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Guitar and Amp Junkie
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone! I've been reading posts on this forum over the last month, but I just joined so I'm a brand newbie. There seems to be some very knowledgeable people posting here (especially when compared to other forums out there!) and I hope I can tap some of that knowledge to help me make my final decision on what to buy.

I'm looking to buy a car over the next two weeks, and I've narrowed my choices down to:

Acura TSX
Honda Accord EX-V6
BMW 325i
Maxima SE

Now, I know this is a TSX forum, so folks are already TSX-biased, but I'm okay with that. I'm posting my impressions of these cars below, and I would like to hear your impressions on any and all of these, not just the TSX. Also, are there any other cars that I should be considering?



Nissan Maxima SE

The Maxima is an intriguing car to me, mostly because I already own one (a 4th generation 1998 SE) and they seem to inspire a somewhat rabid sense of loyalty.

The new Maxima is a monster. I've never driven super high end sports cars, and obviously, there are faster/quicker cars on the road. But for a four-dour sedan that starts at less than $30,000, you'd be hard pressed to find one with more sheer muscle. No matter how fast you're going or what gear you're in, the Nissan VQ 6-cyl has plenty of pull and oomph. This is somewhat of a blessing and a curse -- there's a good bit of torque steer in this puppy. I can live with that, however. The amount of pull is just awesome. It's fun and inspiring to have this much torque under your toes.

Ride is somewhat stiff, but I wouldn't call it harsh, similar to the TSX, but feels bigger than the TSX, which is exactly what you would expect since it's a considerably bigger car. Handles well, but you still get the feel of a more substantial vehicle, unlike the more point-and-shoot, nimble character that the TSX exudes.

I like the look of the new Max, but I have some quibbles. The grill is gaudy and a little silly (unfortunately, it looks like the 2005 Altima will have the same grille). I don't like the spiky nature, esp up close, and the silver plate with the badge looks like a giant tooth. The rear end of the car is cool looking, and the profile is nice. I like the front lights, but really dislike the grille. Overall, an attractive and chiseled look that's sporty and evokes a little "luxury sedan" as well.

The Maxima interior is my least fav of the bunch. Folks on the Maxima forum call the interior quirky and luxurious, but I think cheap and gimmicky are better words. I don't like the orangey-yellowy lighting, or the hard plastic surrounding the 3 gauges. The center console looks better with the nav system than without (as an aside: the Honda/Acura nav totally blows the Nissan nav out of the water). The dash without nav has this digital screen thing that is wholly unattractive, and looks like it was stolen from a cheesy 1985 "car of the future". I dislike the interior enough that I won't even consider the car without the nav system. That digital display has to go, Nissan!

The steering wheel is nice, but marred by the presence of cheap plastic switches that control the radio and cruise control, etc. The wheel looks and feels real nice, but then in the middle of the aluminum spokes (or they may be faux aluminum, I don't know) these black radio-shack looking thumb switches are poking out. Ruins the look of an otherwise attractive wheel. Not nearly as well integrated as the buttons on the wheel of the Honda or Acura. Overall, the leather quality is average.

Reliability is not as high as a Honda or Acura, but likely better than a BMW (from what I've heard). I've owned many Nissans, including an early Altima; my wife is currently driving an Exterra, and I have the Maxima, and my reliability experience has been good. Little quirks here and there, but nothing major. I'd say quality of Nissans are just a notch below Toyota/Honda, and far better than most others.

Mainly, this car is fast, fast, fast with capable handling and bold looks. I wish the interior was a little more cleanly orchestrated with a touch more class, but it has lots of room.


Honda Accord EX-V6

This car does everything well, but doesn't do any one thing so amazingly well that I just have to have it.

The V6 is smooth and powerful, but not as smooth and powerful as the V6 in the Maxima. Handling is nice, but not as sporty as the TSX. Interior is very nice, but a notch or two below the interior of the TSX and 325i. The ride is quiet and smooth, but not as quiet and smooth as a Camry (which I eliminated from consideration after a test drive). The Honda looks nice, but is nowhere near as handsome as the TSX or Maxima, and doesn't even approach getting my heart a-pounding the way the BMW 3-series does.

