An all-new 2012 Saab 9-4X is planned to go on sale May 2011. The Saab 9-4X is the brand's first foray into the crossover craze and generally falls between the 9-3 and 9-5 models. It was developed when Saab was still part of General Motors and is akin to the Cadillac SRX. The 2012 9-4X is designed to compete with the Lexus RX, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class.
The 9-4X is perhaps the most successful in appearance of the badge-engineered designs because it has many Saab styling cues in a segment where, with lights, bumpers and grilles removed, everything looks very similar. The 9-4X's lower body cladding looks a bit out of place but the major theme tapering window line with just one body-color roof pillar per side. Expect outward visibility, especially the rear quarters, to be compromised.
A broad, sweeping dash curved toward the driver highlights the cabin, again filled with Saab-isms like a split-gradation speedometer, joystick-adjusted air vents, and the Start Stop ignition switch adjacent the shifter that replaces the key. There's also an eco-button, rather incongruous given some 9-4X models would carry a gas-guzzler tax were they not government-classed as trucks.
The 2012 Saab 9-4X will be offered in three trim levels, the lower pair with a 265-hp 3-liter V6 and the top-line Aero with a turbocharged 2.8-liter 300-hp V6 and all-wheel drive (XWD). The turbo's big advantage over the 3-liter is low- and midrange torque so it drives much better than the 35-hp increase implies; the 9-4X is even heavier than its Cadillac cousin. The only choice with the 6-speed automatic is paddle shifters or not.
The Aero also has adjustable shocks for more flexibility in comfort or handling precision. Everything underneath has been tuned, adjusted or calibrated to ensure the 9-4X does not feel and drive exactly like an SRX; expect a bit more of an edge compared to that car without the firmness or crispness of a German sport model.
The 9-4X is designed as a five-seater with plenty of room up front in power seats and the 60/40-split reclining rear better for two adults; with the panoramic glass roof it's not a large space but rear climate control and video will help. The trunk is well finished and has some useful cargo retention systems, power outlets, a power tailgate, and 60 cubic feet of room with the rear seats down.
Lighting is to Saab standards with bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, front and rear fog lamps. The 9-4X will also offer surround sound, navigation, OnStar, Bluetooth, and dual-screen rear entertainment among features and options.