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Old 11-06-2012, 06:44 PM   #1
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Default What is the best entry level luxury sedan?

Audi A4 2.0T FWD, Acura TSX, Volvo S60, Merc C250, BMW 328i, Lexus IS250, Buick Verano, Caddy ATS


I didn't include the Acura ILX, nothing VW, Toyota Avalon, didn't think Ford had anything worth comparing here, and if I missed (insert car) than by all means go for it.

Alot of these cars have many option packages, engines available, so pick which one you think its the best for the buck and/or best performer based on the package.
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:20 PM   #2
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If it were me I would get a Volvo S60R as the best bang for the buck.

19 year average road life in North America.
Generally the lowest maintenance costs of any luxury brand.
Probably the highest safety ratings of the group.
Very attractive, clean, and durable interior in my opinion.
Decent performer with R suspension and 325hp/354lb-ft + AWD.
Would be especially attractive if you could special order it with a manual transmission.
Volvo makes the most comfortable car seats I've ever sat in.
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:45 PM   #3
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If it were me I would get a Volvo S60R as the best bang for the buck.

19 year average road life in North America.
Generally the lowest maintenance costs of any luxury brand.
Probably the highest safety ratings of the group.
Very attractive, clean, and durable interior in my opinion.
Decent performer with R suspension and 325hp/354lb-ft + AWD.
Would be especially attractive if you could special order it with a manual transmission.
Volvo makes the most comfortable car seats I've ever sat in.
Volvo seats are pretty awesome. Interiors are nicely designed but not...especially nice; if that makes sense. Materials could be a little better for the price.

In general, I like the car a good bit. That said, they don't make S60R's anymore...they make an 'R design.' It does have a pretty decent engine (transverse I6 with a twin-scroll turbo, iirc...basically the old TT I6 from the S80, but with a lot of refinements to make it...not suck) and I thought you could get it with a six speed manual, same as the old R's.

But I have my doubts about it, given that that 'R design' has generally been a trim package. The small cars got, like, some colored stitching on the interior and a fake hood scoop...not exactly the effort they made with the old R-cars.

Just a vanilla S60 is worth a drive, though. It's on the EUCD platform, which is a stretched C1 (or P1 by Volvo's designation). I was still working at a Volvo dealer when the new S80's and XC70's started coming out. They were quite nice. More luxury than the S40, but had all the bits that quite honestly made the latter a much better car than the previous gen S80/S60/V70 (S40 was P1 since 2004).

I would not even consider the IS250. The G37 is only two grand more and thoroughly trounces it. IS350 it its real competitor, but is about another 3k over the G37. I think the Nissan wins as a driver's car, either way- if you want good handling and don't mind the fact that the V6 is a little lacking in low-end (still plenty quick, though), I would certainly go drive one. For 'driving pleasure' I would put it second to the Bimmer, though I haven't experienced the new 4cyl...ironically, I think it's more torquey than the Nissan and Toyota V6's.

I don't know Acura's line well; mostly because all the ones I've been in still feel like Accords. Did they ever get a RWD sedan, or are they still trying to put the TL up against the G and IS? I know they offer AWD, but it's in the same boat as Volvo- useful if you live in snowy Scandinavia, maybe, but doesn't really make the car any faster, and it still feels like a FWD car.

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Old 11-06-2012, 07:50 PM   #4
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Hyundai Genesis V6 -

Ford Taurus SHO -

The IS is junk, the BMW 3 -series is the best for driving bu overpriced, the G37 is a great bargain but tight backseat and trunk + it sounds like your driving a truck, The A4 is over priced for 210HP.

The TSX is a fine car, cheapest of the bunch by far but slow & not sporty or RWD.

Love the Volvo S60.

Verano is a rebadged Chevy Cruze - the Turbo 2.0L Verano releasing is very cool.

The Buck Regal GS is the best handling and sprty FWD car sold in America.


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All can be had with BIG discounts!
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:09 PM   #5
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He definitely needs to put out more criteria. I doubt many people will object to saying that for pure driving, 3-series > G > other stuff. But if he wants a softer ride and/or is generally not concerned with corner-carving, both become not-so-good options.
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:09 PM   #6
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I do not recommend the IS250 it's a dog when you get on it and that particular engine has allot of problems.

