The Saab 9-5 Aero Anniversary Edition Test Drive

Posted on 07. Dec, 2007 by in 2000-2009, 9-5, Dealerships


Photo Credit: Saab History

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to embark on a real-life test drive a 2007 Saab 9-5 Anniversary Edition Aero Sedan. I initiated this opportunity because this year, Saab Automobile celebrates its 10-year anniversary of the Saab 9-5 (1997-2007) and it was long overdue for a thorough review.

dealership_300.jpgI begin this experience with the visit to my local Saab dealership, International Motors which is just over the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. in Falls Church, Virginia. As I made my way over to the dealership, I was picked up in a Saab 9-3 SportCombi “shuttle” from the East Falls Church metro station where I arrived and then proceeded directly to the dealership. It is notable that during drive, I got engaged in a conversation with an individual in the SportCombi already en-route to the dealership as well. This individual spoke highly of not only his experiences with International Saab, but his last Saab European Delivery Program experience as well. His European Delivery experience took place in an early model Saab 9-3 in 1998. I asked the individual if he would take advantage of the program again and his response was that he would, if only Saab had a hatchback model that he could purchase brand new. I am optimistic that the hatchback will make a return and thus enabling his return to Europe to experience the program once again.

Upon my arrival at the dealership, I was greeted by the Sales Manager who showed me around and gave me some literature on the Saab 9-5 that I was going to be driving so that I would be in the know when it came to the details. We then proceeded towards the stunning 2007 Saab 9-5 “Anniversary Edition” Sedan in black parked out front where I was also introduced to a sales manager who gave me a complete run down of the car from top to bottom.

As soon as I got comfortable in the Saab 9-5 Aero after the run down, which did not take long due to the supple small-grain leather appointed heated sport seats, I knew it was time to thank the staff and be on my way. It is notable that I ran into the same individual in at the dealership again at the House of Sweden where I had to get some obligatory photographs of the Saab 9-5 during sunset in a similiar fashion as before with the 2008 Saab 9-3.

This test drive spanned the Thanksgiving holiday, with the pickup on Wednesday the 21st of November, and the return on Friday the 23rd of November. This time was necessary in order to get a realistic experience from an owner’s perspective and to best illustrate the refinements that make this Saab, a true Saab inside and out.

saab_front_angle_300.jpgAs I began to depart from the downtown area of the brutal Washington, D.C. city driving conditions towards more fun and enjoyable driving conditions in the rural Maryland countryside on that Thanksgiving morning, the nostalia over the classic and recognizable Saab interior began to take control over my overall impressions. These impressions began specifically with the interior appointments such as the center console mounted window switches as well as the interior dome & map light that connected the Saab 9-5 to it’s predecessor, the Saab 9000 of which I previously owned. These elements and more began to influence my overall experience for the better. Where some may say that the Saab 9-5 in design, is a 10-year old car, and in response to this I say, yes this car from a design standpoint is a 10-year old car that was far advanced for its time then and continues today touted as “refined” and one of the most reliable and safe premium luxury vehicles on the road. I also believe that any of those consumer reports savvy customers will be comforted knowing that the current Saab 9-5 now stands the test of time and then some, just ask one one of their owners in New Hampshire who witnessed his odometer pass the 222,222 mark. In a way the Saab 9-5 is one of the easiest “new” car purchase with the comfort for perspective buyers knowing that it has 10 years of continued refinements. It is also important to know that even though the Saab 9-5 is 10 years in production this year, the elements it carries over from the Saab 9000 as well as well as the 99, it is almost the best of both worlds with approximately 30 years of design and engineering backing it for unparalleled reliability and durability. Just hear what one of the Saab 9-5 designers, Tony Catignani says about his experience on the Saab 9-5, originally known internally with Saab as project 640.

