minivan_racer UberDork
6/29/19 3:40 p.m.

Looking for a replacement for the worst car I've ever owned, a 2002 Ford Escape.  Saab wagons have piqued my interest but I need some learnin' before I make a bad decision. I know the 9-2 is essentially a impreza.  I'm seeing 9-3 and 9-5 wagons with either 2.0 or 2.3 engines. My questions are:


What is "high mileage"?


What is the better engine choice?


This has to be an auto (wife doesn't want to daily a manual because traffic), how do the autos hold up over time?


What are some things that I would look for to tell me that I should run from it?

02Pilot SuperDork
6/29/19 5:58 p.m.

The 9-3 generation that included proper wagons (as opposed to more traditional Saab hatchbacks) are Ecotec-powered. The 9-5 inline-4 is still based on the original Saab architecture. I don't know enough to tell you which is preferable, but they are totally different engines.

My 9-5 (1999 lpt) ate both the turbo and the auto transmission. I don't know how it was maintained before I got it, but my thorough efforts didn't help apparently. I've heard both components can be long-lived, so perhaps my car was neglected prior to my ownership.

The 9-5 also had issues with the PCV system that went through many revisions - I'm not sure if they ever got it truly right. Sludging and oil pump failure were the potential outcomes - I did not have these problems.

I'd look for something with good records above all else. Being an orphan brand, make sure the body and interior components are in good shape, as they may not be easily replaced.

ddavidv PowerDork
6/30/19 7:19 a.m.

Saab engines are typically indestructible but attached to transmissions that are questionable.

If the Ecotec in the 9-3 is the same as the Saturns and Cobalt/Cavalier/whatever they called it this week then it's a garbage engine.

I thought they also stuck some GM V6 engines in some of those that were fairly lackluster as well.

Saabs (and Volvos) are expensive cars to fix. Coupled with the questionable parts availability of an orphan brand going forward I wouldn't get one as a daily. A shame, because their wagons are some of the most likable out there.

Knurled. MegaDork
6/30/19 7:24 a.m.

In reply to ddavidv :

It is not the same engine, although it shares a design.  The blocks and heads are tradiionally cast instead of lost-foam like the Saturn and Cobalt/etc.  


When GM made their power recipe book for the Ecotec, they said to use the SAAB parts for strength in turbo applications.


The V6 isn't a "GM" six, it's a SAAB engine, designed with a 54 degree bank angle to fit in the 9-5.  GM appropriated it for use in Opels, and thereby Caddy Cateras, Saturn L300s, and VUEs.  So yes it is "that" engine but its DNA has moose and lutefisk all over it.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/30/19 7:49 a.m.

Toward the end, Saab has these trim names:

Linear: base model

Vector : mid model

Arc: mid model

Aero: loaded model typically with biggest engine offered

I find these names confusing. That trim level is usually not printed/badged on the car except for some Aero models. 

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