The Volvo S60 takes my vote, with TSX as a runner up between all those options.
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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I'm selling my a4 quattro. For a 328i.

Had a first gen tsx. New one is a fine car but its not too great driving wise. C250 is probably OK but id probably just go for the 328i if I was spending in that range. Is250 is really cramped and underpowered and last year of its model cycle. I would not get it.

G37 is kind of dated and the engine is a bit harsh. Ats I think is competitive but its not really cheap either

I guess I've gone over all these cars and well own one and will own another but it really depends on your budget and if you want comfort or sport.

Don't buy a fwd Audi tho. Its not an Audi without quattro. And in my case its not an Audi turbo unless it burns tons of oil
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:54 PM   #8
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Why not 300 on that list?
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Audi A4 2.0T FWD, Acura TSX, Volvo S60, Merc C250, BMW 328i, Lexus IS250, Buick Verano, Caddy ATS


I didn't include the Acura ILX, nothing VW, Toyota Avalon, didn't think Ford had anything worth comparing here, and if I missed (insert car) than by all means go for it.

Alot of these cars have many option packages, engines available, so pick which one you think its the best for the buck and/or best performer based on the package.
I would say ATS or 328i of the ones you mentioned. I would certainly check out the new Ford Fusion to see how it handles. I have a 2010 A4 Quattro...and if you had put Quattro I would have voted for the Audi...but the FWD cars have a CVT that I just don't like. It is better than older CVT's that I've driven from Audi...but nothing like the ZF automatic or manual that you get with the Quattro cars.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:55 PM   #10
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Do you prefer sporty or comfortable? MT required? Cold weather country?
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:20 PM   #11
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they don't make S60R's anymore...they make an 'R design.' It does have a pretty decent engine (transverse I6 with a twin-scroll turbo, iirc...basically the old TT I6 from the S80, but with a lot of refinements to make it...not suck) and I thought you could get it with a six speed manual, same as the old R's.
I don't think Volvo has any manuals left for sale in the USA, now that they've discontinued the C30.
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:53 AM   #12
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No S60R, just an S60 R-design? Don't you think that's splitting hairs a little too fine?

R-design suspension description:

"Lowered by 15 mm, the R-Design sport chassis is perceptibly and materially different. The anti-roll bars, the rear dampers (monotube concept), 15% stiffer springs, quicker steering, a front strut brace and more have been sports-tuned for more road hugging control."

Plus a 75hp bump in power and 90lb-ft bump in torque and numerous other options, like dual HID headlights, over the base model... It's a lot more than colored stitching and a hood scoop. I've never seen a hood scoop on a Volvo now that I think of it...
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:04 AM   #13
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ATS would get my vote.

The IS350 is ok but the 250 may have longterm DirectInjection issues(is350 is Dual Injection).

Audi... hahahhahahahahaaa... no thanks.
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:07 AM   #14
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Buick Verano or Regal, Chrysler 300.
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:28 AM   #15
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dont even bother with the IS250
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:30 AM   #16
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I absolutely love the S60R. Any R model Volvo is fantastic.'
I also like the G37 and the new Merc C-Class (fantastic good looks)
Bang for buck is definitely there with the R though, I have driven 2 V70R's with the 300HP 5 cyl and 6 speed manual. Awesome car, and worlds best seats.
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:32 AM   #17
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Might not want to rule out the Lincoln MKZ.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:17 AM   #18
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At the end of last year, the GF and I drove a FWD Audi A4, BMW 328i, G37 Sedan, IS250, Acura TSX, Acura TL, and Mercedes C250. I preferred the 328i, my GF preferred the IS250 (which we ended up getting).

I had no problems with the IS250.. it did everything I needed it to do when we had one. The voice navigation sucked and it didn't have the power of my G35, but that's about it. I preferred driving it over my G35 for our daily carpooling vehicle of choice. By no means is it a driver's car, but it was a great commuter and got much better gas mileage to boot.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:34 AM   #19
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Out of that list, BMW 328i with the 8 speed.

First, it is plenty quick with the turbo-4 and the close ratio 8 speed automatic. Most places place 0-60 anywhere from 5.5-6 seconds.

Second, it kills the rest of your choices in MPG. Rated at 23/33/26. My 2006 330i is rated 18/28/21 and I consistently get 25 combined and I have a lead foot.

