2011 Saab 9-4X Aero Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
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Saab has been through a lot over the past few years, having been put on the market and sold to a Kuwati firm, the iconic Swedish brand is no longer a pure Swede, but is still every bit a Saab, which will surely please devotees to the brand.

The big story of the new 9-4X is its car-like driving dynamics enhanced by Saab's advanced all-wheel-drive system -- Saab XWD -- and DriveSense adaptive chassis control.

Saab XWD infinitely varies drive torque between the front and rear axles. It is combined with an electronically controlled, limited-slip rear differential that transfers up to 50-percent of rear torque between the rear wheels, to whichever has more grip.

This technology combines for a truly rewarding drive experience, and on the road over a 265-km test loop I found the 9-4X extremely impressive. It feels well planted, and handles in a way that makes you wonder if the SUV was co-developed with BMW. Yes, it's that good.

The 9-4X comes in three trim levels – base, Premium and Aero – and there are two V6 engines available. Base and Premium models get a 265 hp, 3.0-litre motor while Aero models come with a 300 hp, turbocharged 2.8-litre V6. Both engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions.

My test model was a fully equipped Aero, and when I say "fully equipped," I mean just that. The 9-4X Aero comes pretty much with everything standard, including dual-zone climate control, a terrific dual-panel glass moonroof, and DVD player with headrest-mounted screens.

The interior is executed well. Saab's unique "joystick" air vent controls mean it's quite easy to get air wherever you need it. Fit and finish are generally good, but the plastic around the centre dash stack is quite cheap looking and is the only interior flaw.

In the cargo area, Saab has installed a super nice rail system for securing loads. A removable gate installs in the rail system, and is adjustable to suit your needs.

Exterior styling is sleek. This is a great looking SUV. The only drawback is horrible rear vision when changing lanes due to a lack of glass in the "D" pillar area. Lane changes require an abundance of caution.

The excellence of the 2011 9-4X portends good things for Saab in the future. The challenge now is to draw consumers into showrooms, customers who may not understand the brand is still around and offers great products.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Saab, 2012, 9-4x, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999, Compact,

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