Saab 9-3 Sedan

phishockeyphishockey Member Posts: 24
I'm considering buying a 2002 9-3 SE. I know the price for this trim level went down $4-5K in 2002 versus 2001, which is something that puzzles me. Also, I just wanted to get personal reviews of the car. Thanks.


  • jwnihilljwnihill Member Posts: 3
    I've had Saab's continuously since 1974. I've owned a model 95 wagon, 96 sedan, several old model 900s, a 903, and now a 9-3. The 9-3 is not really a Saab. It's a GM interpretation of a Saab. The term 'quirky' is often associated with Saabs. I've had many that had their problems but there was always some redeeming quality that I loved that made me forget the hassles and go buy another. I can honestly say that my current 9-3 is the most trouble-free Saab that I have ever owned. I can also say that there is absolutely nothing about this car that you can love. It is annoying, poorly designed, cramped, sluggish, and handles like a little Oldsmobile. If you really want the Saab mystique, quality, handling, safety, etc., get a 9-5. That's my intention in a few months. [email protected]
  • snaab93se1snaab93se1 Member Posts: 69
    I don't agree with jwnihill. I have a 2001 SE with the 205 hp engine...and it is far from sluggish. Only thing i will agree with is that the car is small...but if you want something bigger that is what you should look at. The price has gone down for 2002 but the car has also been decontented..the power sunroof..full leather interior, sport suspension, upgraded steroe and other items are no longer standard as they were for 2001. You can still order these and the car is still has a lower sticker price by $2500 compared to 2001 but there were huge rebates on the 2001 ($5500 when i bought) and rebates are not yet offered on the 2002 models. The car is a blast to drive , the seats are awesome (especially with the seat heaters),the a/c is the best I've seen yet( i live in phoenix az so its been tested at 115 degree plus heat) and you can fit anything you want to in the trunk..its huge. Go test drive will either love it or hate it....if you want a car with character that is comfortable and handles well you will love it....if you want a floaty luxury car ride with feather light steering this car is not for you. I have 9000 miles on mine and the only problem has been a couple of rattles which developed in the of which has been corrected by the dealer...will wait for the next service to get the others fixed. Hope this has helped you..if you have other questions feel free to ask
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    I own a 9-5 but have driven several 9-3's as well as older Saab models. I'd disagree that the current 9-3 is a GM interpretation. Fact is that the 9-3 in dealers now is hardly different from the old 900. Saab is going to have an all-new 9-3 on the market soon and this will be a complete redesign, including the elimination of the hatchback. So if you want a Saab that still has a strong tie to the Saab's of old, get a 9-3 now.

    Like many automakers, Saab has been revamping trim lines and pricing structures. Acura has completely overhauled their offerings but I don't hear anyone complaining. Volvo has revolutionized it's lineup and I don't think anyone is confused except old line Volvo owners who've been driving 240DL's since 1971.

