STOCKHOLM- From Abba's uncomplicated pop music to Ikea's follow-the-arrow shopping, Swedish exports are famous for simplicity. Simple, though, the 9-5 lineup was not, so the refreshed 2006 edition of Saab's flagship is offered in just one trim (2.3T) and two body styles (sedan and SportCombi wagon). There's only one engine-a 2.3-liter turbo four, even though the smaller, less-expensive 9-3 can be had with a turbo V-6.
Saab claims it made 1367 alterations to the 9-5, including a wider rear track, a cabin makeover, and cleaner front and rear styling. With retuned dampers, springs, and antiroll bars plus quicker steering, this latest 9-5 is more responsive and handles better. But the car still suffers from torque steer-most noticeable during overtaking maneuvers-and an overly floaty ride, an issue even with the Sport package.
Ultimately, all of the changes add up to a better car, and Saab's simplified product strategy makes sense in a crowded entry-luxury market. But with the current car dating back to 1998, an all-new 9-5 is long past due.
SPECSPrice: $34,820 (Sedan), $35,820 (SportCombi)
Engine: Turbo 2.3L I-4, 260 hp, 258 lb-ft