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Acura RL vs. BMW 5-Series

erfanerfan Posts: 12
edited March 2014 in Acura
I wonder if someone can compare the RL to the 530xi. I am currently trying to decide between these two. I have test driven the RL and find it to be very well put together machine. It has a solid construction and, I beleive, the bugs have been removed also. I am made to believe through these forums that I should not expect the same reliability from BMW though it is more fun to drive....! Any opinions?


  • Acura's target vehicle is the Audi A6 (or so are the claims of several folks who write about such things for a living.)

    I have come to the conclusion that there are American, German and Japanese buyers. And I do understand that this is an over-generalization and as such it stands a pretty good chance of NOT applying to you.

    However, on the chance that it MIGHT be relevant to you, perhaps you could share your "auto history."

    Since your age and experience are tied to this history -- perhaps you could tell us about your last 5 or so cars. Perhaps you could tell us about your favorite car and your best car (which may not be the same car); and, your least favorite car and your worst car -- and your reasons for these opinions.

    While we are not exactly shrinks here on these forums, it is certainly possible to point out general patterns.

    Let me give you an example. The Acura is a front wheel drive car -- SH-AWD is real and its features and benefits are not advertising copy alone. But the Acura will feel different than the BMW for many reasons -- amongst them the BMW uses Rear Biased ALL WHEEL DRIVE and the BMW is better balanced in terms of weight distribution. Both cars will be more capable than 2WD cars in low coefficient of friction situations.

    Of the LPS cars, these are both the "runts" of the litter, by a little bit. This only means they are not as big inside as some of the cars they compete with. Some people like the feel, the interior room of the Cadillac STS or even the C6 Audi platform -- just because they are a bit larger than the Acura.

    The Acura has more power (horsepower), but BMW makes superb engines; and there just aren't enough "o's" in smoooth to describe them. Honda (Acura's parent), too is a well respected engine company.

    The Acura may seem less connected to the highway; the BMW too connected to the highway.

    The Acura may seem supremely quiet, the BMW too willing to tell you about that pebble you just ran over.

    The 530xi can be had with a stick shift.

    For me, that is game, set and match.

    You may actually consider the BMW with an automatic.

    While I can think of virtually no explanations why one would buy the 5 series "shiftless" -- well that is just me (literally just me, I fear.)

    Do you really want to interact with the car "a lot"? Or just a little?

    If you will take the time to put your thoughts down, we may be able to offer you more relevant thoughts.

    Here's one: given some pricing parity, you will buy the one that you "like the looks of" over the other one that you like less in the styling department.

    The Acura will likely be a hell of a deal -- and perhaps that, too, will come into play.

    If the pros are right, you may want to consider the A6 q in the mix.

    Keep us informed.

  • erfanerfan Posts: 12
    Thankyou for spending the time and energy to answer my question.

    I am 41 and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I have a 2003 Accord V6 and I think I can tell what I want in a car. For example, I would love to drive a car which has good acceleration, has good road grip and drives well in snowy weather. Accord feels too light when it snows here and also hesitates climbing my driveway which may have a 15 degree incline. I am happy with the amount of space in the Accord and was okay with the space in RL; I only occasionally have someone sit in my car. I would like to drive something smooth and quiet. I do not appreciate the road noise in the Accord nor the vibration I feel when I hit the brakes (its been there since I bought it new and I have had my rotors turned twice and changed once). I appreciate the minimum body lean of the Accord when driving on a curve at high speed but not the feel of every pebble on the road, though I can live with the latter. I would like to drive something stylish but not at the cost of reliability; I was really fond of the VW Touareg but had to give up the idea because of just that. I am impressed with the looks of RL, 530xi and even the Dodge Charger. Lexus GS is also not too far behind. Unfortunately, I am not too impressed with M35 or A6 looks and like the A4 better, but it may be too tight inside. I would like to avoid an 8 cylinder motor, if I can, and especially a gas guzzler like the 550i, more for environmental reasons than anything else. Money does matter, so nothing above the $60k mark. By the way, this will be my first car in the luxury segment, if I buy/lease one.

  • breldbreld Posts: 5,196
    I too have looked quite a bit at the RL and 530xi, though I've also considered the other players - GS300, A6 and M35. I currently drive an Acura TSX and am targeting something larger with AWD. Sporty pretentions is also a quality high on my list.

    I took a nice long test drive, alone, in the RL and came away very impressed. I thought it accelerated well, and handled adequately for its size. I thought it was pretty quiet on the highway, though I thought there was a little excessive wind noise from the sunroof - when I got back to the dealer and out of the car, I noticed the sunroof was tilted open (the shade was closed so I didn't notice from the inside) :P .

    If you read the threads from RL owners, a consistent complaint is the noise level - perhaps it gets worse with age, or perhaps I'm just used to my TSX, but I thought it was pretty darn quiet, and on par with the rest of the class.

