Saab 9-5 - spoiled for choice?

From time to time I see comments and articles on topics like "Saab 9-5 before / after the facelift," General Motors politics, or general "nostalgic thoughts" - "everything was better in the old days". As so often in life, a balanced approach is worthwhile.

Saab 9-5 chrome frame
Saab 9-5 chrome frame

Why is the topic interesting? Like me in mine first blog article wrote, the 9-5 station wagon is probably the Saab that offers the most car for the money today (if you want a large station wagon; otherwise the 9-3 is certainly a good choice). In addition, there is a large selection of used vehicles, at least in Sweden - this should also have a positive impact on the availability of spare parts. Almost every car will “give up” at some point - then you either have to invest more than the market value to keep it ready to drive (if that is still possible) or you push it off and buy something - maybe a 9-5?

Back to the balanced view and the question of which 9-5 should you buy - a model from before or after the 2006 facelift? The innovations and changes brought by this facelift (such as the improved chassis) are surely known to most readers. On the subject here just a brief reference to an interesting article from the Swedish car magazine "Teknikens Värld", where, among other things, differences in the suspension tuning between gasoline (Aero) and diesel are described ( In this blog entry I just want to bring a few comments and general thoughts that might be important in your purchase decision.

The advantage of a more modern saab

Age is of course important when buying a used car. Even if you find a “pre-2006” specimen with low mileage and in good condition - material ages and that's why I prefer to drive a car built in 2009 than one built in 1999 (apart from the fact that my wife bought such an old one Cars would not have agreed anyway - most people do not live alone and not every partner is interested in cars). There are also other aspects that can influence the purchase decision. Some of these can be dismissed as details - but also things that Saab has gradually left out (see blog article recently “All the nice little things") Are often just details.

  • The engine: You read more often about the throttle problems with the 1.9 TiD. However, I also heard that FIAT improved the quality at the end of the construction period (which should certainly apply to the Griffin models). The same applies to the "Oil Sludge" problem with the petrol engines - it occurred in early models (under certain conditions), apparently not afterwards. Apparently the rule “the newer the engine, the better” applies - at least our 9-5 TiD has not had any problems so far (if the workshop bills of the previous owner are complete).
  • The diesel selection: If you want to buy a 9-5 with a diesel engine, then the 1.9 TiD is obviously the best choice. The 3.0 V6 TiD is generally discouraged, and the 2.2 TiD is obviously too weak and has poor emissions. From my own experience I can confirm that the 9-5 drives fantastic with the 1.9 diesel and automatic - in the Alps, on the motorway and also in the city. The latter should be avoided, since the consumption will then be too high - even if the urban-rural difference is not as extreme as with the petrol engines, where the factory setting with automatic is over 15 l / 100 km.
  • The headlights: I do not want to drive a car without xenon lights (which is already outdated in the age of LED and laser light). Most 9 5s from 2006 are included, but many (or most) instances of 2006 do not.
  • Controls in the center console: I like the radio / ACC panel from 2006 better because of the clear layout and the fact that there is no cassette deck left. These two aspects certainly have to do with each other - the fewer buttons and slots, the more elegant the design can be (the new Volvos no longer even have a CD player). But as always, you never stop learning - there were also older models without a cassette, as this Orio spare part shows ( Added to this is the sensible AUX feature, which was only available ex works from 2006. Older models can obviously be retrofitted “unofficially” - but I prefer to avoid such retrofits because I want the car to be in its original condition. The GPS navigation has also been updated, although I would prefer a vehicle without GPS. The navigation system was already out of date, and I want the CD changer in the front and not in the luggage compartment.
  • The design: Some of the comments on my last article suggest that the “chrome glasses” (or should we say “the Cartier look”?) Don't look that bad after all. Unique and unmistakable - yes. Nice? I think so now. It's worth taking a look at the entire headlight unit in peace (see photo) - isn't that a design masterpiece? Here you can compare the appearance of the headlights themselves:
  • GM savings organs: Nobody apparently denies that GM has forced Saab to save. But was it really that dramatic? What percentage of production and purchasing costs were saved? Certainly not much by leaving out details such as a few small lights or the tank release from the driver's seat. Real wood in the dashboard? I don't want to have wood decor in the car, not real and also not imitation. Does the plastic look high quality? No, not always, but it doesn't get noticed either. In terms of leather quality, I can already imagine savings of a few hundred euros - I would prefer a car with a fabric cover anyway, but the generally better equipped Vector / Aero models usually have leather. It's thinner than before the facelift, OK - that means gentle treatment and regular care are even more important than in previous model years or in earlier Saab models.

