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BMW 3-series vs Lexus IS



  • potemkinpotemkin Posts: 196
    "That may be the case but that does not prove that BMWs are notoriously unreliable."

    Thats relative. Compared to Lexus they are.

    Wrong. The existence of Lexus does not make BMWs "unreliable". BMW's reliability rating isn't affected by Lexus' reliability rating. You can simply use the numbers to say that "on average a Lexus is more reliable than a BMW." But declaring BMWs to be "unreliable" is a statement devoid of comparison or relativity. By your logic I can declare Lexus' to be notoriously unreliable when compared to a stirling engine.

    For the record, CR gives the 2001-2003 3-series it's highest rating for reliability.
  • The exterior is instantly recognizable as BMW and it is a good looking car

    How the paint job looks any different on a 325 than a 330 I have no idea unless someone is aware if they spray an extra layer or two of clearcoat. I was under the impression that the paint jobs were the same. As for the wheels you can always get different wheels if that is that big of an issue.

    basic simplicity = boring. I want something flashy, I want to get into the car that looks fun inside.

    I agree I'm a bit of a technophile myself and like some of the features found on a Lexus but I don't find them at all necessary for me. Nothing currently says flashy like the new Civic as far as interiors go. That dashboard is like something out of Star Trek.
  • potemkinpotemkin Posts: 196
    "Wow, sounds really good, but tell me how much would it cost to fly 2 people out to Europe and to stay there for a couple of days just to get this deal?

    Air fares to Europe are reasonably priced right now and worth every penny. You get to see Europe!

    What about shipping cost?

    Shipping costs is $695.00 (exactly what you'd pay if you bought it here).
  • Yeah I see what you mean but when i was customizing my 330i it came out to

    52K which i was like "Ooh God" which someone said I should just buy the "M 3" I

    think, which i havent checked it out, i might in a liitle bit.
  • Yeah you would have to add every useless factory option to get it priced that high IMO. Most of the dealer-installed options are never really worth it IMO. Most are vastly overpriced on the account of there being an automotive emblem on it. Like the $200 car covers that cost like $10 to actually make.
  • " BWM third with 95, while the idustry average was 118. (Full story and graph: According to this, yes, the Lexus is more reliable, but the difference is small. " quote of zcar3...

    There are 2 different issues to look at when determining reliablilty.
    1) Initial Quality in which BMW is not too far behind.
    2) The more important issue is Long-Term Quality or dependablilty.
    Lexus wins this too but BMW is further behind. I have never owned a BMW as much as I love to drive them. I do have a mini cooper S which is one of the worst in reliability but very fun around the corners and plenty fast since its so lightweight.

    In fact, if you want more info on reliablilty i would check
  • Hi everyone:
    I own a 2004 "E46" BMW, have driven both the E90 BMW and the Lexus IS 250, and I'm throwing my 2 cents in.

    I will agree that BMW's have niggling issues from time to time. My car has been in the shop three times this year for annoying things (sunroof shade got stuck, brake light went out, check engine light came on).

    But I will also agree that this is a reliable car in the sense that it won't strand you, but it'll just embarrass you in front of your friends! I have heard anecdotal reports of similar problems from past owners.

    I'll also agree that Lexus (toyota) has one of the highest build qualities of any automaker. My gramps has a Toyota and it hasn't has the slightest problem in 8 years. If you want to count JD power (some don't), Lexus/Toyota ranks really high in that they have the fewest problems per automobile.

    Now for the cars:

    I think it had a nicer interior than the E90, very quiet and dignified. Back seat is really a 5 ft leather shelf to put groceries on, nothing more. Not much bolstering in the seats, but the Sport package may be different. Even so, some people prefer a cushier seat.

    I loved the Navi and other controls, I thought the sound system was great. I also like the looks. IMO, the exterior looks are a draw between the E90 and IS 250/350 - beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

    However, people are correct in saying you ride "on a cloud" with not much feedback in the steering wheel. Again, some people want that, some don't.

    The only thing that REALLY bothered about the car though was the transmission. I put it in "Sport" mode and tried to use the paddles. I tried to upshift, nothing happened, I gave a quizzical look at the salesman and he said "Oh, the computer decides what the best gear is", THEN the car shifts after he finishes the sentence. Oh boy.

    Further testing proved that the paddles respond to your input in an absolutely random way. Sometimes it shifts, sometimes it doesn't. So I wonder, if "the computer decides which gear to be in", why do they have paddles to begin with?