    Saab is doing what they must to remain viable and competitive with old cars until new product arrives. By 2005 you could see a whole new company arise out of the ashes like what you've seen with Jaguar.
  • turbo231turbo231 Member Posts: 1
    My 93SE is also far from sluggish with the five speed. I don't agree on the air conditioner though. The a/c in my car is fair at best, the 87 buick throws ice cubes in comparison. The cup holders are pathetic in this car! I like every thing else about the car, although a 95 aero would be a nice upgrade.
  • snaab93se1snaab93se1 Member Posts: 69
    Just wondering what year your car is because the a/c unit was improved for 2001 and I understand it was somewhat inadequate for the model years prior
  • larryjorlarryjor Member Posts: 12
    Does any one know if aftermarket brake pads are offered on current 9-3. The reason I ask is that having had several Volvos (95 850 / 98 V70R / 00 S80 T6) PBR and Mintex pads can be purchased thru IPD, a Volvo performance specialist. These pads are really superior in every way and the dust is greatly reduced with no squeal. It would be an encouraging indication if a mfg already makes these for the current model. As for the SAT/NAV, the local dealer in Portland says it will be March '04 b4 it is in U.S. cars.
  • rgc2200rgc2200 Member Posts: 37
    i had some accessories put in my 9-3 (steel accents on the interior, heavy mats) and asked a very knowledgeable parts manager about the arm rest and onstar. He told me the # and type of complaints about the cloth arm rest were so consistent, that he is almost certain Saab is going to upgrade the arm rest for free, for early purchasers. He says onstar is being installed at the entry point for new 9-3's: and they will get to newly purchased ones later. i've had mine since 12/7.I've also heard that linears coming in now have leather arm rests. Any other confirmations of that?
  • exlegendexlegend Member Posts: 22
    Hi! I noticed there's not a lot of postings at this particular site (9-3) compared to other makes and models. Does this mean everyone loves their Saab? (linking Saab with GM and being an ex and current Acura owner, I somehow doubt that). Regardless, it appears my wife wants to sell her hardcore reliable '95 Integra and buy a 2002 9-3 SE. What has been the experience of the 9-3 owners out there for the 2000 and 2001 models? Any recalls or quirks? Having seen previews of the future "9-3" in Autoweek and Car and Driver has fast forwarded the decision to buy the 9-3 while it still looks like the Saab of old.
  • mstsscmstssc Member Posts: 89
    Yes, everyone loves their Saabs and are too busy driving to post here ;).
  • mstsscmstssc Member Posts: 89
    You will find more posts in "Hatchbacks" for the 9.3 or try and go to 9.3 bulletin boards.
  • exlegendexlegend Member Posts: 22
    Oh Canada! Thanks for the directions.
  • mstsscmstssc Member Posts: 89
    You are very welcome.
  • peterson33peterson33 Member Posts: 24
    Actually, I'm leasing and have the option to buy at the end of the year. If you are considering one you should notice on a test drive that the car is not small. It is narrow. It has more headroom than most cars - even with a power sunroof. The trunk is huge and the back seat can fit a 6 foot person for a couple hr ride.

    It listed for $30,000 after the heated seats (love them!) and sunroof options. I have to say the sound system sucks for a $30g car.

    Back to my option. I'm paying for 12,000 miles a year but probably will have 25,000 at the end, not 36,000. I can buy it for $16,500 - unless they are willing to deal. What to do?
  • mbabcock1mbabcock1 Member Posts: 1
    I've heard that Saab is a great car, but that is loses its book value quickly. With that in mind, is a lease crazy (assuming that you would be paying MUCH MUCH more in the end if you were to buy out the lease)? This kind of goes with PETERSON33's message.
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    With new Saab's, leasing is perfect due to the fact that they depreciate so quickly. As long as you lease from Saab Financial or a finance company that meets or beats SFSC's residuals and money factors.

    There are several threads here in Town Hall that discuss leasing. There are several articles publsihed here to teach you about leasing and how to calculate them.

    Saab Financial heavily subsidises their lease program so it makes terrific sense to lease a Saab. Buying a new Saab is financial suicide unless you intend to keep the car many years. And even then you are better off financially buying a slightly used Saab than a showroom fresh one.