Honda's reliability and resale value are nothing short of outstanding. In reality, the Accord is a very very nice car, and there is good reason it's one of the best selling cars every year. I like the V6 -- it's strong and quiet. The handling is a good compromise, and the majority of the driving I do is of the get-on-the-highway-and-drive-straight kind anyway. I just have this desire for a car that handles better than the average family sedan.

The interior (with leather) is very nice. The driver's seat is the most comfortable out of all of the cars I'm considering (although none of them were "bad" by any means). The Honda/Acura nav with the touch screen looks sharper than the Nissan, and is more intuitive. Don't know why I want a nav system, I just do.

Exterior styling is okay -- it's not offensive, but not inspiring either. I'm not a big fan of the rear end, but after I drove one for the first time, I was impressed enough to start thinking that it doesn't look too bad after all. Actually, it has grown on me considerably. Just not enough to slam the door on the competition.

The responisible part of my brain tells me this is the car I should buy, but the other parts think it's too much of a compromise. It's practical, but not too practical (esp when you include the V6, nav, and leather). It's fast, but not too fast. Handles well, but not so well that you would want to seek out new twisties.

Overall, a responsible, practical, reliable, extraordinarily well-built and executed car that you can sprinkle with a few extras that push it a little towards the sport/luxury realm, but remains firmly grouned in the "family sedan" category.


BMW 325i

I have to qualify my comments here by saying that I've never driven a 325. I've driven my friend's 330, and I had to stop driving it because of the puddles of drool forming in my lap. :) I loved the 330, and I wonder how I would react to the 325. I hear the 325 is underpowered, and of course, next to the 330 it is definitely slower. But how does it compare to the TSX or Accord? There's no way it can match the brute force of the Maxima (nor could the 330 for that matter). But does it just feel...average?

Personally, the look of the 3-series is my favorite. Wrap one of these cars in that silver-blue paint they have, and my heart goes all a-flutter. The BMW is probably the best combination of ride and handling out of all the cars I'm considering. The interior is nice, but I think the interior of the TSX is nicer.

I like the idea of RWD for the sheer performance aspect, but not for the practicality of living through Maryland winters. Then again, I don't use my car much in the snow. Out of all the cars I'm talking about here, the BMW is probably the smallest, with the least amount of rear seat room.

Another major sticking point is price -- I'm going to have to buy a pre-owned BMW in order to compete with the price of a TSX or high-end Accord. Also, I don't think BMW has a nav option, and if they do, it would probably push the price a little to high for me.

Is the 325 even worth looking at? Is it just a wannabe and far inferior to the 330? If it's just the car that people buy because they can't afford a 330, then I'm not sure I want it. But if it stands on it's own as a viable entry-level sport-luxury, then I'll certainly consider one.


TSX

I really like the TSX. I drove one two weeks ago, and was very impressed, even though it was a 5AT. The interior is slick and luxurious, but not in a grandfatherly way. Car critics/reviewers have stopped just short of calling the exterior "boring", but I like it a lot -- it's my 2nd fav of the bunch. It looks clean and sleek, but has a somewhat classic Acura look too. It's not trying to be super trendy (G35 et al) or super retro (PT Cruiser et al).

The car seems to handle well, and I don't care that it's not RWD. The responisble side of my brain (yes, him again) says it's best to have a FWD as my every day car, but the juvenile says "go for the RWD performance of the BMW or IS300". That's why I'm writing all this -- to try to rectify these opposite viewpoints and opinions floating around my head.

My one concern -- the single thing that has kept me from simply disregarding the others on this list -- is power. I wonder if six months down the road I'll regret not getting a 6-cyl car. Does this engine have enough oomph to keep my right foot truly happy? My current car (the 98 Maxima) has a 6 cyl, but it's rated at 190 HP and has roughly the same amount of torque. But IMO, the Nissan six is one of the best, and these 190 ponies -- while not as impressive as they were five years ago -- will still haul some serious booty. It's not the fastest on the road, but I can give most cars a run for their money -- within reason. After one particularly fast takeoff one day, a passenger asked me if it had a V8. And this car has 105K miles, and roughly 75 less horsepower than today's Maxima!