    BMW E90:
    The seats are very supportive and well bolstered compared the the seats in the IS.
    However, the standard radio really sucks and you need to get the HK to even compete with the base Lexus sound system. The interior is kind of sterile and business like. They have removed any trace of graceful curves on the dash in the E46 and replaced them with very linear designs.

    There is actually more room in the back seat than the IS, but the funny thing is, the BMW back seat is already kind of tight. I understand you have a trade off when opting for a compact sport sedan, but I don't understand why Lexus couldn't have at least matched the bimmer here in one of the bimmer's weakest areas.

    I like the acceleration and torque curve of the BMW cars. Even my E-46 325i feels "spunkier" than the Lexus IS 250. I think it is the damped suspension on the Lexus and the gearing on the BMW rather than raw power that makes the difference.

    And of course, some people like the run flats and some don't.

    The chassis is the real story here, it is amazing compared to the E46. It soaks up bumps much better than the E46 yet is even more responsive to steering inputs. It also has very little body roll compared to the Lexus. You CAN feel road imperfections, and many people detest feeling anything under their behinds in a 40K car.

    I give both cars 4 stars. They are outstanding automobiles in different ways. With the Lexus, you can bet on a mostly trouble-free car and a great dealership experience. It's also very luxurious but modern inside and bests the interior of the BMW. Also, many people may prefer the smooth as glass ride and well-boosted steering that takes only the light touch of your index finger to get you around the corner.

    The BMW is the "driving man's" car. You can feel the road and the experience is a little more visceral. The interior is so-so, and idrive has it detractors. Also, you can plan on having some annoying quirks surface from time to time that will have to be fixed. I give BMW a thumbs up on free maintenance.

    The exiting thing is that although these are very different cars, they overlap in many areas, and competition is always a great thing for the consumer in the end!

    And about Mercedes, their quality issues are hardly anecdotal. In fact last year alone "Mercedes spent some $600 million to cover warranty costs". Read below:

    Click here
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    . . . the market studies are a joke. I honestly would say the auto enthusiast magazines are far more credible when it comes to long term reviews

    This is a joke, right? Have you heard of law of large numbers? or conflict of interest?
  • Have you heard of read and comprehend the entire statement and not cut and paste the areas of my statement to try to argue your point in which I already made? I clearly stated that the flaw in the auto magazines is that they only use one test subject. Sorry but no cigar for you in trying to introduce a new fact that was already stated. OTOH is it automatically a conflict of interest when the auto magazines don't pick who you want to be the winner? Does the fact that just about every auto magazine pick BMW in most comparos not sit well with you? Where is the conflict of interest? They are all independant and I'm sure none of them are being paid off by BMW.
  • Excellent review cardriver7007.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    Conflict of interest meaning ads sponsorship and writer/target-audience bias. There is a reason why CR does not take any ads; most car rags however are over 70% sponsored by car companies' ads. Haven't you noticed how every generation of new car is always extremely enthusiastic . . . until the replacement shows up then suddenly the previously perfect car had all sorts of problems that are so perfectly addressed by the new generation.
  • Conflict of interest meaning ads sponsorship and writer/target-audience bias. There is a reason why CR does not take any ads; most car rags however are over 70% sponsored by car companies' ads. Haven't you noticed how every generation of new car is always extremely enthusiastic . . . until the replacement shows up then suddenly the previously perfect car had all sorts of problems that are so perfectly addressed by the new generation.

    While CR may not place ads in their magazines please believe me when I tell you that customers as well as CR get compensation for positive reviews and feedback. Like I said I know this because my old company actually did some of the surveys and compiled some of the data for them as well as JD Power. I personally know several luxury manufacturers sent gifts to those who conducted positive interviews.

    As far as reviewers point out the flaws in the newer models. Well obviously when manufacturers don't "fix" existing "problems" then they will get nailed on it. Look how long it took GM to replace the Cavalier... of course magazine are going to rant and rave with the Cobalt. The same can be said for the IS and the 3 series. The IS is still being nailed on account of the backseat space which has actually diminished but praised for a more fuel efficient engne. The 3 series like all BMW still gets nailed for iDrive as well as active steering and other driving gizmos while the driving dynamics are still revered. Yes that sounds like one sided bias to me.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    I'm not sure what kind of interview you were talking about; CR and JDP data do not involve interviews. Whatever small gifts, even if they do exist as you claimed, do not even begin to compare to the revenue stream that magazines depend on the manufacturers for their very existence; on top of that, most magazines do not use their own money to buy cars off the lot like Edmunds does with its long-term tests. The review cars at most rags are usually provided free of charge from the manufacturer, since there are marketable daily rental rates associated with new cars, so right off the bat you have implicit pay-off: ever wonder why the prestige cars get reviewed and praised much more frequently than the plebian ones? Then on top of that, you have "destination reviews" where reviewers get free junkets paid for by the auto maker to test-drive cars in French Rivera, Spain or Italy; ever wonder why?

