Scheduled to be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show today, Saab Automobile’s 9-7X finally gives the Swedish auto maker an entry in the U.S.’s hugely popular midsize SUV segment.
But will it work? The 9-7X is the eighth vehicle based onCorp.’s midsize truck platform. And recent midsize luxury SUV entries have under-achieved – such as the Buick Rainier and Lincoln Navigator – while unibody cross/utility vehicles such as the Lexus RX 330, Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX have become popular.
The Saab 9-7X shares underpinnings with the Chevy TrailBlazer platform.
But Saab isn’t deterred. “The new Saab 9-7X will provide our dealers with a world-class SUV to satisfy existing customers and to attract new ones,” says Debra Kelly-Ennis, president-Saab Cars USA.
Market research done by Saab reveals that 39% of its customers in the U.S. currently have an SUV in the household. Furthermore, almost 30% of Saab customers who leave the Saab brand purchase a 4-door SUV.
“The Saab 9-7X is a crucial addition to our lineup, providing customers with Saab’s driver-focused interpretation of an SUV and filling an important need in our growth strategy,” says Peter Augustsson, president and CEO-Saab Automobile.
The all-wheel-drive 9-7X will be positioned in the $37,000 to $45,000 price bracket, the auto maker says. There will be two engine choices: The standard 275-hp 4.2L inline 6-cyl. is rated at 275 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. A high-performance version incorporates GM’s new Gen IV 5.3L V-8 engine featuring an estimated 300 hp.
Maximum towing capacity equipped with the V-8 engine is an estimated 6,500 lbs. (2,948 kg). Both all-aluminum powerplants are coupled to an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission.
The Saab 9-7X uses a double A-arm front suspension with front coil spring and a 5-link, electronically controlled rear air suspension.
The cabin features Saab’s famed center-console ignition key, air vents with their distinctive sliding plate design. Leather seats are standard, and the center console is angled toward the driver. The rear seats are split 60/40 and fold forward. Optional equipment includes a rear DVD player with flip-down screen for second-row passenger viewing, a navigational system, XM satellite radio and a premium audio package that includes Bose audio and a 6-disc CD changer.
Measuring in with a wheelbase of 113 ins. (287 cm) and an overall length of 193.4 ins. (491 cm), the 9-7X’s exterior design features include Saab’s signature 3-port grille, a curvaceous front end and horizontal headlamps that wrap around into the sides of the vehicle. The tail lamps are vertically stacked. “The exterior and interior design of the Saab 9-7X are in line with the vehicle’s dynamic road behavior and convey the sporty refinement of a Saab rather than the ruggedness of a traditional SUV,” says Michael Mauer, Saab executive director-design.