Used 2009 Saab 9-3

2009 Saab 9-3
List price range
2009 Saab 9-3

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.
Saab 9-3 years

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

vehicle overview

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.

2009 Saab 9-3 configurations

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.

2009 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Saab 9-3.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

ok car for the money, very reliable!
chris_gallucci,02/02/2011
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.)
Saab 9-3 excellent car for the money
pl,12/08/2008
No one can drive this car and not appreciate the very smooth and adequately powerful turbo engine. Also, one of the safest cars on the road. As for gas mileage, it's consistently been 22 in the city and 29 on the highway, so the 18-23 quoted in the review is odd. Very comfortable to drive. At 26k, it's a steal. A great family car.
Gas Mileage
GET IT RIGHT,04/18/2009
The editor or writer has it totally wrong on gas mileage. Around town will be 20 - 24 , and highway is 29 - 32. Your listing of 18 - 23 is really not accurate. I think one of the better cars made. Saab never gets a fair shake from the press or internet outlets. Drive one and form your own opinion. Most people that have one, usually buy another.
A well-rounded car
Steve,11/04/2009
The 2009 9-3 performs well in every category. Excellent handing meaning just the right feedback from steering and feel of the road. The steering wheel is thick with thumb support that adds to the sense of control. A sense of control of the car in every situation - even in snow storms and driving rain. Comfortable seats that are appreciated more on longer driving trips. Easy to reach and understand dashboard - nothing too fancy like most higher end cars. Good views of the road. A safety record unmatched by most cars - check out the insurance loss chart on the IIHS site - Saab is either the safest or the top two or three safest cars on the road. Why? Re-read my comments.
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Features & Specs

MPG
19 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
210 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
19 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
19 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
210 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
15 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
280 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 2009 Saab 9-3 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Saab 9-3
Used 2009 Saab 9-3 Overview

The Used 2009 Saab 9-3 is offered in the following submodels: 9-3 Sedan, 9-3 Convertible, 9-3 Wagon. Available styles include Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Comfort 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Touring 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Comfort 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Comfort 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Aero 4dr Sedan AWD (2.8L 6cyl Turbo 6A), Sport 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Sport 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5A), Aero 4dr Wagon AWD (2.8L 6cyl Turbo 6A), Aero 2dr Convertible (2.8L 6cyl Turbo 6A), XWD 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and XWD 4dr Wagon AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Saab 9-3?

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Find a used Saab 9-3 for sale - 1 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $17,917.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 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