    As far as reviewers point out the flaws in the newer models.

    hmm, I think you misunderstood what I wrote. What frequently happens is that a new/current model gets praised to the 7th cloud (for the sake of argument, riding in 7th cloud here is a good thing), until its replacement comes then suddenly the ersewhile model suddenly became a ungainly beast. For example, you'd be hard pressed to find a single article claiming 1st generation SLK handed poorly in 1997/8, yet by 2002 the replacement comes out, the old SLK sounded like a pig in the words of the same reviewers. When the 2.3 Kompressor came out in the late 90's, both in the SLK and C hatch, nobody mentioned it sounded like agro machine until the replacement 1.8 liter came out. Let's face it, the magazine writers know where their bread gets buttered -- they are in the business of selling cars and ads. Their writings are product placements, nothing more nothing less.
  • dl7265dl7265 Posts: 1,381
    Expensive maintenance over first 4 years (approximately 1k).

    Hmm I was told every other service was 1) $100-200 2) $500-600, any one know the exact maintence cost per service ?

  • I'm not sure what kind of interview you were talking about; CR and JDP data do not involve interviews

    Again that's one of the biggest misconceptions. I use to think that CR and JD Power did their own researchmyself before I worked for the aforementioned company, but it is mostly all contracted out. They do some of the actual driving aspects but when it come to the actual reliabilty, subjective ratings, and customer feedback- that is all contracted out and done most by phone survey although there are sometimes other mailed surveys done. The data is all compiled by the research companies and that's how they come about there ratings. They do very little themselves.

    As for the "gifts" I know one particular company was sending full size umbrellas, another was sending out gift certificates, and another one was giving out $100 to those who completed survey in a favorable manner. The way the survey was done though is you had to get the correct answers to get to the prize screen which pretty much meant that you had to have a very favorable opinion of the respective cars. So yes IMO CR and JD Power have less credibility IMO.
  • wco81wco81 Posts: 551
    How often are the oil changes covered by the free maintenance of the BMW? It's like once every 15k isn't it, compared to once 5k for the IS?

    Are there any "major" service required during the free maintenance period?

    On another issue, does the basic stereo on the 3-series have aux inputs? I know the old iPod adapter no longer supports the E90s.
  • How often are the oil changes covered by the free maintenance of the BMW? It's like once every 15k isn't it, compared to once 5k for the IS?

    Truth be told when using synthetic oil, it isn't necessary or even worth changing at the 3K-5K mark except maybe at intial break in to remove the metal fragments. When used in the proper setup, with a metal filter, synthetic oil should easily last 10K+ with the harshest driving conditions. I don't know what kind of filter Lexus uses but the only way I can see changing synthetic oil at 5K is with a paper filter. The synthetic oil will actually out last the paper filter.

    On another issue, does the basic stereo on the 3-series have aux inputs?

    I believe that the 3 series comes with an AUX port of MP3 players but don't quote me on that.
  • My E46 gets an oil change once every 15,500 miles. It counts down on a computer under the trip meter so you know when to call to schedule an appointment. You can do it anywhere between 1000 miles before or after your interval.

    The base system in the E90 has the aux port, but the base stereo is blah. I want to say that they are working on an ipod interface like the one that is in the E46 to be deployed sometime in Oct or Nov.

    If you go to, you will see "MP3 capabilities available in Oct" under the Navi option.

    And just for grins and giggles, I want to jump into the texasmerc vs. brightness fray!!! I think that the mags are a little biased toward BMW in that they focus on the immediate driving experience rather than the experience of living with a car day to day.

    The enthusiats might really care about what the mags focus on (ex. turn in, body roll, toe-heeling, driving at 9/10ths), but lots of drivers focus ho-hum stuff like reliability, cushy seats, how well the A/C works in the summer, etc.

    There are probably shady things things that go on in any test or ranking related to ad revenue, but after reading lots of reviews and taking an average, you should be able to have a really clear picture of what to expect from a car.
  • There are probably shady things things that go on in any test or ranking related to ad revenue, but after reading lots of reviews and taking an average, you should be able to have a really clear picture of what to expect from a car.

