Saab's Arctic Adventure

Saab 9-3 Independence Edition Convertible
The Saab 9-3 Independence convertible is a limited edition car, as only 366 units will be built. That's one for each day away from GM, plus one more to start the second year on a fresh start. Each limited edition car has its production number etched into the rear side windows. The car wears a unique amber orange metallic exterior paint, and custom eighteen-inch wheels to set it apart from other 9-3s on the road. The interior features beige leather seats with orange accents, a carbon-fiber-look instrument panel, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Independence Edition will have the familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that makes 220 hp. Buyers will have their choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Saab 9-4X
Saab enters the ever-growing crossover segment with the new 9-4X. It debuted at the 2010 Los Angeles auto show and it was co-developed with the new 9-5 in the States. Saab claims it "really is a Saab car" but we can't help but notice the resemblance to the Cadillac SRX, both visually and mechanically. Behind the three-holed grille, a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 engine making 300 hp routed through a six-speed automatic transmission; power goes to all four wheels via Saab's XWD system. The classy interior includes items like navigation, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB ports, and rear seat entertainment.

We are anxious to see just how much Saab has separated itself from GM in the past year; we get to drive the 9-4X in May. The real test, however, comes when the new 9-3 arrives next fall. It must be good, and it has to sell well if Saab has any chance to live on independently.

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There's something about Sweden's "can do" attitude that is quite inspiring. What other country of its size develops jet fighters and has two auto makers (plus a motorcycle company too)? I like where Saab is going and when we go shopping for a new dogs-friendly sport wagon / crossover this fall we'll be checking them out. Just please, Saab, don't go back to the massive air vents of yore. They were hideous and deserve to remain part of your past.

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