2009 Saab 9-3 Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Saab 9-3

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Saab 9-3 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 210 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Saab 9-3

  • The 2009 Saab 9-3 is still an able, attractive entry-luxury car, but German and Japanese rivals possess newer designs, superior performance and better build quality.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Quiet cabin, precise steering, responsive all-wheel-drive system, supportive front seats, wide variety of body styles.

  • Cons

    Pricey, subpar interior materials and build quality, tight rear seat, too much body roll on Aero model, ride can be rough over bumps.

  • What's New for 2009

    For 2009, Saab has expanded the 9-3's trim levels, while the 2.0T is now available with all-wheel drive and some of the Aero trim's performance enhancements. Much of the equipment is the same as last year, although Bluetooth phone connectivity is now standard on all models. Last year's limited-edition Turbo X sedan and wagon have been dropped from the lineup.

Full 2009 Saab 9-3 Review

What's New for 2009

For 2009, Saab has expanded the 9-3's trim levels, while the 2.0T is now available with all-wheel drive and some of the Aero trim's performance enhancements. Much of the equipment is the same as last year, although Bluetooth phone connectivity is now standard on all models. Last year's limited-edition Turbo X sedan and wagon have been dropped from the lineup.


Although the 9-3 is Saab's best-selling model, this entry-level luxury car still mainly appeals to a small niche group of buyers. This could be a good thing for those looking for a unique alternative to the German and Japanese choices that seem to be common on the road. The Saab, though aging, still appears somewhat modern, and it's one of the few choices in this segment to be offered as a sedan, wagon or convertible. Unfortunately, mediocre driving dynamics and interior furnishings make the 9-3 a compromised competitor in a class that is increasingly offering more features and better quality with each model year.

While mostly unchanged for 2009, the Saab 9-3 gets new intermediate trim levels between the base and the sporty, more powerful Aero models. Those trim levels make many of the Aero's handling and performance upgrades available on the 2.0T, including all-wheel drive. All 9-3s get standard Bluetooth phone connectivity this year, which is a welcome addition as more states impose hands-free cell phone laws.

Still, the 2009 Saab 9-3 is up against some stiff competition, including the newly redesigned Acura TL and Audi A4, the always impressive BMW 3 Series and the well-regarded Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Even the slightly less expensive Infiniti G35 edges out the Saab in terms of performance, ride dynamics and cabin quality. The 9-3's best performers -- especially in wet or snowy climates -- are the Aero XWD models, which use the Saab AWD system introduced in the middle of the previous model year. But those looking for a precise driving experience and a luxurious cabin are advised to shop around a bit before buying a Saab 9-3.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Saab 9-3 is a compact entry-level luxury car available as a sedan, wagon (dubbed "SportCombi") or convertible. It comes in a copious number of trim levels -- five each on the sedan and SportCombi and four on the convertible.

The base sedan and SportCombi (1SA) includes 16-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, faux wood interior trim, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 60/40-split rear seat, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. The next trim level up (1SB) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels and adds a sunroof, heated front seats, power express-up windows and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass.

Step up to the 1SC trim level and Saab adds roof rails, a rear integrated antenna and genuine wood interior trim. In addition, the sedan gets self-leveling rear shock absorbers; the SportCombi gets a lowered, sport-tuned chassis and Saab's XWD AWD system. The even-more-feature-packed 1SD trim level doesn't have the special shocks or XWD, but the sedan at this trim level also gets the lowered sport-tuned chassis, xenon adaptive headlights, foglights, rear park assist, an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound system with six-CD changer, sport seats and an eight-way power passenger seat. The top-of-the-line Aero trim level includes all of the 1SC's handling features and 1SD's luxury features, plus a limited-slip differential.

On the convertible, there are a few notable equipment differences: The 60/40-split rear seat is not available on any trim, and a fully automatic cloth top replaces the roof. (A sunroof, not surprisingly, is not available.) Also, the intermediate 1SC trim is not available in a soft-top version. All other trim levels are largely comparable to their hardtop counterparts. A navigation system is also available on all trims except the base in each body style.

Powertrains and Performance

Standard on all trim levels except Aero models is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder that makes 210 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Saab 9-3 Aero models get a turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 capable of 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox comes standard on the base Saab 9-3, and a five-speed automatic is optional. All other 9-3s come with either the five-speed automatic (1SB and 1SD) or a six-speed automatic (1SC and Aero) as standard. You can also order a manual transmission on these sportier trims as an option. The Aero and the 1SC send their power through an AWD system; all other 9-3s are front-drive only.

Fuel economy ranges from a low of 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the automatic Aero sedan or SportCombi to 19/29/23 mpg for a manual 2.0T sedan.


Every 2009 Saab 9-3 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, OnStar telematics, active head restraints and front-seat side airbags. The sedan and SportCombi wagon come with full-length side curtain airbags, while convertibles get a rollover protection system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the Saab 9-3 sedan and wagon at four out of five stars for frontal-impact protection. In the side-impact category, the 9-3 received five stars for front-occupant safety and four stars for rear-occupant protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 9-3 "Top Safety Pick" honors based on its "Good" ratings (the highest possible) in the agency's frontal-offset crash, side-impact crash and head-restraint effectiveness tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Saab 9-3's cabin offers comfortable front seats and good ergonomics, but the quality of the interior materials can't measure up to competitors in the class. Fit and finish also leave something to be desired. The sedan and wagon are sufficiently roomy, but rear legroom is limited in the convertible. On the upside, stereo and climate controls are a model of simplicity (a welcome departure from past Saabs) and are located up high and readily at hand. There are also plenty of kooky Saab features, like the console-mounted ignition and the "Night Panel" function that dims most instrument lighting (except most of the speedometer) for nighttime driving.

