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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For anyone who is interested, this is a very long post recapping parts of my car buying process, and why I bought the BMW 325i after being so excited about the TSX. Please also understand that I am not making a case for one car or the other, and I am certainly not trying to disrespect the TSX, a car that I really like. I'm simply laying out the details that lead to me buying the BMW instead of the TSX. Again, my apologies in advance for the length. -- Ferg


A few folks have asked why I bought the BMW instead of the TSX. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer this question and share my opinion on the two cars. First off, let me start by saying that I really like the TSX. I think it's a good car, and even the downsides didn't keep me from searching for the one I wanted and putting a deposit on it. I first saw the TSX when driving through my parking lot here at work. There was a carbon grey TSX sitting on the lot, and it caught my eye when I drove by, enough that I slowed down to take a good look. I immediately thought that it would be too much money, and besides, I wasn't looking for a new car at the time. So I put aside my natural curiosity.

As my Maxima started to wear out, I began looking for a new car, and I placed no restrictions on what I wanted, except that I really didn't want to break a self-imposed $30K sticker price barrier.

I considered almost everything from around $18K up to $30K. I looked at: VW Jettas, Passats, Toyota Camrys, Solaras, Honda Accord coupes and sedans, Civics, Mazda 6, Mazda 3, Saab 9-3, Audi A4 1.8T, Nissan Altimas and Maximas. I didn't really check out anything in the GM lineup, although the GTO was a little interesting. There isn't much about Ford or Chrysler that I'm interested in. I like the look of the Lincoln LS, but not so much that I would dish out $40K for one, and have it be outperformed by far lesser cars. The Thunderbird looks cool, but again Ford seems happy with middling performance and large profit margins. Too bad, they could have sold a boatload of them. But I digress. :)

A lot of the widdling-down took place by simply reading about the cars in the internet. I got the list down to the TSX, Maxima, Accord, and if I really wanted to break the $30K barrier, a BMW 325i. "Where did the BMW come from?", you may be asking. "I thought you didn't want to break the $30K barrier". Well, I've always wanted a 3-series, and I figured I would include it as a way of making my hunt a little more interesting. Who doesn't at least dream of owning a certain car even if it is just a touch -- or maybe more -- out of reach?

Besides, maybe I could find a car that would make my longing for the B'mer dissipate somewhat. I was banking on the TSX being that car.

I also emliminated a lot of the cars due to size. Left to my own devices, I may have just bought a 350Z, RX-8, or S2000, but I really needed something that would fit four people comfortably (or at least reasonably so).

Out of the four that made the top of my list, I eliminated the Maxima because of it's questionable styling choices, and plethora of torque steer. Plus, outfitted with the options I wanted, it was pushing $34K. The Honda Accord EX-V6 stuck around until the end. It struck me as a supremely competent, but uninspiring car. I'm still reasonably young, and have no kids, so I wanted something more than family transportation. Even so, it's smooth power delivery, nice interior, and reasonable price kept it floating around the realm of possibility.

After test driving the TSX no less than five times, I finally thought I had it all worked out. A TSX was in my future. I had not even been to a BMW dealer yet, and I was almost totally sold on the TSX. Still, something told me I had to at least check out the BMW. I almost wanted the BMW to disappoint me by being mediocre. Or better yet, to have the sticker shock send me scampering back to the Acura/Honda dealer. After my final test rive of the TSX, I was driving by a BMW dealership, and decided to stop in to look at the very last car on my list.

The 325i was very impressive in it's performance and amenities, but was priced considerably higher than the TSX I wanted. However, it was not pricey enough to completely wipe the BMW off the list. The B'mer seemed to have far more torque than the TSX. Even though it's only a difference of about 11 lb/ft of torque (if I'm remembering correctly), it felt more like a difference of 20 or 30! I was willing to pay a little more for the performance, but did I want to sacrifice the luxury options?

Handling was also very close, but the BMW was better, even without the sport suspension. I guess this is mostly due to the RWD configuration, and almost perfect 50/50 front-rear weight distribution. I drove the TSX and the BMW on the same curvy road, and while the TSX was fun, the BMW just felt like it wanted to be pushed and pushed, like the car was having as much fun as I was and just kept begging me to keep going! After driving a 325 with the sportier suspension, I didn't notice enough of a difference to justify the cost. In fact, the ride was a little stiffer (as you would expect), but it didn't appear that the car derived as much benefit from the tighter tuning. I imagine it makes much more sense on a 330 where the car has even more power to push through turns, but on the 325, I just didn't see the need.

