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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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First Look: Saab 9-4X Crossover

One step at a time.

by on Nov.17, 2010

Saab's new 9-4X debuts in Los Angeles.

This time last year, things were looking increasingly bleak, almost by the day, for Sweden’s Saab.  Its owner, General Motors, was planning to either sell the small brand off or shut it down, and as the New Year approached, the latter option looked more and more likely.

Indeed, the assembly line at Trollhattan did come to a halt for about six weeks before Saab’s unexpected white knight, the small Dutch sports carmaker, Spyker, came to the rescue.  Today, production of the Saab 9-5 flagship is pretty much back on track.  And the next step in the Swedish company’s nascent recovery is being revealed at the 2010 Los Angeles Motor Show.

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Though Saab briefly tried to find a niche with the old and largely-unloved 9-7X, industry observers believe it’s got a much better chance of hitting a home run – or at least a solid double – with the new 9-4X, the maker’s first crossover-utility vehicle.

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