2008 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD


*Update - Car Sold 12/20/2012

This has been a great car for me, requiring almost no work to keep it running smoothly and delivering stellar performance. These days though, two car payments are just not in the budget. The Ford Edge is great for moving the kids around. The 9-3 would be up to that task except that the twin stroller won't fit in the trunk. That means we kept the Edge and sold the 9-3. Its not all bad though. That means I get to go car shopping for a old beater I can afford straight up, and you know how I love basket cases.


I finally decided it was time to sell my Saab 9000 Aero and get something newer that didn't require as much work to fix it up. I had to get something that was as least as good as the 9000, just newer. I have grown accustomed to the European sedan styling and features. I can't see myself in something as reliable as a Lexus or as expensive as a BMW. I see Mercedes as a ladies car. Volvo is too safe, not enough spirit. This left me with Audi or Saab. I love Audi on paper. The only problem I have with Audi is that I don't care for the styling. Thats not to say they are ugly, but to me they are boring. The ones that are not boring, are the S series cars and the price shoots up pretty quickly. In the end I decided on another Saab. Its a good mix of luxury, performance, and price.

I knew I wanted the practicality of a 4 door. I wanted something newer that would not break the bank but would also be fun to drive. It had to be a manual also. I ended up picking a 2008 9-3 Aero XWD. I am no stranger to the Aero trim. The XWD is all wheel drive which adds to the practicality of the car. I knew I liked the car from the minute I saw the pictures. Its sleek and stylish, without screaming look at me. This is important for me as I tend to drive on the fast side so I need police to keep looking past me. The interior is awesome. The rear leg room is still pretty good which was a concern of mine coming from the full size 9000 with gobs of leg room in back.

The car just fit me as soon as I took it for a test drive. When I got back to the lot I tried to figure out why this car just seemed to mesh with me. It came to me as I walked around the car to the back. I was standing in front of the top of the line 9-3, an Aero in all wheel drive, with nearly every option. It was the best Saab had to offer, and yet, the car was completely without badges to signify its status. Not only did it lack an Aero badge, they even took off the 9-3 badge. This typifies the car's character... upscale but humble... it is not about driving around a status symbol, its about the love of driving

I hope to own this car for years and years to come. I am sure I will end up modifying it as I did with my 9000... I just can't resist. Until then, I will enjoy a factory warranty and free maintenance for a little bit longer :)


Saab'isms and Notable Features

I have certain expectations after having driven a Saab 9000 around for a number of years. This is a collection of my initial thoughts on the 2008 9-3, a car that was developed under the leadership of GM not long before Saab was sold to Spyker.

  • (strange) I really got used to the window controls being located in the center console on the 9000. In the 9-3 they went back to their standard location on each door. Booo
  • (cool) The ignition is located on the center console by the handbrake. Not only that, the key is just plastic around an RFID of some sort. Its pretty slick and easy to use
  • (cool) 6 speed transmission is awesome. In typical Saab fashion the entire gearbox is geared pretty high so 6th is only for high speed highway cruising
  • (cool) The info display is great. Lots of good info, including a service interval reminder. It flashes when the car is due for scheduled service
  • (strange) The automatic climate control utilizes 7 different temperature and sun sensors to regulate interior temperature. Seems excessive and prone to breakage
  • (cool) Heated seats automatically turn on based on outside and inside temperature readings. The same is true for defrosters
  • (cool) Holding down unlock button on keyfob causes all windows to go down and the sunroof to open automatically
  • (strange) Call buttons the steering wheel only work with on-star system. Euro models without on-star can connect to your normal cell phone. US models with On-Star prohibit use of personal cell phone. Super LAME. Saab sells a bluetooth cell phone kit for US cars and even that kit cannot use the steering wheel call controls
  • (cool) Glove box has a cold air vent you can open and close. According to the manual, this keeps your chocolate cold in the summer, no joke
  • (cool) Dual climate controls, one for driver and one for passenger. Seems excessive but my wife and I DO keep them set to different temperatures
  • (strange) On paper this car is quicker than the 9000. Indeed I believe it is based on watching the needle. Somehow its so smooth and subtle that it does not feel faster. XWD + stability control + electronic limited slip differential = no tire squealing and, dare I say, less excitement. My wife has yet to hit me for driving too quickly, something that happened daily in my 9000
  • (strange) Windshield wiper stays true to the 9000 style, push up on the stalk for slow speed, push down for fast, push down again for fastest. Why not make 3 downs instead of 1 up and 2 downs? I still don't get it
  • (strange) There is a nighttime illumination button. When you press it, all the gauges turns off except the speedometer. There is an option to only partially illuminate the speedometer from 0 to 90, or from 0 all the way up to 160. Was that level of engineering really necessary? I wont pass judgment until I trying using the illumination button a few more times
  • (strange) Saab retains the rear fog light. What purpose does it serve? The manual indicates there is a "follow me home" mode. Perhaps the rear fog light is used in this mode to allow another driver to easily follow you at night. Maybe this will switch to a cool once I try using it
  • (cool) The headlights automatically come on (no big news there in this day and age). The cool part is that after starting the car, they stay off until you release the e-brake
  • (cool) The trim panel opposite the e-brake is removable. Saab sells several accessories that fit in there like a cd holder, a cup holder, and my favorite, the ice scraper. I guess ice is a bigger deal in Sweden.
  • (cool) Both side view mirrors are also controlled by the 1 touch seat position memory button. The right side view mirror also has a built convex portion to eliminate any blind spot. It is a little disorienting at first but handy once you get used to it
  • (cool) Rear passengers can use a cup holder that pops out of the middle passenger seat. There is no lack of cup holders in this car
  • (cool) Driver can adjust the aggressiveness of the auto rain sensing wipers. Indeed, about 10 other options like this are adjustable by the driver. Another 30 or so can be reprogrammed by a Saab shop. For example, you can change the unlock button when pressed to unlock just the drivers door or unlock all doors. This will be handy to personalize the car


Vital Stats

2008 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD
Engine: Turbo charged 2.8L V6
Horsepower: 280 @ 5500 RPM
Torque: 295 @ 2150 RPM
Transmission: 6 speed manual
Curb weight: ~3300 lbs

Work Done To Date


All my Saab photos

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