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Old 04-04-2009, 10:25 PM   #1
jeff10236
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What should replace my E46?

I'm about 2 weeks from my CPO warranty expiring. I spend so much time at the dealer's service shop that when I had to take my car in a few days ago one person said "weren't you just here?", another said "hi Jeff" and the loaner person asked everyone ahead of me if they had a loaner before (to explain the procedures for those who hadn't) but when I got to her said "I know you've had a loaner here before". So, I guess you can say my car spends a LOT of time in the shop. Just with the $50 copay and the repairs that haven't been covered by the CPO warranty (funny, with the CPO warranty and the maintainence agreement I would have thought everything was covered) I have (or will have to) put out about a grand since the start of winter.

So, I'm thinking it will be time to replace my car by next winter (probably over the summer). The one thing keeping me from doing so is being many thousands "upside down" (I owe more than it is worth), but if the patterns of the past two years continue I should be well over $10K in repairs over the next two to three years, so I don't think being a few thousand bucks upside down is enough to stop me.

So, why the post? I think I'll throw you a few of the criteria I'm considering and get the input of potentially thousands of fellow driving enthusiasts.



What did I not like about my car that I want in my next car (more or less in order):

-Room. I am nearly 6' tall and I'm built like a football player when I'm in shape (out of Army basic training I was around 190LBS, with not an ounce of extra fat on me and with not doing any serious weight training/lifting while there for a few months). Now, I'm quite out of shape as well. The car just feels way too small for me.
-Reliability. My 325i doesn't have it, my next car must (I put 30K miles a year on a car).
-Cloth or leather seats. I hate the "leatherette" (read that, vinyl).



-continued below
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:27 PM   #2
jeff10236
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What I liked about my car that I want in my next one:
-Performance: I got a 4cyl Camry as my last loaner and I realized how spoiled my BMW has made me. At least I want some road feel, and decent power and braking.
-Sunroof, some kind of electronic or active traction control.

Unsure:
-Towing ability. I'd love a trailer, but I'm not sure I want a vehicle capable of towing as my only vehicle (gas mileage).
-Gas mileage: I drive 30K miles a year. On this alone I probably should buy a hybrid, but other things I want (performance, possible towing ability) counter the mileage criteria.
-Stick shift: On short drives I love my stick shift. I like the extra control, but with half my commute being in stop and go traffic, I'm not sure if I want it on my next car.


I'd prefer something that is reliable (a must), with acceptable (but not necessarily luxurious) equipment, decent performance (but it doesn't have to be outright sporty, just not a slouch), and decent MPG. Towing ability would be a nice bonus, but not a must on this purchase (it may have to wait until I decide it is time to move to two vehicle ownership).

Last edited by jeff10236; 04-04-2009 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:29 PM   #3
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10K in repairs? I've spent 2 and ive done most of the big things... including cooling system, bushings, VCG, sparkies, and a few regulators.. as well as new springs and shocks..

theres no way you could spend 10k in repairs. That said, get a CPO'd E90/E92.. that'll run you for a few years.. or hell get a 08 X6..
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:31 PM   #4
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2009 X5 3.0 seems to fit you

minus the manual part
older ones you can get a manual
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:36 PM   #5
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At highway speeds and long distances, M3 is better than a hybrid for economy. For best towing performance, you need a diesel tractor. A diesel would offer even more economy. So the best next car for you is a diesel M3.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:00 PM   #6
jeff10236
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A few options I'm considering:

-Just go for mileage and get a Civic Hybrid or the upcoming 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid (at least they are a step ahead of the Prius or new Honda Insight for people who actually like driving).
-Get a small or midsized SUV (Santa Fe, Explorer, Xterra, Pathfinder, 4 Runner) for towing. But then, the fun to drive won't be there and the gas might break me when we go back to $4/gal.
-Get a Nissan Milano, BMW or Infinity SUV to at least have some driving fun out of an SUV.


OK, the more likely options:

-The new 2010 Fusion, but more likely in the 4cyl or V6 versions. The current gen has been one of the most reliable cars on the road, they are capable (though not necessarily great) performers, and they are comfortable. I don't see any reason to believe the '10 won't be at least as good.

-Volkswagen Jetta (probably the Sportswagen) TDI. The diesel will give great MPG, yet it will still be fun to drive. 2K LBS towing ability as well (enough for a small pop-up). However, I'm not totally sold on another German car right now.

-A new 328i lease. I'd have to buy after the lease was up (my 30K miles/yr) but a lease is the only way to go new on a teacher's salary. The new E90 and E92 3 series seems a tad bigger than our E46s. Again though, I'm not sure I'm ready for another German car (possible reliability concerns), but German cars and BMWs are great fun to drive.

-Used 5-series. I'm thinking about it, but I'm also very unsure if I ever want another used BMW.

-Infinity G35 or Acura TL lease. Again, I'd have to buy at the end of the lease with my miles, but a lease is the only way to go new on these as a teacher.

