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CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
8/22/17 5:30 p.m.

In reply to 2002maniac:

Agreed. It's the worst automotive name since... Probe. And, really, it's worse than Probe.

Too bad, because it sounds like it could be a good car.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle Dork
8/22/17 8:19 p.m.

My wife's 2017 Accord LX is a fantastic car and they can be had for less than $20k. You could buy two.

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
8/23/17 11:13 a.m.
CyberEric wrote: In reply to 2002maniac: Agreed. It's the worst automotive name since... Probe. And, really, it's worse than Probe. Too bad, because it sounds like it could be a good car.

Stupid name or not it is one of the very few new cars (that I could afford) I am looking forward to. Some dental floss and no more badge.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/17 3:06 p.m.

Took advantage of nice weather this Saturday (sorry, Texas ) and started auditioning cars. Our test loop was about 4-5 miles, including curvy, hilly, narrow back roads and a major highway with traffic lights. We started at the upper tier (AWD semi-premium cars) and found some in our price range, so we'll probably stick there for now. Presented here in preference order (and, by pure coincidence, the order we test drove them in):

  1. Volvo S60 T5 AWD. This was only peripherally on my radar until I started internet shopping, but it ticks all the boxes, and looks very handsome in person. I was looking at a Dynamic (short wheelbase) model, which is the slightly cheaper, slightly sportier version. With options as we want, though, it puts us in the same price range as the Inscription, which has 3" longer wheelbase, all added to the back seat. This comes standard with most of the options we would add to the Dynamic. The SWB version drove very nicely. T5 AWD makes 240 hp and 258 lb/ft torque, and that feels like it is all available all the time. I just found out it's twin-charged, so the blower eliminates boost lag, and I mean eliminates. It was smooth and responsive. It has an 8-speed auto, and the Sport mode made it even more fun to drive by altering the shiftpoints and throttle response. Dunno what this car weighs, but it felt surprisingly smaller and lighter than it is. Steering feel was nicely weighted and crisp; it's also customizable. Interior was intuitive, very nice, and very comfortable. Almost hands down the leading contender, pending a drive in the LWB version. If I could get the Inscription with the sport seats and sport suspension, it would be a slam dunk.

  2. Acura TLX V6 / AWD. We love the TSX, and it has been as reliable as an anvil, so I definitely wanted to investigate the TLX. Styling is acceptable in person - not as handsome as the S60, but not as bad as Acuras of 5 years ago. In the current Asian style, it's busy-looking. We didn't try the K24 version because AWD is not available. The naturally aspirated 3.5 V6 makes 290 hp and 267 lb/ft of torque. It has a 9-speed auto, not the 8-speed semi-DCT that comes in the FWD 4 cylinder. It sounds and feels great, with more than enough oomph, even for a bigger car... and, unlike the S60, this car drives bigger than it is. It rides and drives well, but it feels bulky. Steering feel is overboosted at low speeds; better while driving, but still soft. It's also excessively complicated. There are lots of controls and settings and buttons and whatnot. That was partly exacerbated by the salesman, who insisted on fiddling with them throughout the drive to demonstrate. But engaging or adjusting everything took multiple steps, even while driving. The Volvo was just much simpler to use, without really having any less content.

  3. Audi A3 quattro 2.0T. The smallest of the 3 we drove, and sure felt like it. A bit too cozy inside - the back seat is especially small compared to the other two - not bad once you're in there, but difficult to get in or out. We were rubbing elbows in the front seat. The interior is also very spare; it has nice materials, but it's stripped looking rather than clean and modern. Strike one. Steering feel and handling were very good. to give it credit. 2.0T, making 220 hp and a stonking 258 ft/lb of torque, with a 6-speed auto. Sounds great on paper, but in reality, the boost lag is very annoying. Enough throttle tip-in to make move results in way too much acceleration about 3/4 second later when boost comes in, so it was very hard to drive smoothly. It makes a ton of power once it's going, but that little dead spot at the first part of the throttle action is going to annoy you during about 80% of your daily driving. It is unfortunately very much like the 1.8T A4 quattro we drove in 2004, just with a lot more power. Strike two. For the same money, we can get a much more pleasant car to drive and ride in. Strike three, and you're out. We didn't buy an A4 when we were shopping for the TSX, and we're not buying this now. It's a shame - I really wanted to like this car, but I just don't. Part of me is relieved, since I was worried about the long term ownership outlook for a VAG product. I'm off the hook for that.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/17 4:15 p.m.

