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Audi A4 vs Acura TL vs Volvo S60 vs VW Passat

strato435strato435 Posts: 14
I've pretty much narrowed by purchase down to these four cars. I'm in the market for a mid-sized near luxury vehicle.

I have an Audi A4 1.8T now, and very much like it! However, it hasn't proven as reliable at 75k as I might have hoped. That's opened up the floodgates to me, and am looking at VW, Acura and Volvo (am I missing anything?). If going with Audi, I'd get the 2.0T Quattro.

I'm hoping to keep the price to about $32k; what's mandatory for me is a navigation system, 5 or 6 speed manual transmission, CD player. I'd like AWD, but living in the mid-Atlantic doesn't make that mandatory.

I am quite concerned about fuel consumption, but these sedans really all have about the same mileage -- and all recommend premium fuel. I'd really be interested in the new Passat if it were available as a diesel, but I'm told it's not :-(

Finally, I enjoyed Audi's free maintenance for 4 years -- and it appears that Audi stands alone in offering this perk?

Any and all comments are welcome!

Thanks,
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Comments

  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    The TL gets very good highway mileage, and 50% fewer emissions than most cars in it's class.
  • dulnevdulnev Posts: 652
    I'm in an unique position to answer your question because I've owned 3 Acura TL (currently own the 2004 model) and have recently shopped the other three vehicles that you mentioned for my mother. We ended up buying 2005 VW Passat GLX with 4Motion for her. By the way, I hope you're aware that the 2005 Passat is not available with NAVI; I don't know about the 2006 model. We ended up getting a Garmin c320 navigation for this car and she loves it.

    Here are the models and my opinions:

    1. Acura TL: absolutelly the best car in this group, in my opinion. Tremendous power and great handling, great ergonomics and luxury. Really perfect all around except for one thing: big turning circle. It's hard to park this car because of this. The navigation system in the TL is the onle one in this group that is trully usable and great. Plus don't forget voice control and presence of Bluetooth Hands Free Link system. The stereo is also by far the best in the group.

    2. Audi A4 2.0T. Absolute piece of junk and poor value compared to the other cars in this group. I don't know why Audi thought it was Ok to screw with the great car like A4 1.8T to turn it into this crap. We actually turned around after 3 minutes into the test drive and said this is not a car for us. The engine was loud, slow and unrefined. The materials inside were poor quality (worse than in the Passat). The NAVI was junk and in a bad spot. And the price was ludicrous!

    3. 2005 Volvo S60 2.5T with AWD is a great car and a decent value now that there are about $5,000 worth of incentives on it. It makes the price only about $2,000 more than the TL; without AWD it's probably comparable in price. I certainly wouldn't pay more for S60 than for TL; in fact I would buy TL if it were $2,000 more. S60 2.5T is quite underpowered and it's also the worst handling car of this group. It does have couple luxury features that TL doesn't have, but they're not important to me. There was absolutelly no 2005 models that could be found with NAVI anymore, which was one of the reasons we didn't get this car. The fact that it was $5,000 more than the Passat GLX 4Motion was the other reason. This car is noticeably smaller than the TL, but comparable to the A4 and Passat in size.

    4. 2005 Passat GLX 4Motion is a great car with a ton of luxury features that can typically be found in cars $10,000 more expensive. It handles great, is quite comfortable, offers nice materials and ergonomics inside. We paid $28,750 for this car, which is a great deal. But it is really not comparable to the TL. The TL beats Passat in pretty much every category, especially in engine power and space. TL is also a lot more luxurious and will be a LOT more reliable.

    If I were to rank these cars, I'd put the TL in first place, the S60 in the second, but with a recognition that there is a LARGE gap between the 1st and the 2nd place. The Passat would be in 3rd place and A4 in the 4th; and there'd be a LARGE gap between the 3rd and the 4th place.