As I continued towards the Maryland countryside, the 9-5 averaged an incredible 34 miles to the gallon in this performance oriented powerplant complete with a sentronic manual/automatic transmission. It is noteworthy that my fiancee as passenger, noticed a number of passer bys checking out the Saab 9-5, SUV owners in particular. When I heard this, I began thinking they were probably jealous that we could get also get unparalleled performance while also fuel efficiency, a term SUV owners aren’t very familiar with.

dash.jpgOnce we turned onto the open roads, I finally got a chance to put the 9-5 Aero through its paces with the sentronic transmission. As the roads were initially quite hilly and curvy, the best option at that time was the manual mode operated solely by the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. This option yielded an incredible experience where for the first time unlike driving an automatic, you actually had some real control over the “when & where” in terms of shifting the gears. The steering wheel paddle shifters took some initial getting used to in this setup, which peaked my curiousity as to why there was no shifting option on floor, then it hit me that this high performance vehicle needed to at all times reinforce the idea of safety and therefore keep your hands on the steering wheel at ALL times.

saab_side_300.jpgThe other option I chose after the roads began straightening out with some long runs with nothing but cornfields and telephone poles in the vicinity was none other than the “sport mode” function. This function is an integrated button labeled “S” on top of the transmission shifter where once engaged, it feels as though it changes the gear ratios for longer runs at higher rpms per gear as well as more responsive braking in order to adjust to the new driving conditions. I knew this function really brought the “fun” driving characteristic of a Saab into full focus, but I must say that even in the few ideal driving conditions I was in for this option to be fully explored, “sport mode” is not for the faint of heart. It would be good to say that in my opinion, the sport mode should be applied only in very rural areas where long unobstructed straight roads are ubiquitous. I also recall that the the sport mode in the Saab 9-5 Aero seemed a bit more potent than that red 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero I test drove during the 2008 Saab 9-3 Media Drive in Warrenton, Virginia this past August.

shifter.jpgAs I put the Saab 9-5 through its paces, the exterior and interior fit & finish held up to the challenge with no visible or audible squeaks or rattles and in many circumstances it was hard to believe we were moving at the speed at which we were had it not been for the highly visible aircraft inspired speedometer cluster design indicating the actual speed.

The take-aways I had from this experience were numerous:

On the Heritage of the Saab 9-5: The Saab 9-5 continues a long history originally started with the Saab 9000 that included a 2-million mile development run over the course of 10 years. The Saab 9-5, now on its 10-year anniversary upholds the high quality standards and characteristics every Saab enthusiast respects and appreciates. It is somewhat safe to deduce

In terms of performance, the Saab 9-5 Aero has continued to meet and exceed expectations in the performance department and I would say exceeds all other Saab’s in terms of “right-sized” performance with the obvious exception of the new 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo-X.

The safety ratings for the Saab 9-5 at both the United States IIHS as well as the EuroNCAP & Sweden’s Folksam continue to rate this car as top pick. The included Saab Innovations are plenty with the Saab 9-5 including the first implementation of the Saab Active Head Restraint system that prevents whiplash in an accident.

On fuel efficiency, the Saab 9-5 did well during the entire 160 mile round trip test drive, where it averaged 34 miles to the gallon on the highway which is really good considering it is a high performance Aero model. At the time of drop-off, in order to top off the the gas tank, which was full at pickup, it only required 6 gallons of high octane for a full tank, which if averaging highway speeds to city driving, works out to 27 miles to the gallon. If this was a manual version, expect this number to be raised closer to 30mpg.

interior.jpgThe durability in terms of the fit & finish inside and out was still a very recognizable standard I have grown to appreciate and expect from a Saab product.The anniversary editions differ from the standard models specifically with the Aero Seats that come with the custom exposed high constrast stitching as well as the word “SAAB” emblazoned on the seat backs.

The practicality of the Saab 9-5 Aero Sedan includes more than comfortable passenger room throughout the cabin rounding out with the trunk space astoundingly large for all occupants to fill with the necessary airline carry-on luggage.

As a Saab Enthusiast, I could appreciate the 9-X concept car inspired facelifted that began in 2006 for the Saab 9-5 on the front end. I found that this new design appeared to be very maintenance free, and in concert with the bi-xenon headlights which gave the car more contrast and visibility than before and more visibility furthers the safety statement for Saab.