    peterson33 - Go to this thread and ask Bill and Terry about wholesale market pricing on your 9-3. Be very descriptive about your car, its condition, and your location and they'll give you current wholesale and retail numbers. From there negotiate with SFSC (not your dealer!) on a buyout price. At least you should save a few thou. mjtunis "Real-World Trade-In Values" Apr 23, 2002 9:08am
  • eckdareckdar Member Posts: 30
    Just sold my leased '99 9-3S and leased a new '02 9-3SE. Seems like Saab(GM) added 10% more luxery and took out 20% of the fun. Dare I say the '02 is more Buickesque. I do appreciate the more quiet ride, better radio, electric seats, etc, but when I want to drive the car a little hard, the '02 isn't as fun. Even though it has more torque and hp than my '99 (185 hp version, not the HOT), it doesn't act like it. Wondering if the gear ratios have been changed. Engine noise is very isolated now, good when just cruising, but a negative when "driving". JMHO.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    One thing that has impressed me about SAAB is how much the quality and reliability has come up in the past 5 years. I would not hesitate to buy one, especially in Canada where you get Saturn service also (Saab is sold at Saturn Saab Isuzu dealers here).
  • gbriankgbriank Member Posts: 220
    GM has helped make some changes.... I believe the difference you are noticing is not in the transmission, but in the T-7 control module. Saab has made some major modifications since the T-5 (what you had in your 1999 9-3). If you will notice, the fuel economy has come up about four to five miles per gallon on the highway and two or three in the city. Tires are the second modification made (relates directly to the noise). Saab went from 205/50R16's (9-3 SE) to 205/55R16's. These tires are not as performance oriented as the others (due to the increase in height of the sidewall), but this was done to remedy the issue with bending rims. Since the rims can handle both the 55 and 50 profiles, you can change the tires back....
  • eckdareckdar Member Posts: 30
    You could be right about the T-7 vs T-5 control module, but whether control module or gear ratios the result is the same.. less fun. On the tire size, my 99 was the base model so only had 195/?R15's (Michelin). My 2002 is both significantly more quiet, and handles better than the 1999. Haven't noticed much difference in fuel economy, but then I have less than 1000 miles, should improve as the car gets broken in.

    Question: Have noticed what looks like splattered carbon deposits on the garage floor below the tail pipe. Cleaned it up once thinking it might be a one time thing, but now its back. A cone shaped pattern about 24 inches long and 12 inches at its widest point. Any ideas?
  • gbriankgbriank Member Posts: 220
    Sounds like when you are starting the car, soot is being shot out of the tailpipe. This happens to me as well...

    I believe the 9-3 has definitely improved since 1999. I am not sure about the shift patterns, as I now have a 5 speed. BUT, I have driven a few automatic loaner 9-3's and they seem to just as "fun" if not more so because of the increase hp. I guess it is personal preference. I am not sure how you drive....

    So, are you ready for the new 9-3??? Horsepower is supposed to be up and there is a possibility of a six speed manual!
  • wonderwallwonderwall Member Posts: 126
    saab's low resale value is fine with me. i can't afford a new one, but i can easily buy a two year old one. that may be what i do next time around when i pay off the jetta.
  • mcckloekmcckloek Member Posts: 1
    I am looking at a Saab 1999 convertible (manual transmission) and like the price and drive.Is this a safe reliable car? Does it have any cons?
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    I've been driving one for three days and love it. Of course, mine has only 6500 miles on it. But I wish I had one.

    Have a Saab mechanic check it out for you. Also go to and read some of the posts in the 9-3 Bulletin Board. You'll learn alot about Saab's there.

  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    There is an article about the new 9-3 sedan at
    It's two inches wider and has two more inches of wheelbase.
    "A convertible will follow in 2003, with two hatchback- like variants including the all-wheel-drive 9-3X after that." What are hatchback-like variants - one may be a station wagon, but what about the other?
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    I didn't even realize there was a new 9-3 coming. Looks like a pretty nice car. Given SAABs gains in quality, this new model should do much better than the current model.
  • claywaterfillclaywaterfill Member Posts: 534
    If you care what Consumer Reports shows, they say a 1999 9-3 should have average reliability. The engine and transmission get high marks; the biggest problems seem to lie in the body hardware and integrity and with the power equipment. Run a Carfax report and get it checked out. Good luck!
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    The '03 9-3 will be the first Epsilon based car available in NA. Normally, I would not be all that interested in an FWD car selling above 30k. But I have to admit, the new 9-3 has me interested.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    Will pricing be about the same as the curent model?

