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Saab 9-3 Sedan

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.


  • 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]
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 Posts: 89
    Yes, everyone loves their Saabs and are too busy driving to post here ;).
  • mstsscmstssc Posts: 89
    You will find more posts in "Hatchbacks" for the 9.3 or try and go to 9.3 bulletin boards.
  • Oh Canada! Thanks for the directions.
  • mstsscmstssc Posts: 89
    You are very welcome.
  • 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?
  • 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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