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Saab 9-4X: The New Kid In A Crowded Class

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On: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 11:49AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Saab 9-4X:  The New Kid In A Crowded Class

As if the SUV market did not already resemble 40 students packed into a 20-chair classroom, Saab is transferring their newest pupil, the 9-4X into one of the most cut-throat, jam-packed segments out there.

The 9-4X is a full-sized SUV that represents the last project General Motors and Saab will have in common now that their partnership is over. Now, that sheet metal might look a little familiar to some and there is a good reason why. Old habits die hard, and GM has always had the mindset that two are better than one, even if both of those two are almost identical. The 9-4X will be built in Mexico with its two-year-older brother (and classmate), the Cadillac SRX.

As was the issue with so many carbon-copied models in GM's past, the question that comes to mind with the Saab SR... er... 9-4X is: "Why do I want one?" Well, ironically the answer is the same as it always has been with any set of GM twins, car or truck: Because you like the brand selling one over the other, plain and simple

Both cars share the same base 3.0-liter V6 engine producing 265 horsepower (and 223 lb.-ft.), as well as the same six-speed automatic transmission, and yes, the same front or all-wheel drive set-up (which can vary in split from 90/10 all the way to 10/90 as dictated by the onboard computer and wheel sensors). However, the 9-4X Aero offers a 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 that pumps out an impressive 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, which is not an option on the SRX (although it was only a short while ago, but has since been removed as an option). The interior is also similarly set-up for four (five in a pinch), while the cockpit-style dash and console are only a few trim pieces and an HVAC knob or two apart from one another. Even in a crash, the same helpful OnStar syndicate will be there to assist.

Although its spring rates are a little bit stiffer than its kissing cousin, the 9-4X doesn't perform much outside of the median average in its class. Even when testing the top of the line Aero, the 4000 plus pound Saab struggles to make a lasting impression. 0-60 mph comes up in a mediocre 7.2 seconds, while 0-100 mph takes 18.5 ticks. The quarter mile comes in at a mid-pack 15.6 seconds. Gas mileage for the big Swede gets a C-average at best getting 15/22 city/highway (although the base V6 gets a slightly better`18/25 mpg).

But with so much comparable to the SRX, can the transfer student take any new customers away from the competition? Maybe. With a slightly lower price than the SRX (base price is $34,205 for the base model and $48,835 for the Aero), and a look that seems somehow a bit more masculine and truck-like (than the SRX's minivan vibe), the Saab 9-4X just might have enough charisma to charm its way to having its very own desk (and a few new friends), even in a very crowded classroom.

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