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Saab 9-5 Wagon



  • AFIK: As far as I know.

    Information I shared regarding the rear-facing seat was from a usually-well-informed internet correspondent in England, iirc (if I recall correctly).

    There is no doubt that the "third seat" in a station wagon built off a sedan platform is not the best place to be when the car is "rear ended". That seat is smack in the middle of the "crumple zone". And especially in the USA, with all those nose-high SUV bumpers bearing down on us, the risk is clear.

    That said, the "rear facing third seat" is clearly superior to someone rattling around loose in the cargo compartment, or lap sitting in the passenger compartment. Crash safety design is an exercise in risk assessment and cost analysis. In this case, one combines the probablity of a severe rear-end crash with the probability that the vehicle will be loaded down with people in the back. And if the decision is made to include a third seat, one considers the cost of adding stiffeners, both the money cost of the modification and the safety cost of having a less crush-space available even when the rear seat is unoccupied.
    Crash safety can be maximized at the expense of utility, driveability, and economy: how would you like to own a greyhound bus? Saab has apparently sacrificed the utility of the "third seat", either for cost, safety, or a combination of both. Volvo has apparently concluded that the utility outweighs the risk. Or possibly their market prominence makes a $1000 optional third seat an attractive business opportunity that Saab, with their much smaller volume and generation-long absense from the station wagon market, didn't feel they could profit from.
  • Third row seat is not as important to us as the fact that Saab is finally offering a wagon again. This is what we've wanted for 2+ years but the availability has been very much diminished with the rise of the SUV. As long as the car is built extremely safe I'd always pick a wagon over a SUV. I just like the car like ride that a wagon can deliver over any SUV on the road, let alone a Saab!
  • Without the third seat, what is there? A car that is a little too expensive, with an unproven track record, against extraordinarily tough competition.

    Price: It's going to be more than the Volve XC, MB M320, and A4 Avant.

    Value: The Volvos beat everyone in insurance, and provide a savings of at least $500/year over the SAAB (this was comparing sedans, I can't imagine the wagons will be much different). The MB has a ridiculously low depreciation rate, and everybody agrees that the A4 is damn-good car and bargain.

    Quality: It's a SAAB on a new platform. The Volvos have been around for years, the MB has two years under its belt, as does the Audi.

    Safety: A Volvo is a Volvo, and my insurance company tells me that's the best choice. The MB is bigger and stronger w/very good safety features. The Audi I'm no so sure about. The SAAB looks safe, but no more so than the first two.

    Versatility: W/o AWD, the SAAB is inferior to the Volvo, MB, and Audi A6 (which is so underpowered that I haven't mentioned it thus far).

    Interior: You can't tell me that the SAAB's 9-5 interior is any better than the Volvo, MB, or Audi. I've been in it. It's nice, but feels smaller than the Volvo and MB.

    Performance: I drove both the XC and the 9-5, with both the 4 and 6 cylinder. The XC was every bit as quick, handled as nimbly, and was otherwise enjoyable. And the reviews unanimously tell me that the A4 is a blast.

    Look, I'm not looking to whack the Wagon. In fact, I've held off on making a buying decision until I could at least check it out. Without the 3d seat, though, it becomes far less practical. With three kids, I could carry my family and no more. Not true with the Volvo and MB. If I just wanted a plain wagon w/o the extra seat, the Volvo is cheaper, both to buy and to insure, the MB is comparable, and the A4 is significantly less with better performance (albeit a bit smaller).

    With all of this in mind, why in the world would I ever buy a 9-5 wagon w/o the ability to carry 7 passengers? Why? Ventilated seats just don't carry the day.
  • Quality: While the 9-5 "platform" is new, the 4-cyl engine and drivetrain are well proven. The 9-5 itself went on sale in August of '97. This was after a 6 month slip in the introduction schedule, said slip being devoted to driving samples built on the production line using production tooling the length and breadth of Sweden.

