2000 Saab 9-3 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Comfy interior, versatile hatchback model, torquey turbo motor, quirky personality.
  • Controls not always intuitive, offbeat image, spotty build quality.
List Price Estimate
$1,194 - $2,876

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Edmunds' Expert Review

An offbeat alternative to the staid German sedans that dominate the category.

Vehicle overview

Despite some obvious shortcomings, we're fond of Saab. Last year, the old 900 model was replaced with the 9-3, which is actually just an updated 900. The base 9-3 comes in three-door coupe, five-door hatchback and two-door convertible models. All come equipped with a powerful 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine. This turbocharged 2.0-liter produces stunning acceleration that can char the front tires into bits if the driver so chooses.

Move up to the even more feature-laden SE five-door or convertible, and you're opting for even more performance. All SEs are powered by a high-output version of the turbo four that spins an amazing 205 horses (that's better than 100 horsepower per liter of displacement!) through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox. Perhaps even more impressive is that in stick-shift models, this motor makes its 209 foot-pounds of torque at an amazingly low 2,200 rpm, and then maintains peak torque all the way up to 4,500 rpm. Talk about a useable power band!

In addition to getting bigger wheels and tires, the uplevel SE also boasts a sportier look with a front chin spoiler, flared rocker panels, a new rear valence, body-colored mirrors, chrome exhaust tip and a sports steering wheel. The SE Convertible models add a rear spoiler, while five-door versions come equipped with a specially tuned sport suspension for more responsive handling. For pure enthusiasts, Saab offers the high-performance 9-3 Viggen. Now with 230 horsepower and a healthy 258 foot-pounds of torque from its high-output turbo 2.3-liter, the Viggen can be had as a coupe, hatch or rag top, and either in black, silver or the original Lightning Blue. Less than 3,000 Viggens will be produced in model year 2000, with 1,000 of them coming to the U.S.

All 9-3 models feature Saab's patented pendulum-design B-pillar, which deflects side impacts away from head and chest areas; the world's first head restraint system to reduce the risk of whiplash-type injuries; and seat-mounted, two-stage inflating head and chest side airbags.

The Saab 9-3 is a fun-to-drive, equipment-laden near-luxury car that competes against entries from Volvo, BMW and Mercedes. While the 9-3 is a good car in its own right, the problem is that there are plenty of good cars in the 9-3's price class. If your tastes run a bit on the eccentric side, however, this car's personality and quirkiness may be a better choice for you than a BMW 323is or Mercedes C280. You'll certainly stand out more in the crowd, and have fun doing it.

2000 Highlights

The base model gets restyled 15-inch alloy wheels, while the SE version gains performance enhancements and increased horsepower. The sporty 9-3 Viggen offers even more power, and is available as a five-door or convertible in addition to the coupe. All engines are now LEV compliant and GM's OnStar "Telematics" System becomes optional across the model lineup.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2000 Saab 9-3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Swedish Sleeper...a future classic
Viggen Turbo 4dr Hatchback
They don't build cars like the Viggen anymore. This car is an animal, pure and simple. But, with 5-door configuration, I can take my family and plenty of belongings (in the huge hatch) anywhere in comfort and safety. This is a very limited production car. With the right modifications, they can be made into not just fast - but also excellent handling vehicles. As long as you stay on top of maintenance these cars are fun and reliable transportation. The acceleration on this car will shock those who don't know what this car is. This is the fastest car SAAB ever produced, and remains so to this day (Oct 2011). Still, I get 31 mpg on the highway and about 20 in the city. Love it!
GREAT used car - would have never bought it new
SE HO Turbo 2dr Convertible
I bought this car sight unseen in Sep 2010 from a dealer (found it on Autotrader). The car had 86k miles on it and the Carfax showed it had been properly maintained. I paid $5,900, which included shipping, taxes, etc. Cheap! Prior car was a 1999 Saab 9-3 SE hatchback so I already was familiar with its quirks. I have only put about 2k miles on it so far but must say that so far it is the BEST car I have ever owned. FUN!
Turbo 2dr Convertible
perfect in every way,except for the bumpers.. if you live in the city,, people of course bump in to them, and scratch them and they quickly look like s///t even if the rest of the car is perfect.. a design flaw in my opinion.. but otherwise.. great job. Standard radio/speakers// also kind of suck.
Regrets, my last Saab
Turbo 2dr Convertible
This is my second Saab and regretfully my last. The first (1995 conv) had massive battery/electrical/conv. problems and this one needed a new engine. This model has a newly found defect that Saab calls "engine sludge." They are covering this problem under the warranty but beware it decreases performance until you take it in or until it strands you on the highway. I have finally decided that it doesn't make sense for me to pay the upgrade for a performance vehicle when the performance deteriorates. Alas, it is all under warranty but the fact that it needed a new engine is going to really hurt my resale value. I've loved these cars eventhough they proved to not be worth the luxury pricetag.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2000 Saab 9-3

Used 2000 Saab 9-3 Overview

The Used 2000 Saab 9-3 is offered in the following submodels: 9-3 Viggen, 9-3 Hatchback, 9-3 Convertible. Available styles include Turbo 4dr Hatchback, Turbo 2dr Hatchback, SE HO Turbo 4dr Hatchback, Viggen Turbo 2dr Convertible, Viggen Turbo 4dr Hatchback, SE HO Turbo 2dr Convertible, Viggen Turbo 2dr Hatchback, and Turbo 2dr Convertible.

What's a good price on a Used 2000 Saab 9-3?

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Which used 2000 Saab 9-3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2000 Saab 9-3 for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2000 Saab 9-3.

Can't find a used 2000 Saab 9-3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Saab 9-3 for sale - 5 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $20,750.

Find a used Saab for sale - 11 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $24,985.

Find a used certified pre-owned Saab 9-3 for sale - 6 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $7,654.

Find a used certified pre-owned Saab for sale - 5 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $7,390.

Should I lease or buy a 2000 Saab 9-3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Saab lease specials
Check out Saab 9-3 lease specials