    For one reason or another, the RL has not sold well, and thus, it seems they can be had for low $40's. Which, in my mind, makes a great buy, as long as your comfortable with the reasons it's not selling well. It seems to me that a lot of it comes down to ho-hum styling, inside and out, and a lack of significant distinction from the TL and, some say, the Accord.

    Since these reasons are pretty subjective in nature, I'd say if you like the RL, it's a great way to go. At it's MSRP of $50k, the competition is too stiff, as evidenced by the incentives offered on the RL. But it's a tremendous package for $42-$43k, new.

    And I agree, it seems as though the bugs from the first model year were worked out for 2006. 2007 will offer more flexibility in model selection (i.e., nav is optional), if that means anything to you.

    For me, the better balance and rear-biased AWD of the 530xi that Mark referred to make the BMW more appealing to me. And, on more simple terms, I really like the styling of the 5-series. It's the only one out of all the competitors that I've actually made purchase offers on, whereas when I'm done with the test drives of the other cars, I always feel like "thinking about it." So, sort of a gut feel.

    My only concerns with the BMW is the cost and potential reliability issues. I've owned several Hondas/Acuras, with a Toyota and Infiniti thrown in there, so I'm very comfortable with those brands, but have no personal experience with BMW.

    So, I'm looking at slightly used ones to make it more cost-effective, and preferably CPO ones to provide the extra warranty. It's worth it to me to go this route, to get the car I really want.

    Anyway, just my thoughts. Thought I'd share. Good luck in your decision.

    2019 Cayenne Base - 2020 Supra - 2020 MINI Hardtop S

  • The thing about your post is you seem -- at first -- like you might prefer the Acura. It is probably more luxury oriented than the BMW.

    Yet, a long identical (yes over the same route) test drive of each might leave you wishing for the BMW if you go with the Acura. You will NOT need to spend $60K on either of these.

    The Acura on paper will be a better value -- more content for the money.

    The BMW full maint program and the ability to CPO it yourself before 50K miles ought to allay your reliability concerns.

    The Acura MAY be quieter over most road surfaces, but the BMW will not let much road noise in while the tires are in their tread depth sweet spot.

    You didn't mention your preference for transmissions.

    The BMW offers ONLY 6 speeds, both auto and manual. The Acura has a 5 speed auto.

    The BMW is said to be more stark in its interior appointments than the Acura.

    Both cars have had several glowing reviews written about them.

    Acura is for whatever reason struggling to "give the RL's away" -- and their sales have dropped sometimes below 1000 units a month. This probably translates to a good deal.

    The Acura can be tarted up a bit with a sport package that does include some ground effects too (A Spec.)

    The BMW cannot be had with a sport suspension but there is a factory 18" wheel and tire option.

    The sound system in the Acura is, to my taste, superior, but the BMW is very good, just not AS good as the Acura's.

    The BMW remains for many the "IT" car -- for me that works against it, but I am clearly in the minority in this respect since most people avert their eyes and bow their heads when a BMW is nearby.

    The Acura has been called a high zoot Accord by a few wise guys -- for some that is praising with faint damnation; for others it is vice versa.

    The test drive, the long identical test drives with YOUR CD's in the changer; with similarly equipped versions (it would be nice if both had the nav system, that is.)

    If you can, if they offer one, if there is ONE on the lot, do test drive the BMW 530xi with a 6 speed manual.

    These cars, IMHO, have many more similar traits than dissimilar -- despite my comments. I would not be upset in being given either one as a company car; and, I probably would not pay $200 per month more for the BMW over the Acura on a lease.

    I might pay $50 more for the BMW, maybe even $100 -- but I would take the manual transmission equipped version for my $100 up charge. I would get the A6 with SLine, premium and technology packages over either of these cars if I HAD to have an automatic transmission.

    The Audi, if you care, can be had for a price similar to the BMW, but the Audi will have a 4.2FSI 350HP V8, whilst the BMW will come (at that price point) equipped with a 255HP i6.

    Given the questions you have and your history, you may find the BMW is not quite the "start it, drive it and forget about it" car the Acura probably would be.

    There are some impressive lease deals on the Acura for the reasons cited above.

    Both cars will be wonderful in winter (love that alliteration.)

    The BMW will take corners with aplomb. The Acura is no slouch in that dept, but, but, but -- it still has a FWD biased implementation of its SH-AWD.

    Most of the time, however, you would never notice.

    The BMW might look newer, more fresh, than the Acura 4 years from now -- but, heck, a lot of that is in the eye of the beholder.

    The Acura is, to my eye, attractive but it does NOT hide its relationship with the Accord very well. That may or may not mean a hill of beans to you, and it is, after all, YOUR money.