Perhaps these thoughts are interesting for some - I look forward to comments. I hope to see many of you at the “Saab Car Museum Festival” from June 9th to 11.6th. 2017 in Trollhättan!

34 thoughts on "Saab 9-5 - spoiled for choice?"

  • Why should the 4-speed automatic be worse than the 5-speed? At least as far as I know, the latter was more prone to defects. Missing side airbags: the first model years did very well in the side impact test. With side airbags, it is also much more difficult to replace seats later ...

  • Correctly!
    ESP was only available from 2002 (facelift model level 1) and the side airbags were available only from chrome glasses.
    There is still a disadvantage compared to the first models
    From facelift model 1 there were only plastic headlights instead of glass headlights and from the beginning 13 controllers were available in the chrome glasses over 53.
    As for the sutomatic, you are definitely right ... excuse me for this false statement.

    Greetings from the Baltic Sea

  • So I would also have to contribute to the topic, if you have the opportunity you should also be very careful where the car comes from, as the last 9-5 preferably came from Holland / Belgium or Italy.
    You could then almost confidently almost all pack in the press, since these have only been driven and not really been maintained.
    Otherwise was and is the chrome glasses one of the best vehicles I had (Audi A6, Mercedes E-class could forget because confused, because just money-killing machines.
    Otherwise, the savings were clearly visible in the insulation and on the dashboard or notice.
    Who can should prefer to cloth seats (more robust) and the automatic transmission (which incidentally has not been changed since the first 9 5 97 in the year).
    The manual transmission was in new condition ne unreasonable and was getting worse with the age.
    Also, I was one of the people who initially said what the chrome trim on the headlights should, today I find this timeless and beautiful.
    To compare the 9-3 wagon of the first generation with the 9-5 prohibits itself, because there the bad quality or the processing was the worst possible that existed until now at Saab (gave already before the first delivery the instruction various door handles, Kats, Lambda probes, headlights, etc. to exchange), it was better from the middle of 2005 or with the new facelift from the end of 2007, then dorte the so-called XP1 model quality was used (just the chrome glasses or various caddies, Holdens, etc.).
    As far as the 1.9 TID is concerned, it was certainly the case that swirl flaps, alternators, dual mass flywheel and clutches were broken, but whoever had to drive an 2.5TDI (camshafts, injection pump, timing belt, multitronic etc.) out of the VAG concert knows what it can cost Goods made in Germany to drive.
    I do not mean to say that it's cheap to drive a 9-5 with the said diesel, but it's at least manageable over other vehicles, in my opinion.
    However, there is one shortcoming for me, the navigation system….
    Rather than resort to the normal radio, the Dephi delivered this part is not at all and why there was no Harman / Kardon system as in 9-3 knows only GM.
    All in all, I'm crying for my chrome glasses but now well, at some point it was over and I would give a very clear buy recommendation for all models from Facelift 1 (2002) or from 2006 and if Diesel then the 1.9 TID instead of the 3.0 TID (hardly any more power ... from the point of view of horsepower and the follow-up costs oh weia ...)

    Greetings from the Baltic Sea

    • Thanks for the interesting comment! A few more answers:
      - The automatic system has obviously been completely changed; According to the German and English Wikipedia article, it was a four-speed automatic until 2001, the five-speed automatic was only available from 2002 (another reason for me to avoid the early years), but apparently not for the diesel at first.
      - Well, the chrome border - I think it looks much better in matt on the Griffin model. This matte design should have been used in 2006.
      - What I didn't mention in my article is the safety equipment. According to Swedish Wikipedia, ESP was only available for the 2002-9 from 5, but only as optional equipment (standard from 2006) - very important to me. Northern Swedish roads turn into snow-covered ice rinks in winter. You can drive on it with studded tires (Dubbdäck in Swedish). If you don't have that, you at least need ESP. In Germany, the ESP was apparently standard, but not available for diesel versions ( According to the wiki article there were also improved airbags from 2002.
      - What can I say as a conclusion - I will want to buy a model from before 2006 and value certain features (such as the xenon headlights mentioned), I have to look carefully at what is inside.

      • Error in 1. Point with the automatic: According to Swedish and English Wikipedia.

  • Well, do not mind if you want to dress his chrome glasses absolutely beautiful. Who can directly compare MY99 and MY06 will mostly come to a different result.

