Replacing the G – Round Two

I’m not quite sure how many rounds I will need in order to narrow the list down to my “top five” choices, but I can tell you that I have come much closer thanks in part to the 2010 OC Auto show and the test drives I have done so far. Here is an update of my “Wish List” along with some extra comments:

The Large SUV Group

  • Honda Pilot – This is barely making the cut right now.  Not overly impressed nor extremely disappointed.
  • Mazda CX-9 – It’s nice, it’s roomy and depending on the test drive, it could really be a contender.
  • Chevy Traverse – This car is relatively new, but it feels aged compared to Chevy’s newer offering. Even the GMC Acadia, which is practically the same SUV feels newer.
  • Toyota Highlander – Cheapness, is it’s weakness. Even a newly redesigned exterior can’t overcome the cheapness.
  • Ford Explorer – Much uglier in person, but I didn’t get to see the interior since they didn’t have a display model on the floor for people play with. Either way, I don’t think the lease will be attractive enough for it to warrant any consideration at this point. I may consider revisiting it down the road if an attractive lease pops up.

Overall, this group is starting to look really bad. I suspect the Pilot might get booted due to it’s styling and less-than-exciting interior, leaving the CX-9 as the top choice in this category.

The Compact SUV Group

  • Toyota RAV4 – Cost-cutting has really made this SUV hard to love. The hard plastics reeks of cheapness and the interior dash is uninspiring. Even if its inexpensive to lease, I don’t think I want one since Toyota’s lease program leaves much to be desired.
  • Ford Edge – This is a well-built SUV with a better-than-average interior. I haven’t seen any special leases on it, but it’s still early in the model year.
  • Infiniti EX35 – Test drove it a few weekends ago and my impression is that it’s a  solid crossover. It’s smooth over bumps, powerful, quiet and it drives like a G with higher ground clearance. There is also a lot of dealer cash on this car right now, which potentially knocks off a lot off the MSRP, making it a really good lease. Unfortunately I think it falls really short in two areas, cargo and MPG. It is still fairly practical since folding down the rear seats exposes quite a bit of cargo room, but I think of this car as a hatchback with poor MPG more than a true crossover.
  • VW Tiguan – Saw it at the show and I’ve driven it before; my folks also own one. Cargo wise its slightly better than the EX, but not by much. No Wolfsburg edition planned just for 2011 (yet) so my only choices would be the S and the SE trims.
  • Acura RDX – Test drove this as well and found it to be a serviceable crossover. I will not wow you, but it is all you should expect from Acura; Roomy and reliable with above average performance. The 4-banger turbo does not have a very noticeable lag which is impressive. Comes well-equipped, but it doesn’t have it all unless you go with the Tech. In my case, I can’t justify the cost. The exterior styling doesn’t really impress me much, but I think having an excellent lease program does.
  • Subaru Forester – I think it has a slight edge against the Outback. After looking at them side by side, I like it a little better.

If I had to guess, the Forester, Tiguan and the RDX will end up battling it in the payment department. I just don’t think Ford provides enough lease incentives to make the Edge a contender.

The Wagon Group

  • Audi A3 – I am a big fan of  TDI model, but I am willing to settle for a FrontTrak Premium. It’s driving dynamics shouldn’t be too different than my wife’s Jetta so I think it will end up coming down to a price war between the other finalists.
  • VW Jetta Sportwagen – Saw the TDI version at the show, love the Pano sunroof. Thankfully, it retains the nicer interior of the older Jettas, which is a plus. I did see the “new Jetta” and if you have seen “older” models, you will notice a difference. The interior materials haven’t been downgraded much, but the cabin certainly feels more “simplified”. The exterior styling isn’t too bad, but it feels more “vanilla” compared to the outgoing model.
  • VW Golf TDI – As nice as expected, looks like a more civilized version of the GTI and gets crazy gas mileage. Big fan, hopefully the lease rates will look good when the time comes.
  • VW GTI – I have to say, I am not a big fan of those cloth seats, but I love everything else.
  • Subaru Outback – I like it, but I have to admit that there are better cars. AWD certainly helps it’s case.