On the list still to drive: Fusion Sport AWD with the Ecoboost 2.7. May look at a BMW 320xi, but may not for cost reasons - they seem to run a few grand higher, more like the A4.

At this point I think we're passing on the Mazda6 and 4 cylinder TLX, unless we can't get a deal on one of the other cars.

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
8/28/17 6:22 p.m.
mtn wrote: Lexus IS.

Best suggestion yet.

Reliable, luxurious, pretty, no clutch.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/17 6:40 p.m.
crankwalk wrote:
mtn wrote: Lexus IS.

Best suggestion yet.

Reliable, luxurious, pretty, no clutch.

No way. It would need a gimp mask before I could even step outside my front door, let alone get close enough to drive it. Or I would.

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
8/28/17 7:17 p.m.
Duke wrote:
crankwalk wrote:
mtn wrote: Lexus IS.

Best suggestion yet.

Reliable, luxurious, pretty, no clutch.

No way. It would need a gimp mask before I could even step outside my front door, let alone get close enough to drive it. Or I would.

I'm not sure what all that means but it's in your price range , check all those boxes and has AWD as an option. If you're keeping it 10+ years and reliability is paramount, I'd rather have that than a modern Volvo.

Cblais19
Cblais19 New Reader
8/28/17 7:28 p.m.

Huh, I'm trying to figure out how a car with 258lb/ft at 1600RPM feels laggy. Completely agree with you on the snug interior, but the same drive train in the GTi (minus AWD) keeps you in the boost at basically all times. Speaking of GTIs, was there a reason you ruled that car out? It's basically the A3 but with a less spartan interior, no AWD and all that hatchback practicality. Hell, you might be able to step up to a Golf R in your price point.

It's funny how people find the same cars to be very different, when I test drove a S60 with the T5 it felt heavy and slow. BTW, unless you drove a T6 you were in the normal turbo model. THe T6 is the one that is a super/turbo combo.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/17 9:40 p.m.

In reply to Cblais19:

I was surprised as you were about the A3. On paper, it should be a riot to drive. Maybe it's the transmission or DBW programming. All I know is that it was dead when you first tipped into the throttle, whether from a stop or rolling.

I left out the Golf because we're not really interested in a hatch, even as a 5-door. Rather have a sedan. Also because Volkswagen and I am still nervous about VAG products.

You're right, I figured out about the T5/T6 thing. It was really unclear on Volvo's website. Why the berk do all manufacturers' websites suck so deeply?

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/17 9:41 p.m.
crankwalk wrote:
Duke wrote:
crankwalk wrote:
mtn wrote: Lexus IS.

Best suggestion yet.

Reliable, luxurious, pretty, no clutch.

No way. It would need a gimp mask before I could even step outside my front door, let alone get close enough to drive it. Or I would.

I'm not sure what all that means ...

It means the new Lexuses are berking hideous. To me.

Dashpot
Dashpot Reader
8/29/17 6:23 a.m.
Duke wrote: In reply to Cblais19: I was surprised as you were about the A3. On paper, it should be a riot to drive. Maybe it's the transmission or DBW programming. All I know is that it was dead when you first tipped into the throttle, whether from a stop or rolling.

Are you sure the A3 you drove was a '17? I've had both a '16 & '17 as loaners and the '16 behaved just as you described. The '17 did a much better job on throttle tip-in and clutch engagement.

Cblais19
Cblais19 New Reader
8/29/17 6:46 a.m.
Dashpot wrote:
Duke wrote: In reply to Cblais19: I was surprised as you were about the A3. On paper, it should be a riot to drive. Maybe it's the transmission or DBW programming. All I know is that it was dead when you first tipped into the throttle, whether from a stop or rolling.

Are you sure the A3 you drove was a '17? I've had both a '16 & '17 as loaners and the '16 behaved just as you described. The '17 did a much better job on throttle tip-in and clutch engagement.