Third, it still has the best balance between comfort and sport comparing to the rest of your options. The suspension and interior comfort is luxury while still providing good cornering and transition ability when pushed.

My overall conclusion on the 328i is balanced. It does everything VERY well. Cons are outside engine noise (no smooth inline 6) and price if you start bloating options.

C250 doesn't compare, less power, less mpg, less comfort, less everything.

S60 more power but much less mpg, bigger, less balanced (very nose heavy) and way more expensive (if you want the 6, the 5 doesn't even compare)

TSX isn't even in the same ballpack, you can scratch this from your list entirely.

TL less mpg, less balanced, less sporty but bigger interior but still nose heavy and also FWD.

IS250 is fail. Minimum satisfaction is IS350 but way more expensive.

Don't have any experience with ATS.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:28 PM   #20
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KIAMan, if you consider the long list of features associated with the upgraded S60 R trim, it blows away the 328i base model. To get a BMW in the same trim/feature level as the S60R requires an upgraded 328xi that's a little over $45k, about the same price as the S60R. The base S60 is less expensive than the base 328i to boot. It is erroneous to compare the base trim of one car to the top trim of another in this case.

Though the BMW does have considerably better weight balance at 53/47 vs the S60's 63/37. No one thinks "Volvo" when they think "race car vehicle dynamics". Though it would be up to the individual driver to decide if that balance difference really mattered to them.

The BMW's fuel economy is impressive, though according to fuelly.com 328i drivers get a mean of 23mpg and S60 drivers get a mean of 26mpg, for what that's worth. I find EPA mileage nearly meaningless.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:09 PM   #21
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Drive a slushbox '08 A4 quattro at the moment, power isn't fantastic but ok-ish with a ECU reflash. Transmission is terrible and makes me regret getting the auto for commuting instead of just dealing with the manual in stop and go.

I'm waiting to see what the revised A3 platform, sedan model as well, will offer before I make a decision on what to replace my A4 with. Since it'll actually have a DCT instead of the slush the A4s keep coming with.

The new 328i is getting rave reviews and I'd probably lean that way at the moment. I wonder how much better the 8 speed auto is versus my A4's auto since neither of them are DCTs.

The clock in the Lexus just made me laugh every time I got into my friend's IS250. Also that engine is slow and disappointing.

I'm not a fan of Nissans due to family history with them, but the G sedans are probably better bets than the Toyotas at the moment.

I don't want FWD ever again in a 'sporty' car so I can't even look at the Hondas. I want to, but the lack of power and RWD drive trains just turns me off completely.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
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No S60R, just an S60 R-design? Don't you think that's splitting hairs a little too fine?

R-design suspension description:

"Lowered by 15 mm, the R-Design sport chassis is perceptibly and materially different. The anti-roll bars, the rear dampers (monotube concept), 15% stiffer springs, quicker steering, a front strut brace and more have been sports-tuned for more road hugging control."

Plus a 75hp bump in power and 90lb-ft bump in torque and numerous other options, like dual HID headlights, over the base model... It's a lot more than colored stitching and a hood scoop. I've never seen a hood scoop on a Volvo now that I think of it...
I wasn't trying to be an authority on the matter...I did google the new R-design, and all I was reading was that it had a powerful engine...no mention of the upgraded, adjustable suspension of old or any other tweaks. I don't think it has the adjustable bit, but it is upgraded. My apologies; I just didn't get enough info. Also Car and Driver sucks...I guess I already knew that; but skimming their writeup didn't give me the above info.

The first use of R-design was on the C30. And now that I think about it, I didn't even see a production model...I thought I did. It was sitting at Volvo NA HQ up in New Jersey. The instructors laughed about it, as did the techs that were there for training. I distinctly remember a pasted-on hoodscoop that looked like it came from Autozone, but I can't find a pic of that, now, so I guess that wasn't the production car.

The main thing, though, was that they started using the 'R design' thing to basically say, 'hey, it's sportier looking.' But there was no performance difference...just a regular T5 car. I thought they were probably continuing that trend...it's a nice surprise that they're not. I don't see why they don't just go back to calling it an 'S60R' proper, though.