The Wagon group shows a lot more promise due to the more reasonable payments, practicality and fuel economy. My first choice would be the A3, but at this point any of these are a possibility.

The Sedan Group

  • Acura TSX – Acuras hold a special place in my heart, so this is a no brainer. I will likely opt for the Tech, but it all depends on the price.
  • Acura TL – Ditto on the TL. If a TSX with Tech were to be around the same as a TL base, I’d take the TL.
  • Hyundai Sonata – Saw the 2.0 Turbo and the Hybrid at the show, lovely inside and out. I got around to test drive the Limited model and I came away impressed. Quiet, smooth and with ample power. It’s no G37, but I didn’t expect it to be. Inexpensive, well-built and easy on the eyes. The closest thing to a win-win situation if there was one.
  • Infiniti G37 – I’ve been plagued with battery issues on my G37 this past year, with yesterday being the latest incident (I couldn’t get my car started for the 3rd time this year and I didn’t even leave any of my lights on). I think I will be skipping Infinitis this time around.
  • Nissan Maxima – Being the G37’s cousin dooms it’s chances. See above.

This is the “fall-back” category. I don’t think I would pick a sedan over the other categories due to my need for “room”. However, money talks and sedans have better lease programs than anything out there right now. The Sonata is a perennial favorite here, with the 2.0T being my top choice. My fall back would be the TSX, with the TL close behind.

17 thoughts on “Replacing the G – Round Two

  1. G, the RDX has an absolutely ridiculous mileage for a small SUV: 17/22. Similarly equipped Tiguan (leather, awd, engine) is about $5K more than Forester XT Limited 😉

  2. I am in similar situation as you are. Currently I drive 2008 Accord EX-L V6 coupe and like the car. But 2-door won’t cut it much longer and I am tired of semi-harsh ride and road noise.

    I drove friend’s ML350 few months ago and loved the car, particularly the smoothness of ride and ability to absorb all the bumps on road. It being a $550+ car, I have to find something that won’t break my budget.

    Right now I am thinking 2011 Highlander SE 4×4. I heard many things about good noise insulation and smoothness of ride. Looks like people are getting 2011 SE 4×4 version for $370-400 a month. I know that it’s cheap inside, but at this point smoothness and size out-weight the “feel” of dashboard (how often do you touch it anyway).

    As for your choices at this point. VW has TERRIBLE reliability, so unless you want to spend all your time driving a loaner, i would look into something else.

    Sonata 2.0T sounds fun, but I heard interior materials are not on par with honda or infiniti. Also, FWD is quite an annoyance. Bit of rain or snow and your car is paralyzed. I am from NY and it rains a lot here, one of the main reasons I want 4×4 is for better traction. But if you have no problem with your jetta, I guess FWD is ok with you.

    TSX is a good car (2011 wagon looks nice) and lease deals on it are pretty insane, but it way way way underpowered. Power is so bad that it’s no longer competitive in its sector.

  3. G,

    I just got an Acura email about the 2011 TSX Wagon. It’s seems right up your alley. Check it out. BTW, didn’t you previously have a TSX that you recently turned in?

  4. @ursus. I haven’t driven the Forester yet so I’m hoping it wows me. I know price-wise, you get a lot for the money so I’m hoping that holds true come decision time. I do have a soft-spot for the Tiguan because I like how it drives, but you are right about the price, it high if you want the bells and whistles.

    @Ivan. I think the ML is a good lease if you go with the 48 month term, but like you said, price tag is a bit high. I did get a chance to look at the Highlander and I was kind of going back and forth with it, but I decided against it because Toyota lease program just aren’t as good as their competition. Factor the interior quality issues, I just couldn’t get myself to go with it. Specially since I spend 99% of the time inside the car, so I want the interior to be pleasant.