If I could allay my concerns about the power of the TSX, I would put in the paperwork next week. I do a lot of highway driving (work is roughly 60 miles from my house, all on various interstates) and that includes a lot of traffic, so I am leaning towards an automatic. The TSX I drove was auto, and I think Acura's version of "sport shift" is the best in the business. The Mazda and Toyota versions were very slow to respond to my requests for gear changes, and the Nissan's was better, but not as good as the TSX. The auto would satisfy my desire to switch gears manually, but also keep me from having to work a clutch in and out while stuck in traffic.

If I get the auto, will I be saying "damn, shoulda got the stick"? Or if I get the stick, will I be saying "damn, shoulda got a V6"? It's hard to tell, esp. when you're test driving a car with the sales-puke sitting next to you. I feel bad about winding out a brand new car to 6,000 rpm's -- do they still tell you to avoid high revs for the first couple thousand miles on a new car?

Any and all information/discussion about these cars is welcome! Also, feel free to let me know if I'm missing out on any other car out there. Here are the one's I've already crossed off my list of potentials:

Camry (boring)
Camry Solara (nice, but want 4 doors)
Accord Coupe (ditto)
IS300 (don't like the look)
Mazda6 (unknown build quality on new car -- questionable overal build quality from Mazda)
Mazda3 (small, questionable build quality)
Any Mercedes Benz (not interested)
Audi A4 (build quality issues)
Saab 9-3 (don't know why I'm not interested)
Acura TL (too expensive)


Thanks for reading all this!!

Ferg
 

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OK, here we go....

Are you sure you don't write for C&D or something? Really, that's an incredible write-up. But then again, of course I think it's incredible, because I agree with just about everything -- not just your observations and descriptions, but also your mind-set and preferences.

About the TSX: Yes, most of us here are biased toward it, and probably me more than most, so I'll try not to give any personal opinions other than to say I have it (5AT), I love it, and I wouldn't trade it even-up for any of those other cars. I'll try to talk more about consensus on the car. Regarding power, most people feel it's more than adequate , but many do wish there were at least an extra 40 hp, many are wondering about mods, and everybody keeps asking if there will be more power in future-year models (or an S version or an A-spec version). If power is your #1 concern, you may well be disappointed. BTW and for what it's worth, in some tests the 6MT has run 0-60 in the low 7's; as to the 5AT, we don't have good figures and it's a matter of some argument, but I think it can do under 8.

About the 4-cyl, hardly anybody who's actually driven the car any amount of time has been bothered by it. On the contrary, people marvel at it, calling it maybe the best 4-cyl they've driven, and often commenting that if you didn't know, you wouldn't know.

About MT vs. AT, it's simple: If you don't need it to be AT, get the MT. Period. Both are great, extremely great. But what we hear all the time from people who have the MT, and from many who have the AT out of necessity, is: This car is made for MT. The AT is a fantastic car, but the MT is really special.

About the other cars: To the extent that I know, I agree completely with everything you expressed -- and BTW, you did a great job of finding just a few words that tell the essence of some of them. Two years ago, i.e. before the TSX was out, I considered most of those, as well as some more-upscale ones, and picked the TL-S, which I then happily traded for the TSX even though I had to kick in considerable extra $$ for it.

About the Nissans: I don't see why anybody would get one of those over the Accord. And I wouldn't get the Accord; I want a trimmer and nimbler car. I tried both the "old" and "new" Accords, as well as the "old" Maxima. None came close for me, although the new Accord is a big improvement. Granted, I didn't try the new Maxima. The old one, to me, was totally nothing compared to other cars out there. I don't need the extra power, and the car falls short in too many ways.

