Premium midsize car; Built in Sweden
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,500 – $4,100*


1996 Saab 900 SE Turbo 2-door convertible


1996 Saab 900 SE Turbo 4-door hatchback


1994 Saab 900 S 4-door hatchback


1994 Saab 900 S interior


1995 Saab 900 Stereo w/detachable face

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6, turbo)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Ride
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

Mainstream shoppers interested in a near-luxury car still aren’t likely to put the Saab 900 on their must-see list, but we credit Saab with making a better 900 for those who love and appreciate its quirky nature.

Overview

The 1994 Saab 900 was the first new 900-series model in 15 years. It retained its front-wheel drive and rode on a longer wheelbase, but was two inches shorter and was the first Saab to offer a V6. Initially offered as a 4-door hatchback in both 900S and 900SE trim, the 2-door hatchback and convertible arrived later in the year. Two-doors and convertibles came equipped with a turbocharged 185-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. The 900S came with a 150-horsepower, 2.3-liter 4-cylinder. The 900SE 4-door came with the new 170-horsepower 2.5-liter V6. A 5-speed manual was standard and a 4-speed automatic was optional. Standard were dual airbags and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes.

Yearly Updates

1995 900
Model lineups and powertrain combinations remain unchanged for 1995.
1996 900
The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine becomes available on the 4-door model for ’96 and can be paired with a 4-speed automatic for the first time. The optional V6 comes only with the automatic transmission for ’96. Appearance changes include a standard rear spoiler for the 2-door and rear body panel styled to blend with the headlamps.
1997 900
The primary change for 1997 is the addition of larger front brakes, designed to aid stopping performance and extend pad life.
1998 900
Saab drops the V6 engine in all 900 models. A replacement model called the 9-3 would arrive for ’99.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The 900S comes with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder, previously available only in the Saab 9000. It provides 150 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 155 pound-feet of torque at 4300 rpm. The 900SE 5-door comes with the new V6, a 2.5-liter unit derived from one used by both Vauxhall and Opel. It delivers 170 horsepower at 5900 rpm and 167 pound-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. With both engines, a 5-speed manual is standard and a 4-speed automatic is optional. The automatic is Saab’s first 4-speed unit and features electronic controls that provide a choice of “sport,” “economy,” or “winter” settings. The latter allows the car to start out in third gear, to avoid wheel spin. While awaiting the arrival of new convertible models, Saab continues to sell holdover ragtops with either the 2.1-liter engine or the old 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The 2.1-liter offers 140 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 133 pound-feet of torque at 2900 rpm. Saab’s turbocharged 4-cylinder from the ’93 model provides 160 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 188 pound-feet of torque at 4300 rpm. Saab is also providing 500 Commemorative Edition versions of these convertibles (both 900 and 900 Turbo models) with special black paint and trim, with the more potent 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder delivering 185 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 1994 pound-feet of torque at 2100 rpm.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.1/129
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 133
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
20/26
18/21
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/140
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
20/29
20/28
24.4

Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/129
Engine HP 160-185
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 188-194
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
21/28
19/23
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
18/25
19/27
19.3

Road Test

This new Saab retained its upright stance and stuck to its hatchback design. As a result, it preserved such virtues as generous head and leg room, plus enormous cargo space from what is basically a very compact car. However, mainstream buyers may find the key position is too disorienting and the cabin too narrow.

The dashboard is little changed, so most controls are close at hand. But the power-window buttons are mounted between the seats rather than on the door panels where they’d be more convenient to operate.

The V6 feels strong and smooth, and works particularly well with the new 4-speed automatic. It shifts quickly and consistently with no hesitation. It downshifts smoothly, eagerly providing all the passing power you need. The 900’s 2.3-liter 4-cylinder has adequate power with the manual, but feels underpowered when paired with the automatic.

Body lean is evident when taking turns at speed, but these cars have a generally sporty feel, with precise steering and excellent grip. The taut suspension provides excellent control, but combines with the modest wheelbase for a ride that’s choppy enough over rough pavement to deter some buyers. Wind and road noise are disconcerting at highway speeds.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Saab 900S

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 48

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.4 182.6 67.4 56.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
28.3 18.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.9 43.3 36.0
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.4 182.6 67.4 56.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
49.8 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.8 42.3 36.2
4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.4 182.5 67.4 56.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
49.8 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.8 43.3 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 900 4-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 153
Injury 63
Theft 10

Trouble Spots

Climate control
Description: If blower on the automatic climate control quits working, the control unit may have failed. (1994-98)
Engine fan
Description: The battery may go dead because the cooling-fan relay, which allows the fan to run 10 minutes after the engine is turned off, keeps the fan on. (1994-96)
Hard starting
Description: The turbo bypass valve is secured with plastic clamps that break, causing hard starting and poor drivability. (All)
Poor drivability
Description: Stumble, stalling, or hesitation during the first minute after startup is corrected by replacing the engine-control computer. (1994-95)
Audio system
Description: Scratches or microscopic cracks in the rear-window heater grid cause interference in the radio when the rear defroster is turned on. (All)
Transmission leak
Description: The gear-selector shaft seal is prone to leak on manual transmissions. (1994-96)
Battery
Description: Due to faulty time delay relay, electric cooling fan may not turn off. This usually results in a dead battery. (1989-98)

Recall History

1994
Description: On some manual front seats, trigger springs at fore/aft lever do not properly lock the seat rails.
1994 hatchback
Description: Weld omitted from manual driver’s-seat rails.
1994
Description: Weld points for side-protection beam in rear door may be out of position.
1994-95
Description: Welds on recliner may be missing, allowing seatback to fall backward when under load.
1994-95 w/manual shift
Description: It is possible to move shift lever into reverse, remove key, and still be in neutral.
1994-97
Description: Corrosion can cause throttle lever to bind.
1994-98
Description: Instructions for properly aiming headlights were omitted.
1995 w/Bosch “Motronic 2.10.3”
Description: Upon startup, engine speed may fluctuate for up to 30 seconds.
1995 convertible
Description: Steering-column shaft may be misaligned.
1995
Description: Some vehicles may have defective airbag electronic control units, causing an electrical short and possible deployment. Dealer will inspect and replace all affected parts.
1996
Description: Seatbelt anchorage on some cars may not properly secure the occupant in an accident.
1997-98
Description: Airbag alert label on driver’s sunvisor was omitted.
1998
Description: Static electricity can build up within the passenger-side airbag module and create enough of a charge to cause an inadvertent airbag deployment.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.