-Used Infinity G35 or Acura TL. But again, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with any used car after my 325.

-A Hyundai Sonata. My last car was an '04 Sonata and I really liked it. They are comfortable cars, with the 4cyl deliver pretty good mileage, acceptable with the V6, and with the V6 they are pretty powerful, acceptable power with the current 4. However, it is not exactly a fun car to drive.

-Civic EX. Small and nimble, OK room (but not great), great MPG, peppy, somewhat fun. I'm too old to feel right about an Si, too much of a "boy racer feel" IMO.

-Honda Accord (probably the 4dr, maybe the 2dr). Decent mileage, lots of room and comfort, more fun to drive than a Sonata or a Toyota. The EX 4cyl actually puts out more HP than my '03 325 so it actually should be somewhat peppy.

-Subaru Legacy. They handle well, are somewhat fun, have decent mileage, and would even give some towing capacity (2700 LBS). The 3.0R with the H6 or the 2.5GT would actually be fun to drive and have good acceleration. The drawback is they don't have a lot of interior or driver's seat room for their exterior size (they'd be only a little better than my 325).

-Nissan Altima Sedan. Not quite fun, but better than most midsized sedans. Roomy and comfortable, decent mileage (esp. with the 4cyl) and decent performance (esp. with the V6).

-Other? One consideration for your other suggestions, I don't really like any of the Toyotas or Chevys very much other than their trucks.

Last edited by jeff10236; 04-04-2009 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:05 PM   #7
jeff10236
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Quote:
10K in repairs? I've spent 2 and ive done most of the big things... including cooling system, bushings, VCG, sparkies, and a few regulators.. as well as new springs and shocks..

theres no way you could spend 10k in repairs.
That's only a guess since most work has been under the CPO warranty and usually they try not to answer when I ask what it would have run without the warranty. Since I've had my car I've had all 4 window regulators done, electrical work (it has been in two or three times for this), brakes (twice- though that is actually maint.), emissions work (X2), it currently needs some suspension work which isn't under warranty, and there are some other things I can't remember off hand. It is in approx. once every 2 months for warranty work. It is possible I've slightly overestimated what it will cost in repairs now that my CPO is out, but keep in mind that I drive 30K miles a year (about double what most people do, so 2 years ownership= 4 typical years of miles) plus at 20K miles when I bought it to 80K miles now it should have needed a lot less work than from 80K miles to 140K miles that it will probably see over the next two years.

Now the one thing that will help is that once it isn't under warranty I know of a great mechanic my best friend (BMW owner for over 10 years) has been using who charges a LOT less than dealer rates.

Last edited by jeff10236; 04-04-2009 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:08 PM   #8
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:11 PM   #9
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anything non-european is if you're going to be buying recent..

You sould like you need either a X5 xDrive35d or a Q7 TDi.. great bargins to be had in this climate these days.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:36 PM   #10
jeff10236
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Hmm, looking at some of the suggestions, I should clarify my budget a bit. I am a teacher. Around the outside I can consider without some serious lease deals (some of these are heavily subsidized by the manufacturers) or great rebates would be the $25-30K range. I'd prefer the $20-25K range. Thinking in monthly payments, I'd prefer to be under $400/mo, and need to be under $550/mo or so (I may be able to push it to $600/mo if I absolutely fell in love with a car, but no more). I expect I'll probably end up somewhere in the $400-500/mo range. BMW, Audi, etc. have some leases that would put me there, otherwise, I'd need to buy used at this level (i.e. 2-4 year old models, so no diesel or anything else that is only available in the U.S. in new models). Hence, with a few used or leased exceptions, most of the cars on my list are more pedestrian (Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Volkswagen).



Quote:
anything non-european is if you're going to be buying recent..
As far as "fun to drive" and general feel, I generally agree with you. There are definite exceptions though: Subaru has had some interesting choices for years, Nissan and Honda (esp. under the Infiniti and Acura labels) have some fun models, some Cadillacs, the Ford Fusion (especially from the reports of the new 2010) and even the Hyundai Genesis are all good competition for European cars.

Last edited by jeff10236; 04-04-2009 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:49 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by GoingNuts View Post
At highway speeds and long distances, M3 is better than a hybrid for economy. For best towing performance, you need a diesel tractor. A diesel would offer even more economy. So the best next car for you is a diesel M3.
Hahahahahahahahahaha that made my day
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Old 04-05-2009, 03:07 AM   #12
jeff10236
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Wow, I just noticed the rebates GM is giving on the SAABs. Between the factory rebates, and regular negotiating a SAAB 9-3 shouldn't be going for much more than $20-25K, and well equipped for $25-30K. A nice performance European car that is available new (no lease) in my desired price range?!

