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Old 03-11-2014, 03:44 PM   #1
Josh (PA)
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Shopping for a car for my kid

I've hinted at it in a number of threads, but I've begun to seriously look for a car that will be primarily used by my soon to be 16 yr old daughter, and then shared with her 15 yr old sister next year. She'll get her permit in April and her license at the beginning of fall.

I've pretty much narrowed down the search to a late model AWD e46 wagon or a similar end of first gen x3. I'm zero-ing in on these cars because (IMO) they're the right size for a new driver that needs to drag a ton of athletic gear around, I had good luck with my (non-2001) e46s from a maintenance perspective and if my wife or I ever need a third car to drive around, they're sufficiently pleasant that it won't be like driving a rental car. I'm trying to find something after 2002 and before 2006 (when the n52 was put in) under 100k miles and under $10k.

I'm more partial to the wagon, the girls like the idea of a CUV. Other than that, is there anything really different about the first gen X3 compared to the e46 that I'm not thinking about? AFAIK the engines (I'm targeting the 2.5 over the 3.0 in the x3 all things being equal), transmission, brakes, etc. are the same on both cars. My mechanic is inexpensive, good and e46s are very much in his sweet spot, so maintenance wouldn't be prohibitive.

Interestingly, if we find a good one, and as the girls get into driving, our need for the 7 seat MDX is significantly minimized. Not sure how soon we'd look to get rid of that and replace it with something more livable, but the dominos could fall in place.
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Old 03-11-2014, 03:54 PM   #2
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didn't a lot of people absolutely hate the ride quality of the X3's? Of course maybe a 10-yr old example will have loosened up considerably.
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:04 PM   #3
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We had an '06 X3. Never thought the ride quality was bad. It was properly firm, and I'm guessing many SUV buyers wanted soft, so they complained....

They are basically an E46 underneath, with a taller body...
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Old 03-12-2014, 03:15 AM   #4
Terry Kennedy
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didn't a lot of people absolutely hate the ride quality of the X3's? Of course maybe a 10-yr old example will have loosened up considerably.
Weren't the first X3's contract-built by Magna and not BMW? Those were the ones with the black "Tupperware" bumpers...
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:55 AM   #5
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Ride quality for the first two years was "bad"- 2004 and 2005. Handled well but too firm for a SUV. They did a mild refresh in 2006 which resulted in painted bumpers, a few tweaks inside and a better ride. And then the full LCI treatment in 2007. Later models are fine, my parents have a 2009 and the ride is no problem.
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Old 03-12-2014, 08:42 AM   #6
Josh (PA)
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thanks guys, I'll keep an eye out for '06s if we go the x3 route. I put a low offer in on an 04 wagon yesterday, might be too low to work out a deal. Its low miles and a great options list, but it was originally used as a service loaner when new. I figure if anything was beat on back then it would clear by now. If it falls through going to check out a few others this weekend.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:01 AM   #7
Terry Kennedy
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I put a low offer in on an 04 wagon yesterday, might be too low to work out a deal. Its low miles and a great options list, but it was originally used as a service loaner when new. I figure if anything was beat on back then it would clear by now.
Are you looking at a manual or an automatic? The problem with these 50K+ mile automatics is that they have almost never had the transmission fluid and filter changed, and after 50K, changing them for the first time is a crap shoot as to whether it is going to cause more problems than it can prevent.

That wouldn't be so bad if rebuild kits were available, so independents could rebuild the things. But the only source for rebuilt transmissions is BMW themselves, and frankly I'd be worried about the thoroughness of the rebuilds BMW is doing. And, of course, getting a salvage one is no guarantee that it has been properly maintained and not beat up.

This is all thanks to BMW's "lifetime" fluid intervals and other "lifetime" stuff. Where "lifetime" does not mean what you think it means.
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