Introduced for 2005, the compact 9-2X sport wagon bears a distinct family resemblance to other Saab models, but much of the basic structure and all-wheel-drive powertrain comes from Subaru. The 9-2X is related to Subaru's Impreza series.
For 2006, the 2.5i (formerly Linear) version of the 9-2X gets a more powerful engine that's rated at 173 horsepower — 8 hp more than before. The Aero receives a larger, more powerful turbocharged engine. Compared to the prior horizontally opposed four-cylinder, the new engine generates 230 hp — versus 227 hp — and 235 pounds-feet of torque — as opposed to 217 pounds-feet.
Saab promotes the 9-2X's "distinctive European design," adding that it shuns the look of a traditional five-door hatchback. The front fascia features Saab's characteristic three-hole grille and wraparound headlights. An air intake sits below the front bumper. The Aero has a functional hood scoop. Dark accenting on the rear apron is said to lend a sporty flair. Standard wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but the Aero can have 17-inch wheels.
Built on a 99.4-inch wheelbase, the 9-2X measures 175.6 inches long overall. Both trims use the same four-wheel-independent suspension, but they're tuned differently. A sunroof is optional.
Up to five people can fit inside the 9-2X. A 60/40-split, folding rear seatback is standard. Cargo capacity is 27.9 cubic feet with the rear seatback up and 61.6 cubic feet when the seatback is folded.
Under the Hood
Two horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines are available in the 9-2X. A 2.5-liter engine now delivers 173 hp and 166 pounds-feet of torque in the 2.5i. The Aero's new turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter engine produces 230 hp and 235 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines team with a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional four-speed automatic. A viscous limited-slip rear differential is standard on Aero models.
All-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and active front head restraints are standard.
The secure, sure-footed 9-2X handles adeptly and responds eagerly to steering inputs when driving on swift, twisting roads. The driving experience is confident and predictable, and you don't encounter unpleasant surprises in curves or on straightaways.
You also get a surprisingly smooth ride from the taut suspension. Bumps are clearly felt, but they're not annoying.
The exceptionally solid 9-2X is quiet, but there's some occasional tire noise. Sport-style seats offer great support and bolstering, but the seat bottoms aren't as comfortable as some rivals'. The instruments are large and easy to read.