In terms of feedback and overall impressions from non-enthusiasts, I was fortunate to have had as I mentioned previously, test driven the Saab 9-5 over the thanksgiving break. During the break, I had a few other family members as passengers that ranged in age (one female and one male) and I kindly asked them to write down their impressions and give them to me at the end of the one of the legs of the trip.

Here is what they also had to say about the experience from a passenger’s perspective in bullet points:

Family Member #1 (previous owner of a Volvo)

stereo.jpg* Smooth Ride

* Noticeably easy to accellerate

* Extremely comfortable seats

* Sexy and Appealing

* Appreciates the red Fasten Seatbelt light

* Easily Accessible Center window & door controls

* Really liked the built-in XM Radio that was easy to use

Family Member #2 (previous owner of a Saab 9000 Turbo)

seats.jpg* Dashboard & Large parts of the interior similiar to my old 9000

* Appreciated the integrated MP3 Auxiliary Input

* Was impressed by the appealing high constrast “baseball stitching”

* Appreciated the simple dials on the center console

* Liked the look of the speedometer cluster

This experience to test drive a 2007 Saab 9-5 Anniversary Edition Aero Sedan was a good opportunity to showcase that this proven and reliable Saab is an excellent choice for those that value the information that I have communicated in this review as well as all of the specifications included as well detailed and explained on the Saab Automobile USA website.

It is no wonder that the million mile Saab SPG owner, Peter Gilbert chose the Saab 9-5 Aero out of all other Saab models available earlier this year as his free car from Saab Automobile USA.

A special thank you goes out to the owner, sales manager & sales representative and support staff at International Motors in Falls Church, Virginia for making it happen and ultimately allowing me to get this review out.

For more information on the Saab 9-5 and to schedule a test drive, please contact International Motors if you are in the Washington, D.C. region and tell them that you read the review of the Saab 9-5 Aero Anniversary Edition.


International Motors Ltd.
540 S. Washington St.
Falls Church, Va. 22046
Tel: (703) 534-7222

The Saab 9-5 is a living legend and much like a bottle of vintage wine, it just keeps getting better with age.

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3 Responses to “The Saab 9-5 Aero Anniversary Edition Test Drive”

  1. Wulf

    08. Dec, 2007

    Great reading, even though it was a bit disappointing to read you were able to cover only 160 miles. This car excel on long trips where you jump out of the driver seat regardless if you drove 70 or 700 miles. I wish the car magazines would publish these kind of reviews by someone who actually knows something about Saab.

    As an owner of a 2001 9-5, I often notice it still is a modern car to drive. I recently drove a new Nissan Altima V6 and was somewhat disappointed. Sure, the engine was great and it had more technical gadgetry than my car. It just didn’t have character, no wood dash, leather seats were flat and unsupportive and, it’s hard to explain, no Saabness. It was actually quite boring to drive. These 9-5s are like a pair of jeans, they get better with age.

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  2. Stephen Goldberger

    11. Dec, 2007

    Great review. As the owner of a 2002 Aero Wagon, I am well aware of the car and having purchased a 9-3 2.0T CV through IDS, I am a great proponent of that program as well.

    Unfortunately the IDS program is taking a year off, as Saab becomes ever more tightly integrated into GM Europe. We’re promised a “new” program for 2009, and we can only hope that it’s as fine a program as the one it replaces.

    Reply to this comment
  3. ryanoe9000

    14. Dec, 2007

    Wulf & Stephen,

    This was a great car for sale at the dealership, so it was agreed that a reasonable mileage accumulation would be sufficient and the 150 mile ranged seemed mutually beneficial.

    As as IDS is concerned, International Saab does a lot of IDS orders, especially for their diplomatic clientele being in the Washington, D.C. area. I am optimistic that the new IDS program will yield some new improvements and some streamlined benefits from everything I hear about this revamp in progress of a very successful program.

    Thanks for your comments.

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