I drove away from the BMW dealer feeling very impressed with a car that I was hoping would be less impressive.


So now, I'm totally vapor locked over which car to buy.

The TSX I wanted was a handsome car, with a very cool interior, and was loaded with everything including the navigation system. It's also an Acura, and is likely to be very reliable, and have a high resale value. OTOH, engine power is modest, although certainly not underpowered, and it is very much a Honda Accord with some extras here and there.

I loved the feel of the manual tranny, but had some concerns about the stories of clutches going bad early in the car's life. The interior is classy and cool (I absolutely love the guages and the dash layout!!), but the steering wheel was taken right out of the Accord Coupe, and there were other similarities to the layout that made it feel a little less special. There are not many TSX's on the road, so it lends itself to being slightly "exclusive" based simply on availability, but when you're behind the wheel and you realize that large parts of the car are simple Honda Accord, it makes it feel a touch less exclusive. Not bad -- no. In fact, the TSX has my favorite interior of any car I have ever been in. I just think Acura could put some more of the originality they showed in the gauge cluster to use around the rest of the cabin, esp. the wheel. Finally, dealers aren't really discounting the car since it's pretty popular, so I felt lucky to get $650 below MSRP, bringing the TSX down to around $27900, before taxes/tags/destination. All things considered, not a perfect car, but a damn fine car and one that I would be thrilled to own and drive every day.

By comparison, the BMW is the best-looking sedan on the road (IMO), offers better performance, nearly identical amenities (minus the navigation -- which is a BIG one!!), and a fantastic maintenance package. However, the interior -- while certainly not ugly or cheap -- just does not have the same level of "cool" that the TSX has, even considering it's Accord roots. BMW's build quality is universally considered exceptional, but reliability is perceived to be a notch below Honda/Acura. Resale value on the BMW tends to be just a bit higher, but only by a few percentage points.

And the BMW was going to cost me considerably more than the TSX I wanted (a 6MT with Navi -- sorry larchmont, I still use "navi" every now and then :) ).

So I'm vapor locked, still. I'm searching the internet for that one little critical piece of data to swing me to one side or the other. I'm throwing pros and cons around, bouncing ideas off my wife and friends...

TSX Pros: cool car, handsome, not many around, good performance, cool interior, reliable, good price...
BMW Pros: cool car, best-looking sedan on the road, better performance, pretty darn good interior, a great warranty/maintenance package...

TSX cons: basically a Euro Accord, modest power, may have tranny/clutch probs, rattles, first model year, what if they upgrade power? (will I regret my choice?)...
BMW cons: more expensive, will not get the nav (there you go larchie), many other BMW's on the road, reliability is up, but likely not as good as Acura's...but who knows about that first year TSX?

...and round and round and round I go....

TSX, nice leather
BMW, better handling
TSX, more horsepower
BMW, more torque from inline 6
TSX, 10K mile oil changes
BMW, 15K mile oil changes
TSX, awesome shift feel
BMW, awsome steering feel
TSX, larger tires
BWM, far better brakes

...and on and on....

There we no real major differences between the two, except price -- the BMW was going to cost more regardless of how I optioned it out. But how much more? Maybe that will be the deciding factor? So I decide it's time to actually drive the cars again, this time with my wife present, and get some solid numbers from the BMW people so that I could see what I was dealing with. We roll over to the BMW dealership and find the salesman I've been working with. He strolls up and says, "I have the perfect car for you". Of course, this is typical car salesman speak, so I say "yeah, yeah, let's see it". He rolls out this brand new 325i in dark silver (which just looks great!) with black interior, and tells me it's the last 2003 they have. It's a 5spd, and they've had a hard time moving it because of the manual tranny. The car has 80 some miles on it, so I know it's had a number of test drives, but the miles aren't high enough to be a demo. I move over to look at the sticker, and it reads ~$34K. I immediately see the car has a number of options including the Cold Weather Package and Premium Package, and I figure no, this is out of my price range. Then the sales guy smiles and says, "Because it's the last one, it has nearly 100 miles, and it's our President's Day sale, we'll let it go for $29K". :eek: When all was said and done, I paid just over a grand more for the BMW then the TSX I wanted. They are not outfitted exactly alike (they both have things that the other doesn't have (e.g. the BMW doesn't have navi) but are very close.

