“This is a Saab, with a Subaru engine in it?” a confused Valvoline lube tech asked me when I pulled into the bay for an oil change. Usually I tend to avoid these places for that exact reason but single digit temperatures changed my mind about doing a DIY job. I then went on to explain, like I find myself doing almost on a daily basis what a Saab 9-2x is. I don’t mind though, because over the past year or so I’ve owned this swagger wagon, Ive been nothing but impressed by it.
When my cherished eighteen year-old Saturn finally decided to defeat me in a battle of constant hourly upkeep, I went car shopping. I scoured across dealer lots for months and spent countless hours online researching a catalogue of potential players. I had my eyes on a 2003 Mazda6 with a five-speed manual that proved the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” when every single check engine light came on while exiting the highway during my test drive. Parked it and never looked back. Walking past row after row of cars, a black 2005 Saab 9-2x caught my eyes. I refreshed my memory on what this unique vehicle was and hopped behind the wheel. Two hours later I drove it home with a smile on my face.
So, what is a Saabaru? Well back in the early-mid 2000s, Saab (owned fully by GM) teamed up with Subaru (a mere 20% stake owned by GM) to create an affordable, all-wheel drive luxury wagon for those with active lifestyles. Sharing essentially everything mechanically and structurally with the Subaru Impreza wagon, the Swedes spiced up the 9-2x’s exterior with unique front-and-rear styling, a ton of sound deadening on the inside, retuned suspension and handling and an assortment of luxury fancies like heated two-tone leather seats. Powertrain options were a 165-horsepower (later bumped to 173hp) 2.5-liter boxer four in the Linear models, or a turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer four that made 227 horsepower (later bumped to 230hp, from a larger turbocharged 2.5-liter) in the Aero models. You could have it with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. A little shy of just 11,000 9-2xs were made from 2005-2006.
I’ve owned the car for eleven months now, driven it in all sorts of conditions and racked up a little over 10,000 miles. It’s a fantastic daily driver. My particular car is the Linear model with an automatic. Yes, I wish I could have gotten it with three pedals. So let’s start off with a list of the pros and the cons of owning a Saab 9-2x
-Saab appearance and luxury + Subaru reliability.
-Subaru’s phenomenal all-wheel drive system.
-Wagon practicality that has come in use way more than expected.
-Fun to drive and pretty decent gas milage.
-An epic cold-weather package (heated seats, heated front and rear windshield wiper defrosters) helps with conquering Wisconsin winters.
-Oil changes and differential fluid changes are a breeze.
-Lots of compliments and questions from other car enthusiasts.
-Subaru paint isn’t the best quality, lots and lots of little chips from road debris.
-The base Linear’s 2.5-liter is pokey and slow, especially in the cold.
-The 42EAT automatic transmission isn’t the most responsive or smooth.
-A full pair of skis intrudes into the front seat area when transported inside.
-Changing out the spark plugs is an obnoxiously challenging task.
-It’s not a “real” genuine Saab, rather a Japanese ninja donning a Swedish meatball costume.
For my everyday lifestyle, this car is perfect. I can throw my snowshoes in it, mountain bike, camping equipment and enough necessary goodies for tailgating at a Milwaukee Brewer’s game. I’ve even folded down the rear seats and cuddled up in a sleeping bag in the hatch area, it was surprisingly roomy. So if you want a fun to drive station wagon that’s luxurious, efficient and has a killer all-wheel-drive system; swoop up a Saab 9-2x if you can!