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2009 Saab 9-5

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2009 Saab 9-5 Review

A decent, but outdated, luxury vehicle.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Saab 9-5 can be described as ""long in the tooth"" for a car. Up to the 2009 model, this vehicle existed for 10 years with no real or major design changes. A decade is a long time for a car generation, but that doesn’t mean the 9-5 is a bad or sub-standard car. Instead, it’s quickly out-classed by rivals who offer better performance, more up-to-date looks, and take more advantage of automotive inventions of the last 10 years.

The Range

Body Styles: Midsize sedan, wagon
Engines: 2.3-liter inline-four
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: 9-5 2.3T sedan, 9-5 Aero sedan, 9-5 2.3T wagon, 9-5 Aero wagon

What's New

The 2009 Saab 9-5 received no notable changes or additions for the model year.


The 2009 Saab 9-5 comes in a midsize sedan or wagon, which is dubbed the SportCombi. Both models are available in two trim levels: the 2.3T base model and a sportier, more powerful version called the Aero. The 2.3T features standard 17-inch wheels and a sunroof while the mostly similar Aero adds a sport-tuned suspension and uses different 17-inch wheels.

The Visibility Package adds xenon headlights, rear parking assist, and outside mirrors that are power-folding and auto-dimming.

The Saab 9-5 hasn’t seen much besides a few style tweaks over the years as far as appearances go. This makes for something of an outdated look for a car that is in a class where most cars consider visual excitement a necessity for competition.


The interior gets marked down for using materials that are not of a good enough quality for the car’s price range. While roomy and comfortable, the interior matches the exterior’s outdated look.

The 2009 Saab 9-5 Base model features leather upholstery, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, eight-way front sport seats, heated front and rear seats, a cooled glove box, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio jack. The Aero adds two-tone leather seats and special interior trim.

Performance & Handling

All 2009 Saab 9-5 sedans and wagons employ front-wheel drive and are powered by a turbocharged, 2.3-liter inline-four that makes 260 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, and a five-speed manual is optional. While brute power and serious performance are not necessarily the goal for this type of vehicle, 260 hp is rather respectable. Buyers are urged to consider the serious company this car keeps. BMW is known for performance, and the 535 is a competitor for the 2009 Saab 9-5. Be aware that higher performing options do exist in the 9-5’s price range.

In the handling department, the 2009 Saab 9-5 is outmatched by rivals. This Saab suffers the curse of front-wheel drive combined with stronger power plants: torque steer, especially during hard acceleration. The low curb weight helps to give a sprightlier feel to the handling, but the overall design and features used do not create a well-handling driving machine. If driving fun is one of the goals, it is better to check out the competition. As an unusual situation for a car in this class, the 2009 Saab 9-5 handles better with an automatic transmission because of the turbocharged engine’s power band.

With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the 2009 Saab 9-5 can travel 314 city miles and 500 highway miles on a full tank of gas.


As far as safety equipment goes, all of the expected gear and a few extras are standard: anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, the OnStar communications system, active head restraints and front-seat side airbags that provide head and torso protection. Side curtain airbags that protect rear occupants are not available.

As can be predicted based on the list of safety features, the 2009 Saab 9-5 gets a five-out-of-five-star rating for front seat occupant safety and four out of five stars for rear seat occupant safety. Front end crash test scores and front seat side crash test scores are top notch, but scores for side-impact crashes for rear seat occupants are only ""acceptable.""

EPA Fuel Economy

9-5: 17/27 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Visibility
  • Feels different from in class competition
  • Sedan or wagon option
  • Ride quality
  • Front seats
  • Simplicity of controls
  • Extensive list of standard features

You Won't Like

  • Outdated design
  • No all-wheel drive option
  • Occasionally harsh ride
  • Low quality interior materials
  • Lacking full complement of airbags

Sum Up

A decent, but outdated, luxury vehicle.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Volvo XC70
  • BMW 535
  • Audi A6
  • Mercedes-Benz E Class

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