    • You can see that the topic remains controversial 🙂 I was just curious and looked at At the moment there are 616 9-5 station wagons MY 98 - 05 on offer, 27 of them with less than 150 TKM (all under 50.000 SEK). Of these 27, some seem to be in good condition. For comparison: From MY 2006 - 2010 425 cars on offer, 80 of them with less than 150 TKM.

  • Too bad that the Saab B engines do not react.

  • Better a little more interpretation. Every combustion engine bypasses the modern one more. The exhaust gas goes through the ganse motor after the explosion who is the way. The engine also produces oil mist and water. The engine should eat the same on nothing. Nothing should be in the air. All this attacks the oil craze for everything turbo and intercooler Shell and Esso know this and have reacted. A stationary Caterpillar Crane does not have the problem.

  • Good contributions. What I found out was that the duo turbo ttid was much better. And the oil sludge was a huge problem. What I know about this problem came with the electric throttle and trionic. Beginning 1999 and my viggen with B235R With many modifications to 2006.with a hole in the short block like volvo. Interesting to know often the problem over something. Today, many slangen and behalter are over. Only a compact part of the top entertainment free. market leader man Bumblebee. The problem had many other brands such as BMW. But still my hobby the patent steps to read.

  • I drive a 9k year 97 with Annysitzen- that's ne other world. Compared to the 95 he is sitting. Seating comfort is no better than the 9000er.
    And he does not rattle. Unlike the 95er. If I have the choice, I always drive the 9000er. The interior feeling IS crazy!

    • The Annysitzen a nice word for me. Many Americans are still sitting in your home. The 9000 aero in imola red is a dream car

  • Regarding radio in the pre-facelift: the part mentioned without a cassette is the "smallest" variant of the various audio systems in the 9-5 ... the larger ones have a tape deck again ...
    Regarding light: the xenons in the pre-facelift are not really a scream, I have it in mine myself and sometimes think "in 9k my wife is brighter at the front" ... maybe I should put in the better burner mentioned above ?!
    and @turboseize: I can't quite understand your problems with the 2003er. Mine is the same year of construction and I feel right at home in it. Nothing noticeably scuffed or tattered. For a 13 year old car with over 300tkm, I still think it's very well preserved. And leather is overrated anyway! 😉 Have fabric seats and find the cover very robust. If the kids have messed around again, I'll dash over with a vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth and then they're chic again. I am very satisfied with the quality and robustness. I don't need leather ...

    • I see the same with the leather; wouldn't buy a new car with leather interior. It is different with the used ones - if you want one with good equipment, it usually has leather seats. Thanks also for the tape deck info!

    • Xenons: a difference like er day and night!

      The contrast is better with a higher color temperature. I find the factor more important than simply brighter. Hot OSRAM XENARC COOL BLUE D1S INTENSE

  • Is the leather of the chrome glasses STILL lousy than before? Is that possible? I find my 2003er seats already hard on the border of unreasonableness. (Mind you: the leather on it, the seating comfort itself and the long-distance fitness of the seats is great.)

    "From the outside" I like the chrome glasses very much - and they always have, I didn't have to have a nice drink, uh, wait or get used to them.
    If 9-5, then you would have to take either the steep Schnauzer or just the chrome glasses for aesthetic reasons. And actually you would then have to retrofit the small interior details that were rationalized away over time. And give the car to the saddler to hide the plastic leather and GM bacon plastic. That may be more expensive than the car, but if you had the money and the alternative would be a new car, why not?

    What else should you drive?

    • The leather was saved continuously. Already the transition from 9k to an early 9-5 shows the regression. Nevertheless, there are brilliant seats with extreme long-distance comfort until the end. Other manufacturers take extra charge (..and deliver for rich extra price good leather).
      The car to the saddler alone is not. Also on insulating materials was saved from 2006. A glance at an expanded dashboard shows it. There is also need for action.

      • Interesting information. But what should you do - nobody will have the dashboard removed and (which?) Insulation materials installed ... According to the ADAC test, the car is too loud, but we do not notice and do not disturb. Although more modern cars are certainly quieter.

        • why not? There are also situations in which the dashboard has to be removed anyway. The question is, if the insulating materials are separately interchangeable and if they are compatible, then you could just install the old ones (if they are still available). Interesting story.

