Having undergone major changes in 2006, the Saab 9-7X receives only minor tweaks for 2007. A tire pressure monitoring system is now standard; OnStar includes turn-by-turn navigation; and there are two new exterior colours, Titan Grey Metallic and Crystal Blue Metallic.

While it features the Swedish automaker’s unmistakable styling cues, the 9-7X is domestic, and is the same vehicle as the body-on-frame Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Buick Rainier. The suspension has been tuned to Saab’s specifications, including a lower ride height, stiffer mounts and a quicker 18.5:1 steering gear ratio. The 9-7X comes only in the platform’s regular-wheelbase configuration and an extended-wheelbase version is not available.

Two engines are available: a 4.2-litre inline six and a 5.3-litre V8, both mated to a Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission and with automatic all-wheel drive. The V8 engine uses Active Fuel Management, which seamlessly deactivates half the cylinders under light load for improved fuel economy.

Both models include heated mirrors, roof rack side rails, 18-inch aluminum wheels, electronic dual-zone climate control with rear controls, cargo cover, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, adjustable pedals, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, electric windows, variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper, leather heated seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment and position memory, 65/35 folding rear seat, CD/MP3 player with six speakers, fog lights and power locks with keyless entry.

Although it’s heavy, the six-cylinder works fine in this vehicle; the V8 is preferable if you’re planning on heavy-duty towing, or carrying a full load of passengers and cargo on a regular basis. An optional DVD entertainment system can be added to keep them occupied.

The 9-7X is the most expensive of the four vehicles, but it also offers the highest level of sophistication, and is the closest to a sporty handling experience that you’re going to get in a tall, heavy vehicle like this for the price. It shares the new-for-2007 powertrain upgrade with the rest of the GM line, but because it conforms to its brand’s warranty, its basic bumper-to-bumper coverage is a year and/or 20,000 km longer than on the Chevrolet, Buick or GMC versions.

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