Hm, there's also a FWD version of the 2.0 now - I wonder if they limit throttle tip in on that one due avoid wheelspin. It's probably also the DCT, 1st tends to be pretty gentle and quick to upshift unless you're really in the throttle. That can make it feel laggy off the line when you're just toodling around in traffic (significantly worse in my TDi which either had 5hp or was chirping the tires from a stop). The A3 also has no LSD availability unlike the GTI, I guess they figure if you want performance from that car you'll just go with the AWD model and call it good.

Duke; did you pop in an A4 while you were there? It's stretching further up the price chain but it's a nicer car and with the more powerful 2.0 paired with Audi's new 7 speed DCT it's absurdly quick for a base engine in the segment (well under 6s).

How about a used Buick Regal GS? Not super fast, but it can be had with AWD, has the GM trick magnetic suspension and has that whole German sport sedan feel and all the modern tech features at an OTD in the mid $20s on a 2015.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/29/17 8:22 a.m.
Dashpot wrote:
Duke wrote: In reply to Cblais19: I was surprised as you were about the A3. On paper, it should be a riot to drive. Maybe it's the transmission or DBW programming. All I know is that it was dead when you first tipped into the throttle, whether from a stop or rolling.

Are you sure the A3 you drove was a '17? I've had both a '16 & '17 as loaners and the '16 behaved just as you described. The '17 did a much better job on throttle tip-in and clutch engagement.

I didn't actually check the sticker, but it had about 6 miles on it. I would assume a 2016 would have a few more on it just from getting shuffled around. I was thinking back last night to whether the auto-stop feature defaults to ON in that car, which would explain the lag from a dead stop. But it was also noticeable at a roll, too. Boost and a downshift seemed to come in together, both after a little delay, so it went from not enough to too much every time. I'm sure you could learn to drive around that, but you shouldn't have to.

That very behaviour is why we passed on both the 1.8T A4 and the WRX automatic in 2004. Seems odd that after all this time, they haven't engineered it out.

Other than that, the chassis was great, and so were the brakes. But it's still too small and unwelcoming inside.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/29/17 8:32 a.m.
Cblais19 wrote: Hm, there's also a FWD version of the 2.0 now - I wonder if they limit throttle tip in on that one due avoid wheelspin. It's probably also the DCT, 1st tends to be pretty gentle and quick to upshift unless you're really in the throttle. That can make it feel laggy off the line when you're just toodling around in traffic (significantly worse in my TDi which either had 5hp or was chirping the tires from a stop). The A3 also has no LSD availability unlike the GTI, I guess they figure if you want performance from that car you'll just go with the AWD model and call it good. Duke; did you pop in an A4 while you were there? It's stretching further up the price chain but it's a nicer car and with the more powerful 2.0 paired with Audi's new 7 speed DCT it's absurdly quick for a base engine in the segment (well under 6s). How about a used Buick Regal GS? Not super fast, but it can be had with AWD, has the GM trick magnetic suspension and has that whole German sport sedan feel and all the modern tech features at an OTD in the mid $20s on a 2015.

We drove a quattro - at any rate, that's what we asked to drive, so I assume that's what it was. It was late in the day, so I didn't specifically check. It drove like it was AWD.

We didn't look at A4s. Kind of like the current 3-series, it's the right size, but optioned up the way we want it, sticker is about $8-$10k too high. There may be deals available but they will have to be pretty deep, unless we go CPO. That's not out of the question (my 325i was CPO), but since we plan keep this car a minimum of 10 years, I'd like to start by shopping new.

I'm planning to look at the GS, but I suspect the Fusion Sport is going to beat it at the same price range. I like the Ford's looks, it seems roomy, it makes a ton of power, and all the way up it stickers right around $40k, so street price is probably in the $37k range.

Thanks for the input, everybody! I appreciate it.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/29/17 1:47 p.m.

Looking at the new 2018 GS, I could see that being a good contender. Some platform sharing with the Malibu, I believe, which is getting very good reviews, with the added bonus of AWD availability. Price starts around the top of our budget, though, and as a new model, I doubt there will be discounts. I wonder when they are shipping.

Cblais19
Cblais19 New Reader
8/29/17 2:01 p.m.

There's a few 2015s fully loaded (adaptive cruise and all that) for $22-25k in my area. That's a lot of sports sedan for the price, and apparently the turbo takes quite well to some aftermarket tunes. Plus Buick has been leading the segment in reliability.