I've always liked SAABs and they seem like nice cars. They perform well. They are even rated to tow a respectable amount. I'll have to see how the interior size of the 9-3 works for me. I've always been somewhat concerned about their reliability though and resale value has always been bad, and with GM trying to sell SAAB and short of that, discontinuing SAAB, resale may only get worse if they can't get a buyer (not to mention, getting parts could be fun if SAAB is discontinued).
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Old 04-05-2009, 03:23 AM   #13
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^ please spend that $25k on a bmw and not a saab

But I vote for 5series
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Old 04-05-2009, 03:38 AM   #14
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e92, period.
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:58 PM   #15
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Well, as of now I'm leaning a few possible directions (more or less in my current order of preference):

-Great prices on used Volvos and SAABs right now. I could get a nice low miles (25-40K), 2-4 year old European sedan for $11-18K depending upon specific model, equipment and who I buy from (and could easily be under $14K with a nearly new under 35K miles car). If I go this way it will probably be a SAAB 9-5 (possibly the wagon) or a Volvo S60. I could even tow 3300 or 3500 lbs (Volvo 3300, SAAB 3500) and still have more of a driving experience than I would with most American or Japanese cars, let alone SUVs.

-New or Used Subaru. Unsure if I'd go with the Outback, Forester or a Legacy GT. The Outback and Forester would be a bit more practical, yet still drive pretty car-like and get acceptable gas mileage. The Legacy GT would be almost as much fun as my BMW (though inside the Legacy's are only a little bigger than my 325). I might step down from the Legacy GT to a regular Legacy- I'd lose a lot of acceleration but it would handle pretty well, and I'd lose the premium fuel requirement, but I probably would want the performance. Maybe the H6 engine in the Legacy 3.0R is a good compromise- a tad less money than the GT, regular fuel, almost as much performance with about the same HP and a smoother delivery of power. These have towing ratings from 2400 lbs (the heavier Forester) to 3000 (the 4cyl Outback and Legacy do 2700, with the H6 they do 3K) so I could go with a decent sized pop-up camper.

-New Ford Fusion. They really are nice cars now. Not as fun as an e46, but pretty good for a family sedan. Comfortable, plenty big enough, good power with the V6, very reliable (Consumer Reports rates them above the Honda Accord V-6 and Toyota Camry for reliability). However, I couldn't tow, and I would still lose a lot of fun factor over my BMW (or the Legacy possibility) and it wouldn't have the European feel of the Swedish options.

-New lease or purchase a used Infinity G series sedan. I'd lose the towing possibility but have a comfortable, roomy, fun and reliable sports sedan.

-Lease a new 3-series. The newer one is a bit bigger and more comfortable than the e46. Hopefully, the e9X would be more reliable than my 325, and being new there would be several good years even if it isn't. Of course, I'd have to continue to wait on a pop-up camper.

-New or late model used Hyundai Santa Fe or Saturn Vue. Yes, they are small SUVs with middling gas mileage (upper teens to very low 20s for the way I drive- fast but a lot of highway miles), but they are nice, they aren't very expensive, and I could finally tow. They would have much better gas mileage and a better driving experience than a truck based SUV like the Explorer but would give decent cargo room and towing capacity (3500LBS- good for pretty much all the camping trailers I'd consider). The Saturn may have a slightly better driving experience since they are really rebadged Opels. Neither would be half as fun as any of the car options.

-Buy a used 5-series. Good size and comfortable, BMW performance and feel. The only worry would be whether it would be more reliable than my 325 or not. I'm very unsure about another used BMW and I can't afford the 5-series new, even on a lease or 6 year loan.

Last edited by jeff10236; 04-15-2009 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:08 AM   #16
jeff10236
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Wow, just found this old thread. Since it is a year later I figured I'd give an update.

Over the summer after I posted this I went through some major rethinking. I had decided I would buy a truck since I wanted to be able to tow (being a teacher, and off summers, travelling over the summer would be nice). However, I am very far upside down, I moved closer to work and nearly cut my miles in half (I've only put 20K miles on it this year), and this year hasn't been too bad on reliability (between $1000 and $2000 in repairs, only in the shop 3 or 4 times). So, I still have my 325. I have two years left on the loan. I also just bought a motorcycle (Suzuki Boulevard C50 Special Edition) so I'll be cutting back my miles even more (maybe as much as 10K). So, I'm going to try to hold on to my car until it is paid off. Then, depending upon how it is doing I'll keep it (as a fun ride, but with more weather protection than my motorcycle) and also get a truck and pop-up camper. If I need to sell my car by then, I'll be adding the Subaru Outback, SAAB and Volvos (though probably a wagon) back to my list. Of course, with how many problems I used to have, there is always a chance I'll put $3K in it over the next 6 months and decide to replace it ASAP, but for now I'm holding on to it.
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:37 AM   #17
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:51 AM   #18
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How about telling us more about your current vehicle. I'm interested in what you actually spent on repairs and what your PPI stated on the condition of the vehicle. What happened to it since your purchase and did you pay for items that should have been covered by your warranty? You are in a hurry to get out of the car but how about figuring out what went wrong with this one before you abandon ship.
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