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Affordability dilemna: IS vs. Optima vs. Mazda 6 vs. Fusion

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Old 03-07-13, 08:24 AM   #1
jhumbo
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Default Affordability dilemna: IS vs. Optima vs. Mazda 6 vs. Fusion

I've been driving an 04 Acura TL for the past seven years and it has been great, but the car is getting close to 200k miles. I'm now starting to browse for a replacement vehicle and want to keep the purchase price down around $25k. I've got quite a dilemna because there is not a single vehicle out there that I am completely comfortable with.

Here's my want and don't want list:
  • Bluetooth (it seems this is pretty much standard nowadays)
  • Navigation
  • iPod/MP3/USB integration of some kind. (Want to have song control from steering wheel.)
  • little body roll / good handling
  • stylish look (I know this is subjective, but it is important to me)
  • smallish mid-sized 4 door. My 2004 TL is the right size. Any bigger feels too big for me. I'm fine with going smaller but I want 4 doors.
  • decent power in the neighborhood of 250hp and a 6 second 0-60 time.
  • decent highway MPG as well. If I can get 35 MPG highway that's a reasonable compromise since I want the power noted in the above bullet point.
  • long-term reliability. I want to be able to keep the car for 6 years, 150k miles (I put about 25k per year) with little hassle.
  • low maintenance costs. This pretty much rules out the Germans
  • FWD or AWD. (I do a lot of midwest driving and don't want to worry about RWD in the snow.)

It's interesting that while my current TL pretty much fits that description pretty well, there is an extremely slim list of cars that fit the above description. I've test driven the Kia Optima SX and the new 2014 Mazda 6 and both are nice cars, but no V-6 option, a bit underpowered and I'm not so sure about reliability on the Kia or any Turbo-4-cyl. I suspect the Ford Fusion will be similar. I actually thought I might like the Lexus CT200h quite a bit until I test drove it. That thing could be fantastic if it had another 100 hp! I'd love a new 2014 IS, but that's where the affordability dilemna comes in...

Which brings me back to a car that I considered buying 7 years ago, the second gen IS. My concerns with the IS are cost of a 350 AWD (introduced in 2011), highways MPGs, and the fact that it is now a nearly 8 year old design that is about to be redesigned.

Dilemnas, dilemnas. I'm curious what your thoughts are.
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Last edited by jhumbo; 03-07-13 at 08:31 AM..
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Old 03-07-13, 09:04 AM   #2
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I wouldn't even compare an IS to an Optima, Mazda 6 or Ford fusion!

While the 3rd generation of the IS is coming out the 2nd is still a looker and for a budget of 25k you can get a pretty nice one.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:13 AM   #3
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the only car I can think of that gets 250ish hp with close to 35 mpg would be a 2013 v6 mustang lol the IS is one of the most dependable cars I've ever driven....that said mazda and ford isn't even in that category and the Optima has a 100K warranty so thats not too bad but if you want one thats like the commercials those go for 31k, my neighbor has one and imo i would never spend that much on a kia....just my .02 and IS350 gets me 27 mpg with 306 horses and you know you have one of those days where you want to just mash it haha hope that helps!
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Old 03-07-13, 09:20 AM   #4
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The Lexus ISx50 fits only a couple categories of yours. For example you can't get 35mpg highway, the is250 is to weak for you. And I agree with TTechLexus you can't compare a Lexus to a Ford or Kia.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:23 AM   #5
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In theory I agree that I shouldn't compare an IS to an Optima, Mazda 6 or Fusion, but they've all done an impressive job with their redesigns so I guess I am comparing. And you are correct that any of those three cars outfitted the way I want would end up over $30k and would still be underpowered.

35mpg is a stretch goal I suppose. I regularly get over 30mpg today on long road trips at 70mph. I guess I'm hoping to do better than that, but it's not a firm requirement.

Also, wanted to add a small note that I also test drove the new Altima with the 3.5 V6. Tons of power and a great car overall, but handling was sub-par for me and while the re-design isn't bad, it doesn't quite do it for me in the looks department. I concluded that I would prefer a second gen IS, so I ruled out the Altima.

Somehow I'm still considering the other 3 cars I mentioned. Not sure why I'm hesitant on a used IS.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:17 AM   #6
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If your current car meets those needs, why is Acura not on your list?

I think Acura nd Lexus both offer a better driving experience than the others on your list. While Kia, Ford, and Mazda are trying to mimic Lexus and Acura, the quality and "fit and finish" are not there.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:24 AM   #7
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Optima - really? a kia?
Mazda6 - decent but mazda tend to get a lot of small issues as you put more miles on it, not to mention it's sending power to the wrong wheels
Fusion - decent but interior quality is just a no-no, also fail-wheel-drive

IS - above cars not even in the same league as the IS
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Old 03-07-13, 11:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhumbo View Post
Somehow I'm still considering the other 3 cars I mentioned. Not sure why I'm hesitant on a used IS.
You're probably worried because it is just that, USED. I can't personally attest to the longevity of the vehicle but I can say from experience that i put over 25k miles on my '08 350 (I had two jobs at one point) and with regular maintenance I still running smooth. There are a few members rolling in the six figures comfortably from what I've read so I donít think you should be too concerned over this. Finding a CPO would be best to quell these fears.

