2011 Saab 9-5 Aero XWD Sedan

2010/2011 Saab 9-5 First Drive

Fifty grand? I realize that's the basic point for the German competition in this segment (BMW 5-series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-class), but this Saab 9-5 Aero certainly doesn't feel like $52,530 worth of automobile. Nor does it feel like a legitimate rival to those aforementioned Germans, not to mention all the excellent mid-size luxury cars on the market today. Another weakness is that this 9-5's Saab-y quirkiness feels forced, and its GM heritage is too evident for my liking.

Nonetheless, the 9-5 drives and steers well, and although the engine displayed distracting turbo lag during my time in the car, its powertrain was very peppy. The so-called DriveSense System made a noticeable difference when I toggled among comfort, intelligent, and sport modes, whereas some competitors' similar systems don't seem to make a difference in a car's ride and handling. Speaking of comfort, the 9-5 offers a lot of it, and the rear seats are very spacious. The eight-inch touch screen is nice and large, too.

Unlike Mr. Zenlea, I think the 9-5 looks strangely stretched from the rear-three-quarter angle. The turbinelike wheels are quite cool, though.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

My colleagues have said it all about this highly competent new Saab that ultimately lacks the appeal that would make me, at least, sign a sales contract for a rather breathtaking $52,530. I especially like David Zenlea's analysis. This is a good car, even a very good car, and I agree with Zenlea that it's a very good-looking car. But, boy, I hope Jason Castriota, the American-born automotive designer who cut his teeth at Pininfarina and who is now the chief designer at Saab, is working overtime on a new interior design philosophy that will be at once Saab and modern.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

"but does that make any sense without a physical key?"When you start your car, there are several activities that frequently takes place:1) Check parking brake2) Fiddle with the transmission3) Fiddle with the ignitionGuess what... Having these grouped together in one spot makes perfect sense."All-wheel drive and a set of winter tires made the 9-5 a delight to drive on the snowy country roads near my in-laws' house. "I bet the FWD version would be just as competent on snow and ice.With a 9-5 (or any Saab) I am able to pass a great many cars when the winter turns a bit "ugly". When they have only plowed one lane of the highway, it doesn't matter that I am in the lane with 3-5 inches of snow and the other cars are in the lane where all the snow has been removed; I am still passing them, often going faster than 65 mph.The limit is not the car, but rather how much I am willing to break the legal speed limit.German cars rarely look good in the snow or on ice. The word "Bambi" springs to mind.

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