Also on the bright side, the Saab 9-3 can carry more cargo than many cars in its class; it offers 15 cubic feet of trunk space in the sedan and 12.4 cubes in the convertible. The wagon offers 29.7 cubic feet of storage space with the backseat up, and an impressive 72.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat.

Driving Impressions

Both the 2.0T and the turbocharged V6 deliver adequate power, but performance is nothing special for this class. Models with Saab's XWD system are more capable -- especially with the additional power coming from the Aero's V6 engine. But even with the additional grip and power, the 9-3 Aero isn't hard-edged enough to be considered a true sport sedan or wagon.

The 9-3's ride is smooth and quiet over smooth surfaces, but the suspension loses composure on bumpy pavement. Steering is light and quite accurate, but body roll around corners is excessive, even on the trim levels with the lowered, sport-tuned chassis. Enthusiasts considering the 2009 Saab 9-3 would be wise to skip the base and intermediate trim levels and go straight to the Aero XWD.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Saab 93...with gm warranty

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

First (and I'm guessing last SAAB). Very happy with this car. Purchased a "stripped down" model at the going out of business sale - did not get the BIG deals that others claimed to have gotten, but I did get a 0.0% loan!! 6 speed manual - overall car is very good. It's comfortable and good on long trips. I average 30 MPG COMBINED in the real world - pretty psyched about that - I will generally be in the high 30's on the highway. That's great mileage. I don't play boy racer, and generally only go about 5 MPS above posted limits on the highway which probably helps my mileage. Back seat is tight. Fold down rear seats nice. Rear air vents are nice. GM warranty is nice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Ok car for the money,

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 XWD 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Performance: great in snow! turbo lag is very high though Comfort: over roads freshly paved-perfect, anything else-horrid! Value: compared to other cars I have driven/ ridden around in it is not the best, seats are rock hard Fun to Drive: Oh yeah! Interior Design: great the first year it was out, but got old fast Exterior Design: they are like Chevy, they keep almost the same design for a few years, then finally get the idea that people want to see something new Build Quality: the best, except for a tank, I was behind a dump truck hauling logs (one lane road) it dropped a log 6" in diameter, I ran it over, the car suffered no damage Reliability: I can do everything at home (change oil, etc.)

My headache...

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 Comfort 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

After three months of use my car started with a noise in the front suspension upon riding over street bumps. I made an appointment and my car was taken for service and repair March 22, 2010. Mileage: 4849. The car was ready the same day. First maintenance done. After a few months the noise in the front suspension started again. Also a new noise started at the driver's seat. I made another appointment. On June 7, 2010 the car was taken for repair again. Mileage: 8644. The car was seven days at the shop. out of shop June 14, 2010. The noise persisted at the suspension and this time was stronger. I took the car the 8th of July, 2010 for evaluation and a loosen knob at the bushing was found and fixed the same day. On September 20th, 2010 my battery died and they changed same day for a new one. Same day service. Mileage: 13344. This same day the car was re-evaluated by the mechanics because the noise in the front suspension and in the driver's seat decreased but were still present. Another appointment was done and the parts were ordered. Appointment was done for the first day of November, 2010. My car was at the shop until November 4th and the parts were never available, so they did not fixed the car. Only thing done was the maintenance check up. Mileage: 14969. Appointment follow up for parts previously ordered was given for November 15, 2010. I picked up the car Friday 19th of November. Still the car was with the same noise in the front suspension and at the driver's seat. On Monday 22 of November another visit to the shop was done. In view that this was a short week (due to Thanksgiving holiday) they gave me another appointment for service for the 29th of November. The service light was not reset and it was ON at all times. The 29th of November my car went again for service for another week. Mileage: 15799. When I picked up my car Friday 3 of December the car was still with the same or worst noise in the front suspension and at the driver's seat. Total of visits for the same problems: 6 Total of days in shop for repairs and evaluation: 20 days Problems unresolved: Front suspension noise and driver's seat noise I use my car on daily basis for work. For me is important to have a save car. This noises are obnoxious and persistent. Every time the car is in the shop they change a different part of the front suspension as if they were guessing what the car problem is. The front seat cushion has been replaced twice. The truth is that they have never fixed any of these two noises.

2009 9-3

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

Bought my Saab in Dec. 09 and got a steal of a deal. Took it on it's first long trip last month 1,800 miles. Fuel economy was excellent (31.8-32.4) on regular gas with cruise at 80 mph. This car drives like a dream however the front seats really need work, our 2010 Jetta has superior seat comfort. This is well made car with a great engine and handling. Although this is my first Saab it may not be the last.

Saab safety

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

Lucky for me I purchased my 2009 SAAB when they were clearing them out. I love it and I must say that it has kept me safe. It has definitely stopped me from getting into 2 accidents within a 1 month period. Today, I was hit in the rear end by a SUV and the car and I did very well. I expected the rear-end to be crushed when I got out of the car. It was minimally damaged and I was shocked. Very impressive! I will buy another Saab in the future because I cannot put a price on my families safety.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

I love my saab

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Vehicle: 2009 Saab 9-3 Comfort 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

I had a 2000 9-3 and sobbed hysterically when I traded it for a Prius last year. That portended what was to come. Another year and I have bought a new Saab 9-3 wagon with a stick. I cannot believe how nice this car is! I loved my old Saab; this one is not in any way the same car. It is much nicer but I love it just the same. I am just a Saab lover, I guess. I never want anything else. I love this car.

Talk About The 2009 9-3

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As far as I know, there are no plans to make the 9-x or 9-3x, or any other coupe at this point. What is coming out is the 9-3 Sportcombi in the fall (very sharp looking sport wagon). Also ciming out...


Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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