    Acura = probably the best deal

    BMW = might be the best car (behind the wheel), however.

    If you are looking for a big change from your Accord -- the BMW will be that. If you are looking for a "more better" version of your current car, the Acura will offer that easily.

    If you are able and so inclined to drive at high speeds, I know of no country that builds cars better equipped to do this than Germany (even though it is said Infinity at least now knows the target it is shooting for.)

    So, drive: the Acura RL and A-spec; the Audi A6 S-Line;the BMW 530xi in both auto and manual configurations; and, while your at it, take an M35X with Journey and Technology packages out for a drive.

    Drive 'em all.

    Drive 'em again.

    See what kind of deals you can get.

    Drive 'em again -- and take notes (hence the reason to drive the same test loop).

    Tally your scores.

    Drive into the sunset knowing that you have picked YOUR best, YOUR favorite.

    Don't start out making excuses though as to why you went with "A" rather than "B" or "C" which you really wanted more in the first place.

    This means you do need to make a price dependent and independent choice.

    I mean, for pity's sake, would you NOT take your "second choice" price independent if it were to be offered to you for $100 per month?

    Let the fun begin. :surprise:
  • erfanerfan Posts: 12
    Thankyou Mark and Breld for your very helpful comments. Mark, man, you seem to be a poet when it comes to cars. You seem to know more about cars than anyone I have ever known. Thanks for your wonderful analysis. You could be a car shrink!

    Please help me understand a couple of things you have written. One was " may find the BMW is not quite the "start it, drive it and forget about it car the Acura probably would be". Does this mean it requires more maintenance? No. 2, "The BMW will take corners with aplomb. The Acura is no slouch in that dept, but, but, but -- it still has a FWD biased implementation of its SH-AWD". Does it make a difference when taking corners? I thought that the difference would be in acceleration.

    To tell you the truth, I was originally inclined to get the RL and went out and test drove it. Though I find it to be really beautiful and plush from inside, I did not enjoy driving it. The 530 looked hideous to me when I first saw it, unlike the older 5 which had stunning good looks. But it seems to be growing on me and the more I see it the more I like it. I would hopefully test drive it soon and take another look at the RL. One of my problems is that I do not have too much time to spend on this activity; I tested the RL when I went for Accord's scheduled service. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again.
  • #1. Maybe, but what I was meaning to suggest was that the BMW will be MORE involving to drive.

    #2. The BMW has Rear biased All Wheel Drive and has better f/r balance. The Acura tends to understeer more than the BMW, too. The Acura tends to pull more than push is what I wanted to point out.

    Much of the time, perhaps, it won't make you "no never mind."

    There will be times however that the Front biased AWD of the Acura will make it somewhat less satisfying than the BMW (at least if you know how the BMW feels.)
  • ocimocim Posts: 45
    One thing to point out, though, is a lot of folks that buy these cars are not professional drivers. A lot of these buyers are just ordinary drivers that are able to afford a "status" car. It is easier to regain control of a FWD with understeer that it is to regain control of a RWD car with oversteer.
  • I recently tested RL and 530xi. Problem with RL is that it is really not worth its original MSRP of $49K or so. Here is my list of issues in RL (as $50K car - it is fine as $40K car).

    1. Engine. Although it claims almost 300hp, you drive torque, not horsepower. And RL torque is not that high and peaks at 5000rpm. This means car does not feel quick unless you really step on it.
    2. 5 speed transmission. Everyone in the 50K+ segment offers 6sp or more.
    3. Only 8 way driver seat. Even *basic* BMW seat adjusts 10 ways and contour seats do it 20 ways.
    4. Only 4-way adjustment for passenger seat. Is this a joke?
    5. Acura says, everything is included. What is actually means "we included everything that we managed to salvage from TL and Accord". RL simply does not have options every luxury car has, included or optional. Where are rain sensing wipers? Heated rear seats? Parking sensors or rear camera? Night vision? High-grade leather? iPod integration? Heated steering wheel? Headlight washers? Multi stage front heated seats? Ventilated seats?

