- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

SAAB 9-3

The Saab 9-3 broadens its customer appeal for 2009 with available cross-wheel-drive on 2.0T sport sedan and SportCombi models, a more powerful, 280-horsepower engine on V-6 Aero models, and a new Aero-look exterior appearance package.

Other 2009 enhancements include interior trim, roof rail and wheel changes, and standard OnStar 8.0 hardware that enables turn-by-turn Navigation and Bluetooth hands-free calling.

For 2009, the Saab 9-3 range includes the 9-3 sport sedan, 9-3 SportCombi and 9-3 convertible in 2.0T and Aero models.

Saab’s cross-wheel-drive is a pre-emptive, active-on-demand system that is activated only when required, minimizing the impact on fuel economy while giving the car a sure-footed, dynamic feel that enthusiasts embrace. The system is designed to optimize vehicle handling and stability in all driving conditions.

The 9-3 incorporates eye-catching design cues with a powerful front end, including a larger grille, smaller side grilles and semi-overwrap-style hood. The distinctive headlamp design element, as well as the clean, monochromatic doors and bumpers, give the 9-3 a longer, sleeker, cleaner and faster look.

The 9-3 has dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, front side-window defoggers, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cooled and illuminated glove box, and plush carpet floor mats.

Base model estimated mpg: 19 city/26 highway

Estimated starting price: $29,610


Saab brings Scandinavian design to the midsize sport utility vehicle market with the 9-7X range, which includes the performance-oriented 9-7X Aero, the 9-7X 4.2i and the 9-7X 5.3i.

Enhancements for 2009 Saab 9-7X models include new Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity that interfaces with the vehicles’ audio system, as well as two new exterior colors, diamond silver metallic and desert tan metallic.

For the 9-7X Aero, Saab accelerates the performance aspect of this already-sophisticated vehicle with a 6.0-liter V-8, 20-inch wheels and tires, unique exterior color and custom interior accouterments.

The powerful, 6.0-liter small-block V-8 delivers 390 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque.

The Saab 9-7X Aero is driver-focused, with a chassis tuned and tested to deliver responsive, balanced handling. Corner control and body roll control are improved with higher-rate front and rear springs and sport-tuned shock absorbers. Additional strength is provided by a heavy-duty rear axle with limited-slip differential.

The 9-7X Aero’s 6.0-liter V-8 is mated to the Hydra-Matic 4L70 electronically controlled four-speed transmission. The 4.2i and 5.3i all-aluminum engines are mated to a Hydra-Matic 4L60 four-speed transmission. Maximum towing capacity on 9-7X Aero model is 6,600 pounds. Maximum towing capacity on 9-7X models equipped with the V-8 engine is 6,500 pounds.

Base model estimated mpg: 14 city/20 highway

Estimated starting price: $41,710


The 2009 Saturn Astra is offered in three-door and five-door models, featuring a taut, European-proven suspension that delivers a sharp, responsive driving experience.

Power comes from a 1.8-liter 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine that is energetic and fuel-efficient. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. An Aisin electronically controlled four-speed automatic is available. StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control is standard on all three-door Astras, and available on five-door models.

Five-door Astras feature standard 16-inch wheels. Three-door models are equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels, which can be upgraded to 18-inch aluminum wheels, and summer, performance-rated tires. For 2009, the 18-inch wheels will carry Dunlop tires.

The three-door XR model receives a sport-tuned suspension that includes a slightly lower ride height, quicker steering calibration, a specific front-axle configuration and a sport chassis system.

The Astra’s clean, contemporary design is infused with Saturn’s signature styling cues, including a prominent logo that moves from the bright rear bar to the painted decklid. Large, wraparound taillamps and clear lenses convey the vehicle’s dynamic spirit.

All models convey the Astra’s sporting character through firm, well-supported seats and a thick, three-spoke steering wheel with rake and telescopic adjustments. Seats in the sporty Astra three-door feature aggressive bolsters and lumbar support.

Base model estimated mpg: 24 city/32 highway

Estimated starting price: $17,045


Saturn’s popular Sky roadster emphasizes a bold, European-inspired look and fun, responsive driving. Built on GM’s global rear-wheel-drive compact performance platform, the Sky features a striking profile and sophisticated interior design.

For 2009, Saturn adds three new colors, a new wheel and enhanced OnStar technology with Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity. Two new promotional packages also have been added.

The Sky has the muscle to back up its bold styling. It is equipped with a 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam Ecotec engine with variable valve timing, producing 173 horsepower and 167 foot-pounds of torque.

