Following in the footsteps of the Buick Rainier, the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the GMC Envoy, the Isuzu Ascender, and the late Oldsmobile Bravada, the new Saab 9-7x is the fifth current installment of GM's over-exercised GMT360 platform. Using the same I-6 and V-8 engines found in the countless variations of the same SUV, the Saab has little to separate itself from the others. Standard on both trim levels (Linear and Arc) are eighteen-inch wheels, all-wheel drive, leather, and a premium sound system--none of which is a new addition to the crowd. But buyers will find a lower ride height, slightly improved dynamics, Saab styling, Saab pricing ($37,000-$45,000), and, of course, an ignition switch on the center console.
Saab claims that 28 percent of lost buyers in 2003 bought SUVs rather than Saabs, providing justification for this new product. But can a smoothed over Envoy survive in a market with more refined and car-like SUVs such as the Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX330? The 9-7x is a stopgap until a Saab crossover based on the new Subaru B9 Tribeca arrives. That, unlike the 9-7x, is something worth waiting for.