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First Drive: 2012 Saab 9-4X

The Swedes deliver their first crossover.

by on May.13, 2011

The new 9-4X should be reaching U.S. dealers this month.

Sometimes current events have a way of creeping into even the most routine aspects of daily life.  The run-up in fuel prices forces us to rethink every journey we take, even if it’s just a mundane run of weekend errands.

For Saab, the national demand for more fuel-economical vehicles should be good news as it replaces its old 9-7X sport-utility vehicle with the more modern, efficient and, frankly, much more fun-to-drive 9-4X.  Unfortunately, even here the headlines might creep into the buying decision for many potential customers.

The Swedish automaker experienced something of an unexpected miracle, in early 2010, when the Dutch-based Spyker Cars acquired the brand from General Motors, which seemed intent on shutting Saab down. The long-struggling marque seemed to be on the mend, this year launching more products – including the 2012 Saab 9-4X – then at any time in its history.

Unfortunately, a cash crunch has disrupted production of some Saab models – though not the new crossover.  Saab seemed to have dodged the bullet and lined up yet another white knight when it agreed to sell a chunk of the company to the Chinese automaker, Hawtai.  But as we were ready to post this review that deal appeared to be coming undone.

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Even if Saab can put Humpty Dumpty back together – and there’s no question the maker’s Chairman Victor Muller is a remarkably resourceful entrepreneur – it’s possible the recent uncertainty will convince at least some potential buyers to steer clear of Saab showrooms.  It’s hard to argue against such concerns.  Even the most inexpensive automobile is a major purchase, and at $50,000 or so for the Aero edition, $40,000 for the base, once you pay for freight, taxes and the typical adds-ons, the 2012 Saab 9-4X isn’t cheap.

That said, anyone looking for a roomy, comfortable and well-appointed SUV who doesn’t at least take a look at the new Swedish offering is making a mistake.  All the drama aside, the new 9-4X is a worthwhile and compelling product.

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