Last post on Apr 01, 2008 at 9:03 PM
You are in the BMW 3-Series
What is this discussion about?
BMW 3 Series, Wagon
#200 of 346 325ixT vs Passat vs A4 Avant
May 06, 2002 (9:54 am)
I've been weighing the respective merits and disadvantages of these three cars, too. My venerable 1991 Saab 900s has 162K and won't last much longer, and since no-one makes a usable hatchback with a flat load floor, I'm forced to consider a station wagon. I won't drive an automatic, so that narrows the field considerably (no SUVs). I thought I had finally figured it out: my wife has a 2001 A4 1.8T Quattro sedan and I was eagerly awaiting the new A4 Avant. But I took my wife's car on a 2000 mile road trip and discovered that it is excruciatingly uncomfortable on long trips, due to the narrowness of the footwell and the hard plastic on the center console. When I had the cruise control engaged, the only place I could put my right leg was to lean it against the console. Unfortunately, a protruding bone on the side of my knee was in direct contact with the granite-hard plastic of the console side, so that at the end of 2000 miles I had a bruise that lasted for two weeks. I looked at the new A4 and there is even less room in the footwell. So Audi is out, even though the Avant has the most intelligently designed cargo area I've seen.
The BMW console sticks out less and is encased in softer plastic, so that's less of a problem, but the footwell is still quite narrow and the gas pedal is almost directly under the steering column. Not to mention that I would have to spend about $4000 more than for a comparably equipped A4, and that's with European delivery. The cargo area is much smaller on the BMW, 35" between the rear wheels, while it's 40" on the A4 (and I think 42" on the Passat). Cabin storage is also less practical on the BMW (the Avant even has drawers under the front seats and shelves in the glove compartment). But the handling, ride, etc. on the BMW is far superior to that of the 2002 A4, about on a par with the 2001 A4 (yes, the older model A4 handles much better than the new one, imo).
So now I'm hoping that the Passat will be more roomy in driver's compartment; it certainly has a lot of cargo room in back. And, unlike the A4 or the 325ixT, the rear seats actually fold down flat! I haven't driven a Passat yet, so I may decide it's not adequate; we'll see. I also tried the Saab 9-5 wagon, but it handles like a boat; for the same money, I'd get the 325xiT and put up with the limited cargo space.
#201 of 346 Driver Comfort: A4 Avant vs. 325iT
May 06, 2002 (6:56 pm)
I have not driven the 2002 A4 Avant. My impression is based on in sitting in one at the Auto Show for about 15 minutes. Compared to my 2000 323iT, there seems to be even more foot space in the Audi. I didn't notice the center console being larger, though it may. I preferred these things about the A4 Avant:
1.) The gas pedal is further to the right. It is the same distance to the gas pedal and left foot stop. This arrangement feels more comfortable than the BMW with it's gas pedal nearly under the steering column and the distance to the left foot stop is about 1.5" further away than the gas pedal. This causes a twist in the lower body that is not comfortable for me on long trips.
2.) With the seat adjusted for my leg length, the steering column comes closer, allowing a more relaxed arm/hand position. The 3-series steering wheel needs to adjust about 2" closer.
3.) Rounded, softer steering wheel, with larger diameter tube feels better than hard BMW steering wheel (three-spoke sports pkg.)
4.) Electrically adjustable lumbar support! The Audi seat felt more comfortable overall. The 3-series sports seats are too hard and lack lumbar support.
5.) Seat position. The simple manual adjustment for the Audi let me set front and rear seat heights independent of where the seat was located on the track. The power BMW seat gets lower as it goes away from the dash and the front edge can not be set low enough until the seat is all the way back. It puts pressure on my thigh. On paper, it looks like it can be adjusted exactly like you want, but the mechanism for height and seat angle is linked to seat position front to back. I think this is a poor design. The 5-series Wagon with standard seats is no better.
While I'm harping about ergonomics, the BMW 3-series so-called "auto" A/C system is more trouble to use than a simple manual system with fan speed, temp, air direction, A/C on/off and recirculate. It takes too many button pushes and adjustment of the Blue/Red temp knob in the center dash vent. It behaves poorly in defrost and borderline situations where it is almost, but not quite hot enough to use the A/C compressor. This is a good example of "almost" technology getting in the way of a simple solution. I admit, the auto recirculate feature is very nice, though! In the 5-series, you can also turn the air recirculation on/off from a button on the steering wheel below the cruise controls.
