Ask the Best and Brightest: 2002 BMW 325Ci or a 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon?
I am turning to the B & B for some new (used) car advice. My current bad weather bomber is a 2004 Jeep Liberty (I ride a bike on any and all good weather days). While it’s served me well, the commute is becoming Novocain for my soul. That and summer trends for higher prices at the pumps is a pain. I’ve narrowed my search down to two finalists: 2002 BMW 325Ci or a 2002 Subaru WRX wagon. The bimmer appeals to my inner snob, while the subie to my inner hoon. Both have around 200k (km’s not miles) but both pack a 2-year warranty. With the Subaru I get the AWD for Toronto’s increasingly snowy winters and the convenience of a wagon for schlepping just about anything I want. The 3 Series was/is the ultimate driving machine. Both run on premium juice, but beat the Jeep hands down for fuel (and fun) efficiency. The WRX has a $2K price advantage, too, but lacks the leather lap o’ luxury the Bavarian boasts. Feature for feature, it’s BMW all the way, but the toys all come at a high price (of maintenance). So what say TTAC’s panel of experts? Test drives start tonight!
I've got an 03 WRX, sedan though not wagon. Originally I was going to tell you why the Subie is better, but it looks like you've already answered your own question. If a bimmer's always been on your wish list, then go get it! Now WRX's, I get the impression that a lot of owners mod the crap out of their cars and drive them hard. Doing stuff like turning up the boost on the turbo. Everyone seems to say it won't affect reliability and that these cars were made to drive like that, but I don't know. I think I have common sense and that just doesn't make sense to me. I've never driven in snow before. I live in Texas. I've never seen a real snow storm before. In the rain I really can't tell you that AWD makes any difference compared to any other car I've driven in the rain. So I guess technically AWD should help you in the snow, but still that doesn't really make much sense to me either. What I mean is, all AWD does is help you with getting traction while accelerating. How would it help while trying to stop, or turn? It seems like stopping or turning would be the difficult things to do in snowy weather anyway, not accelerating. You should be happy with the bimmer, but man let me just tell you I get a little grin on my face everytime I start up my car. You'll be missing out on one sweet exhaust note.
A 7 year old BMW with 200k anything? Common, man, use your head. The Subie is probably going to be as reliable or better than the Bimmer, but when it come time to repair anything you'll be glad you got the Subie.
If you live downtown like me there's really zero cachet associated with a 3-series ... even a coupe. They're Toronto's Cavalier or Corolla. It was one of the reasons I went Audi--just so I wouldn't be facing myself at every light. Also, consider that you can enjoy the things the WRX is good at in the city (quick acceleration and all-weather traction) but there's really no place here to exercise the BMW's main talent (handling). Oh yeah, and my wife's had a string of über-dependable Subies, so that's my 2¢.
If your new ride is intended to be mostly a driving experience in good weather, then BMW should be most satisfying provided you can afford the maintenance. If there's lot of snow/ice and you need dependable transportation to work, AWD will prove essential, provided your tires are winter-capable. Case in point: Neighbor had summer tires on his AWD WRX .vs. Winter tires on my AWD Forester. Snowy parking lot made Neighbor skid helplessly while I drove Forester out with no dramas.