The other three cars are attractive because of recent ad campaigns and so on. The Focus looks like a DBS with a silly rear, the Mazda6 is a Mazda, and the Optima has one of the greatest commercials I've seen. Now, this biased opinion comes from the fact you're asking in a Lexus specific forum - we'd recommend an '01 IS if it was on the table (loved that car BTW). I encourage you to ask the same on similar forums (if you havenít already / if available).

Youíll have to look at how important each point is for you. Frankly, you're 10 / 11 on that list with a CPO IS. Take your time and make a sound choice. I'm going on a limb here and guessing you need the 4 doors for the family. In that case I would take the crew to sit in the car. You may have some comfortable kids in the back but depending on how long you want to keep the car, you're going to have some pissed off teens.

FYI - I've stomped all those cars and then some and looked great doing it.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:37 AM   #9
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Why didnt you look at newer TL or TSX?
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Old 03-07-13, 11:40 AM   #10
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You won't find a clean titled 2011 IS350 AWD for your budget, and it won't get 35mpg. Your Acura TL tho...is anything wrong with it? Even if it has 200k on it, if its paid off and it runs well (hell, even if it needs some minor repairs) its probably worth it to just keep it running till you can't drive it anymore. If you can hold onto it for just another couple years, i'm sure the '11 350 AWD will be closer to your budget then. Or if you really want a new car now, why not try finding another Acura TL like yours with less miles on it? You already know you like the car.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:47 AM   #11
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Even the ILX might be up your ally. The main thing that goes bad on a TL is the transmission and in the grand scheme of things it's not that expensive to have it pulled and rebuilt. I'd stick with the TL if you're happy with it. Just about any Lexus is better than the other cars you mentioned.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:48 AM   #12
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Mazda6 and Fusion both get my vote, but I'd take the IS if money can afford
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Old 03-07-13, 11:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueStreet View Post
Even the ILX might be up your ally. The main thing that goes bad on a TL is the transmission and in the grand scheme of things it's not that expensive to have it pulled and rebuilt. I'd stick with the TL if you're happy with it. Just about any Lexus is better than the other cars you mentioned.
The earlier years had the transmission issues, 04+ Acura TL's were much better off.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:55 PM   #14
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Thanks much all for the comments. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKnight350 View Post
If your current car meets those needs, why is Acura not on your list?
Quote:
Originally Posted by p0lo8 View Post
Why didnt you look at newer TL or TSX?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueStreet View Post
Even the ILX might be up your ally.
I would be quite happy owning another Acura and have been very happy with the brand, but I like all the cars I've proposed in this list better. The 09+ TL is a very nice car. I had one for a day when they were doing my timing belt service and it's fun to drive with lots of nice tech in it. However, it's big, heavy, expensive and a bit bloated for my taste. The V6 version of the TSX isn't bad, but the plastics seem a bit cheap for the price and the rear end is so bland looking and overall the looks are just kinda blah. The ILX is underpowered and looks a little awkward. I'd definitely buy a used ISx50 AWD before any of the vehicles in the Acura line up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KillaIS250 View Post
Your Acura TL tho...is anything wrong with it? Even if it has 200k on it, if its paid off and it runs well (hell, even if it needs some minor repairs) its probably worth it to just keep it running till you can't drive it anymore. Or if you really want a new car now, why not try finding another Acura TL like yours with less miles on it? You already know you like the car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueStreet View Post
The main thing that goes bad on a TL is the transmission and in the grand scheme of things it's not that expensive to have it pulled and rebuilt. I'd stick with the TL if you're happy with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KillaIS250 View Post
The earlier years had the transmission issues, 04+ Acura TL's were much better off.
There's really nothing wrong with my car. I've taken good care of it and have fixed any little things that have popped up over the years. However, I need a younger car because I drive a lot for work across 4 states and don't want to risk being stranded, etc. Even though the 04+ TLs were better with transmission issues than the 99-03 TLs, it's still a pretty common failure so that's always in the back of my mind. I've considered buying an 08 TL. Maybe find myself a nice clean Type-S. But it just seems odd to buy the same car I've been driving for so long already with the exact same features and tech in it. (I suppose I'd pick up a backup cam.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by KillaIS250 View Post
You won't find a clean titled 2011 IS350 AWD for your budget, and it won't get 35mpg. . . just another couple years, i'm sure the '11 350 AWD will be closer to your budget then.
I might be willing to stretch my budget and sacrifice my MPG goals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UniSlayEX View Post
I'm going on a limb here and guessing you need the 4 doors for the family. In that case I would take the crew to sit in the car. You may have some comfortable kids in the back but depending on how long you want to keep the car, you're going to have some pissed off teens.
So I need 4 doors for two reasons. 1) I have a family (two kids ages 4 and 5). 2) I occasionally take customers to lunch and sometimes it's more than one person. The IS back seat is small but would be fine for my needs.
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Old 03-07-13, 02:49 PM   #15
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To be honest with you, I don't think the IS will fit the requirements that you set. Have you taken a look at the new Accord? It fits the bill quite nicely, and it looks quite nice, IMO. It makes respectable MPG (EPA 21/34) with good power, and it's FWD. Back seats are more spacious than the IS too. The only pitfall is it's quite a bit out of your budget especially with navigation, but then again, the IS350 is too.
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