    Again, I don't know anything about 2006 Passat except that it's supposed to be a lot bigger. This would actually be a big negative for my mother, so we didn't even consider it.
  • In seeking a car in the same category, I shared your fuel mileage concern, and that steered me to buy the 2005 Passat TDI. I know it won't be as reliable as the Acura Legend it replaces, though.....
  • ...a friend recently bought one and he's getting mid to upper thirties at 75 mph with AC on.

    As for the others, I've driven the Acura TL and the A4. The B7 platform A4 has essentially the same interior as the B6 (my current ride) and the interior is excellent and is usually considered a "best in class". As for the engine being rough at idle, that's true but the engine is great when cruising at 80 mph (and very good mpg as well). And it's reasonably quick to boot. I can also verify that the steering, brakes and handling are all improved on the new A4.

    I drove a manually equipped TL on some damp roads and pushed the car in the curves. The TL had what I felt to be excessive oversteer and even exhibited some wheel hop (I've read that the auto-equipped TLs are better in this respect). The A4 "feels" much more stable in similar situations. For me the difference in handling pretty much sealed the deal and I ordered another A4 (my third). But my priorities may very well be different from yours (I live in NE Ohio and appreciate AWD).

    Another point for me is that I don't keep cars beyond the warranty period. While my present '02 A4 Avant has been virtually perfect and a model of stellar behavior I might have second thoughts if I was going to have and extended automotive relationship.

    In any case, the TL is an excellent vehicle and would hardly qualify as a bad choice for most of us.

    Byron
  • I'd certainly be inclined towards the TDI Passat -- if it were available! I'm told that VW doesn't plan to import diesel Passats in 2006, but will likely do so in 2007. In fact, VW makes my patronage even more difficult since the only Passat with the nav system in 2006 will be the 6 cylinder -- and as I've said, fuel economy does matter to me.

    BTW, I just returned from a vacation in Germany where I rented a diesel Mercedes Vaneo, a mid-sized minivan. It drove quite nicely! Pick-up was so-so, and that was a frustration for me, but once you get up to 150 kpm on the autobahn, you're really having fun!
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "The TL had what I felt to be excessive oversteer..."

    You mean understeer?
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Your impression of the Audi's 2.0 turbo motor is surprising since most car mags have lauded the engine for its power and smoothness. Maybe their point of reference was the old 1.8T, which was a rather loud and rough motor.
  • ...oops!... So sorry... thanks for the correction :)
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    I never liked the exterion look of the A6, but I think I will test drive on next weekend, it seems it has a lot of fans.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You need to email me as soon as possible - pat AT edmunds.com. Thanks.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hope you'll give us a full report ... in an A6-related discussion, of course. ;)
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    Sorry Pat, I forgot that this was an A4 comparo, sorry. :blush:
  • tcatnattcatnat Posts: 3
    We are in the same position. We have driven the TL and S60 and will drive the A4 today. Right now the TL is our choice. The things we didn't like about the S60 were the blind spot caused by the large headrest, the turning circle and the price when compared to similarly equipped competition. Actually the S60 we would have opted for was $3k more than the Acura after the final numbers came in. However, the lease was a few bucks less per month.

    I felt that the power in the S60 was adequate which actually surprised me a bit as I was expecting worse. Here's my take, the S60 is the New England Patriots; refined, reliable smooth but nothing flashy while the TL is the Indianapolis Colts; flashy, reliable and more exciting to drive. OK, maybe not the best analogy but hopefully you get my point.

    One final thought. The Acura dealer actually mentioned to us that if we waited another month or so that we could get the '06 TL for a lower monthly payment (not by too much) than the '05; his reasoning was the residual value of the new model would be greater than the current. Does this sound right? I'm in now rush so I could order an '06 and take delivery whenever it comes in.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "...his reasoning was the residual value of the new model would be greater than the current."

