Based on the GM mid-sized SUV structure, the Saab 9-7X is available with either a 291-horsepower inline six-cylinder or a 300-horsepower V8. Again, you might ask: Why even bother? The biggest difference between the engines is torque. The V6 offers up 277 lb.-ft. of twist while the V8 touts 330 lb.-ft for improved towing and hauling capability. A four-speed automatic transmission drives all four wheels through a standard automatic all-wheel drive system. Other goodies under the 2006 Saab 9-7X include large front and rear vented disc antilock brakes, specially tuned shock absorbers with a front stabilizer bar, and unique 18-inch Dunlop performance tires.
Inside the 2006 Saab 9-7X is seating for five with folding split rear seats that expand cargo volume to 80.1 cubic feet. Supple leather covers the seating surfaces, accented by faux wood trim on the dash, door panels and shifter handle. Safety-wise, the Saab 9-7X features dual-stage frontal airbags with a Passenger Sensing System, a rollover sensing system with side-curtain airbags, and front seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters. OnStar is also standard, and can notify emergency personnel when the 9-7X’s airbags deploy to get help to the accident site sooner. The 9-7X does not come equipped with side-impact front airbags mounted in the seatbacks or the doors.
For 2006, Saab has added Active Fuel Management to the V8 engine, sophisticated software that reduces the number of firing cylinders by half at cruising speeds in an effort to conserve gas. Other changes for 2006 include more power for the inline six-cylinder engine and a standard Electronic Stability Control system. Buyers can also simultaneously order the power moonroof and DVD entertainment system for 2006, a change from their mutually exclusive status in 2005. A DVD-based navigation system is also optional this year.
With Saab coming late to the SUV party, we question whether it can make a go of the 9-7X – and whether loyal buyers will accept the 9-7X into the Saab family. After our week-long test of a 2006 Saab 9-7X 4.2i equipped with the six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, and the $800 Prestige Package that includes headlamp washers, adjustable pedals and xenon headlamps, the total cost of our sample 9-7X to just north of $40,000. At that price, and after experiencing this vehicle first-hand, we doubt the Saab 9-7X has what it takes to stand above the competition and retain loyal buyers to the brand. Time will determine the final outcome, but in our collective opinion, this one’s a do-over.