2009 Saab 9-5 SportCombi Review

9-5 SportCombi

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2009 Saab 9-5 SportCombi Overview

As the wagon version of the Saab 9-5, the SportCombi provides significantly more cargo space and interior passenger comfort. A much-anticipated redesign has been postponed until 2010, so the 2009 9-5 SportCombi receives only minor appearance changes. These include three new exterior colors for all trims and an interior metallic black for the Aero. The Aero also gets five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. Power switches on all trims have been revised.

The 2009 9-5 SportCombi provides added versatility and functionality with its extra cargo space. Seating four in two rows, the rear seats split-fold flat for up to 73 cubic feet of storage room. With the seats up, it still holds an expansive 37 cubic feet inside, and roof rails add more storage space. The wagon profile raises the roof line, providing an inch and a half of extra headroom.

Available in front-wheel drive only, the 2009 9-5 SportCombi comes in the base 2.3T and sportier Aero trims. The Aero boasts all the same features as the 2.3T, but offers a firmer sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, and two-tone upgraded leather upholstery. Both use an adequate 260-hp, 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four, matched to either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed Sentronic automatic. The electronic automatic transmission offers three driver-selectable modes: normal, manual, and sport. As with many turbo engines, you'll have to deal with moderate turbo lag. Reviewers prefer the automatic, but mention that it can be noisy and slow when downshifting, while the slushy manual requires long throws.

Overall, precise handling and quick braking are hallmarks of the 2009 9-5 SportCombi, and the wagon earns four and five stars in NHTSA crash tests. It scores lowest on rollover and side rear impact tests, the latter most likely due to the lack of side curtain airbags, even as an option. Otherwise, the SportCombi comes well equipped with traction control, an electronic stability program, ABS brakes, dual front-side airbags, and OnStar.

Moving the power switches from the driver's left side to the center console improves ease of access. The cockpit-like front seat (recalling Saab's aircraft heritage) is distinctive enough, but the use of plastics disappoints some critics. All trims offer a long list of standard features, including power front seats, tilt and telescopic steering, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, real walnut accents, and heated and cooled seats. Bluetooth is now standard, and the Harmon Kardon sound system features a 6-CD player with satellite radio. The optional DVD-based navigation system comes with only one CD slot, so the changer gets relegated to the trunk.

The 2009 Saab 9-5 SportCombi continues to perform well, with confident handling and responsive acceleration, while its interior cargo space makes it functional for weekend trips or family errands. However, it's long overdue for a major overhaul to remedy its bland styling and update its features to make it more competitive with other midsize wagons. For those considering the SportCombi, it may be wise to wait for the expected 2010 next generation, which will include more powerful V6 engines and larger dimensions.

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