Thursday, January 25, 2007

Test Drive: 2007 Saab 9-7x

My wife has finally convinced me that the 900's back seat is too small for our three children. It tends to lead to the well known "he touched me." So, we have been looking at our options. The price of used 9-5 wagons has come down almost within reach. But as I found out at the Detroit Auto Show, the rear seat is designed to hold two adults not three children. I tried the 9-5 rear seat today and found it to be just as small. This has led us to look at minivans again. But ...

I received a letter from Classic Saab-Cadillac. They've moved from Willoughby to Tyler Blvd. in Mentor. After scouting out Classic's new building, I spoke to one of the salesmen, Grant Salerno, about my frustrations with lack of space in the 9-5. This led to a test drive of a 2007 Saab 9-7x. My first stop was the back seat. Would it be big enough to haul three kids peacefully to Columbus and back? Apparently not. The side seats were fairly comfortable but the middle seat was altogether different. I was as comfortable as sitting on an upright spare tire. C'mon Saab, you can do better than that!

We finally took the SUV around the block for a test drive. The roads were still ugly, so I didn't put the engine and suspension through the works. But it seemed to handle fairly well. This model had plenty of power with a 290 hp six cylinder. But I really wondered about the difference between that and the V8. Grant admitted that there wasn't a noticeable difference between the two. The V8 adds a whopping 10 hp! May I repeat myself? C'mon Saab, you can do better than that! Why not add 50 hp to make an Aero worth the extra money?

My conclusion is that loyalty to the Saab brand must submit to practicality. Yes, I am the happy owner of a Classic Saab 900. And yes, I hope to upgrade to a newer model some time in the future, but two things need to happen to make the 9-7x family friendly.
  1. Saab needs to increase the width of the SUV to accommodate three passengers in the rear seat. It simply is not big enough for three people. Another option might be redesigning the rear seat. Perhaps making that center section more comfortable might help. But I really think the width is the problem.

  2. Saab should increase the length of the SUV to accommodate an extra seat. Right now, the vehicle is too short to accomplish this. But if they wanted to become a people mover, this might be an option. Remember the Volvo wagons with a retractable rear seat? As a child, I always wanted to sit in the third seat of the family wagon. How hard would that be to do today?
The end result is that the 9-7x is a nicely appointed, powerful, SUV which will comfortably hold four people. If that is what you want (and you can afford a $40,000 automobile) then this truck might be an option. Unfortunately for us, we'll be looking elsewhere.

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