    I think reliability on my wife’s Jetta thus far has been mixed. The current set of tires she has kinda suck. They keep deflating for some reason, I believe they are Continentals. But so far, after 8 months, nothing major. My folks also have had their Tiguan for about a little over a year now and still runs like a champ. I haven’t had terrible experiences with VW/Audi in general…can’t say the same about BMW though…8 repair visits in 24 months.

    Here in SoCal, I think FWD works well, we don’t get the extreme whether you guys get up East, but it never hurts to have the flexibility of a 4×4 during the wetter months. I think the Sonata is actually comparable to Honda and its a notch below luxury brands. I think Infiniti’s interiors don’t really hold up too well. If you haven’t check it out, I recommend a look it’s quite impressive to see the improvements. I do have one gripe though, the leather seats aren’t as comfortable as you’d expect. That would be the biggest improvement I think they should work on. Honda leather is so plush and nice.

    As for the TSX wagon…I have mixed feelings about it…saw it at the autoshow and it didn’t really wow me, but I might take a look out of curiosity. I did inquire about it during my RDX test drive, but the dealer didn’t know when it’d be released.

    @Jon. Yeah I got email too. It should be coming out soon…whenever “soon” is. I will definitely take a look once it’s in showrooms. I do like the current and previous generation TSX, so hopefully they don’t cost too much.

  5. FYI. Test drove the 2.0T Sonata today. Its pretty quick and the engine does not have a noticeable lag, feels like a V6…but it doesn’t sound like one.

  6. Sad to hear of your problems with the G. I have one in the driveway, a 2009 G37xS fully loaded. Not one problem yet and only another year to go on the lease.
    I also recently picked up the 2010 Maxima, also fully loaded. I love this car even more than the G. (well the performance of the G is better – especially the real transmission) but I love this car!
    If I had to choose any other, it would have been my 1st choice – the TL w/ Nav. I would be driving that instead of the Max right now if the dealer didn’t try and screw me at signing.

  7. Julian, I started having problems with mine on the 2nd year. Also, I got the 1st production year, so it’s more like the “test car”. Haahaa. Anyway, I have serious issues with Nissan/Infiniti’s battery. Both of my remote keys are low on battery and my I’ve had to call roadside assistance once to jump me already (the other two times I managed to get my car going using my own jumper kit). Just so you know, you should probably plug the key into the emergency jack under your dash, I hear from the Infiniti techs that that will help preserve the battery life of your remote keys. I’m really surprised to hear you like your Maxima more tho. I would think the G37xS would be better.
    The TL is a fine car, the styling takes some getting used to, but I’ve driven it and enjoyed it. Although the TSX V6 a bit more fun do to it’s handling. 🙂

  8. G, the Mazda CX9 is a great vehicle for the price. I also looked at the MDX, Pilot, Q5/7, X5, and the ML. (If this was for me I would have leased the X5.) In the end we leased the CX9 for my wife to replace her 2007 Honda Odyssey. In January we selected a 2010 FWD Gran Touring model with sunroof, navigation, auto lift, rails, etc. After tax we pay $518 per month. For some reason you cannot get rear DVD with sunroof?

    The CX9 drives very differently than my 2007 G35S but not in a bad way. Right away I found the CX9 to be a lot smaller on the inside than the Honda, but drove much better and quieter. To me the CX9 feels heavy accelerating and leans too much around the corners to be considered sporty. But there is some of that zoom-zoom they advertise with it. The features my wife likes best are the auto lift gate, blind spot warning system, and rearview camera. She dislikes the black interior that seems to show a lot of dirt, the Bluetooth connection, and the poor MPG of 15. So far no issues 9K miles.

    I hope this helps you out; I really do appreciate your site. Email if you want more info. Good luck.

    • Thanks for the feedback Dave. I probably don’t have to go all out, the Touring model might do just fine, but the power lift-gate does sound kinda cool to have. How much did you have to put down? Just the drive-off? Sounds like a pretty good deal, the remaining CX9s should be going for cheap now. So what’s wrong with the Bluetooth connection? keep dropping? hard to pair? That’s kinda worrying since BT is a requirement for my next ride.