    I have always like the looks of some Saabs. A little odd, but still attractive. The new 9-3 seems more attractive than odd.
  • bigdaddycoatsbigdaddycoats Member Posts: 1,058
    According to Automotive news the 2003 9-3 will srart at the same price as the current 9-3, $28850. And i agree that the new model looks and sounds very nice. I look forward to hearing more and to driving one when available.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    bigdaddycoats hit it on the head. Apparently, GM hopes to keep pricing on the new Saab very close to where it is now.

    I know some Saab people are worried the 9-3 and 9-5 will share the Epsilon platform with more pedestrian models such as the Opel Vectra and the new Malibu. I for one am not. As long as the base platform is sufficiently stiff, Saab can upgrade it to keep the Saab identiy clear.

    Holding prices competitive is the obvious advantage of platform sharing. GM hopes to realize 600 million in savings sharing the Epsilon platform. Appears they will share at least some of the savings with 9-3 buyers.

    I am uncertain about fwd. But that price makes the new 9-3 worth a long, hard look.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    Who knows, if I like it and the price is right, it could replace our Intrigue in a few years.

    Luckily, GM points can even be used on Saab in Canada.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    GM now ties Saab in with its general advertising. Have to check to see whether GM points work with Saab in the US as well.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    I think Saab in the US should go the way it does here and combine with Saturn and Isuzu. "SSI" dealers up here are all very clean and modern, very attractive for import type buyers.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    That would make a lot of sense. A kind of alternative trio to the Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealers. Combining dealers not only makes sense to the consumer, it helps the manufacturer's bottom line.

    Some screwy state laws down here probably make it harder than in Canada. But with GM is combining the dealers in Canada, and GM already working the P/B/G combo, maybe that will be the future look here as well.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    GM is very structured here. Chev/Olds dealers are always together and Pontiac/Buick/GMC are as well. Cadillac is added to either, but never alone. SSI dealers are mostly very new looking and serve the import oriented market. You would never see a Chev / Mitsu dealer or something here. Perhaps there are laws down there though, every jurisdiction has some wierd ones.

    Any good sights with lots of new 9-3 pictures? I have only seen a few.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    So far the best pics I have seen are at

    Saab is probably a little conflicted here. I am sure they want to build a buzz for the new '03 9-3 launch. At the same time, they have a summer's worth of '02 9-3s. I figure they should err on the side of getting too much data out. But then, I do not make my living selling cars.
  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    From the Autoweek pictures I saw, I thought it looked like a downsized 9-5. But from km77 pics it has definite BMW overtones. Kool!
    More pictures and an article can be found at
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    wow...this new 9/3 is hot.....very BMWish....the rear deck is very A6, the window arch is very Passat, the stance is very BMW 3...all i can say is this is the first saab i really like to look at....
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    Regfootball, you must be forgetting that new Saab 9-3 is a GM product, made on the GM Epsilon platform, using a Saab modified version of the Ecotec engine which is in my Saturn. I thought you have said ad-nauseum that GM does not make a car you are interested in.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    I think regfootball did like the L-series and he has said the Ecotec is a good engine.

    Wonder if there may be good deals on the old models come August.
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    dindak is right

    See I like GM as long as they put out decent product and stop trying to sell the same crap they sold in the 80's in terms of engines.

    The new Malibu/Vectra looks extrememly promising, as it has OHC technology and Euro engineering. That is, assuming Detroit doesn't pervert the basic car with its typical Michigan qualities......I am already upset to hear reports that the horizontal crossbar grille trim is slated for the Malibu, the Vectra beak should be kept in tact as it is. All they need to do with this car is swap the Opel badges with Chevy badges but I am sure they will find some way in Detroit to make it unattractive.....probably will put in a 3.4 pushrod motor or really cheap interior.

    For what its worth, I really do like the Alero and L-series, albeit with a small reservation or two. These are really two of GM's base current products.

