2002 Saab 5-Sep Review

2002 Saab 5-Sep - A wagon to remember.


Saab, which makes jet fighter planes, produces some of the best European sedans and station wagons. But items such as a console-mounted ignition switch have given this innovative automaker an offbeat reputation that has prevented it from attaining the status of, say, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Also, this small automaker doesn't have lots of volume or U.S. dealers, although it says the Chicago market is one of its best. It's hard to beat the high-quality 9-5 for safety, utility and comfortable fast driving over all sorts of roads.

The 2002 model has smoother styling, a slick new five-speed automatic transmission and a new electronic stability system standard on the two upscale models and optional for the entry version. Also, the front-drive 9-5 has better steering feel and a revised suspension for sharper handling. The $33,995-$39,350 9-5 comes as a well-equipped sedan and wagon in Linear, Arc and high-performance Aero models. Only Saab would come up with such unusual names--but so what? These are solid models with turbocharged four-cylinder and V-6 engines that produce from 185 to 250 horsepower and lively acceleration, while delivering decent fuel economy.

I tested the $39,350 Arc wagon, which has a smooth 200-horsepower V-6. Rear windows don't roll down all the way, but this wagon easily swallows four tall adults and gobs of cargo. With the rear seat folded forward, the 9-5 wagon has more cargo volume (73 cubic feet) than most compact sport-utility vehicles and some mid-size sport-utes. No-nonsense Saab pays attention to details, and thus the hatch even has lights for cargo loading at night.

Although a bit light at high speeds, the Arc wagon's steering is precise. The ride is supple and the upgraded anti-lock brakes provide quick stops. All models have standard traction control. The 9-5 is an alternative to the high-line European Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S80. If neighbors ask why you bought a 9-5 instead of those more familiar brands, just take them for a brisk ride. They'll understand.

Beautifully engineered. Slicker styling. Spacious. New five-speed automatic transmission.
Lingering offbeat image. Rear windows don't lower all the way.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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