    Safety: In European laboratory crash tests, the Saab sedan bested all the vehicles in your comparison. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety "blood on the road" surveys, Saabs have consistently been best in class, and often have been best in show. Besides their innovative active head restraint (versus Volvo's collapsing seat back and everyone elses "hope for the best), their combined torso-head restraint bags, their pretensioning and load limiting belt restraints, and the usual run of class-standard features, the front structure and subframe are integrated into a progressively collapsing structure, capable of limiting damage in low-speed crashes and maximizing energy absorbtion in the more severe mishaps. The structure is optimized for the off-center, off-square impacts of real life, versus some designs which perform exceptionally well in the lab but less well on the road. Saab's safety departments call the latter "fork-lift designs", straight beams which turn into bellows in laboratory conditions.

    Versatility: AWD carries a weight, volume, and efficiency penalty 100% of the time. I have driven front-drive vehicles with snow tires past many an overturned AWD vehicle: its superiority in bad weather is overrated. IMO.

    Price: The most expensive 9-5 wagon will check in at the price of the entry A-6. In its class, the Saab is very competitively priced.
  • Pokylovdog is right!

    I'm just busting your chops. We don't have any kids and it is hard for me to envision the need of even more seating. I just want carrying capacity within a spirited driving car.

    M.B. and Volvo are fine cars but I personally think they lack a certain enthusiasm that a Saab posseses. If money is no object and accepted status your aim then a M.B. is the ticket. If you want a brick that has over and over again proven itself to be a "brick" then get a Volvo.

    I personally love both these cars and would buy both of them if the bank account didn't force me to make a choice. I have not driven the M.B. wagon but I have driven the base Volvo and found it's racious engine to be lacking in refinement. The M.B. was left out of my comparison for obvious financial reasons. Now a Vovlo T5 wagon could catch my fancy but yet again it was just a bit too dear for my pocket book.

    A decent Saab 9-5 Wagon at the right price, minus one rear facing seat, could really stir my soul! Give me cargo capacity with spirited driving and I'm in virtual hog heaven.
  • If you just want cargo capacity and fun, try the A4 Wagon. It's a hoot. Or the BMW 5-series. Unless the 9-5 wagon is significantly better than its sedan counterpart, it's not going to beat either.

    As for safety, if it's all that, then why the higher insurance rate? I'm not saying it's not safe, I'm sure it is. But I trust the numbercrunchers at insurance companies to be nothing more than bottom-line freaks without bias. That kind of insanity is persuasive. And I am sure that the MB 320, because it is significantly bigger and heavier, will absorb an impact as well as, or better than the 9-5.

    Look, I WANTED to like the 9-5. Really. But I still can't get get it to measure up to the competition. For those of you who think having three children is lunacy, maybe you're smarter than me (there are times I would certainly agree). I know you have more car choices. But you still have look past the A4, which is thousands less and more spirited, the Subarus, the 5-series, and the Volvo line (the T-5 and GLT are also cheaper). I can't justify it. (The A6 will be unworthy of consideration until the engine is upgraded.)

    To buy the 9-5, I would have to acknowledge that I am paying a premium just to be different. It's not worth it.
  • We drove the A4 before we leased a 9-3 and it was the car we wanted but decided against for financial reasons. I love the exterior and interior of the A4 but I can tell you without reserve that the A4 is not comfortable for rear seat adult passengers. I road in the back seat of an A4 Avant for five hours from Munich to Prague last winter and it was painful all the way None of the adults in the back seat were particulary large but I'd never put an adult back there again after that experience.

    The cargo capacity of the A4 is a little cramped for a wagon and we'd probably choose the A6/Passat over it but then they were not available or in our price range when we were looking. I'd never accept the annemic 1.8 with auto that was offered.

    We'll see in a couple of years whether either the Saab or Audi/Passat wagon proven themselves to be worthy. I suspect that the Saab could be very interesting.
  • I've had the same problem on two Volvos. They can be damning to resolve.

    I suggest looking next at the "roundness' of your tires. You could have hit a pothole and bended the wheel or your tire might have unusual tread wear. (Technically, you could balance a square or any other irregular form to perfection...).

    You can see an irregular wheel with the help of a mechanics that has a lift you can use. A slow spin (around 10 MPH) will show any irregularity in the spin.