BMW 325 -- You said it all. It is what it is, which isn't that great. Its handling and power may or may not be superior to the TSX's, the reliability is probably considerably lower (I'm hedging because of the TSX being a new car, although it's looking real good). The rear seating is more cramped, and IMO the ride is inferior to the TSX's although some or many people disagree; anyway the rides are close. And yes, there's the RWD factor. I'm a former 320i owner, and after that, I vowed never to get a RWD car again, also never to get a car with serious reliability questions. One thing in favor of the 325 is that people seem able to get good deals on them, which may in part be due to competition from the TSX.

About the Saab 9-3: I know why you're not interested; it's the same reasons I was wasn't interested although I didn't know exactly why either. :D
But seriously, folks, I imagine you also didn't quite trust the reliability, plus the image of "quirkiness" whatever that means. Another factor for me was that Saab service places aren't as plentiful or conveniently located.

Good luck. Considering your knowledgability and obvious intelligence, I'm sure you won't go wrong whatever you do. Again, great great write-up.
 

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OK, I've driven every car you're considering (with the exception of the Accord). Here are my conclusions.

Maxima SE: Large interior (I'm 6-foot 3-inches tall). Somewhat trendy looking in & out, and Nissan's quality of plastics don't seem as nice to the touch or eye when compared to Honda/Acura, BMW & Audi. 265hp is incredible, but terrible for a FWD car. Way too much torque steer for my liking. Over 250hp/torque is just too much for a front-wheel car. Must go with RWD or AWD with that amount of power.

Accord V6: Haven't driven it. Having owned two Accords in a row ('97 V6 170hp & 2000 SE 4-cyl. 150hp) I decided I didn't want a third Accord. Not that they are bad cars - they're actually excellent - I just needed a break. Plus I wanted something a bit more exclusive. Honda sells 400,000+ Accords PER YEAR. Acura probably won't sell more than 20,000 TSXs in a given year.

BMW 325ci: I drove the 325 coupe with manual transmission. It was beautiful both inside and out. A real driver's car. I know that way too many people here in S. Florida own one, and 99.9% of them purchased them only for the yuppie factor. For true auto enthusiasts who appreciate a marque's pedigree and racing history, BMW's are real gems. I didn't mind only 184hp (versus the 330's 220hp). What I did mind was the high price of the 3 series. A bit more than I was willing to spend at the time. Also, not nearly as limited or exclusive as the TSX.

Audi A4: Drove the 1.8T quattro 6-MT with leather, sunroof & Ultra Sport package. Another car beautiful inside and out. Audi's interior materials are first-rate. The 170hp turbo was hauling around a lot of weight, but it still felt pretty responsive. This car was second on my list due to slightly less HP and much higher price tag than the TSX.

G35 sedan: Fast, fast, fast. Great engine! RWD, but I hated the interior and especially the seats. The seats weren't in any way comfortable for my frame. The interior didn't live up to what I expected from an Infiniti. I passed on this one.

TSX: By no means the most perfect car in the world, but for me at this given time is was the most perfect. I love the high-class, fully-loaded interior. I love the high-revving engine mated to the beautiful 6-spd manual. Many find Honda/Acura exteriors boring - For some reason I tend to love the understated & classy look. These cars won't go out of style in 5 years. I love the dual exhausts, the beautiful stock rims and all the standard features that cost $$$ in all the other cars I looked at.

What would make the TSX perfect in my eyes? AWD, more low-end torque and maybe a little more HP (but that's what the aftermarket scene is all about).

As far as I'm concerned, the TSX is the best of these cars when all factors are considered.

Hope this helps!!!
 

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I didn't say anything about the G35 because Ferg didn't mention it, but since h4c did.....