Powering the Sky Red Line performance model is an Ecotec turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, producing 260 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque.

With a commanding road presence and stance, sharp lines, and a clean, sleek surface, the Sky offers a distinctly European look. Decorative hood vents emphasize its dynamic performance character and accentuate its long dash-to-axle appearance.

For 2009, Sky gets new, 18-by-8-inch five-spoke painted aluminum alloy wheels (polished or carryover wheels with chrome finish are available). Also for 2009, evening blue, ruby red and hydro blue, are new exterior colors. The ruby red limited edition and the hydro blue limited edition, include a new 18-inch split-spoke aluminum alloy wheel.

Base model estimated mpg: 19 city/25 highway

Estimated starting price: $26,785


The all-new 2009 Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is designed for customers who want the outstanding fuel savings of an advanced hybrid and the full power and towing capability of an sport utility vehicle.

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid is expected to have a driving range of more than 500 miles. Its 3.6-liter variable valve timing V-6 engine with direct-injection technology ensures there are no trade-offs between performance and fuel economy.

Horsepower is estimated at 255 and torque is estimated at 252 foot-pounds. Acceleration from zero to 60 is expected to be approximately 7.3 seconds, and the maximum towing load is 3,500 pounds.

Hybrid operates in one of three ways depending on conditions and battery charge level: all-electric power, internal combustion engine power or a combination of the two. All reverse operation is driven solely by the electric motors.

The Vue 2 Mode Hybrid’s appearance is accented by chrome door handles, chrome dual exhaust tips and chrome skid plates on the front and rear lower fascia.

An efficiency gauge replaces the tachometer, informing drivers of when they are achieving maximum fuel economy; in which mode the engine is operating; and, because of the silent start as the key is turned, an indicator that tells when the vehicle is on and ready to drive.

Base model estimated mpg: 25 city/32 highway

Estimated starting price: $27,930


The Scion xB enters the 2009 model year by appealing to young urban trendsetters with its fresh styling and performance. It features a surprising level of refinement and is packaged with an array of standard equipment, including a 160-watt maximum output Pioneer audio system with iPod connectivity.

The head-turning xB receives one new exterior color, stingray metallic. With its elongated headlamps that wrap around the side of the vehicle, rectangular grille and pronounced fenders, the xB projects an aggressive appearance. Soft angles between its wide and flat paneling and a high beltline give the xB its iconic boxy shape.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 158 horsepower, 55 more than the previous generation.

The xB comes with a generous list of standard features, so buyers only need to choose exterior color and transmission type. Features include power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, brake assist; driver and front passenger air bags; front seat-mounted side air bags; front and rear side curtain air bags; vehicle stability control with traction control; first-aid kit; and tilt steering wheel with audio controls.

Base model estimated mpg: 22 city/28 highway

Estimated starting price: $15,750


The 2009 smart fortwo introduces two new colors to the microcar - a sporty and intense rally red and a cool and elegant gray metallic, which replace light yellow and red metallic.

On the interior for 2009, new door nets replace the solid storage areas on the driver and passenger doors, offering a bigger and more functional storage area for the driver and passenger. The LCD display now include a loose gas cap indicator light.

The base pure model comes standard with a five-speed automated manual transmission with manual or automatic mode, central remote locking system, two-spoke leather steering wheel, radio-ready console, and more. Air conditioning, power windows and alloy wheels are optional. The fortwo is powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine with 70 horsepower.

The passion coupe includes all the features described on the pure, plus a panorama roof, alloy wheels, air conditioning with climate control, three-spoke leather sports steering wheel with shift paddles, power windows, electric and heated side mirrors, and AM/FM radio with CD player.

The passion cabriolet soft top with a heated rear glass window is fully automatic and can be adjusted to any position while driving at any speed.

Base model estimated mpg: 33 city/41 highway

Estimated starting price: $11,590


The all-new 2009 Subaru Forester is a bolder, more SUV-like design and it makes a major leap in safety technology, comfort, refinement and driving dynamics.

The new-generation 2009 Forester again blends positive SUV attributes, including a high seating point and interior versatility with passenger car comfort, handling and fuel efficiency.

The Forester is built on an all-new platform featuring a 3.6-inch longer wheelbase (now 103.0 inches) that improves ride and interior space, especially rear seat legroom. The 2009 Forester also features increased hip and shoulder room. In addition, the new platform improves crashworthiness and provides a stiffer platform for crisper handling.