    It feels like Acura decided to cut costs all over the place.
  • psz08psz08 Posts: 1
    Both seem to be over priced.
    Test Drive:
    After test driving the RL i was pretty amazed at how well it handled and the engine always had more hp left to shell out. However, once i moved onto the 530xi, my amazement for the RL was absolutely diminished. I must say driving this car made me feel as if i could prevent accidents from occurring. The car is extremely manuverable in bad weather situations. After finishing both test drives i was still ready to buy either of the cars.
    Interior and gadgets
    I must say if you are the type to use all the new crazy gadgets that luxury cars offer you, both cars will please you. The RL gives you many of these features and they are in the normal spots that you would imagine them being in any other luxury car. I can't say the same for the new 530xi which has the new Idrive. This basically means that you have your screen which has your navigation, but that same screen also controls most all of your technology. Many people find this to be a hassle; however i got used to it in about two or three days.
    In the end for all the people who are looking for a luxury sedan with one of the best AWD offered, i would go with the 530xi. Other alternatives are the new GS AWD however i didn't get it due to the trunk opening being extremely small, Audi A6 or A8 (i dont have a very close audi dealership around me), the infiniti g35x and m35x (gas mileage on the m35x is bad compared to BMW), and last the RL (not as good as the BMW didn't feel as sturdy).
    I ended up buying the 530xi with just about everything except premium sound, sports package, xm radio for about 54,000(tax and liscence plate not included). This is an EXCELLENT CAR
  • Hey all - Looking for quick feedback on 2005 RL,30,000 miles, bought at auction for $34,000 vs. 2006 525xi, 21,000 miles, used as a loaner by the BMW dealership for $40,000ish. Thoughts? (41 year-old Maxima owner)
  • Hey all - Looking for quick feedback on 2005 Acura RL,30,000 miles, available at auction for $34,000 vs. 2006 525xi, 21,000 miles, used as a loaner by the BMW dealership for $40,000ish.

    I'm a 41 year-old manual Maxima SE driver who needs to move to automatic cuz of back problems and have come to the place where luxury gets a slight nod over sportiness - but only slight - no Lexus for me! Thoughts? (41 year-old Maxima owner)
  • You have never driven BMW, you'll be happy with Acura. If you did and liked BMW, then why are you asking? ;)
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,926
    Seems like they're both overpriced to me.
  • manybmwsmanybmws Posts: 347
    I agree. You could have picked up a brand new RL at the end of '06 model year for 40K. Timing is everything.

    Why not get a brand new 07 328xi instead of the used 5-series?
  • Actually a terrific idea... the new 328xi will outperform the 525xi. Can be had for under $40K also. It may sacrifice a couple of inches in certain dimensions, but a thoroughly wonderful machine. My 2003 530SP has 225hp and performs quite well... the new 328xi will bring 230hp to the dance in a slightly lighter platform (although the 4wd adds unwanted weight) and will provide as much fun as you might want. Although, you should drive the new 335i just to experience the magic of a 300hp BMW I6 motor :)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    "My 2003 530SP has 225hp and performs quite well... the new 328xi will bring 230hp to the dance in a slightly lighter platform (although the 4wd adds unwanted weight) and will provide as much fun as you might want."

    Well, I wouldn't go quite that far. True, the new 3.0 liter mill in the 328(x)i models does have slightly more horsepower, however, said horsepower comes at slightly higher RPM as well. The problem with the engine in my mind is that the newer engine produces less torque (200 vs. 214 for the engine that you and I have/had in our E39s).

    Then there is the weight issue. Consider the weights of 3,340, 3,494 and 3,582 which correlate to the 2007 328i, the 2003 530i and the 2007 328xi respectively. I'm thinking that even though the all over differences aren't huge, the 328i and the old 530i will be pretty evenly matched while the 328xi will lag behind the other two with its softer suspension, greater weight and less grunty engine.

    FWIW, I still think you were spot on with your "Actually a terrific idea..." comment, I just wanted to point out a few other factors. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • I find that people are quite amazed at the performance I can wring out of my beloved e39. On my 3rd set of tires in 42k miles!

    I would not opt for any xi variant from BMW unless I lived up north, but totally agree with one of the other knowledgeable posters on this forum (is it you?) that a great set of winter tires is the answer.

    If I could have any wish, it would be to couple the new twin-turbo six with my e39SP. Might not EVER consider parting with it. I understand that there will be a 535, which might be worth a look if the slight styling mods (inside & out) are agreeable.

    Still, though... few cars get down the road and through the turns with the feel of this car.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I" would not opt for any xi variant from BMW unless I lived up north, but totally agree with one of the other knowledgeable posters on this forum (is it you?) that a great set of winter tires is the answer."

    Yup, that would be me. I had a set of snows for my E39 and the car was awesome in the snow.

    "If I could have any wish, it would be to couple the new twin-turbo six with my e39SP. Might not EVER consider parting with it."

    I posted the exact same sentiment a month or two back. An E39 with the new twin turbo six would be an absolute PERFECT car. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • manybmwsmanybmws Posts: 347
    Thanks...I think the extra weight of the 328xi might give the ride a little more of a 5-like ride experience.

    I drove a 335i coupe when my '03 530 was in for service. Very fast but felt a little light when pushed - at least to me (and I know what that can feel like since my other car is a 2006 MX-5). I think the extra weight in the 3-series x models might be a good thing for ride compliance/stability even though straight line performance is sacrificed.

    I want to drive the new 335i convertible for my next test drive :-) Speaking of extra weight.
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