Eg: https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/709050051/overview/

Not as sexy as the new one but a lot cheaper..

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/23/17 4:06 p.m.

Well, Friday we bought a car.  If you're connected to me outside of this place, you may know what it is.  But first, let's catch up with Round Two of our shopping expedition:

Ford Fusion Sport V6/AWD.  I liked this car in pictures and on paper, so I found one locally with most of the options we wanted and gave it a test drive.  In Sport trim, the Fusion comes with the 2.7 Ecoboost and AWD, which should put it right in the hunt.  It was the only one we tried with over 300 hp and it makes a ton of torque, too.  Priced out the way we liked, all up, it was around $41k, but street prices are lower.  This one, which had most of what we wanted, would have probably come home for around $36k.  The Sport features cool electromagnetic struts that are fairly firm during normal driving, but instantly soften up on harsh impacts.  Ride and handling are pretty good in general; steering feel was about on par for this type of car.  The power is available upon request, but it's docile until you poke it.  It sounded good - so good, in fact, that suspect there was some artificial enhancement going on.  If so, BOO.   The transmission has 6 gears, which seems a little shy for modern trends, but it shift smoothly and promptly, and didn't hunt around.

This is a big car inside and out, with a roomy interior and huge trunk.  Seats are leather with alcantara-like inset panels.  The interior design is solid - not too dull or too flashy - though DW didn't really like the dark grey on black color scheme.  Controls are clear and mostly intuitive.  It was handsome enough, comfortable enough, and interesting enough to drive. But the Fusion can be bought in the bottom half of the $20s for the low-spec, or optioned all the way up to the lower $40s, and that kind of shows.  This was a solid car that I would have been happy to be issued as a company car... but when paying our own money, we can do better.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/23/17 4:42 p.m.

After lunch that same day, we drove a wildcard:

BMW 330i xDrive Sportline.  I like my E46 and it really hasn't been trouble to own, although not as trouble-free as the Acura.  We had no reason not to shop BMW, except when we built a car we wanted in the online configurator, it always came in over budget, even starting with a 320xi.  The 320 didn't thrill us, because it's down more than 50hp compared to any other car we were considering.  My 325i doesn't look good on paper, either, but I know what BMW can make 185hp feel like.  The problem is my car is RWD, manual, and probably 400 lbs lighter, with similar power output.  Nonetheless, I wanted to see what we could do.  So we walked into the biggest regional BMW dealer and told the salesperson, "We have an upper budget of $40k.  What's the nicest 3-series - preferably a 330xi - that you can sell us?"

Well, he came through in spades.  He had a pair of 2017 330xi program cars he could let go for under the limit.  One had 6,000 miles, and the other had 6,800.  Both came with the full factory warranty, plus the CPO extension, which in BMW's case is pretty good (my E46 was CPO).  The lower mileage car was silver and had the vinyl interior, while the higher was bright Melbourne Red and had real leather plus the cold weather package (heated front and rear, plus steering wheel).  We wanted real leather, so we drove the red one (plus, it already had more miles on it).

Wow.

We took a test drive, and I only drove it a little, because I'm familiar with how it should drive.  It was definitely nice.  Visibility was great all round.  We found a good spot, switched, and DW took off through a bunch of fun back roads.  As soon as she put her foot down and turned the wheel, she was smiling.  By the time we got through a series of sharp bends and whoop-de-dos, she was positively grinning.  The car was just a hoot to drive, even with the automatic.  Everything felt good, all the control inputs were perfectly weighted, and it just did what you told it to do and asked for more.  It sounded great and had that creamy BMW power delivery.  It also had that creamy BMW ride that somehow never notably compromises the handling.  I'm sure it understeers at the limit, but driving at 7/ or 8/10s, it's right there with you.  Even the run-flats didn't feel evil.

The most telling thing that I can say about this car is that DW almost bought it.  It was obnoxiously bright red and it had an all-black interior (including headliner and pillars).  The black leather seats had red piping and red stitching.  It looked like a midlife crisis on wheels and it was missing a few options / features that we could get on the other cars.  Despite all that, DW - an intelligent professional woman in her mid-50s, untroubled by midlife crises - agonized overnight and well into the next day about buying this car.  It was that much fun to drive.  Ultimately, a different car fit the mission profile a little better... but I think if the silver BMW had been outfitted like the red one, we might have come home in it.

