1999 Saab 9-5 Review


Pros & Cons

  • Satisfying performance, impressive luxury, reasonable price, wagon availability.
  • Saab's premium sedan is no longer available with a hatchback, rendering it less useful to people who don't want an SUV or wagon, but who need to cart a lot of stuff around.
List Price Estimate
$927 - $2,007

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Saab has got a new car to sell and they want you to take a look. Called the 9-5, that's nine-five, not ninety-five; Saab's new premium sedans are designed to compete with everything from near-luxury models like the Lexus ES300 and Cadillac Catera to full blown sport sedans like the Mercedes-Benz E430 and BMW 540ia.

Since the 9-5 is a Saab, expect things to be a little different from your garden variety offerings from Cadillac or BMW. All 9-5s in the lineup are equipped with turbocharged engines. The lowest rung model has a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder motor that produces 170 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 1,800 rpm. The mid- and upper-level 9-5 share a 3.0-liter asymmetrically turbocharged V6 engine that pumps out 200 ponies and 229 foot-pounds of torque. The entry level four-cylinder 9-5 comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission; V6 models get a driver selectable four-speed automatic.

Standard equipment levels are high on the 9-5 sedans, offering up not-so-basic items such as antilock brakes, traction control (V6 models), automatic climate controls, premium stereo, side-impact airbags and an active head restraint system. Options are kept to a minimum, but the ones present are appreciated. They include heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and a power moonroof, which is standard on the SE.

Perhaps the nicest thing about the 9-5 is its sporting character. The 9-5 feels much more solid and screwed together than the model it replaces. This enables drivers of all ability to take advantage of a lonely stretch of twisty road. Precise steering and powerful brakes further enhance the driving experience, giving the 9-5 a solid European feel.

The entry-level 9-5 stickers for just under $30,000 and includes a high level of standard equipment. This makes it a relative bargain for most people shopping the near-luxury class. Consider the 9-5 before traipsing off the lot with an Acura TL or Lexus ES300, you'll be rewarded with a unique car that is attractive, comfortable and fun to drive.

1999 Highlights

Saab's replacement for the 9000 line of cars is called the 9-5. Available as a sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder or turbocharged V6 engine, the 9-5 is designed to compete against conventional cars like the BMW 5 Series and Infiniti I30.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Saab 9-5.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

A very honest car.
In three years, this car has been 99% trouble-free. The only problem has been with the electronic displays, which apparently was a common problem with the 1999. These have since been made more reliable, and the dealer has immediately replaced the ones that have caused trouble. The gas mileage with the manual 5-speed and turbo 4 cyl. has amazed me. On trips from Ohio to Colorado and New Mexico, including city and mountain driving, I've gotten 31-32 mpg.
Sobbing over my SAAB
Thought I did enough research before purchasing, I was wrong. The car is wonderful when everything is working properly. Which was about 2 weeks! Have done more repairs than I can list here. Parts are often hard to come by and expensive! Unfortunately, Saab quit employing Aircraft engineers decades ago. I'm an aircraft mechanic and I have no doubt their early models held up best because of their aviation background. I'm convinced their partnership with GM was their ultimate downfall. If you already bought a 9-5, Four words: CHANGE THE OIL OFTEN! Change the ATF or manual GB oil often as well! Do maintenance yourself if possible. Mechanics hear "SAAB" and they see $$$$
Listen to the warnings before purchasing this car! This car is not worth the headaches you will more then likely endure. I purchased this car with 85K miles in March of 2011. I was carpooling with a group of peers so I drove the car for ONE full week during that first month. On day 34, my engine seized. I replaced that engine. Since then, I have also replaced numerous belts, sensors, pumps. Every 3-4 weeks this car was in the shop and needed a new overpriced part that was impossible to find. Engine failure is a common problem with this year as I have learned the hard way. The engine I purchased to replace the original one seized on us recently as well. Please save your $$ and think twice!!
Fun, Quick, Safe, Comfy Piece of Crap
Purveyor of Vehicles,09/22/2010
So it's very safe, very comfortable, very fun to drive, pretty quick and all around enjoyable car to drive. However, it was designed poorly and is unreliable and puts a permanent pipeline from your wallet to the mechanic.

Features & Specs

16 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
200 hp @ 5000 rpm
19 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
170 hp @ 5500 rpm
19 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
170 hp @ 5500 rpm
See all Used 1999 Saab 9-5 features & specs


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 1999 Saab 9-5
More About This Model

Saab's new 9-5 Wagon marks the company's latest move in producing world-class cars that will appeal to a broader market, not just Saab loyalists. Following in the footsteps of the all-new 9-5 Sedan, the 9-5 Wagon offers an impressive blend of styling, performance, luxury and functionality. It also offers something you might not normally associate with Saabs: value.

