I am not a Saab naysayer. I have always found the slightly quirky cars a nice balance to all of the Luminas and Cavaliers cranked out over the years by the “designers” (and I use that term loosely) from mothership General Motors. I also, admittedly, generally only write about cars I like and I WANT to like the Turbo X. But I don’t; and like most bad things these days it’s because of money.
First the good news:
One of the main reasons Saab has failed to make much of an impression in the U.S. is because of Saabs rather lackluster performance in comparison to other European luxury cars. In that regard the Saab earns higher marks than is usually expected. Instead of the front-wheeled drive we’ve come to expect all Turbo X models come with all-wheel drive and a pretty exceptionally turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower. Finally Saabs horsepower numbers are at least in the ball park of their sport sedan cohorts. Turbocharging is something Saab has nearly 30 years’ worth of experience doing, so the Turbo X does it and does it well; without any lag of power that has plagued the Turbo’s reputation in the past. Best of all, Saab generates all its torque at low engine speeds: 2,150 r.p.m., which, means the power is immediately available, providing great acceleration the moment you step on the gas pedal. In terms of handling, the AWD is great, perhaps even the best of the cars in its class.
Now the bad news: All of this available power sucks down gas at an abysmal rate.
The Turbo X’s EPA rating of 15 m.p.g. in the city and 24 m.p.g. on the highway is worse than any of its competitors and worse than larger cars like the all-wheel drive Cadillac CTS. In Saab’s defense, I’ve read that it gets marginally better gas mileage on the highway than what the EPA rating states. So maybe I’ll give it a pass on that.
While the exterior and interior styling itself, for that matter, is quite attractive and very much in league with other luxury cars, the execution comes across as cheap. Like much of GM’s products, there is too much hard plastic alongside the upscale leather upholstery and carbon fiber trim. Additionally, fit and finish is an issue with a car trying to be talked about in the same breath as Audi or Lexus; a big no-no. And while it is nice, it isn’t quite nice enough for a car that costs, wait for it…….over $40,000.
That’s bad news #2. The 2009 Turbo X starts at $41,765 for the sedan, $42,565 for the wagon, and is nicely equipped at $44,560. In a competition where your rivals are the Audi A4, BMW 225xi, Lexus IS 250 AWD and Volvo S80, all of them AWD vehicles; the Turbo X is the priciest entry of the bunch.
While the Turbo X performs admirably it really hasn’t earned the right to be the most expensive car in that group.