As auto enthusiasts we decry the use of the parts bin and shared DNA between the range of models that auto manufacturers offer. The most recent case is the Maserati Quattroporte, many reviewers decried the use of lowly Dodge Dart window switches and Caravan navigation in the luxury sedan. I am in the opposite camp and will gladly support the parts sharing because discontinued models like the Saab 9-3 Turbo X will get to live on from the General Motors parts bin.
The Saab 9-3 Turbo X was a limited edition vehicle that was built in limited numbers just before Saab filed bankruptcy. It was available as a sedan or wagon and featured a 286 horsepower turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 along with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that they called Cross-Wheel Drive or XWD. The XWD system is very advanced and the assumption is that it must be expensive to maintain. In the years following the bankruptcy, owners that had issues with the XWD system were hit with bills for thousands of dollars for repairs. The main reason for the large repair bills were price spikes for left over parts and replacing whole differentials instead of small parts that failed.
The news of the high repair bills spread quickly across the internet and pushed the Turbo X into the same reliability category as a used BMW 7 Series. Many are afraid to purchase one due to the expectation that it may take thousands of dollars to maintain. As luck would have it, the auto manufacturers don’t like to waste good technology and GM continued to use almost the entire XWD system even after Saab folded. The technology can be found in models such as the Buick Lacrosse and Cadillac XTS. Once you take a look at the part diagrams and numbers of both you see that most of the parts are an exact match and cost a fraction of the price.
The rear differential used in the Turbo X was directly transplanted into the Lacrosse and once you cross reference the numbers you will find that the differential is not $3,000 and hard to find but costs less than $1,100 and can be ordered on Amazon. If you don’t want to spend that much money, you can always hit up the junkyard. I checked in my local area and there are good used units with low miles going for about $400. It does take some know how or a trusted mechanic to replace the parts but even if the differential fails, it is not too expensive to replace.
The engine is a smaller displacement variant of the GM High Feature V6 and can be found across a wide variety of GM vehicles. My own Cadillac STS features a 3.6 liter version of the engine and many parts are shared. The coil packs and most of the ignition system are the same. Gaskets are all the same and the harmonic balancer is shared with such mundane models as the Chevrolet Equinox. The engine in the Turbo X is somewhat unique as it is turbocharged but a slightly updated variant of it was offered in the Cadillac SRX and the turbocharger center cartridge is actually shared with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The water pump and most of the cooling system other than the thermostat housing is shared with the Chevrolet Impala.
The brakes for the Turbo X are somewhat unique but parts are plentiful and the rear brake pads are actually shared with the Chevrolet Cobalt. The best part about the brakes is the fact that the spindle mounts match the Cobalt SS. While the Turbo X has large 344mm front brakes, the lesser 9-3 models have smaller brakes so a nice upgrade is using the Brembo 4-piston calipers and rotors from the Cobalt SS. The Brembo upgrade can be completed for as little as $300. The suspension parts are also plentiful and you can get struts for less than $100 per corner.
There are many parts that interchange on the this unique Saab and we can thank the bean counters for forcing the engineers to share the parts across all the model lines. The Turbo X is only one example as there are many others out there that just take a little research to find. Now that the secret is out, I may have to buy a Turbo X before prices start going up.