Over the last 3 weeks, I have test driven the following 4-door near-luxury cars. I am looking for a fun-to-drive car with a lot of features. The car must have: Front, side and curtain airbags, 17″ wheels, navigation, Xenon HID headlights, leather, sunroof and premium sound system. I even test drove a 350Z for the heck of it. But that’s another story.
Here are the final verdicts.
(Not yet reviewed: Audi A4 1.8T)
7. Volvo S40
Pros: Durable, safe, affordable
Cons: Heavy turbo lag, not many amenities, no navi
Verdict: Car is showing its age as the oldest of the group
6. Lexus IS300
Pros: Peppy engine, aftermarket exterior styling
Cons: Cluttered interior, body roll
Verdict: Cramped body, cramped styling
5. Nissan Maxima
Pros: G35 for less
Cons: Ugly front, cheap interior
Verdict: Fully loaded Maxima + $500 = fully loaded G35, so why bother?
4. Saab 9-3 Vector
Pros: Turbo without the lag, quirky in a good way, sporty handling
Cons: No Navi, owned by GM, cluttered instrument panel (39 buttons)
Verdict: GM and SAAB: Bride of Frankenstein
3. BMW 325i
Pros: The original, low depreciation, classy looks
Cons: Slow off the line, too popular, pricey
Verdict: The King of sport sedans charges a king’s ransom, but could use more zoom
2. Infinity G35
Pros: Amazing amenities, responsive V6, roomy, good looks
Cons: Ride is a bit soft, expensive compared to the TSX
Verdict: The only challenger to the BMW 330 with $4000 in the trunk.
1. Acura TSX
Pros: Good materials, clean looks, excellent navi, sporty and comfort-y, awesome 6-speed, bang for the buck.
Cons: Where’s the V6? Oh, it’s in the TL.
Verdict: Add 40 horsies and it is perfect — I’ll take the stick.
So it comes down to this: A slightly used G35 versus a new TSX. $7K is no pocket change, especially if the only major difference is 1 second in the 0-60. So, I am going to wait for the TL to come out to make a decision. Hopefully by then, I can get a TSX for below MSRP and maybe find a used G35 with navi.