A new double-wishbone rear suspension, mounted to a sub frame, replaces the previous strut-type configuration to provide improved ride and handling and increased cargo room.

It offers naturally aspirated and turbocharged/intercooled 2.5-liter Boxer engines, both revised to provide better performance. In particular, low-end and midrange torque is improved for both engines for more responsive everyday performance.

The Forester interior places a new emphasis on comfort and spaciousness. New materials, including double-stitched fabrics and high-grade plastics, impart a feeling of higher quality. The center console shape adds to the airiness of the interior, aided by the sculpted door panels and improved headroom.

Base model estimated mpg: 20 city/26 highway

Estimated starting price: $19,995


Subaru revs up performance and handling in its iconic all-wheel-drive Impreza WRX sport compact for 2009. Performance leaps to a higher level in the 2009 WRX thanks to a 265-horsepower turbocharged intercooled Boxer engine, retuned suspension and wider, lower-profile summer performance tires.

WRX enthusiasts will quickly identify the 2009 models by the ST-type grille and standard Aero Package. The 2009 Impreza WRX comes with a five-speed manual transmission.

Subaru also is introducing a new Impreza 2.5GT model for 2009, powered by a 224-horsepower turbocharged intercooled engine teamed to a standard four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with sportshift.

Both the more powerful WRX and the new 2.5GT are available as four-door and five-door models. As on all Subaru models, the Impreza WRX and 2.5GT models are equipped with symmetrical all-wheel drive.

The goal of the 2009 WRX team was termed “kyo-ka,” translated from Japanese as “strengthening.” To achieve this goal, Subaru engineers thoroughly revamped the performance character of the WRX for 2009. Gaining a larger turbocharger, along with a new larger-diameter exhaust and low-density catalyst for reduced backpressure, the WRX engine now produces 244 foot-pounds peak torque, compared to 224 horsepower and 226 foot-pounds in the 2008 version.

Base model estimated mpg: 18 city/25 highway

Estimated starting price: $25,690


For 2009, the rugged and award-winning Suzuki Grand Vitara, a true sport utility vehicle, offers “brute-ute” owners the opportunity to resize for better fuel economy without settling for a “cute-ute” lacking full SUV capability.

An all-new four-cylinder engine provides drivers with better mileage, and a new, more powerful V-6 delivers fuel economy better than the V-6 it replaces.

A new grille and front bumper design accent the Grand Vitara’s distinctive, chiseled-yet-elegant lines, with additional interior enhancements, including illuminated steering wheel controls, a sliding front center armrest, visor extenders, HVAC controls, upgraded audio system and updated cloth upholstery.

The new Suzuki-developed 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 166 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of peak torque. Grand Vitara XSport and Luxury models have a new 3.2-liter V-6 engine with 230 horsepower and 213 foot-pounds of torque.

The Grand Vitara’s new four-cylinder engine can be teamed to a standard five-speed manual transmission or a new four-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 is matched to a standard five-speed automatic transmission. Enhancing performance on any road is a strengthened structure for 2009, plus rear disc brakes that replace the previous drums.

The Grand Vitara’s 3,000-pound towing capacity (with the V-6) is enough to haul light recreational boats, ATVs or motorcycles.

Base model estimated mpg: 19 city/26 highway

Estimated starting price: $18,499


Suzuki’s distinctively styled XL7 midsize crossover offers a combination of size, style, power and flexibility, which is why the vehicle was named the top-ranked premium midsize crossover in AutoPacific’s 2008 vehicle satisfaction awards.

The XL7 also is recognized as a segment leader in safety, having received a quadruple five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for driver and front passenger frontal impact, and front and rear outboard passengers side impact.

For 2009, Suzuki offers a more efficient six-speed automatic transmission. The Suzuki XL7’s 3.6-liter, V-6 engine delivers 252 horsepower and 243 foot-pounds of torque. Power is transmitted via the XL7’s new six-speed automatic with “manumatic” shift, which is available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive.

With a towing capacity rated at 3,500 pounds, the capable XL7 also can tow a variety of toys, including Suzuki’s ATVs, motorcycles or personal watercraft.

The 2009 Suzuki XL7’s refined interior is more like that of a sophisticated sedan than a sport utility vehicle. Leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard on luxury and limited models. Additionally, limited models include a standard remote start system that operates from as far as 200 feet. It starts the vehicle and engages the climate control system.

Base model estimated mpg: 17 city/24 highway

Estimated starting price: $26,345

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