So, after another impressive test drive, and some negotiating on my trade, the deal was sealed. I never made it to the Acura dealership that day...if not for this great deal on a new BMW, I would be driving the TSX today. Granted, not everyone is going to be fortunate enough to find this kind of deal, so for anyone comparing the two cars, the pricing structure will obviously favor the TSX even more than it did here.

Ferg
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Random thoughts I didn't want to include above...

Things that I like about the 325i now that I've had it for a while:

1. Auto-dimming rearview mirror

2. Dual power seats with memory

3. Dual heated seats

4. When exhaust fumes get in the cabin, the system detects them and shuts down the vent to the outside, and runs the air through a charcoal filter. Fumes are gone in less than 5-10 seconds! I love this since I'm almost always stuck in traffic behind a Dodge van blowing blue, oily smoke.

5. Automatic healight control -- headlights come on automatically when it gets dark.

6. Rain sensing windshield wipers.

7. Front headlight washers.

8. Great braking!!

9. Superior handling that makes me want to seek out new twisties.

10. Blue tooth capable (don't have a blue tooth phone -- yet!).

11. Double-locking doors -- even if you break the window and try to work the inside handle, you still can't open the door.

12. Fantastic maintenance package, 4 yrs/50,000 miles, even covers wear items like brake pads, brake rotors, wiper blades, oil changes, essentially everything but the clutch and tires. If it wears out, it's replaced for free. This is over and above the 4 yr/50,000 mile warranty that I extended to 100,000 miles.

13. 15,000 oil changes -- they claim there is absolutely no reason to change your oil before 15K miles, but I'm still probably going to do it around 7,500.

14. On board computer -- tells me how long until next oil change, based not only on current mileage, but average speed, how often the car is started cold vs. hot, highway driving vs. stop and go traffic etc. Also gives you basic info like, outside temp, avg speed, avg mpg, how many miles left on current tank of gas.

15. No key fob -- lock/unlock, panic, and trunk buttons are conveniently located on the key itself. One less thing on my keychain.

16. 40/60 folding rear seats with a pass-thru. It's normally one or the other.
 

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Great posts, Ferg. I gotta say, this is one of the very best side-to-side comparisons of the TSX and the 325. And as near as I can tell, there's no detectable bias. People might differ with some of the judgments one way or the other, but I don't think anyone could say you were unfair or inaccurate about either car.

Some stray thoughts:

(1) You mentioned that a couple of the cars broke your $30K limit (including the BMW in theory). I would have thought that a couple of others did too: the A4 and the 9-3.
(2) It doesn't sound like there's any real chance you'll regret your choice, although I personally would have had concerns about RWD -- which obviously you view as mostly a plus -- and reliability -- about which it seems there's a very good chance BMW has gotten its act together.
(3) I guess a lot of us worry too much about certain things. I probably worry way too much about "reliability" stats and ratings -- and I think you were worrying way too much about the several cases of clutch problems in the TSX 6MT. But I know that many other people are concerned about that too.
(4) Clearly you really noticed the BMW's extra torque. Did you notice the TSX's extra hp?

Enjoy!!!
 

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Yeah, well, we have a auto-tinting rearview mirror too! :p

j/k you definitely got a great car, and you'll never regret it :)
 

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Excellent post, Ferg. Good pros and cons about both the TSX and 325i.

With the ideal situation you were presented with, I don't blame you for going with the 325i. I'm sure quite a few of the TSX buyers would have done the same thing if given the same circumstances.

Whoa, that's a lot of cars you considered before trimming it down to 4 possible candidates. But I'm also surprised that you didn't consider Infinity G35 Sedan/Coupe. Any particular reason why it wasn't on your list? Just wondering.

Congrats and g'luck with your car. :thumbsup:
 

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What is the kbb.com trade in value for your car? it should be around $27-29k
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
tsxclub said:
What is the kbb.com trade in value for your car? it should be around $27-29k
I checked it just after purchase, and it was around $28,750 or so. I actually owe less than the car is worth, which is a first for me. :)

I forgot one of neatest features -- this car is only costing me $30 more per month than the Maxima! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Whatchamacallit said:
Excellent post, Ferg. Good pros and cons about both the TSX and 325i.

