Shopping for a new car is one of my least favorite things to do. It was time to let my 2003 Passat go so it was time to start the process.
My search started with a new Mini Cooper S, but that idea quickly ended once I saw how much leg room was left once I got in the car and adjusted the seat as I need to – approximately 2 inches of leg room for my kids. So the Cooper was not going to work. The next stop was to look at BMWs, which are beautiful cars, but I could not make it work financially.
From there the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord were next. Although I really like the front end of the Camry, both cars were just kind of boring to me. So I moved on to the Acura TL, which is stuffed with so many toys I had a hard time leaving the car after the test drive. The voice activation was right on the money for everything I told it to do. Excellent implementation. But the TL is not an inexpensive car, so I wanted to make sure to look at a lot of cars before I spent that kind of money.
I liked the Subaru Legend and the Mazda 6, but it ends up that I liked the Legend because the rear end looked a little like the TL and the Mazda 6′s front end reminded me a little of the TL, so neither of these cars were strong enough to pull me from the TL. I had heard a lot about the Saturn Aura so we took it for a ride and were very impressed. Probably the best American car that we looked at – plenty of power, decent features, OnStar, and a nice look. You won’t find many cars that give you so much for the low $20k’s.
Since the last 5 years of Passat ownership were pretty much uneventful I thought it was important to give VW another shot at earning our business. We drove a couple 2007 Wolfsburg Edition Passats with 2.0l turbo engines and were pretty impressed. Just about gone was the turbo lag I had lived with for 5 years. Nice, smooth power. My 2003 was reprogrammed with an APR chip to give it a lot of horsepower and torque, so it is probably still just a hair quicker than the 2.0 turbo, but the new Passats feel just as fast stock. APR has programming that will give the Passat more hp and torque than the Acura TL and it weighs almost 200lbs less. The car should run like a rocket.
So we had it down to 2 cars – the Acura TL and the Passat Wolfsburg Edition. It was a very tough choice as I really liked both cars for different reasons. The TL had way more bells, whistles, and stock horsepower/torque, but the Passat felt like it had a better ride to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled with the way a German car handles now. We were able to get the price on the TL pretty much as good as it was going to get, but it was still close to a 35k car. The Passat could be had at Invoice, and there was an additional $1000 for owner loyalty since we previously owned a VW, so we’d end up a thousand bucks under Invoice with the Passat.
In the end I just couldn’t justify the extra $9000 for the TL. I loved the car, but I can do a lot of things with 9k. Don’t get me wrong, if money was no object the TL would be in my garage right now instead of the Passat, but money is an object so I went with the car that I felt gave me a good value for a fair price. If you own an Acura TL you have a great car. If you’re about to buy one, go for it. For me it just wasn’t in the cards. The TL with Nav puts out 258hp and 233lbs of torque, but I can spend 600 bucks and take my little Passat from 200HP to 252hp and 303lb torque. That should be a pretty fast car that is almost 200lbs lighter than the TL.
The picture I took with my cell phone doesn’t really do the car justice, but this is much better than looking at United Gray on the VW web site. It looks terrible there, but in person it is a very nice color. Here’s hoping the next 5 years of Passat ownership are as uneventful as the past 5.