    Yes, that makes sense. The higher residual of the '06 may outweigh the lower cap cost of the '05.. Even if all are equal, the '06 is bound to be a better car.
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    And the 07 will likely be better than the 06, so when do you pull the trigger? :cry:
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    When the '08s come out!! :P
  • tcatnattcatnat Posts: 3
    We could wait but when this close to the new model year you may get a few more bells and whistles for a slightly lower lease payment just for waiting a month. And fror the record, Acura said there were very little chanegs coming but he could be more specific.

    Either way, we drove today and opted for the Audi A4 quattro. What a fun car to drive. Picked up an '05 with tiptronic, premium package and heated leather seats. I drove a lot of cars over the ast two weeks and the Audi is truely a drivers car. The interior was also roomier than expected. Ididn't notice any turbo lag either. If you're looking for a car in this class make sure you drive all the cars. Don't eliminate one because of what it sayd on paper. I almost did and thus would have never driven the Audi.
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    Congrats on your new ride :) I am in the market for a new car and will test drive an Audi. Never thought I would, but your post convinced me.
  • delmar1delmar1 Posts: 744
    Its like a merry-go-round... You have to hop on board if you are going to grab for the gold ring.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    To say the 2.0 A4 is an absolute piece of junk is a ridiculous statement.

    Poor inside materials?....yeah right. Audi has been the benchmark for quality interiors for the better part of the past decade. Many other car manufactures have used Audi as their traget for their interiors. Quattro has been out for 25 years and it's the best AWD system out there for a car.

    The nav in a bad spot? Where do you want it? It's in a perfect spot smack in the middle of the console. It's easy to use and much better than any IDrive from BMW. The driving directions also come up on the center dash as well and it's pretty easy to follow.

    Resale is also very good on the Quattros.

    About noise, the new FSI techology does create a bit of extra noise due to the way the fuel is injected into the combustion chamber rather than the intake. The 05.5's were a mid year replacement, and from my driving experience, the new 06's have been tweaked and are quieter and the exhast sounds sweeter as well. The new 2.0 has 100hp per liter and more torque than hp. Mated with the 6 speed manual, the 2.0 is one sweet engine and it's been praised by just about every car magazine out there.

    BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are all going to be more expensive than any Japanese, Vovlo (Ford), or VW. But Audi is a good value when you compare them to their main German rivals, and are thousands less than what BMW and MB charges for similarly equipped cars.
  • tcatnattcatnat Posts: 3
    rjlaero,

    I found that Audi A4 statement comical. No car in this class is junk. As I mentioned earlier I chose the A4 because it had a sportier feel that the TL or S60. The TL snd S60 are obviously larger cars with more rate HP but the Audi just seemed more complete to me. You cannot go worng with any of these and it will come down to persoanl preference. Also, Audi still offers scheduled maintenance and free oil changes, a nice perk. Acura and Volvo have discontinued these programs.

    I'm picking the A4 up tomorrow and will provide some initial impression details after the weekend.
  • taxesquiretaxesquire Posts: 681
    I can speak a bit about Audi and agree that it's a quality vehicle. I drove a Passat GLX for 4 years. Passat is to Audi as Toyota is to Lexis. At least in 2001 (and 1/2!!!), what they did was take the v6 available in the A4 (which is less powerful than the A6 engine) and put it in a Passat which is more similar in size to the A6. From sitting in friends' Audi's, I can attest that my Passat's interior was very similar in terms of workmanship.

    That 6 cyl engine is a great engine. The 5MT had plenty of torque throughout the RPM band - it was quiet, powerful and forgiving. The seats and interior materials were comfortable, well-designed and well-put together. And since my Passat handled very well, I am sure the smaller, more sporty A4 would, too. I would suggest anyone looking at an AWD BMW 3-series also check out Audi. I don't believe Audi has a RWD platform (am I right?); otherwise, I'd recommend it to all who are considering a 3-series.