  9. We did first month down plus some of the usual fees up front. Maybe $1000 down total. I don’t have all the info at work now. I thought we had a good deal. Used your site and Townhall-talk forums a lot. Also they let me use USAA pricing for starting point on the lease. We also signed on day after Christmas so maybe that helped.

    The blind spot warning system and BT should be required on all new cars. The BT just doesn’t sound good, very noisey when I call her but it works. The auto lift gate is cool but you cannot get a cargo cover with that option. I like driving the CX9 but I like my G more. I had a M37 loaner last weekend and like that even more than the G.

    • Oh yeah the M37 is sweet. Way out of my price range, but that’d be a fun ride to have in my garage. I think signing late in the month/year makes a big difference in terms of negotiation power and potential cash incentives. I think that was a good move. The USAA price didn’t hurt either I bet. I hear such great things about USAA too. I’m just bummed I don’t qualify to be a member. I think I’m going to try to test drive the CX9 soon to see how it feels. I don’t generally drive big cars, so I don’t know how I would like it. I usually stick with coupes or sedans. On a different note, I recently dug up some picks of some of my old leases (325, A4 and Mazda3) so I will post those up on “the Wall” section for nostalgia’s sake. LOL

  10. I too have some of the same “contenders” on my next vehicle list. The Subaru Outback seems like a good wagon choice, but I’m just not convinced the AWD is worth the loss in fuel economy. I really considered the Sportwagon TDI for 2010, but read many negative reviews on the DSG trans mated to the TDI. Will hold off on the TDI until I see better reviews. I like the sounds of Ford’s new Edge with the 2.0L Ecoboost engine due out in early 2011. Might be worth waiting to see what is has to offer. The only problem is Ford never seems to have any attractive lease programs.

  11. Warren, don’t you have a MINI right now? You must have been spoiled by the great MPG. Haahaa. But I do see your point on the AWD. I guess if I went out into the mountains or lived in a place where it snowed/rained alot, I could make great use of it. But I dunno, I do like the Jetta SW as well. The sedan’s trunk is cavernous, so I can imagine the SW being that much better. I’m glad you brought up the issue with the DSG. My wife has the Wolfsburg on the DSG right now and 10 months into the lease, we haven’t had any issues. We’ve had issues with the tires deflating quite often, but that’s not really a VW issue. Anyway, I highly doubt the Edge will lease well, but I’m keeping it on the list until I am convinced Ford doesn’t want their leases back. But until then, I really like the Edge and the MPG is decent for a truck that size.

  12. Guessing you don’t put a lot of miles on your G. I have a G37s coupe and had the same dead battery issue a couple months ago. I googled it and found out others that had the same problem. It has to do with the alternator not charging the battery until you hit 15 miles. I took it into my dealer and they knew about the problem and fixed it, no problems since. Hope this helps.

  13. Thanks for the feedback. I only drive about 5 miles each way to work. So that’s explains why my battery drained so quickly. I’m just hoping I can get through the next 8 months without having to do much to the car and be done with it. Oh well. I’m hoping for a relatively hassle free experience on my next car. Surprisingly enough, of all the cars I have leased, the most trouble free one has been my Mazda3, which I actually leased for 4 years. The next one would be the A4. The TSX and the G37 are a tie for 3rd, and the least reliable has been the 3-series.

  14. What I miss, last time I was around you were getting into a lease of a G37 and White Carrot or some carrot blog was just starting out. Prior to that we communicated through blog..Did I miss anything? LOL…

    • LOL about 5 years worth of blogging. I’ve since become allergic to carrots. Haahaa. But yes, you missed a lot! I’ve sold my G37, wife got a VW Jetta Wolfsburg, I got a Hyundai Sonata. Wife returned the Jetta and we got a Honda Pilot last December in preparation of our new arrival 🙂 Oh I and I’m planning to unload that said Sonata later this year. It’s been awhile my friend! Don’t be a stranger! I still remember you as one of my earlier supporters back in the day!

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