      • Above all, the two-tone sports seats in the Aero were the black inserts made of cheap synthetic leather. These inserts are not breathable and will break over time. A clear deception of the customer who ordered full leather sports seats and paid dearly. For years before, I had the feeling that I was receiving "honest" vehicles from SAAB. After> 300 km, the seat was a bit worn down for the first time in a SAAB and should have been reupholstered. Here, too, the last cents were obviously squeezed out. Unworthy of a vehicle in this price range.
        Something is clouding the trust in a brand, if one comes over time with point by point. There are clearly home-made problems have been passed on to the customer.

        The seating comfort was still great and one of the main reasons why I drove every SAAB long. Today I drive another brand with ventilated comfort seats with massage function and el. Adjustability in all imaginable directions. This has its advantages, in pure comfort on long-haul SAAB seats are among the best I have ever driven.

  • Sparorgie: Have read somewhere that the savings Saab the profit zone significantly (it was over a year?) Reach earlier than originally planned. So it must have been saved a lot.

    • Hm, when should these profits have been made? Just read the DN article again, so there was only two years since 1988, where profit was made, namely 1994 and 1995. The austerity games apparently started only after GM has taken over the remaining 50% of Saab Cars? Article here (timeline at the end):

      • it was all about profit from the model. It was originally planned to reach the profit zone after 9 years or so, and then they made it to 8. Or something like that.

        The remarkable thing about it is how long it actually takes for such a car to really make money, even though it started with an existing platform.

  • Incidentally, I found the xenon light on my better than the H4 light on the 9-3 (with blue lamps) when I replaced it with Osram Intense Blue or the hot burners.

  • However, the question arises about the durability of the 1.9 TiD. I have it with manual gearbox, which has proven well in the previous Saab 9-3 2.2 TiD. But the car is now approaching 250000 km and I can not keep up with the replacement.

    The swirl flaps have been replaced a while ago. Incidentally, there are robust replacements from measurement for the broken rod bearings. At around 230000 one of the fastening screws on the exhaust manifold cracked, and the turbo was already worn out, and various hoses were also replaced. Wheel bearings, a valve in the cooling system, dual mass flywheel, clutch, alternator, drive shaft, auxiliary landing gear and engine bearings were or will be in the next few days without any guarantee that the car will run again without droning and usefully quietly. And on Saturday I had a "check engine" event with an unknown cause. Bets are accepted as to whether it is the injection pump.

    For the 9-3 2.2 TiD I had up to 340000 km wheel bearings, 2x coolant pump and injection pump. (the turbo did not need full power anymore, but it was not catastrophically demolished)

    Fan of the heater should also be replaced, but this has nothing to do with the engine.

    • Sure, that could be expensive and I could only explain such expenses to my wife by pointing out that this car is more of a hobby than a means of transport 🙂 Generally speaking, diesel engines last longer than petrol engines; We shall see whether this also applies to the FIAT diesel. But whether a Saab diesel lasts longer than the gasoline engine depends on the quality of the gasoline engine, and there were problems. Difficult to generalize, it also depends on the driving style / use - we drive rather cautiously, so I don't need deer chip tuning.

  • I can only agree with design.
    The design of the 95 from 06 was way ahead of the times. Smiled at at the beginning. And today? 10 years after its appearance, it still looks fresh on the streets, in contrast to other 10-year-old cars. Unmistakably Scandinavian. The lights are well proportioned. From every direction. The cockpit is still super ergonomic today. The door handles are a disaster inside. The leather seats compared to the "old" 95 are very poor. It also no longer smells of leather.
    The Aero suspension is a force. I now have a 95 1.9 tid deer and the suspension is very bad. Despite identical tires. Get a clear buy recommendation from me!
    Alone because of the low rust.

    • I don't have the comparison to the Aero, but from my point of view the TiD drives very well. But whenever I switch to the Volvo V50, I feel the difference - the Volvo drives almost like a go-kart compared to the Saab. The steering wheel turns more easily, the car is simply more agile. Simply different, not necessarily better.

  • We drive a 9-5 Aero station wagon, model 2007. It's the best 9-5 we have ever driven: simply g ...! Before that we had the same model, but built in 2000: a real carrot and the reason why we regretted selling our 9000 CSE 2,3 tu for years. Only thanks to our “chrome glasses” have we made peace with the 9-5 again. And she can grow old in peace with us.

    • Sounds good, have fun and a good trip!

  • Good arguments for chrome glasses! You are spoiled for choice. The chrome glasses are the cooler car, the first series more something for the heart. Difficult, difficult ...

    • Yes, you can say it that way. Similar to the front of the 9-3, which looks more aggressive or “sportier” after the facelift, depending on your point of view

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