Saab Wagon Road Test
Saab wagons are excellent family vehicles made all the more useful by a cargo carrying area that has handy tie downs optional pet safety features and a nimble ride that transforms mere shopping trips into true driving enjoyment.
Our Saab AUD$72000 Arc is for those who love to drive but have to face the reality of a family and most assuredly a pet. This Saab was taut and hearty. Of course you pay a tidy sum for this rare combination. We liked the base model Linear just as much and it costs even less making it a very good buy at AUD$64000 and you still get the safety features and the 93 cubic feet of storage space
First of all forget the stick shift. It isn’t that the Arc is difficult to move from gear to gear its just too much temptation. After all you are sitting on 220 horsepower and by the time you leave second gear you are above every posted speed limit you are likely to find. There wasn’t too much turbo lag and very little torque steer so the Saab was very controllable. The suspension was bit soft for those who like a car that handles but this is a station wagon after all.
Safety wise there are adaptive-force front airbags active head restraints and seat-mounted side airbags four-wheel antilock disc brakes stability and traction control daytime running lights and earned exceptional government crash test scores.
The interior is clearly old world and you can forget the charm. It has a dated look but everything is easy to read and use. We are currently testing a Mitsubishi with fancy new gauges that are unreadable at night and so there is value in sticking with what works.
Overall this is a functional Swedish import that brings with it great crash test scores above average gas mileage wonderful seats and ample storage area. In other words everything a station wagon should be.
A fairly fun vehicle that makes you feel quite at home best describes my time with the Arc. There is ample power from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and it makes me wonder what the Aero model with 250 horsepower is going to be like when the Arc is so responsive with considerable less energy.
This is a car that is meant for the highway. It is fun to drive modestly on heavily contoured roads but the body roll is notable and the stability control system lets you know who is the boss. In this model I would go with the automatic. There is very little gas mileage penalty and I didn’t care for the shift linkage although the clutch was easy to modulate.
Young working male’s view
Nice sound system but my favorite feature was the way the Saab melted into the landscape. No one saw it paid any attention to it or sought it out for special treatment. More than once a motor patrol officer flew past me to capture a victim in a more noticeable vehicle. Very cool. It also parks very easily and has wonderful rear view mirrors that give superior visibility once you get used to the unusual bend in the passenger side unit.
Inside the drink holder comes out of the dash and looks way too fragile. I wouldn’t want to put anything heavy in it. There is another in the center console but the center mounted ignition key gets in the way. The seats are better than good but the leather looks cheap. I would cover them up right away. The cargo area has nice tie downs and the rear hatch is easy to open.
I liked the Saab. It isn’t my type of car but it has its appeal. The engine has more than enough power and the 18.5-gallon tank makes 500-mile trips a possibility. It is quite functional and that is probably its most notable feature.
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Young working woman’s view
Saab calls it a Sports Wagon and it certainly is one. Of course I owned a Saab several years ago so it feels like going home when I was driving this 220 horsepower Arc model. In fact it felt a little too old. It was like being in a time warp as if nothing had happened in five years. Mind you I like the way the Saab looks; it just seems dated for a pricey car.
Driving the Arc was a challenge because it seemed like the quiet power of the engine made it easy to exceed the speed limit. The ride was very good with only the largest bumps providing any drama for the sturdy wagon. The steering was very reassuring but a little too vague when cornering.
I liked the hard cover over the rear cargo area and the way you can turn off almost all the dash lights at night to avoid eyestrain. The driver computer center data was very complete but you need to practice which buttons to push because they are not logical. Also not logically placed are the automatic window controls. They are on the front side of the center console as is the central locking button. Another quirk was that you had to place the manual transmission in reverse before the ignition key could be removed.
Standard features include dual zone climate control interior air filter power steering doors windows mirrors and keyless entry. Saab also has cruise control leather upholstery heated outside mirrors AM/FM/cassette/CD player automatic-off headlights a theft-deterrent system and a refrigerator glove box. That’s a significant number of items but nothing compared to the hot Aero where they even throw in a driving class.
Saab continues to offer solace to those who reveal in the reassurance of a quirky but conservative product. Resale value a limited dealer network and the lack of significant modernization hamper Saab from making further headway in a dynamic market. We like the Saab Arc but are eagerly awaiting the recently introduced 9-2 wagon.
Good points: Power cargo capacity safety warranty gas mileage seats warranty
Needs improvement: Pricing interior appointments resale
Written by The Car Family