With the ideal situation you were presented with, I don't blame you for going with the 325i. I'm sure quite a few of the TSX buyers would have done the same thing if given the same circumstances.

Whoa, that's a lot of cars you considered before trimming it down to 4 possible candidates. But I'm also surprised that you didn't consider Infinity G35 Sedan/Coupe. Any particular reason why it wasn't on your list? Just wondering.

Congrats and g'luck with your car. :thumbsup:

Thanks! :)

Actually, I forgot the mention the G35 in my post. I also considered the I35 as well. I just didn't like the look of the G35 sedan, and I wanted a 4-door car. I think the coupe is more attractive, but I'm not thrilled with the tail-end of either model. That being said, I saw a lot of the same interior styling cues in the Infiniti that I saw in the Nissans (no suprise there, right?) and that was a bit of a turn-off. The Nissan VQ engine is seriously sweet though. I bet the G35 is a blast to drive with that powerplant. Had I been looking purely for performance, I would have investigated it further.

Ferg
 

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What about the extra hp of the TSX, Ferg? I'm curious. You noted that the extra torque of the BMW was noticeable, and then you mentioned the extra hp of the TSX as a positive for the car. The thing is, I wouldn't have thought the TSX's extra hp as compared to the 325 was particularly noticeable. Was it??

(I'm NOT surprised the 325's extra torque was noticeable.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
larchmont said:
Great posts, Ferg. I gotta say, this is one of the very best side-to-side comparisons of the TSX and the 325. And as near as I can tell, there's no detectable bias. People might differ with some of the judgments one way or the other, but I don't think anyone could say you were unfair or inaccurate about either car.

Some stray thoughts:

(1) You mentioned that a couple of the cars broke your $30K limit (including the BMW in theory). I would have thought that a couple of others did too: the A4 and the 9-3.
(2) It doesn't sound like there's any real chance you'll regret your choice, although I personally would have had concerns about RWD -- which obviously you view as mostly a plus -- and reliability -- about which it seems there's a very good chance BMW has gotten its act together.
(3) I guess a lot of us worry too much about certain things. I probably worry way too much about "reliability" stats and ratings -- and I think you were worrying way too much about the several cases of clutch problems in the TSX 6MT. But I know that many other people are concerned about that too.
(4) Clearly you really noticed the BMW's extra torque. Did you notice the TSX's extra hp?

Enjoy!!!
Thanks for the kind words, larchmont. :cool: To answer your questions....

1. I didn't consider the 9-3 or A4 seriously. The 9-3 just did not interest me, especially at the price point. I can't explain why, but it just didn't strike me as a car I wanted to buy. Plus I'm not so certain about it being based on the GM Epsilon platform. I used to be a diehard GM kinda guy until I got burned by several. GM just looks to be sooo far behind everyone else right now, but it appears they're trying to make significant changes.

The A4 is an attractive car, but I didn't want to pay for the 3.0 version, which is still slower than the TSX and the 325i. Plus, I owned two VW's that were less-than-stellar with respect to reliability, so I'm not sure I totally trust Audi. Granted, this is simply pure speculation on my part. I have no evidence that Audi makes an inferior product. It's just a bias, I guess. At least I admit it. :D

2. RWD....I like the economy and safety of a FWD car. However, I don't drive my cars in the snow (that's what the truck is for) so I had the luxury of not having to worry about that. I've had some FWD cars that were great in the snow (my Jetta, for example) and some that absolutely stunk (1st gen. Altima). Interestingly, I saw a little film on racingflix.com comparing the handling/maneuverability/safety of RWD vs. FWD. vs. AWD. In an avoidance maneuver the RWD car performed the best, and the FWD car performed the worst, due to the expected understeer. The video was enlightening. In my case, I believe I'll be faced with more "unexpected maneuverability" situations than "driving in significant snow" situations. At least that's my rationale, so I'm sticking to it. ;)

As for economy....well, I've never been concerned about a mile or two per gallon here or there. The BMW is averaging 28.3 miles per gallon right now, which is much better than I thought, so I'm quite happy with the economy of the machine right now.

