It’s good to see signs of life at Saab after everything they’ve gone through recently. After all, it wasn’t too long ago they were being consigned to the dustbin of history by everyone in the industry, left for dead after 20 years of neglect by parent company GM. They’ve just released details and images of their next offering, the 9-4x, before it’s debut at the Los Angeles auto show. And while it might not be my cup of tea, less just be thankful it’s happening at all.

The 9-4x is basically the Saab version of the Cadillac SRX, which shares a lot of parts with the newly redesigned Chevy Equinox. In fact, to put it in perspective it’s helpful to think of this new Saab as an SRX with a Saab interior layout and exterior design. Remember that the 9-4x was developed entirely under GM management, so the fact that it’s an SRX clone is no surprise – it was intended to be from the beginning. What sets the 9-4x apart from it’s GM twin, and indeed the rest of the fast-growing luxury crossover market? It’s Saab-ness.

The chassis employs all of the latest and greatest technology in an effort to make this pseudo-truck handle like a car. Which is sort of like engineering a golf club to hit baseballs really far, but crossovers are all the rage these days, so I suppose we’ll go with it. All 9-4x models will come with XWD, Saab’s catchy name for Haldex IV AWD. It uses an infinitely-variable split center differential to apportion torque front to back, as well as an eLSD (electronic limited slip diff) in the rear to actively apportion torque side to side, to maximize transient responses and stability. There’s also Saab DriveSense, which is a combination of variable damping as well as programmable throttle and shift patterns. The three settings (Comfort, Sport, Eco) adjust damping levels, throttle response, and shift points. Sport tightens the shocks and sharpens the throttle as well as holding upshifts at part-throttle; presumably Eco upshifts at 1,200rpms and yells at you in Swedish if you floor it. Comfort is the default mode.

The 9-4x shares powertrain choices with the SRX,with the standard engine being a naturally-aspirated 3.0L 24v direct-injection V6 with 265 horsepower and variable valve timing. It will be available with front-wheel drive or XWD, and nets a 7.9s 0-60 time in FWD form and 8.4s with XWD, with average fuel mileage of 20 and 19 for the two, respectively.

The Aero models receive a 2.8L 24v twin-scroll turbocharged, port injected V6 with an even 300bhp, shared as well with the new 9-5 Aero sedan. The 2.8L Turbo makes peak torque of 295lb-ft between 2,000-5,000rpm. With standard XWD, it averages 18mpg and does 0-60 in 7.7 seconds. If you get the Aero, remember to fill it up with 93 octane. Both of these all-aluminum V6′s are mated to six-speed automatic transmission, with no manual option.

Despite it’s GM roots, from a styling standpoint the 9-4x is clearly a Saab in a lot of ways. The front bumper is inspired by the well-received Aero X concept car from 2006. Blackout trim on the A and B pillars give the 9-4x the wraparound glass feel that 900 owners love, and the traditional “hockey stick” C pillar is present, although the proportions on this implementation give it an unfortunate resemblance to a Lexus RX350 from the side. The rear-most pillars are blacked out to give the rear glass the wraparound treatment as well, helping to disguise some of the 9-4x’s visual mass quite effectively compared to the chunky-looking SRX. Overall, they’ve done very well with what they had to start with.

The interior takes it’s inspiration from the new 9-5, with a subdued driver-focused cockpit design with grey trim and green lighting, drawing on Saab’s aircraft design heritage. There’s a whacky aircraft-style speed indicator embedded in the speedometer, and of course the signature Saab ignition in the center console between the seats. It’s a push-button starter, but hey! It’s still in between the seats! The overall look in the interior is less glitzy and chrome-slathered than the SRX, and it suits me better.

Interior niceties include USB/Aux connectivity, an optional 8″ touchscreen navigation system with a 10GB hard drive and 5.1 surround sound. There is of course OnStar and Bluetooth connectivity, and a separate climate channel is optional for the rear seats, along with 8″ displays in the back of the headrests and a separate A/V control.

The 9-4x is making it’s official debut at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show in the near future. It should be arriving at dealerships in May of next year, and pricing and official EPA estimates should be available closer to that date. While the fuel estimates may be disappointing, and it’s clearly a GM product with a Saab face, let’s remember: this is better than no Saabs at all. Or worse, GMC Envoys and Subaru Imprezas dressed as Saabs. Count your lucky stars.