I rented a G35 last month. Lucked out -- at first they gave me a Chrysler, so I asked what else they had and wound up with the G35. And I liked it, didn't love it. Missed my TSX, but for a rental it was more than great. I liked the extra power, but didn't care much about it -- don't need it. And, having not much driven RWD for some time, I discovered how much I've gotten used to the feeling of FWD and actually prefer it, totally aside from its advantage on slippery road. Or maybe it's just that the G35's engine isn't silky-smooth like in the Acuras I've had in the last 16 years (nothing but Acuras), or the BMW that I had before; I sure don't remember feeling jerked around like that by the power of my old 320i, or even my old Chevy Nova.
The G35's handling felt very similar to that of the new TL, but I think not quite equal despite the RWD advantage. Which means, certainly not equal to the TSX. While the TSX feels like tight steel, the G35 feels a little rubbery.
The G35's ride also is similar to the TL but again not quite as good. TSX has a tighter ride, and I like it better. However, my wife, the poor passenger :D , liked the G35 ride way better than the TSX.

The G35's brakes are great. Better than TSX, probably better than 5AT TL also (don't remember for sure).

About the seat: I loved it at first. The leather is really plush and feels great. But after about 20 minutes, I was really missing the TSX seat -- the nice fit, the firm support, the overall feeling of strength and (really) healthiness, especially noticeable in the low-back area. Very individual, of course. BTW my wife much preferred the G35 passenger seat over the TSX.

Bottom line: I wouldn't want a RWD car anyway because of the winter considerations, but even regardless, it's hard for me to see why anyone would want the G35 over the TL. I much prefer the TSX over either one of them, but of course that's a minority view.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow -- great replies. Thank you, both.

And thank you, larchmont, for your kind words. I am flattered. A couple of quick points and replies from your posts:

TSX: By no means the most perfect car in the world, but for me at this given time is was the most perfect.

Ahhh, yes. An excellent point I need to remember -- no car is perfect. You just have to find one that's perfect for your needs at the time. One of my reservations is how will I feel a year or two down the road if Acura releases a Type-S version or a 6-cyl or a turbocharged version (so on and so forth). Will I regret my decision to buy the TLX? Or worse -- if I buy an Accord will I feel regret over passing up the sportier car, even if the TSX isn't upgraded?

Rhetorical questions, all. And I'm likely making too big of a deal over this. Acura vs. BMW is a good problem to have!!!! :D I just happen to enjoy car shopping and comparing, but I want this to be the last car I buy for a while! Heck the last car I paid off completely was the used Cavalier I bought when I was in college. Now there was a perfect car -- perfectly terrible.

Over 250hp/torque is just too much for a front-wheel car. Must go with RWD or AWD with that amount of power.

Hmmm...never really thought about it this way. I have no opinion either way, but you make a good point. I wonder how the new TL with it's 270 HP manages torque steer? Of course, the TL doesn't have nearly as much torque being generated (it's around 235 if I recall correctly).


The G35's ride also is similar to the TL but again not quite as good. TSX has a tighter ride, and I like it better. However, my wife, the poor passenger, liked the G35 ride way better than the TSX.

Yes, the X factor -- the wife. (Maybe she'll be the "TSX" factor :) )
She has yet to drive the TSX or the Maxima. In fact, she hasn't even been in the TSX. The TSX may make enough of an impression that it could swing the vote one way or another.

BTW my wife much preferred the G35 passenger seat over the TSX.

Another good point -- I know how the cockpit feels on the driver's side, but it is comfortable for passengers?


About the Nissans: I don't see why anybody would get one of those over the Accord. And I wouldn't get the Accord; I want a trimmer and nimbler car.

Yes, the Accord is far more refined than either the Maxima or Altima. They are truly diamonds in the rough. The Maxima is certainly not nimble, although the new version is significantly closer to nimble than the generation that I currently own. However, the Altima is a surprisingly nimble minx, especially when compared to an Accord or Camry. The problem with the Altima is two-fold: first, it feels...well...hollow...in much the same way as my long-departed VW New Beetle did. Second, the interior is as plasticy and chincy as they come. I've seen pix of the interior of the 2005 Altima, and it looks much improved.

Check this link for more info:

Link to new Altima interior pix


About MT vs. AT, it's simple: If you don't need it to be AT, get the MT. Period.

I was hoping not to get into the AT vs. MT argument with myself. I love manually shifting; I hate manuals when I'm sitting in I-95 traffic. I need to test the two TSX's, and I may see there is such a drastic difference that I'll just have to live with the shifting when in traffic.

