2011 Saab 9-4X Aero XWD – Short Take Road Test

What Is It?

It’s a Cadillac SRX crossover in Swedish clothing. TheSaab 9-4X shares its platform, an assembly line, and most of its mechanicals with the Caddy. The top-dog Aero XWD, tested here, is powered by the 300-hp, 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6; a 265-horse, 3.0-liter V-6 is the base engine. Cadillac dropped both of these mills from the 2012 SRX lineup, introducing a 308-hp, 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V-6 for all trims. Good for Cadillac, bad for Saab: The turbo 2.8 and the 3.0 are deeply unsatisfying powerplants, and they make the 9-4X’s assigned task—delivering steady sales to a brand in desperate need of them—that much tougher.

How Does It Drive?

You might assume the 9-4X drives like an SRX, and you’d be correct, although not so fast. We mean that colloquially and literally, because, although the 9-4X behaves largely like the Caddy, it’s noticeably slower—more on that in a bit—and stiffer. In our first experience with the Saab, we noted a supple ride in the comfort and sport suspension settings, but the Saab felt overly firm on the roads surrounding our Michigan HQ. Things obviously got worse over the burliest broken pavement and loud, too, with suspension noises booming through the cabin. The stiffness makes for a flat attitude during cornering, but the trade-off isn’t really worth it in a luxury crossover. The same goes for the steering, which is excessively quick off-center; great in a track car, not so much here, where simple tracking corrections result in intralane ping-ponging.

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