2006 SAAB 9-3 2.0t 2.0L turbo from North America


Excellent value and reliability


Very little has gone wrong with the car. The Saab label fell off the hood at 10,000 miles, and was replaced for free under warranty. Nothing else has failed or gone wrong with the car.

General Comments:

The car is able to get very good gas mileage as the turbo does a lot of work letting the engine loaf along. I average between 21 and 25 mpg in the city, and 31 and 36 on the highway. The EPA gives it 19 and 29 so I always do better than that.

The car handles very well. It is not as tight at a BMW which has rear wheel drive, but if you drive the Saab hard the BMW will outperform it only if it is driven hard as well. Most of the time owners do not know how to drive so the Saab can keep up with the 3 series BMW.

Acceleration is good as the turbo lag has been minimized using Saab's engine controls, a Mitsubishi turbocharger, and a GM 2.0 Ecotec engine. This is a strength of the car with the Bosch sourced five speed automatic transmission.

The cabin is comfortable for spirited driving as well as highway cruising. Although the platform is shared with other GM cars, it is more tightly tuned for handling so potholes are felt particularly hard in this car.

I can see myself buying another car in a few years if the brand survives as up to now, it has been the best car I have owned (this includes a Toyota with a blown engine due to sludge at 65,000 miles and the Acura with a blown transmission at 69,000 miles).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th February, 2009

19th Aug 2010, 12:24

Now I am at 59,600 miles with no additional issues. The car has been great, and I am more impressed with it each year it runs with no problems. At 4.5 years old, it is the most reliable car I have owned - better than the Hondas, Acuras, Toyotas I have owned with transmission and engine issues. I would buy another if the brand is around in a few years. I plan to keep going about 10 years and if at that point it is still around, get another.

2006 SAAB 9-3 2.0T 2.0L turbo from North America


Safe and fun car to drive


Before 1,000 miles, there were two incidents of engine almost stalling for 1 or 2 seconds while waiting at traffic lights. Nothing happened, and it never happened again. Possibly due to the run-in period.

At ~1,500 miles, one headlight seemed to have malfunctioned for a split second, and SID (Saab Information Display) informed me about it. Never happened again.

The alarm sporadically sounds off when I unlock only the trunk (and nothing else) and open the trunk lid. I have to unlock door(s) in order to turn it off. Later the SID would show me about that, which I already knew. I brought my car into the dealer twice (when I had oil changes at 10,000 and 20,000 miles services) to try to get this fixed, but the dealer failed to help and fix this problem.

The automatic door locks do not behave the way I preferred, and I requested help from dealer during my oil change appointments, but the issue still exists. I am not sure if this is by design (hopefully not), but it seems like the in-car computer (BCU?) is really hard to configure. I want the remote control to unlock driver's side door after pressing once on the unlock key and all doors after pressing the unlock key twice. (This used to work fine.) I also want to have all doors locked after I start driving the car, and when the car reaches a certain speed, and this has been configured as preferred (although it seems like the locking is triggered by RPM more than speed). In addition, I would like all doors to be unlocked when I turn off the engine and remove the key. This caused me to leave my car with the dealer for three days (one day to diagnose if the BCU (?) is malfunctioning and sending unlock signal to only driver's side of door, and two days to replace the BCU and reconfiguration). Now it works fine, but the unlock door remote control key does not work the way I want. It opens all doors now.

As mentioned by the survey "Multi-cultural Swedish performance", there is a very minor rattle noise at driver's side happening once in a while. I think it might be caused by the airbag (inflatable curtain).

General Comments:

I fell in love with Saab since 1995 when I first drove a 1988 Saab 900 Turbo in winter time. Driving on snow with it is like driving on regular pavement. I test drove a 2003 or 2004 Saab 93 convertible and loved the powertrain, so I started paying attention to it until I finally can afford it in 2006.

After I finally had it in 2006, I was having some difficult time getting used to it at first. The sudden power supply when passing in heavy traffic almost gave me an accident because I didn't realize it is so fast without realizing the turbo lag on this car is not obvious.

This is a very potent car for commuting. My routes to work involves uphills and downhills, and it handles with absolute ease. No sign of struggle at all.

The braking system is one of the best about this car. It brakes so smoothly, quietly and rapidly that you will tend not to hit the brakes until the last moment. Although the front rotors are much larger than the rear ones, there are much more braking dust in the rear than in the front. I asked about this of the dealer, and they just told me this car is designed this way. Unless the material is used differently for the front and rear brakes, I don't understand how this is done. I would be really interested in knowing the philosophy of this design.

I did not give "comfort" a full score because the suspension is a little bit too tight for speed bumps (that keep people driving slowly) even when driving slowly. The suspension holds road pretty well at turns (although I am no extreme driver) with a confident feel.

Although the rear seats look like having short leg room, they do have ample hip room to compensate rear seat passengers' comfort assuming they sit with proper posture.

Safety is the first reason I chose this car. Besides my objective feeling towards the handling of this car, IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has given Saab 93 the top safety pick award in consecutive years for its class. This is a feature more important than anything else to me, and that is why I always recommend this car to everyone I know.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th March, 2008

29th Aug 2008, 10:27

I have had none of the problems you have mentioned except for the rear wheels becoming caked with brake pad dust while the fronts remain clean. I have assumed that the different deposition rate is due to the location of the wheels. Perhaps the air flow is better around the front wheels thus "cleaning" them. I, also, will consider a Saab for my next car.

29th Jul 2009, 10:10

The alarm going off when the trunk is open is because the doors on the car are locked. The Saab 9-3 security was designed with one circuit, not two. In other words, if the circuit is closed on the doors (the doors are locked), the alarm is activated. When you open the trunk, if there is enough vibration it sets the alarm off since the trunk is not wired into the alarm system.

Unfortunately, this is a "bad" although intentional design by the Saab engineers, and has to be attributed to one of the "quirks" of the brand. I don't like it either, but I just unlock a door before opening the trunk - and the alarm does not go off at all anymore.

This explanation is available in the Saab maintenance book, any Saab dealer with a good repair staff should be able to tell you this.