New Car: 2012 Saab 9-4x

Nearly three years ago at the Detroit auto show, Saab showed a small crossover concept called the 9-4X BioPower, which was expected to hit showrooms about a year later. Since then, though, the automaker has endured a seriously rocky road, including a brush with death followed by new ownership, but the 9-4X has finally come to fruition relatively untouched from its concept form. Based on the same underpinnings as the Cadillac SRX, the 9-4X will be built by GM alongside the Caddy. The arrangement is among the last remaining ties between the Swedish brand and its former U.S. overlord.

The outer surface of the 9-4X shares many styling cues with the 2011 Saab 9-5. Up front, Saab’s new signature grille is flanked by swoopy headlights fitted with adaptive xenon bulbs, with trapezoidal fog-light housings below. The windshield is dramatically raked, and the pillars are blacked-out back to the thick D-pillar, wherein the “blade” of the hockey-stick-esque body line kicks forward, giving the 9-4X an aggressive look. The rear hatch shares the 9-5’s “ice-block” LED-strip, which spans the license-plate recess and connects the taillights. The standard rolling stock measures 18 inches, while Aero models receive 20-inch, nine-spoke wheels that mirror the turbine look of the 9-5’s. Overall, the 9-4X has a sleek look that quite possibly bests all of GM’s mid-size crossovers.

The interior is full of Saab cues, including a driver-oriented dash, green instrument illumination, “joystick” vent adjusters, and, of course, a center-console-mounted ignition. Optional equipment includes adjustable pedals, a Bose 5.1 surround-sound stereo, an eight-inch touch-screen nav system with a 10-gig hard drive, and the choice of faux carbon-fiber or wood trim.

Second-row occupants are treated to a three-angle adjustable seatback and their own climate controls. Additionally, an optional rear-seat entertainment package installs an eight-inch monitor with auxiliary video input into each of the front seatbacks.

In production trim, the 9-4X concept’s BioPower pretenses have fallen by the wayside, but the turbocharged engine has not. Just as with the Cadillac SRX, buyers will have their choice of a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V-6 producing 265 hp, or the 300-hp, turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6, which will be exclusive to the top-spec Aero model. All-wheel drive is standard on the Aero trim and optional on the otherwise front-wheel-drive 3.0-liter. The Aero also includes Saab’s DriveSense adaptive suspension. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Expect performance to match the Caddy—a 2.8-powered SRX we tested hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and a 3.0-liter all-wheel driver took 8.4.

Our first in-person sighting of the 2011 9-4X will come at this year’s Los Angles auto show. The crossover will hit U.S. dealers in May of 2011, with European deliveries commencing in August.

The luxury crossover segment attracts a lot of buyers and accounts for loads of revenue—and, while we don’t love the Cadillac SRX, consumers are snatching it up. Saab is certainly late to this red-hot game, but the 9-4X’s unique look could make it the sales hit the company needs.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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