THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2008 Saab 9-7X Aero midsize SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Sharing a design with the Chevy TrailBlazer, this all-new 9-7X model from Saab is a car enthusiast's dream come true. It may weigh well over 4,000 pounds but it can take off from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. The ride in the body-on-frame construction is sporty, enjoyable and energetic. Best of all, the standard all-wheel-drive system ensures stability and surefootedness even when the SUV is hustling briskly down the road.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 6.0-liter V-8 engine blasts off 390 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 395 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Power reaches all four wheels via a crisp-shifting but heavy-duty 4-speed automatic transmission. Suspension is handled via an independent double A-arm in front with a 5-link solid axle in the rear. Both front and rear get shocks and stabilizer bars that enhance the SUV's handling capabilities. The Aero can pull a 6,500-pound load, more than enough to haul a sailboat. The 20-inch polished aluminum wheels are up to the job. Also worth a mention is the 36.8-foot curb-to-curb turning circle capability of this powerful SUV.
LOOK & FEEL: Curved Xenon headlights sandwich the traditional three-port Saab grille as you walk up to the front of the 9-7X Aero. The rear quarter windows come in handy when you are looking to switch lanes in peak-hour traffic. Faux wood trim is sprinkled generously on the center stack and shifter knob. Eye-catching perforated leather stitching on the center console, front doors and parking brake also compete for your attention. That this is the performance-oriented 9-7X is evident from the "Aero" embroidered on the front seatbacks and embossed floor mats. For proof that indeed you are in a Saab, there are the recognizable sliding-plate air vents, fascia-integrated cup holder and the center console ignition key. The heated leather seats are inviting and warm on a cold winter day. There is ample space for children and tall passengers in the rear seat. By the way, the Aero gets its own attention-grabbing exterior color trim: Carbon Flash Metallic.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbags for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability control, front safety-belt pretensioners, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $44,945, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. If you carry little ones in the back seat, go for the $1,300 DVD system.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P255/50 R20 V-speed rated; wheelbase, 113 inches; length, 193.2 inches; weight, 4,781 pounds; fuel capacity, 22 gallons; highway, 16 mpg; city, 12 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: Car enthusiasts, especially those who like performance in their SUVs, will take to the 9-7X Aero in a heartbeat. Saab General Manager Steve Shannon aptly describes the vehicle: "The 9-7X Aero is one great SUV to pilot." Put on your seatbelts, folks, and prepare for "take-off."