    I can wholeheartedly agree with that summary. It just bothers me that people honestly believe that Lexus or Japanese brands for that matter never have vehicle breakdowns and that all non-Japanese vehicles are trash. That's one of the most pushed around misconceptions. Everyone always incites their reasons as CR and JD Power reviews and like someone else mentioned BMW for one was third on that list for reliabilty but everyone here is talking about them like it's a Ford Pinto. Nowadays pretty much everyone makes a "good" car. Obviously some are better than others and some cars in general are perceived a bit more reliable. Truth be told I've seen every kind of car on the side of the road broken down for whatever reason from Kia all the way up to Ferrari's and everything in between.
  • dl7265dl7265 Posts: 1,381
    Inspection 1 and Inspection 2 yes. If you dont meet the mileage requirements its annual. Otherwords if you drive 5k miles a year you still get the free service. I think the major wear item is the brakes/rotors which is now included. If you manage to wear them out in the 4/50 .
    On the ipod issue there were recalls on the nano before I had a chance to pick one up. So i havent decided what im going to choose yet. But yes there is a input in the A/C cooled center console.

  • Hi guys
    Theres no doubt that BMW is #1 for performance and if one had to rent a BMW or Lexus, the BMW would win >90%. However, long term reliability cost goes to Toyota/Lexus hands down. I work at a huge firm, over 3000 people (engineers, techs), with plenty of BMWs, Lexus, etc. Those who own Germans cars for more than 5 years mention the cost of repair. Their car may not break down on the freeway, but with 1000 motors, one is bound to fail every other day! (JOKE from 7 series owner)

    I had a 92 Toyota MR2 turbo that was actually pretty reliable, but I was scared of any problems because parts/labor very expensive on that car. Oil pressure light came on, $15 sensor fixed it, but could have been oil pump which would be >$1000 for labor to get to it. BMW likely similar experience.

    BTW, CR loves BMW cars, they just dont recommend them strongly because their readers complain of electrical problems, etc. As far as bias, CR and JDP have low systemic bias. Even if they did have BIAS, why would it favor one car over another? So Toyota bribes CR readers and JDP staff, but the German companies dont?

    I was shocked to see this at Forbes, where BMW and Mercedes MUST advertise: ml
  • g17g17 Posts: 45
    I have an '03 C230 sedan. Warranty work includes: replacement instrument cluster, NEW transmission, torque converter, radiator, and several oil sensors, not to mention smaller things like broken windsheild wiper arm etc.....the car needed a NEW transmission at 29K. That is pathetic. Hows that for details?
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    The truth is that today's cars, at least in this category, are generally all so good that we are sometimes fooled by things reported in percentages. For example, I've seen statements like "Brand A is twice as reliable as brand B". Then you look at the actual data, and find that brand A has two defects in 1000 vehicles and brand B had four defects. Yes, percentage-wise A has half the defects of B, but in actual numbers we're talking really good results in both cases -- maybe even equal within the limits of statistical significance.
  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,681
    the car needed a NEW transmission at 29K. That is pathetic

    Sounds like a Honda tranny...
  • I have the comparo right in front of me. Since it is in magazine form, I will just type it up (this is for blue01s4).

    Here is the performance aspect:

    Powertrain: (330i/IS 350)
    performance (20) - 17/20
    engine flexibility (5) - 5/5
    fuel economy (5) - 5/5
    engine NVH (10) - 9/9
    transmission (10) - 9/8
    total (50) - 45/47

    Chassis: (330i/IS 350)
    performance (20) - 19/17
    steering feel (5) - 4/4
    brake feel (5) - 5/5
    handling (10) - 10/9
    ride (10) - 9/7
    total (50) - 47/42

    gotta-have-ite factor (25) - 23/23
    fun to drive (25) - 23/22

    The end result of the whole test: 213/212

    Note: fit and finish (10) - 9/9 "The electrical ticks began shortly after it was delivered. Ours [push-button start] would work only after several exasperated pushes and fiddling... Then the ABS lamp lit. We tried to execute one stop on our high-desert test road and nearly executed a 360 spin at 70 mph... Shortly thereafter several airbag-malfunction warnings lit up... Even with its dash ablaze in emergency alerts, the 330i wormed its way into our hearts." - C&D

    I would consider the BMW if the interior didn't make me want to puke and the reliability was not an issue. But, that's a big IF.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Sorry, but I have a hard time swallowing this list of "repairs", unless you were in an accident. Look, even Lexus has had their share of intermittent problems. A former co-worker owned an RX300 and had to have a new motor installed to the tune of several thousand dollars - covered under warranty. Yes, even the vaunted Lexus...

