Used 2005 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews | Edmunds
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2005 Saab 9-3 - Consumer Reviews

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Love it or hate it, average car at average price.
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Greg Maldonado
on

Vehicle

2005 Saab 9-3 Linear 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)


Review

This isn't your typical 1990's and older Saab. You won't get the blazing midrange speed nor the amazing cabin view of the outside world, but you will get a decent family sedan that gets decent MPG and has top-of-the-line safety features. In base form the 2.0 Linear Sports Sedan is a slow, safe family car with a little bit of Saab watered down into the GM-inspired plastic interior and bodywork. For the Saab purist, stay away from this car; you will despise it and all the GM parts that went into making it. If you can overlook that stained heritage and settle into the comfortable leather/vinyl seats, adjust the electric mirrors for best view, and get the steering wheel tilted and positioned to your liking, you'll find this car is quite tolerable and easy to drive. You just won't drive it very quick. The small turbo has enough boost to keep up with all but the fastest traffic, but it lacks the serious boost power to be entertaining. The handling is predictable and pleasant. This is a sedan you can toss into a corner and not really worry about, thanks to the generous traction control and the FWD handling. In wild weather that same traction control system helps keep you firmly planted on the road, and with a good set of winter tires you can go places that seem impossible. I bought mine in Beige Metallic, used as a program car, with 120,000 miles on the odometer and have owned it almost exactly one year. In that year the most expensive repair has been replacing the pitted windshield, and the battery. I have repaired/replaced many items that were worn from age, including bumper inserts, windshield glass and rear glass surround, trim pieces, hoses, lamps, door seals, and misc fasteners. I have added a better sound system and upgraded the engine management computer as well as the turbo, but have not altered the body or interior. It now drives with a more sporty feel while still maintaining the overall factory look. I drive 98% city with very little open highway. My city MPG hovers around 21mpg while the best estimate I have for Highway is 38mpg. That said, this car doesn't respond well to modifications. The Trionic8 computer system which controls the car prevents most quick-and-dirty bolt-on items from adding any significant improvement. The T8 system in the Linear is intended for daily-driver and economy, and does what it can to keep performance at that level. That T8 system can be upgraded (similar to "chipping" on other cars), and a few other items can be upgraded to help increase performance up to around the base Aero specs with minimal effort and expense, thus providing the Linear with a little bit more sportiness. Of course, as with any car, if you throw large amounts of money at it you can get it to perform to your budget, if you want. As everything is run on a BUS computer system, and Saab having now gone out of business, locating a technician to work on the car can be a slight hassle. While the same TECHII diagnostics system for the same years of GM models can be used on these models of Saab, not many GM dealerships have the knowledge to repair Saab cars. Oh, yes. The ignition is on the center console, there is a pop-n-swing-out cupholder on the dash, and the dashboard has a Night Mode which turns off all the interior illumination and gauges except for the most basic speedometer and management controls. This car has one of the highest safety and crash ratings for the model year. Pros: Safe. Reliable. Great handling. Good view from the cabin with no blind spots. Good fuel economy. Inexpensive to repair (comparable to same years of GM vehicles for most repairs - lots of parts interchange to other makes and models). Good air conditioning system. Easy to maintain and repair if you are self-motivated. Build quality is average. There is a lot of plastic and cheapness in the interior. Externally everything fits together well and feels solid. Sound system is good but not outstanding, lacking fidelity and power. Cons: No performance from the economy engine and computer. Computer BUS system requires diagnostics equipment to diagnose car troubles. Lack of repair technician support. Difficult to upgrade performance using normal methods. Sound system upgrade is near impossible due to the use of fiber-optic system. Heating system could be better due to a very odd mix-control system which leaves cold spots by design. Climate control motors are prone to breaking gears. Overall the Saab-ness of this car barely shines through the GM whitewashing, with excellent safety but sleep-inducing sportiness. It is an overall average family sedan with some interesting little twists to the common interior controls.


