2008 Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept

    Saab says that the 9-4X "confirms Saab's plans to enter the growing crossover segment." Well, better late than never. In fact, the 9-4X is a thinly disguised preview of a production vehicle which will likely take the same name when it steps in to replace the 9-7X, Saab's Chevy TrailBlazer in drag.

    Based on this preview, we'd say the 9-4X will be a far more convincing effort, with modern, Saab-like styling; unit body rather than body-on-frame construction; and, in place of a gas-guzzling V-8, a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter Ecotec four, which here makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and runs on E85 ethanol (thus the "BioPower" label). Other powertrain details include a 6-speed automatic transmission and what Saab calls XWD four-wheel drive. XWD not only apportions torque between the axles but also between the rear wheels, by means of an electronically controlled limited slip differential. (The XWD system actually makes its production debut sooner, on the 9-3 in the form of the Turbo X special edition sedan and wagon, just now going on sale.)

    The four-seat concept highlights Saab's Scandanavian heritage with a cargo area that caters to skiers. The design, done in conjunction with ski maker Solomon, includes a slide-out load floor with a pop-up rack that carries skis and poles, and a rubberized cargo compartment that contains a heated under floor storage area designed for ski boots.