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2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi Trims

2.0T

Avg. Price: $9,292

The more simplified of the two SportCombis, the 2.0T, is a great set of wheels for the discerning station wagon seeker who prefers lower fuel expenditure to on-road oomph. It's set up with a great base of standard features to which several options packages and accessories can be added for a more customized car.

The luxury wagon's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 210 horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive that helps the SportCombi achieve 20 city miles to the gallon and 30 highway miles to the gallon. With the available 5-speed Sentronic automatic transmission, which allows clutchless manual shifting, the fuel efficiency slips a bit to 18 city/28 highway.

Standard safety features on the SportCombi 2.0T enhance the driver's control of the vehicle and, in the worst-case scenario, passenger protection. The list includes ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, Traction Control, and the Electronic Stability Program, every type of airbag, state-of-the-art seatbelts with pretensioners, and Active Head Restraints.

Auto climate control joins the list of standard amenities this year, joining other comfort-enhancing items such as the well-designed leather seats (with 8-way power-adjust for the driver). The interior is appealing enough with its wood-effect trim, leather trimmed steering wheel, and carpeted floor mats, and respiratory irritation is staved off thanks to the standard cabin air filter. Get this one: the glove compartment doubles as a cooler, as it can be chilled to 45 degrees! Exterior amenities range from all-season tires on 16-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels and a rear fog light to side direction signals and heated power mirrors.

The Swedes like to group their optional equipment into packages. There's the Premium Package (express open/close for windows and moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, fog lamps, red walnut interior trim, power seat for front passenger, Saab Park Assist, and upgraded 16-inch alloy wheels) and an upgraded Premium Package that adds 17-inch wheels. The Cold-Weather Package (high-pressure headlamp washers and heated front seats) is quite popular for the latter feature.

2007 is a special year for Saab, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. A commemorative 60th Anniversary Package is available on the 2.0T and other Saab models. The special options it adds start with metallic paint, including an Ice Blue that is not otherwise available. Other features in this package are its specially embossed leather seats with grey panels, black and grey floor mats, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power passenger seat, front fog lamps, and dark walnut interior accents. The bundle also includes the Visibility Package (xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, and Park Assist) and the option to purchase the Premium Audio Package (a 9-speaker Bose system with 6-CD changer).

Aero

7 national listings
Avg. Price: $10,712

The main benefit of purchasing the 9-3 SportCombi's Aero trim is its acclaimed engine (Ward's Automotive Group named it one of the 10 Best for 2006), a 250-horsepower V6.

This larger engine features variable valve timing and comes paired to a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive or an available 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive (the latter is a step up from the auto tranny available on the 2.0T, which had but 5 speeds). The estimated fuel economy in the city is 17 (auto transmission) to 18 (manual transmission) miles per gallon, while highway travel for either is rated at 28 mpg.

Other basic upgrades to equipment include a sportier suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, larger brakes, xenon headlights, and some improvements to the interior. That list begins with bolstered sport seats and runs to upgraded elements of detail such as the chrome instrument surrounds, aluminum steering wheel accents, and authentic walnut trim. The audio system also gets upgraded to a 9-speaker Bose with 6-CD in-dash changer, and XM Satellite Radio becomes standard equipment.

The Aero receives power-adjust seats for both driver and passenger, plus a power moonroof, On the outside you'll notice front and rear fog lamps, a bright-finished dual exhaust, and body-colored door handles, rocker panels and lower bumper.

Perhaps the most interesting and unique advantage that buyers or lessees of this trim receive is an invitation to the Aero Academy, a two-day class designed to enhance an Aero owner's enjoyment of their new vehicle through professional instruction in performance driving. Attendees pay for their transportation to and lodging in Atlanta and then they spend the two days practicing various driving techniques on a safe course and learning how to appreciate and get the most out of their new car�s performance abilities.

Like every Saab, the 9-3 SportCombi Aero is chockfull of safety assurances, for example a full slate of airbags, Active Head Restraints, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, traction and stability control, 2007 marks the third straight year that the 9-3 Sport Sedan has earned the IIHS's Top Safety Pick Award in the mid-sized sedan category.

The Saab 9-3's reliability rating in general has failed to impress, but reviewers have taken note of the Aero's improved handling, stability, and cornering, due to its stiffer sport suspension. That said, some feel that it is too stiff. Some reviewers have also noted a bit of turbo lag, but this is par for the course and it certainly does not spoil the 9-3 driving experience.