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9.3 convertible.....I'm not getting rid of it
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By jbeloff
on

Vehicle

2005 Saab 9-3 Arc 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)


Review

I have owned a saab for over 20 years and find them to be the highest quality car. While Saab has had it's many challenges over the years it has always produce a solid performer with above average reliability. Unfortunately the markets tends to go with the brands with the biggest budget to impress you with the image of it's brand. Saab has done a outstanding job mixing form with function. Everyone who has enjoyed the ride in my car are always impressed with the quality and find themselves asking why they never considered on. Saabs brand deserves leadership that can carry it's unique niche and continue it's quality builds to attract more owners looking for something that just works well.


Best Features

The cockpit and seating....beautiful, simplistic and tasteful use of metals and leather.


Worst Features

Every car can be improved. Perhaps increased fuel economy. I do not see anything that sticks out and bothers me accept the way the company has been mismanaged and misunderstood by the market.


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have had some issues... but overall a good car with good MPG and fun to drive. if could go back in time would probably of gotten something else however.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By nccaitlin
on

Vehicle

2005 Saab 9-3 Linear 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)


Review

I have had this car for a year now. I bought with 52k miles and have put 20k on it since. I have had a few issues with it so far - drivers side mirror piece fell off and had to be glued back on - back window wasn't working --> $200 -other back window stopped working - have had to change bulbs in headlights 2x already -error messages -> traction control/stability/immobilizer failure (after jumping battery it did not want to start and went haywire for a while before starting) - A/C blower locked up and had to be released and oiled up - Car wash knocked off antenna cover However this car is pretty fun to drive and no major mechanical issues. Great MPG over 40 often. Lost 2k in value already.


Best Features

I like it calculates the MPG and that it also calculates when you need to get your next oil change (if you get synthetic). I usually can get over 40 MPG highway. Overall I average about 36 or 37 MPG highway and some city. I like where the ignition is in the middle. It is a unique car.


Worst Features

The front seats take forever to lean back and lean forward. It takes a lot of turns of a knob for it to go either way which I do hate. The window motors do not seem to last long and neither do the headlight bulbs which are a bit of a hassle to get to. The interior seems to chip easily (or previous owners were rough) and lights behind the air control unit is going out and only half of it is lit.


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Great Car - I will buy another.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By AM
on

Vehicle

2005 Saab 9-3 Linear 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)


Review

We bought this car for my daughter and I now ask to borrow it. It is great fun to drive. We have the 5- speed manual and I was surprised by the level of performance. The quality is evident and I especially like the fact that the 2.0 L 4 cylinder has a timing CHAIN instead of a timing belt. We get 37 MPG on the highway at 70 MPH. Driving 60 MPH, I can get over 40 MPG (I did this on a 300 mile trip I took recently on back roads). About 26 MPG in the city. Good quality leather seats. Beware of trying to modify the radio. The whole electronics system in the car is controlled through fiber optic lines that also run the radio. It is expensive to repair the radio.


Best Features

Style, quality, subtlety, surprising sporty feel


Worst Features

Better base radio


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A Lear Jet without the wings.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By MarkPopkie
on

Vehicle

2005 Saab 9-3 Arc 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)


Review

Just purchased this vehicle used with 75k miles. Previous owner had been meticulous with service records so I feel confident that this baby was pampered. I have barely added 100 miles to the odometer but I am already impressed. Having driven or owned nearly every kind of car in this category, the Saab stands out as the most fun to drive. Fantastic handling, the turbo responds to my every whim, and the air handling system is straight out of a Boeing 747. I have never driven a 4 cylinder that handles A/C quite like this. Despite having a 13 speaker sound system, I was underwhelmed by the stereo - I may have already blown a driver. I do,however, love the timeless quality of the exterior design.


Best Features

Air handling system is stellar. Very comfortable interior. The 4 wheel disc brakes are breathtakingly responsive. Amazing get-up-'n'-go turbo. Overall, this car is safe, fun, and really good looking in a minimalist sort of way.


Worst Features

Insulation between plastic-on-plastic joints would decrease interior noise. Higher quality speakers. That's all I've got for now, but I'll return after a year for a follow up. First impressions were very good though. I look forward to my commute, and that says a lot!


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