    Good luck!
  • woj1woj1 Posts: 48
    The last time I checked, wagons were meant to haul people and stuff. I looked into the A4/Passart wagons and found that they were just plain too small. The back seat is uncomfortable and there is minimal storage space. The Volvo XC is a joke, a small car in SUV mode...that 5cyl motor is ineffective and the whole car noisy and offering modest carrying capacity. If Saab can make their vehicle large enough, sayto carry my daughter's cello in the back without folding the back seat, then they may find their niche.
    Like most european makes, Saab needs to carve out a specific niche.
    BTW, we have a 9-3 in the stable and am waiting for the "thunderbolt" 9-3 this spring.
  • For the record, a cello in a monster-hard case is an easy fit into the back of a 9000, and I suspect that it would fit in a 9-5 sedan if it can sqeeze through the opening. Inserting one into the 9-5 wagon would be duck soup, not to mention the "load stops" to keep it from rattling around back there.

    The 9-5 sedan comes short of the 9000 only in the rear-seat legroom department. Well, guess what: in it's first 6 months on the US market, the 9-5 outsold the 9000 in its last full YEAR on the US market (1997), and in 1998 the 9-5 sedan-only is on track to outsell the 9000's best year ever. I guess those extra 3 inches of rear seat legroom don't count for much in our market.
    I do want to see these cars, but I hate the way that the auto industry always just roooooooooooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllsss things out to the public. Lots of press and no car! Let's hope this is not another vaper ware Passat V6 Syncro!
  • The wagon is on sale now in Europe, and will launch in the USA in April. Samples are on the ground, although not with the equipment of the US products. See
  • MiroMiro Posts: 15
    The current R&T issue features first drives of the 9-5 and 540i wagons.
    Goldberger: your link isn't bad. Thanks.
  • The Saab Network has the 9-5 wagon pricing and equipment specifications, along with those of the rest of the Saab model line up. The 9-5 wagon is actually priced lower than the sedan, considering its standard sunroof. Also, the base wagon has the premium audio system of the SE sedan.
  • contributors in the Saab list "turbo!" have reported that 9-5 wagons are on the ground at several dealers, in time for its official April Launch Date.
  • tt66tt66 Posts: 9
    Caution to any audiophiles on the 9-5 Wagon. It has the same premium amplifier as the SE Sedan, it is missing the two shelf speakers that the sedan has. The sound from behind you sounds weaker than in the sedan. It does add a subwoofer that does not exist on the sedan. Total speakers 8 instead of 9.
    I realize this probably not a critical element in choosing the wagon over the sedan for most buyers but it is something to be aware of.
  • aspetuckaspetuck Posts: 4
    One other (minor) difference next to the audio piece:the wagon is approx. 200lb heavier.To get
    to 60 mph takes 10.5 instead of 9.9 sec for the
    2.3 auto,9.3 instead of 8.7 sec for the manual-
    calculated from European Saab specs.Mileage down
    a tiny bit too.
    I am a very happy Dutch owner of a 2.3 Wagon SE,
    it sure beats the Audi/Volvo hands down...the intro price in USA is VERY attractive as long as
    it lasts
  • The 9-5 wagons and sedans allure me for no particular reason, they just seem to be different from everything else. Also, the dealer network for these wonderful cars in the USA is so friendly, the salesmen sent a postcard to me four months after a quick visit to sit in the 9-5 sedan to ask how I was doing and tell me about the new v6-t. He knew I was in no position to buy, having bought a new A6 (with that smooth engine that needs to be revved), but mailed me anyway -- in cursive! It is refreshing in this age of computers.
  • I have been following this conference for some time and ordered a 9-5 wagon, sight unseen except for pictures, in January. My local dealer received his first inventory and I was very impressed with how it looked and drove. However, we had also been considering the Volvo XC and was impressed with the (several) test drives we took. After a lot of contemplation we chose the XC because of its practicality for New England winters and the overall tightness of the car (we thought it was significantly tighter than the SAAB). The 9-5 is a terrific vehicle, but I think we made the right decision for our needs.
  • bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Posts: 115
    of will be our new First Drive of the 1999 Saab 9-5 Wagon!

    Bonnie Rick
    Town Hall Community Manager
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