For 2005, changes to the Saab 9-5 are minimal. There is a new 16-inch wheel design for the Arc, three new exterior colours (Parchment Silver, Smoke Beige and Chili Red) and an in-dash DVD-based navigation system is optional.

The 9-5 comes as a four-door sedan or wagon, with three engine choices. The sedan is available in Arc or Aero trim; the wagon comes in Linear, Arc and Aero.

The Linear Sportwagon uses a 2.3-litre inline 4-cylinder with light-pressure turbo and comes in base configuration with a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a five-speed automatic. The Arc carries a turbocharged 2.3-litre inline 4-cylinder with five-speed automatic; the manual transmission is optional. The Aero uses the same 2.3-litre 4-cylinder with a high-output turbo and the five-speed manual, which can be optioned to the automatic.

The Linear Sportwagon includes rear fog light, 16-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels, rear washer/wiper, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, removable rigid parcel shelf, power windows with front express-down, leather interior, electrically-adjustable heated from seats, CD/cassette with seven speakers and wheel-mounted controls, high-pressure headlamp washers and traction control.

The Arc sedan and wagon add front fog lights, 16-inch split nine-spoke wheels, and colour-matched exterior trim.

The Aero adds Xenon headlamps, OnStar, integrated body kit, lowered sport chassis, bright-finish exhaust tailpipe, 17-inch alloy wheels, integrated garage door opener, metallic-finish instrument panel, driver’s seat memory, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass, leather-wrapped sport wheel, Aero leather sport seats, Harman-Kardon audio system with nine speakers, and rear park assistance.

Although it’s often overlooked, partly because of its front-wheel-drive configuration, the Saab is worthy competition for many high-priced sedans and wagons, especially when you get into the gutsy, sport-tuned Aero. The same engine does duty across the board, so you can decide if you like your turbo mild, wild, or somewhere in between, that configuration being where the 9-5 tends to present the best value for the dollar. Supportive seats, a supple ride and crisp, responsive steering add up to a car that you can drive comfortably for hours.

The 9-5 is built in Trollhättan, Sweden.

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