    What Lexus did right was handle the problem without hassle for her. She wasn't out of pocket for any costs and the repairs were performed properly. I'm assuming the "$9K" in repairs for your 2003 were under warranty?
  • dl7265dl7265 Posts: 1,381
    Since this World Series game is never going to end , ill post some quick impressions of the IS I tested. It was a Crystal White/Cashmere with only 18" wheels as options. The Smart access worked well enough, however the remote is quite larger than my Bimmer remote. The interior is standard Lexus fare, Nice leather, carpets ect...It was a balmy 72F in Dallas and I took a extended drive on familure roads. I quickly made my way to some twisties to get to the meat of the matter. How would the L stack up against my 3er ? EnRoute, I noticed the 6 changer and Audio system would get the edge over my base radio. The I notice the side mirrors WOW were talking Yukon honkers here...

    I was explained that the car had the Electronic steering and did not have any steering fluid. It felt light compaired to my vehicle, thats the best I can describe it. I entered the twisties that require about a 1/2 shuffle steer to maintain your lane. Interestingly enough even with a tire size advantage 17 vs18, and non run flats it began to break away sooner than my 325i would. With the 255/40/18 in rear it was a little unexpected. We cross some railroad tracks and its solid and quiet. Now to the service road for a little excelleration test, smooth and fluid but the almost second 0-60 times dist vantage is felt. A few more turns and we are back.

    I check out the trunk which has a smaller opening and no fold down seat option. But the cubic feet is quoted the same. Now to the back seat which gives up a whopping 4 inches to the 3er.

    I glance over the brochure at home and notice its all about Germany and Nurburgring every page. hmmm

    Id break it down by saying the content per dollar goes to the L, with leather, power seats, homelink,Smart acess, metallic paint, knee airbags and auto dimming mirrors standard.

    But, it gives up excellent steering feel, suspension and a Power disatvantage. And the lack of a usable back seat, storage .

    If tomorrow BMW stopped importing cars to the US , because of RWD and Manual option it would probally get my vote. Both are Very fine automobiles. But in my mind there is still a bit of pursuit going on here :)

  • Sorry to hear about your problem with your Mercedes. I'm sure it's somewhat uncharacteristic though. My mom has a 1998 C280 and my sister has a 2004 C230. Both cars has been pretty flawless for them outside routine maintenance. The same has to be said for everyone else I know with a Mercedes.I hear stories about people's BMW experience but I don't know how bad it really is all things considered.
  • newcarsnewcars Posts: 103
    Not trying to be funny or over-critical but I think we all may be using the terms "performance" and "handling" indiscriminately.

    Performance generally means things like accelerations and how fast the car goes. The more objective or "measurable" things that have more to do with a car's engine and transmission.

    Handling has more to do with how well (and fast) a car takes a turn. And I would also add that it takes more into account with the subjective "feel" of a car. The handling of a car really has more to do with steering, suspension and (to a degree) the ergonomics.

    Having said the above, in comparing the Lexus IS350 and the BMW 330i, I would say that the Lexus wins the former (performance) while the BMW wins the latter (handling). We each may differ on how and how much we value the differences, strengths and weaknesses of the respective cars, but I think most of us (although definitely not all) would characterize the two cars as such.

    And when you think about it, that probably isn't too surprising. Lexus was definitely "aiming" for the BMW 3-series with its IS automobile and it would make perfect sense that they would come closer if not exceed in the more "objective and measurable" areas of performance yet fall short in the more "subjective" areas of handling.

    I personally prefer the Lexus IS350 over the BMW 330i but BMW's do have a certain "magic" with their handling that others (not just Lexus but everyone) have been unsuccessfully trying to duplicate for years.

    And on another note, European Delivery is a great option with BMW that I really am surprised more people don't take advantage of. The cost savings of even a 3-series will more than pay for the cost of the trip. Go to the section on European Delivery on the BMW website (don't know if I'm permitted to link it here) and look it up. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  • g17g17 Posts: 45
    I had a hard time with it too!! Anyway the way they explained it was, the radiator failed, the trans cooler behind it didn't get enough air, causing the Trans and torque converter to run hotter than allowed, burning out both. It made sense to me when they explained it. Yep the repairs were covered. MB does fix the problems, no doubt, BUT the problems occur too frequently for me.
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