    The new Ecotec motor is quite good and GM NA would do itself well to put this motor in as many cars as it could. I see they are finally starting to do so. But it shouldn't have taken GM till 2002 to put a decent four cylinder in any of its cars when Honda has put solid 4's in its cars basically since the beginning of time.

    I'm not against GM per se'. My family grew up on GM vehicles. What I am against about GM is overt signs of cheapness and unwillingness to match other companies in quality of driving hardware and technologies. Plus there has been that certain arrogance in their PR that has always suggested "buy us no matter what we sell" instead of just putting out product that folks want.

    Also, I am not a Saab fan. I do think GM's ownership of Saab saved them from the brink of ruin. Saab has to compete with BMW so they had better have the car part down. Or they will fade away.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    My bad.

    The 9-3 Sedan and its varients appear as though they may be what Saab has been looking for.

    If these cars match their looks, GM can have a nice fwd alternative to people who want to go upscale but do not want the rwd and brassiness of the CTS. Basically you will have GMs version of the Lexi Es300 IS300 brethren.
  • smu1976smu1976 Member Posts: 110
    Any stated date of release? I have a 99 9-5 coming off lease (great car). The new 9-3 looks great in pictures. I heard the same GM platform talk when I got the 9-5 in 99, a platform is just the steel base frame (which is very expensive to manufactur). From there the Sweedes take over. Your not going to find a Saab handling like a Malibu or Opel. Your not going to get the same torque out of your Saturn like a 9-3 Vector. Your not going to get the safety performance either. Fit and finish are completely different. The old 9000 was built off a Alfa platform. Platform sharing has been around for decades. The cars attributes are completely different regardless of the same platform.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    I thought I saw something that said late August, early September, but the link is closed now.

    You are right about the different dynamics. Saab will share a platform with Opel and some US models. But it will have enough engineering leeway to make the car distinctive.

    From what I have seen so far, you will not be giving up too much interior space from your current 9-5 to the new 9-3.
  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    You will be seeing more and more of this over time as car companies push to cut costs and compete. Car business is so competitive that you just can't afford not to share as much as possible globally. I'm ok with that and I'm sure the 9-3 will be nothing like an Opel. GM's Ecotec is a good early example of some other world sharing that is coming to North America.
  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    Here's a link with more information.

    It doesn't say the engine is Ecotec, but "all internal components are unique to Saab".
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    Thanks for the link, Ambull. While Saab no doubt will extensively modify the engine, it is a varient of the European Ecotec.

    There is no way Saab could get enough sales to justify the expense of designing its own engine. Modifying, yes, designing from the ground up, no.

    Moreover, if GM decides to make the Solstice, most reports say the Saab engine will find its way into the car.

    The 9-3 looks promising. Any chance you might reconsider the G20 purchase Ambull?
  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    Logic, I had a 93.5 G20 and found it underpowered even with the 5-speed. I test drove a 99 or 00 G20 with automatic and found it handled much better, but that transmission was always in the wrong gear. Finding a newer 5-speed is hard to do.
    I gave up the 93.5 G20 for an old Saab 9000 turbo because it had more room and power. Would still be driving it if a careless driver hadn't caused me to total it.
    I don't know what I want yet, so that's why I'm keeping up with the new models, although I drive so little I can't really justify a new car.
    To keep on topic, I like what I've seen so far of the new 9-3. The current one doesn't appeal to me as much as the 9-5, but they're too much money for me.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    The interesting thing about the new 9-3 is how close the interior and cargo dimensions are to the 9-5. There will be a new 9-5 following a little later. It will probably be a lot different than the current model.

    A recent change in titles has me traveling far less per year than before. I figured my current L-200 would be the kind of reliable car that I would not feel bad about driving 30k per year. Now I only drive on weekends or evenings when I go out. So it might be fun to go up a class. Maybe the 9-3 is where I want to go.
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