a large exterior facelift that included lots of new features, and a readjusted suspension system. Since that time, few changes have been made. Standard exterior features on the Base model include 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, and auto delay headlamps. The aero version adds a sport-tuned suspension system and special 17-inch wheels. A Visibility package is available that adds Xenon lights to the vehicle as well as rear park assist and power folding auto-dimming outside mirrors.


The interior of the Saab 9-5 hasn’t really changed much since the car was introduced in 2000. However, the once-crowded dash has been replaced with a GM designed dash that is much easier to navigate. The redesign came with a cost; much of the styling Saab is known for is absent in the new interior. Material quality is also a bit poor for this class of vehicle. The interior is comfortable, however, affording lots of room for the tallest of passengers. The seats are very comfortable, and venting is available for the seats for those wanting extra luxury. The SportCombi wagon version of the vehicle has a lot more space than the sedan, so those looking for a little extra cargo area should gravitate towards that model. The SportCombi boasts 37 cubic feet of space behind the upright rear seats, and 73 cubic feet when the seats are folded. Standard features on the base model include leather upholstery, eight-way power front sport seating, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a cooled glove box, and a nine-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio, and an audio jack. The Aero version adds special interior trim and two-tone leather seating.

Performance & Handling

All versions of the 2008 Saab 9-5 come with a 2.3-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 260 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque. All models come with a standard five-speed manual and a five-speed automatic transmission comes optional. This transmission selection is a bit disappointing, since most vehicles in this class now offer six-speed automatic transmissions. The engine is a turbo, which gives the 2.3-liter engine a bit of a boost. Unfortunately, the engine lacks the refinement exhibited by other models of its class. If shoppers have the extra cash, opt for the automatic transmission. Unlike many wagons, the engine will perform a lot better with an automatic transmission included. The shorter gears handle the power of the engine a bit better. The 9-5 is a light vehicle, so it handles corners rather smoothly. The sport-tuned suspension of the aero is also a plus. However, the 9-5 handles poorly in comparison to more up-to-date models currently on the market.


The 2008 Saab 9-5 has a lot of standard safety features including anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, active headrests, and front-seat side airbags with head and torso protection. Absent are side curtain airbags, leaving the back of the vehicle somewhat vulnerable to side impacts. OnStar communication is now standard. The 9-5 received five out of five stars from the NHTSA for front and side impacts, and four out of five for rear impacts.

EPA Fuel Economy

Saab 9-5: 17/26 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Lots of standard features
  • Great seat feel
  • Lots of space
  • Simple controls and dash

You Won't Like

  • Turbo four-cylinder needs an update
  • Sub-par interior materials
  • Old design

Sum Up

A decent vehicle that's beginning to show its age.

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