Base price of the 9-5 Wagon, which comes with a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine and five-speed manual transmission, is $32,425 (including destination charge). For that amount of money you get a multitude of standard luxury and utility items that no other station wagon can currently match. These include a Harmon/Kardon audio system with radio/CD/cassette player, a refrigerated glove box, a power sunroof, a power front-passenger seat, the Cargo Tracks load-securing system, fog lights, and a rigid cargo shelf to conceal precious cargo and/or allow cargo to be stacked for increased storage capacity. The base Volvo V70 Wagon (which has a less powerful engine) is priced slightly lower than the base Saab Wagon, but includes none of the above items. Other competitors, like the Volvo V70 GLT, Audi A6 Avant and BMW 5-Series Wagon, cost more than the Saab in base form and get even pricier when similarly equipped.

Saab also worked to maximize performance for the new 9-5 Wagon, and it shows in the standard engine's 170 horsepower, 207 foot-pounds of torque. These figures beat the base Volvo V70's 162 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque, and even match the 207 foot-pounds of torque found in the pricier, six-cylinder A6 Avant. Step up to the larger 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine and the Saab's numbers climb to 200 horsepower and 229 foot-pounds of torque, enough to match or beat all but the most powerful (and expensive) sport wagons like BMW's 540i ($54,050) and Mercedes E320W ($47,795). Base price of the six-cylinder Saab 9-5 Wagon is $37,475 with destination charge. The Volvo V70 T5 Wagon does have slightly more horsepower and a lower price ($35,085), but it doesn't include a leather interior, power sunroof or automatic transmission; all are standard on the 9-5 Wagon V6.

Of course, all the numbers make for great party debates but don't mean a thing if the 9-5 Wagon can't deliver in the real world. It's here that Saab's engineers invested the bulk of their energy in terms of safety, performance and utility. For instance, the 9-5 Wagon's use of non-intrusive door panels with energy-absorbing material met U.S. side-impact standards even before Saab installed the in-seat side airbags. A total of 40 different crash tests were performed on the 9-5 Wagon by Saab's safety division, far more than the 11 required by law. The anti-whiplash Saab Active Head Restraint system, pendulum B-pillar side-impact structure and the aircraft-inspired Cargo Tracks load-securing system are three more safety features unique to Saab.

The Cargo Tracks system is a particularly useful feature that makes locking down large items in the cargo area a snap. Two long, metal tracks recessed into the floor work with cables and hooks (located in a small storage compartment in the cargo area) to keep large items from shifting and potentially invading the front passenger area during an accident. When not in use, the tracks can be covered with two rubber strips similar to the ones seen running along the aisles in commercial aircraft. All Saab 9-5 Wagons come with the Cargo Tracks system as standard equipment.

The 9-5 Wagon's numerous safety features are particularly reassuring when rolling along the pavement. With 229 foot-pounds of torque coming on at a mere 2,500 rpm, it's easy to get the wagon rolling quickly with the slightest hint of turbo lag when starting from a dead stop. Once underway, the Saab has amazing torque for passing maneuvers and general mischief. When left in "Sport" mode, the automatic in the 3.0-liter model will hold each gear longer and downshift with little prompting. This mode works particularly well while sluicing canyons, where the Wagon's substantial braking power and competent suspension combine for rapid transit in truly non-grocery-getting fashion. Saab's engineers told us that the 9-5 Wagon was equipped with slightly stiffer bushings than the 9-5 Sedan for increased load-carrying capacity and reduced lean. We say the suspension tweaks worked, resulting in a wagon that feels even more planted during handling maneuvers than the recent 9-5 Sedan we tested.

In addition to the standard list of features included with every 9-5 Wagon, Saab is unleashing an entire line of accessories that include rear spoilers, bike racks, cargo-area dividers and dog harnesses that work with the Cargo Tracks system. This means that buyers can mount their Gary Fisher bikes on the roof, load their equipment and favorite four-legged friend in the back, and hit the road looking as sporty, but more active, than the couple in the SLK. They can even purchase a Saab wristwatch to make sure everyone knows where their loyalties rest.

You can expect to see a barrage of advertising over the next few months making claims about what the current offering of Saab cars is and, more importantly, what it is not. It's really Saab vs. the World and, with the 9-5 Wagon as an indicator, we think the company ought to do well.

Used 1999 Saab 9-5 Overview

The Used 1999 Saab 9-5 is offered in the following submodels: 9-5 Sedan, 9-5 Wagon. Available styles include V6t 4dr Wagon, SE V6t 4dr Sedan, SE 2.3t Turbo 4dr Sedan, 2.3t 4dr Wagon, and 2.3t 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Saab 9-5?

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Can't find a used 1999 Saab 9-5s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Saab 9-5 for sale - 4 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $23,309.

Find a used Saab for sale - 7 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $20,995.

Find a used certified pre-owned Saab 9-5 for sale - 9 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $21,274.

Find a used certified pre-owned Saab for sale - 11 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $10,427.

Should I lease or buy a 1999 Saab 9-5?

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 9-5 lease specials