The red BMW was fairly loaded and stickered just over $51,000.  It was a 2017 in perfect condition and had under 7,000 miles on it.  We could have bought it for $38k flat just for saying yes, and with a little pushback, we could probably have been closer $37k.  Whoever ends up with it is going to get a hell of a deal.

etifosi
etifosi SuperDork
9/23/17 5:51 p.m.

Why do you keep a Pollock in suspense?cheeky

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/24/17 10:21 a.m.

cheeky

etifosi
etifosi SuperDork
9/24/17 4:17 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

Oh sheesh!  Autocorrect likes fish, not polocks.blush

Also, inquiring minds want to know.......what did you buy?

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/24/17 7:17 p.m.

I'd look toward a loaded Hyundai Azera (they start at $34k). WIth the low miles DW puts on it, you should be able to get everything out of that 10-year/100k mile powertrain warranty (5/60k bumper-to-bumper). I've driven several late-model Hyundais and they have impressive driving dynamics, good power (the Azera is like 290hp), and they actually look quite nice in terms of style and interior.

Alternately, whatever the Kia twin is has the same warranty, I assume.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
9/25/17 7:27 a.m.

The problem with replacing a 2004 TSX is that it was kind of a high point in Acura Design.  It had some clean, classic lines that were pretty timeless and came before the hideous chrome "beak" that Acura adopted.  

The 2018 is, uh, BUSY

And that's a big improvement over the 2017 believe it or not.  I'd say you did well with the Fusion Sport! 

 

(dang, you can't resize photos anymore! It only works in the preview, not on the site.  At least in my browser)

 

 

 

 

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/25/17 9:51 a.m.

OK, sorry for being a dick about leaving the last post hanging.  We were out running a road rally in the new car yesterday (it turned over 100 miles on course).  We ran SOP Class (no GPS or calculators allowed) and won class and overall with 68 points in a 40-50 mile rally.

Without further ado, the new hotness:

Which - coincidentally, actually - looks a bit like the old hotness:

The new hotness is a 2017 Volvo S60 Inscription Platinum AWD in Mussel Blue with Soft Beige interior, which I actually would have called "Parchment".  It's not particularly beige.

Honestly, we didn't set out to buy a car in almost the same color.  But nearly all the manufacturers we looked at currently have terrible color selections.  Most have about 5 shades of grey, ranging from silver to metallic black.  Then they have white, maybe some kind of reddish, and if you're lucky, something blueish.  And most of those are paired with a very limited selection of interiors - predominantly black or tan.

The S60 just seems to fit the profile better than anything else.  It was the first car we test drove, and we liked it immediately.  In order to make sure it wasn't order bias, we drove it again directly after the 330xi above.  The first S60 we tried was the Dynamic, which is the regular wheelbase version.  For the second run we tried an Inscription, which is 3" longer in wheelbase, all of it added to the back seat area.  Our kids haven't been kids in 10 years, and we're far more likely to have middle-age friends back there, so more room made more sense.  We'd already come to this conclusion before we went back, and driving the long version confirmed it wasn't notably different than the shorter Dynamic.

When  you move up to the Inscription, you actually lose a couple features that we deemed important.  First, you lose HID lights in favor of cheaper halogens.  Also, the Dynamic has deeper, more-bolstered front seats that disappear from the regular Inscription.  That would have been unfortunate in both cases, but not a total deal breaker.  However, we noticed when using the configurator that adding a few options we wanted to the "base" Inscription actually made it $150 more than the Inscription Platinum, which is the all-in package and has the options we wanted as standard.  But the real bonus is that the Platinum also gets the HID lights and sportier, more supportive seats from the Dynamic.  So that was a no-brainer, even though it was somewhat different from what we originally told the salesguy we wanted.

So we started shopping dealer inventory and found this car, which also has the Climate package (heated front and rear seats, and heated steering wheel) and a 19" sport wheel package.  It stickered at about $47,600, but as a leftover we got it for just a hair under $39,000 plus TT+T after some back and forth.  Also, 0% free financing for 60 months.  We had been planning on putting a decent amount down, but we kept most of that in our pocket.  Can't beat free use of someone else's money.

It had 4 miles on it when we picked it up.

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