With the world financial crisis already started, GM tried to sell as many cars as possible and made a badge-engineered SUV for the European market: Saab 9-7X.
General Motors made a badge-engineered version of the Chevrolet Trailblazer and tried to sell it in Europe as a Saab 9-7X. It was introduced to the market in 2004, and in 2008 it added the full-spec version, the Aero. But the sales stalled since the European car market crashed. Moreover, the tax incomes for big engines were huge when compared to other European vehicles.
At the front, the 9-7X Aero featured a revised front bumper with chromed trims around the grille vents. Its clear-lenses headlights resembled those installed on the 93 and 95, with their swept-back design. Under the bumper, Saab installed an aluminum-like plastic shield. But it wasn't a true offroad vehicle. It was easy to spot the specific design of a Chevrolet TrailBalzer or GMC Envoy from its sides, mainly due to the C-pillar's shape.
The interior was typical for the Swedish brand. It sported a center-console mounted key-fob and bucket seats that followed the same design ideas from its 93 and 95 siblings, even though GM produced the car in Ohio. Like its American brothers, the 9-7X offered enough room for five adults, with a split-folding rear bench.
Under the hood, GM installed a choice of three engines ranged between 4.2-liter and 6.0-liter. The middle version featured a 5.3-liter V-8 with a "Displacement on demand" system that cut the fuel for up to four cylinders to increase the fuel efficiency. Saab tuned the suspension and lowered the ground clearance. It was a street SUV, with all-wheel-drive but without a high-low transfer box.
In 2005, General Motors tried to make a new approach to the European SUV market and introduced the Saab 9-7X as a direct competitor for the German competitors, and it failed.
The European customers already knew the Saab brand, and it was known as a premium brand. Its unique features such as the key-fob installed between the seats and the night-panel function attracted many customers. But they also knew that Saab was concerned about fuel-efficiency and performance sedans. The 9-7X was neither. Besides, just three years after its launch, it had to face the world financial crisis, and that was fatal.
On the exterior, General Motors tried hard to hide the shape of a Chevrolet Trailblazer. Its designers made a Saab-like front fascia, but with bigger headlights and a specific grille. But the rest of the car spelled "Trailblazer" in every bit and part. Even the door handles were the same and very different than those offered by Saab.
Inside, GM's engineers managed to move the key-fob between the seats, but that wasn't enough. The dashboard and instrument panel were carried over from the American cousin and didn't match the tastes of Saab customers.
Under the hood, GM offered a 4.2-liter inline-six and a 5.3-liter V-8 engine. None of them could compete in terms of power and efficiency with Mercedes-Benz ML or BMW X5. Besides, the 4-speed automatic gearbox was already old and slow compared to the European's five-speed transmissions.