Perhaps we should be happy that the new 2010 Saab 9-5 is here at all. As part of its bankruptcy troubles, General Motors was planning on either selling or shuttering Saab, a company it bought way back in the 1980s. It looked as if Saab faced extinction this year, only to be saved at the last minute by Dutch car manufacturer Spyker. As a result, the first car to be released under the new ownership is the all-new 2010 Saab 9-5.
It's worth noting that the new 9-5 hasn't completely shaken off its GM ties. Designed during GM's tenure, the 9-5 shares some of its underpinnings with the Buick LaCrosse and Regal. But thanks to styling cues from the 2006 Saab Aero X concept car, the 2010 9-5 is sleek and slippery, with a wraparound greenhouse.
Right now there's only one trim level, the Aero. It comes with a 300-horsepower, turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 and all-wheel drive. Inside the cabin you'll find some interesting touches such as an aircraft-inspired gauge cluster illuminated with Saab's traditional green hue. The 9-5 is actually pretty big for a midsize luxury sedan and as a result, interior and trunk room are both surprisingly spacious.
Certainly there's a lot of promise for Saab, but we still see the 9-5 as a work in progress. Starting at around $50,000 for the Aero, the 2010 Saab 9-5 is battling for luxury sedan supremacy with the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Other notable choices include the Acura RL, Audi A6, Infiniti M37, Jaguar XF and Lexus GS 350 -- all of which have similar or better performance and longer lists of standard and available features.
The 2010 Saab 9-5 is offered only in a sedan body style and in a single well-appointed Aero trim level. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, a chilled glovebox, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, driver seat memory, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, front and rear parking sensors, OnStar, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker CD/MP3 player with satellite radio and a USB port.
An optional Rear Passenger package includes separate rear climate controls and a rear seat entertainment system with dual screens. The Technology package adds a head-up display and lane-departure warning system. Stand-alone options include 19-inch alloy wheels, a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, a U-rail cargo management system, ventilated front seats and a navigation system with a 40GB music server.
The 2010 Saab 9-5's interior blends modern design with a serious, austere feel. The instrument panel sweeps gracefully into the center console as one sinuous ribbon. Accents in chrome and brushed aluminum add some panache to an otherwise businesslike interior. There is an abundance of plastic surfaces throughout the cabin, but on the whole, they are soft to the touch and well textured.
As is traditional with Saab, the ignition is located on the center console, but this time it's a start/stop button since the 9-5 features keyless ignition. The front seats are particularly comfortable for extended periods and also hold passengers in place with substantial side bolstering. The rear seats offer plenty of legroom, but surprisingly, taller passengers will likely find headroom lacking. The trunk is quite large at 18.2 cubic feet and employs an optional cargo rail system to keep items secure.
Power is supplied by a turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only transmission offered and channels power to all four wheels. Added traction is gained with an electronic rear limited-slip differential. Saab estimates the 9-5 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 6.9 seconds, which is a bit below average for cars in this class.
The 2010 Saab 9-5's performance rarely rises above ordinary. The turbocharged V6 is smooth but actual acceleration is middling due to the car's weight. The power delivery is smooth and there's no hint of turbo lag.
For the first time, Saab has incorporated a variable drive system, called DriveSense, to allow pilots to select between Comfort, Intelligent or Sport driving modes. This system adjusts suspension stiffness, steering effort, throttle response, transmission shift profiles and stability-control thresholds depending on the setting. The Intelligent mode can be thought of as automatic, as it adjusts instantaneously to the driver's particular style.
The 2010 Saab 9-5 comes standard with antilock brakes, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, stability control and traction control.
The 2010 Saab 9-5 has been fully redesigned. The wagon body style has been discontinued but is expected to return next year.