Used Saab 9-5 Estate 1997 - 2011 review

Category: Estate car

The Saab 9-5 Estate is a good all-rounder - and cheap, too - which makes it a cracking used buy

Saab 9-5 Estate (97 - 11)
  • Saab 9-5 Estate (97 - 11)
  • Saab 9-5 Estate (97 - 11)
Used Saab 9-5 Estate 1997 - 2011 review
Star rating

What's the used Saab 9-5 estate like?

Estates aren't always as versatile as they should be, because the big boot was thrown on as an afterthought. The Saab 9-5 estate is an exception. It's one of the few that provides a proper load area, and, as such, it's more than just a 'lifestyle' load-carrier.

The cabin is roomy, comfortable and well built, too. However, it can't match its German rivals for quality or class.


The Saab 9-5 Estate is a good all-rounder - and cheap, too - which makes it a cracking used buy

  • The 9-5's boot is massive, its cabin is spacious and the car delivers a smooth and refined ride
  • It's not as entertaining to drive as its rivals, and the bigger engines are too powerful for the chassis

True, it isn't as sharp to drive as the equivalent BMW or Mercedes, but that doesn't stop it being very capable in its own right. The handling is perfectly acceptable, the ride is terrific and refinement is up there with the best in the class.

Its biggest strength, though, is value for money. The 9-5 is a good deal cheaper to buy than its German competition, and it won't cost the earth to run.

Ownership cost

What used Saab 9-5 estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Saab 9-5 estate?

Just as the 9-5 saloon is one of the cheaper executive cars, the estate is one of the more inexpensive premium wagons. It was less to buy from new than its BMW and Mercedes rivals, and it didn't hold its value as well, so the earliest used examples can be had for next to nothing.

Our favourite engine is among the most frugal in the range of petrol-powered 9-5s - it's only 0.4mpg behind the leanest 2.0-litre. Whichever powerplant you choose, though, your fuel costs will be broadly similar to the equivalent E-Class or 5 Series. The same goes for servicing costs, because all three companies charge similar rates for maintenance work.

Our recommendations

Which used Saab 9-5 estate should I buy?

A face-lift in 2006 brought a new engine, the 1.9-litre turbodiesel. It's a peach, giving 150bhp and fuel economy of 44.1mpg. It's refined, too.

The chances are you'll be looking at an older car, though. If so, we'd recommend the 185bhp 2.3-litre petrol engine. The diesels in the earlier cars weren't much cop and are too expensive.

The 2.0-litre petrol is our favourite in the 9-5 saloon, but the estate really benefits from the 2.3's extra oomph. You can also buy the 2.3 with a meatier turbo that gives 220bhp, but it isn't that much quicker, and the extra power puts a dent in your fuel economy.

The HOT Aero gives 250bhp, but it's too expensive, and the front-wheel drive chassis has trouble coping with the power.

Go for the basic Linear trim to keep costs down. You'll still get traction control, climate control, alloys, a CD player and four electric windows.

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