3. I stated my concerns about the clutch problems, but I hope I didn't blow them out of proportion. I think there is a problem there, but it's likely small. Even so, I am still going to try and talk my wife into a TSX (if she can give up that truck). Oh well, there goes my snow vehicle. Guess I'll have to stay at home in bad weather! :D She is supposed to be getting promoted soon, and I think she'll be on the road more than she is now. The Xterra is not all that fun as a commuter vehicle -- it's unabashedly truck-like in it's ride and handling, and doesn't exactly sip the ethel if you know what I mean.

4. Hmmm.....yes I noticed the TSX's extra horsepower. The BMW only generates 185 bhp, but it just feels like it does more with it's 185. The 325i was third fastest in the most recent Car and Driver entry-level luxury sedan shoot out despite having by far the lowest ratings on paper. The only cars it didn't beat were the TL (which smoked a 0-60 time of like 5.8 seconds!!) and the G35 which was a half-second faster than the 325i. Both cars needed almost a 100 extra bhp compared to the 325 to reach those times.


You said there was no detectable bias in my post, and that's good, because I don't think I have a bias toward one or the other. I am trying to have my cake an it eat too by getting the wifey into a TSX. :D Again, under normal circumstances (i.e. I didn't get such a good deal on the BMW) I would be telling you all about my TSX buying experience.
 

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Ferg said:
.....The 9-3 just did not interest me, especially at the price point. I can't explain why, but it just didn't strike me as a car I wanted to buy.....

I have no evidence that Audi makes an inferior product. It's just a bias, I guess. At least I admit it. :D ......

RWD.....FWD.....In my case, I believe I'll be faced with more "unexpected maneuverability" situations than "driving in significant snow" situations. At least that's my rationale, so I'm sticking to it. ;) ......

I am still going to try and talk my wife into a TSX (if she can give up that truck). Oh well, there goes my snow vehicle.....

Again, under normal circumstances (i.e. I didn't get such a good deal on the BMW) I would be telling you all about my TSX buying experience.
About the 9-3 -- very well said. :D I think that's just about as articulate as most people seem able to be about this.

About Audi: Actually there's plenty of evidence. In recent years they have consistently gotten subpar reliability ratings, although the trend has perhaps been toward "less bad," which still isn't much of a selling point.

Good stuff about RWD-FWD.

About the truck and the TSX, whaddaya mean "there goes my snow vehicle"?
There IS your snow vehicle! :D

Finally, speaking of "TSX buying experience," that reminds me.....I guess fortunately this has receded into the background (because you didn't mention it on this thread), but as I remember it, didn't you have a pretty annoying "TSX buying experience" and wasn't that a part of what took you elsewhere?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Good point, actually. Yes -- I ran into a Acura dealer that was jerking me around by wanting to seal a deal before they would tell me when I would take delivery of the car I wanted (??). I'm not sure what they were trying to prove.

It's my impression Acura wants to play in the same stadium as Lexus and Infiniti, and maybe you could include BMW, Audi, Mercedes along with a few others. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Acura doesn't want to be a "commodity" car like your average Chevy or Toyota -- they're trying to be more "upscale". It's a shame the first dealer I visited didn't treat me and my wife that way. That's just one dealership out of many, so it's not fair so say they're all like that.
 

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Ferg said:
.....I'm not sure I totally trust Audi. Granted, this is simply pure speculation on my part. I have no evidence that Audi makes an inferior product. It's just a bias, I guess.....
Speak of the devil (whatever that means :D )..... I said there was plenty to back up your feeling. And, as if on cue, here came our new member Tidalwavetim with this:

http://www.tsxclub.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=10384#post10384
 

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Ferg said:
Thanks! :)

Actually, I forgot the mention the G35 in my post. I also considered the I35 as well. I just didn't like the look of the G35 sedan, and I wanted a 4-door car. I think the coupe is more attractive, but I'm not thrilled with the tail-end of either model. That being said, I saw a lot of the same interior styling cues in the Infiniti that I saw in the Nissans (no suprise there, right?) and that was a bit of a turn-off. The Nissan VQ engine is seriously sweet though. I bet the G35 is a blast to drive with that powerplant. Had I been looking purely for performance, I would have investigated it further.

Ferg
Agreed, the G35 coupe is a great car with a sweet engine.

The thing about the G35 sedan is that it's almost like an afterthought to the coupe. It was as if the G35 was designed to be a coupe, first and foremost, and then they slapped on 2 additonal doors to make it a sedan.

The G35 head lights and the tail lights are indeed different than anything else out there. Just not my cup of tea either.
 
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