    QUESTION TO AUDI A4 OWNERS: in my 4 yrs of Passat-driving, I only came up with 2 complaints, both w/r/t the steering wheel controls. On your wheels, are the radio controls on the right? Also, do the tuning buttons act as a general scan feature or scroll your presets? Mine were on the right side and scanned the dial rather than just presets. My only complaints in 4 years.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    With today's cars being so low-maintenance, I feel that free maintenance is a bit of a sales gimmick and should be a non-factor in one's buying decision. Usually maintenance for the 1st three years amounts to no more than a few oil changes and a couple of tire rotations.
  • Early report on my '05 Passat TDI: Driving mostly highway, got 39 mpg on the first tank (that's 2-3 mpg lower than the on-dash indicator would suggest). Cooler day yesterday, got readouts of 45 - 47 mpg on my commute, which should translate into an actual of 42 - 45. Sweet!

    Complaints?

    Occasional buzz/rattle from the rear (door? seat? can't tell) and bucking at 42 mph when the auto trans seems to be deciding between 4th and 5th gear.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    "Occasional buzz/rattle from the rear (door? seat? can't tell"

    Have had this in both of my VW's. It most likely is the rear door lock. It tends to buzz or rattle. It sounds like plastic against plastic.
  • "Occasional buzz/rattle from the rear (door? seat? can't tell)"

    Have had this in both of my VW's. It most likely is the rear door lock. It tends to buzz or rattle. It sounds like plastic against plastic.


    Any solution? Keep locked, unlocked? Duct tape? ;)
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I had the dealer try to fix it on my previous '02 Jetta. They didn't fix it. What they did do was cause the lock not to be flush with the door as it was when new. It was really no big deal, but just the usual experience with VW service. It seems as though everytime I bring my car to VW to fix something, my car comes back with something broken. I had a rattle in my dash in my current '04.5 Passat. During the second visit to fix the problem they cracked a plastic piece in the footwell on the drivers side (along with not replacing screws). I didn't find this for many many months after the service visit. I did not want them to touch my car again so I just glued the piece with some Gorilla Glue and went on my way. NO ONE would ever notice this so....alls good. I could literally go on and on with dealer problems..

    Back to your question......their was no fix for the lock rattle. I did notice that the noise disappeared when the lock was in the open (up) position. But, since we have automatic door locks that lock the doors when you reach a certain speed (17mph I think), I had them reprogram the locks not to lock automatically. This did work. BTW: This was done on my Jetta. My Passat is not too bad so i just don't bother with getting it looked at.

    This problem
  • dpavdpav Posts: 19
    Did your sales rep share what the expected residual of the 06 TL will be ?
  • Can we stop with Volvo is a Ford already? Lots of cars have shared components, some of Volvo's engines were co-designed by Porsche, they use Japanese transmission, they use all sorts of components from various sources but the cars aren't Fords at all. In fact, Audi is a lot closer to Volkswagen than Volvo is to Ford. At this point, only the s40 is shared with any other platform, and the s40 is a joint platform although it is based on the German Focus II platform. Volvo has a distinct feel, European for sure, but not German, not French, but Swedish. The seats, design, suspension tuning, and body structure have a unique feel to them. Also, the latest Ford, the 500, was styled by VW's stylist, the same guy who did the Audi 6 and Passat. And it shows.

    Audi is not always more expensive than VW or Volvo or anything Japanese? What are you talking about? There are plenty of Japanese cars more expensive than A4s and A6s (Acura RL is very close in price to the A6 for instance). There are plenty of VW's more expensive than A3's or A4s, think Toureg and Phaeton, and the Passat and A4s overlap at certain price points.

    I agree calling the A4 junk is ridiculous, calling any of these cars junk is ridiculous. They all are resonably well engineered and built cars. Overall I may find Audi best, followed by Volvo, but you can make an argument for Acura as well. Passat is in a different market segment, but I think it is tops of the family sedans and like it over Accord, Camry, Altima, and others.
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    I agree, Volvos are fine cars and highly rated by almost everyone. Additionally, they are in the same category as Lexus, Audi, Acura etc. They are certainly a cut or two above a Ford 500.
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