Sketch Pad: 2005 Saab Sport/Utility Redux

Saab expands into SUVs with help from its corporate siblings

Todd LassaJul 18, 2003
"Everything You Know Is Wrong" was the title of a Firesign Theater comedy album back in the '70s. Now, the title applies to Saab. Reports of a Saab crossover/utility, based on the Theta (Saturn Vue) unibody platform, were wrong. That project never got the green light--and it occurred between two canceled Saab SUV projects: one based on the Pontiac Aztek/Buick Rendezvous platform, the other based on the rear-drive Sigma (Cadillac SRX, CTS) platform.

None of it matters now: General Motors management has approved a Saab sport/utility based on its GMT360 platform, which underpins Chevy TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Oldsmobile Bravada, Buick Rainier, and Isuzu Ascender. That's a lot of sheetmetal to differentiate from. But the Saab GMT360 (97?) apparently assumes the Ascender, and the rest of the Isuzu lineup will disappear from our market within a year. In other words, Saab 97 is to Isuzu Ascender as Buick Rainier is to Olds Bravada. Will such a Saab have any resonance among Saab's small but rabid following? More important: Will Saab put the ignition key down by the floor shifter console?
The Saab 97 will be offered with GM's excellent 4200 Vortec I-6 and probably the Vortec 5300 V-8, too. One wild rumor has Cadillac supplying a Northstar V-8 for the Saab; perhaps it'll be the smaller 4.0-liter V-8 orphaned by Oldsmobile?
Saab's 97 won't have any significant sheetmetal differentiation from other GMT360s. Introduction in late 2004, as an '05 model, is likely.

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