I admire the handling, braking, drivetrain, fuel economy, appearance, build quality, etc of the 3-series Wagon. I think BMW could improve the ergonomics of this otherwise great car.
#202 of 346 325ix vs. VolvoXC
May 07, 2002 (8:25 am)
Trying to decide between 325ix wagon and a Volvo cross country. Anyone gone thru this exercise? Also, any experience w/European delivery on either?
#203 of 346 BMW vs Volvo vs Audi vs Passat
May 07, 2002 (9:11 am)
My wife and I picked a '02 BMW 325xi wagon over the new Audi A4 Avant, VW Passat wagon, and Volvo cross country. We started the search looking for the Volvo, since it seems to be the official car of our suburb. All were good choices. In the end, we thought the Volvo was trying too hard to be a short Grand Cherokee. While commendable, the Passat didn't have the superior handling and stability control of the BMW. The Audi had the nicest interior feel up front but the back seat felt cramped. We were also worried about Audi reliability (see Consumer Reports). Shadowdad already pointed out the biggest problem with the BMW wagon: you can't find them! BMW only sells a couple hundred a month total in the U.S., so it's hard to find one for a test drive. Now that I have one, I like that it's rare to see one on the road. It makes a modest anti-SUV statement and it isn't as ubiquitous as the 3 series sedan. The BMW wagon is a joy to drive. And while it's not a Lincoln Navigator, it does comfortably hold my kid's stroller with room to spare for groceries. The seats fold down easily and it has this cool cargo net that attaches to the ceiling of the car to prevent stored objects from flying into the back of your head in a quick stop. All in all, the BMW wagon is a great car. Many people have come up to us and asked about getting one themselves.
#204 of 346 bmw 325xiT
May 07, 2002 (1:05 pm)
If buying a wagon is for its big storage and hauling capability, then the 325xiT is not for you. If your need is to simply have a bigger trunk than the sedan for occasional use, then this wagon is absolutely the best of its breed in my opinion. Its handling is faultless. some wagons may have more power, and some others may carry more, yet nothing I had tested prior to putting in my order can compare with it as a total driving package. We have enjoyed driving it even more than the same model, but older, sedan in our family.
#205 of 346 Rear Seats
Jul 20, 2002 (12:28 am)
Do the rear seats in the BMW 3 series wagon fold down completely flat?
#206 of 346 wagon rear seats
Jul 21, 2002 (7:25 am)
I have a 5 wagon, but also looked very closely at the
3 wagon. NEITHER of them have a PERFECTLY flat deck when
the seat is down. In the 5, I finally figured out how to
remove the center headrest. Then, with the three headrests
removed, it's ALMOST flat. I have made a two-piece 1/4"
plywood arrangement (with tie-down hooks on the plastic
frame I attached) that does a great job of protection and
carrying anything that will fit through the tailgate.
Remember the 5 does have the advantage of the lack
of wheel wells blocking part of the rear section.
Good luck on your decision.
PS- I tried to email this, but the mailer daemon gave back:
"550 User whoughpacificnet.net Unknown"
#207 of 346 325i Wagon vrs Audi
Jul 24, 2002 (6:04 am)
well 2 years & 35k miles later it's time to get rid of my 2000 323ti wagon which I loved. Looking at Audi this time around would appreciate any feedback. thanks
#208 of 346 BMW vs. Audi
Jul 24, 2002 (11:35 am)
Read the previous posts for a discussion of BMW vs. Audi. They're both fine wagons. The Audis have more options and extras for the dollar and have better financing options right now. However, I recently chose the BMW. One day in a parking lot, a woman in a black 325 wagon pulled up next to me, thereby holding up traffic. She rolled the window down (causing everyone behind to honk) and, looking at my shiny new orient blue wagon, said "isn't it great? I feel like a kid with a big toy." That pretty much sums it up for me.
#209 of 346 330iT Sport Wagon for mid year 2003???
Dec 11, 2002 (11:33 pm)
Anyone know or is there any truth that BMWNA will import the 3-series sport Wagon with the 3 liter in mid 2003?
I am reviewing my European Delivery choices for 2003.