About the Saab 9-3: I know why you're not interested; it's the same reasons I was wasn't interested although I didn't know exactly why either.

LMAO!! This sounds like something from Catch-22, the Joseph Heller book. For instance, "the Accord is so overwhelmingly impressive that you can't help but be underwhelmed by how extraordinarily ordinary it is." LOL.
 

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When shopping for the TSX, I drove almost all the cars you mentioned, plus the G35 and WRX. You may want to consider the new Volvo S40, but imo it's a bit boring and coming from the Ford family, reliability is unproven.

I have the 5AT and use SS all the time except parking lots and extended stop-n-go. It's very good and fun it its own right, although I probably would have gotten the 6MT if I didn't have a long commute and other people in my family didn't need to drive it occasionally.

The TSX handles very well, and I don't think there's much difference between RWD in the performance envelope suitable for public roads. The power comparison with your 98 Max appears to be a good one - how much does your Max weigh? Bottom line is that it's low to mid-7s 0-60 (MT), although you do have dig in the revs to get the power. Not that it's a bad thing - as with all Honda engines, they are very smooth and fun to drive at high revs. I appreciate the fuel efficiency during those long commutes.

The 325 is rated at 187hp/175 lb-ft, which for all intents and purposes is equivalent to TSX (200/166). It sounds like you need to drive the TSX more to be sure. Assuming the power is sufficient...

vs. Accord, Max
- do you need the room?

vs. BMW
- do you want the brand image?
 

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IMO if you deal with a lot of traffic and are planning to get an auto anyway, definitely give the TSX a chance. I find that the TSX feels slowest at its top end, but has a decent amount of low end grunt- enough to keep me happy even though my other car has over 400 HP. And I agree, the autostick is one of the best. I like the auto tranny a lot too, albeit minus one tiny programming issue from 1-2.
 

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Ferg said:


Hmmm...never really thought about it this way. I have no opinion either way, but you make a good point. I wonder how the new TL with it's 270 HP manages torque steer? Of course, the TL doesn't have nearly as much torque being generated (it's around 235 if I recall correctly).
The TL has some torque steer, but not nearly as much as the Maxima does. The TQ rating is 238, and you only feel the torque steer off the line and barely in second gear.

The 6MT version has MUCH stronger torque steer though. The TL is an outstanding car, we love it!
 

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Altersys said:
And I agree, the autostick is one of the best. I like the auto tranny a lot too, albeit minus one tiny programming issue from 1-2.
I'm curious, what issue do you have with 1-2? I find mine to be perfectly fine.
 

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The ECM/DBW gets a little confused at rolling stops when you apply a lot of throttle position at once. It lingers between 2nd and first and then finally decides to engage 1st. I'm sure the ECM will be revised in later years to eliminate that redudant zone in the program.
 

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Ferg said:
.....I wonder how the new TL with it's 270 HP manages torque steer?.....
Yes, the consensus is that the TL does have significant torque steer, but still much less than might be expected.

Just the other day, I had an instance of torque steer (slight) in my TSX for the first time (after 10 months).
I really had to gun it to get it at all, and I just kinda smiled over it, like, "Yup, it's there."
 

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My thoughts on the subject:
If you can afford the BMW dont even hesitate a second, just get it. If you dont have the money get the TSX. I had the same problem just didnt have the cash and went with the TSX, BMW's are excellent cars, maybe not so reliable as the Acuras, but still i would go for a Bimer, addictive car.
 

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netoperek said:
If you can afford the BMW dont even hesitate a second, just get it.
Many of us can afford the BMW, yet buy the TSX because we choose to use the money elsewhere. We're not talking $500k cost-is-no-object cars here. At $25k-$35k, value should enter into the equation for most buyers. I'm not saying the BMW is a poor choice - some may find the driving dynamics and prestige well worth the extra cost. But it's not a slam-dunk win for BMW just because you've got the cash in your pocket.
 
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