More important- holy shit a lot of Volvo support here. I knew the new S60 was well-liked, but it seems like the overwhelming favorite. I wish I had gotten the chance to drive one...is it really that much sportier than the bigger cars that got released first? I mean, I drove the new gen XC/V70, and kind of assumed the S60 would be similar, as it was with the previous gen.

Conclusions:

Volvo more luxurious and powerful than BMW or G37. But I'd wager the latter two still spank it in the handling department.

Toyota/Honda offerings a bit lackluster.

Cheap Audis aren't very worthwhile.

ATS is a bit of a wildcard- who's actually gotten to drive one? I'm still not sure what kind of segment that things aimed at. 328i competitor (turbo 4 and a stiff ride)?

OP- come back, we're almost done picking out your car for you.

...or you could, you know, participate rather than listen to us window shop.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:08 PM   #23
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The BMW's fuel economy is impressive, though according to fuelly.com 328i drivers get a mean of 23mpg and S60 drivers get a mean of 26mpg, for what that's worth. I find EPA mileage nearly meaningless.
According to fuelly.com, Volvo S60 T6 with the 6 cyl averaged 21.6 while the S60-R Design averaged 17.8. The 5 cyl average 23mpg. The BMW 328i (F30) averaged 25.1.

The base price of new Volvo S60 T5 MSRP is around with BMW 328i MSRP. Although the T5 has more HP/TQ, it does 0-60 in 7.2, pretty anemic. You'll have to go with the T6 with siginificantly higher MSRP to compete while at a significant MPG hit.

I'm not knocking on the Volvo, just comparing the metrics.

Also, where did you see 53/47 weight distribution? Most of the materials I've read had it close to 50/50 or even a little rear biased 49/51.
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:21 PM   #24
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According to fuelly.com, Volvo S60 T6 with the 6 cyl averaged 21.6 while the S60-R Design averaged 17.8. The 5 cyl average 23mpg. The BMW 328i (F30) averaged 25.1.

The base price of new Volvo S60 T5 MSRP is around with BMW 328i MSRP. Although the T5 has more HP/TQ, it does 0-60 in 7.2, pretty anemic. You'll have to go with the T6 with siginificantly higher MSRP to compete while at a significant MPG hit.

I'm not knocking on the Volvo, just comparing the metrics.

Also, where did you see 53/47 weight distribution? Most of the materials I've read had it close to 50/50 or even a little rear biased 49/51.
I guess I wasn't so careful about choosing specific engines and years on fuelly.

The prices are $36.5k for the base 328i and $31.9k for the base S60, 13% cheaper.

0-60 times are so dammed different depending on test track, conditions, OE tires... I just don't trust them.

I think 53/47 was for the 328xi, the AWD system shifting weight forward a bit. Sorry I wasn't clear on that.

I have no doubt that the BMW 328i is a pretty sweet car and a good performer for the price, but then again most of the cars in this group are a big step above the average car I would wager. I personally wouldn't want to sacrifice the durability (especially cold-weather durability for NH winters) and comfort of the Volvo though.

A little background: I've driven, to a greater or less degree, an S60R (2007, 300hp), 2011 XC70 (330hp), 2000 V70R (modded, 300+hp), 1999 S80 T6, and 2000 S70. All owned by my immediate family. I really like Volvos.

In my younger and stupider days I chased a Mercedes Benz CL 350, and an S4 in a separate instance, down some back roads going more than double the speed limit in the S80 T6 on some wicked twisty roads. The fact of the matter is that very nearly all of the performance capabilities of these cars is wasted on the street.
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:34 PM   #25
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...so you haven't driven the new S60?

Not being a smart-ass, just verifying, as I really am curious as it compares to the 2010+ big cars. I know it's nothing like the 1999-2009 P2's.

Also, I find it hard to believe you owned a '99 S80, especially a T6, and weren't forever turned off of Volvos. They're a decent drive, but I wouldn't recommend owning one to anyone.

Volvo's strengths, IMO, were the 850/S70 (-2000) and the 2004.5+ S40/V50/C30, and now the 2010+ S80/V70/S60. The stuff in the middle was decent but far from great. I do have a soft sport for the R cars, though.

Volvos will always be very FWD to me, though. Good front-drivers, for sure, but the AWD R's weren't exactly Evos or STi's...like I said above, it's more of a utility thing that I wouldn't recommend to someone looking for performance. Great system in snow, though...the Swedes are good at that.
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