(Note: I have since posted an entry with a detailed review of my new 2008 X5.)
Whether I am investing in millions of dollars worth of technology for work or buying a car for myself, total cost of ownership (TCO) is always in the back of my mind. Something that costs a dollar today doesn’t do me any good if it costs me a million dollars to maintain down the road. This is one of the reasons why I decided to go with a BMW when I purchased my current car back in 2005. BMW already had a stellar reputation for quality and, on average, the resale value of their cars continues to rank #1 among all major automobile manufacturers. What tipped me in favor of BMW, however, is their Ultimate Service program, which essentially guarantees that you will not have to pay anything out of pocket for service in the first 4 years/50K miles that you own it. If you’re not familiar with this program, it means that, not only is scheduled maintenance free, but all wear an tear items (brake pads, wiper blades, fluids etc.) are also replaced free of charge. In addition, BMW dealers tend to have a “if you think it’s broke, we’ll try to fix it” policy, where any little annoyances that you might discover are always covered, free of charge. So the real question in my mind was whether this was true, or whether BMW service would find a way to get into my wallet in the 36 months that I’d be driving the car.
My current 2005 BMW X3 3.0
Almost 3 years and 31K miles later, I can vouch that, yes, it is true. My total out-of-pocket maintenance costs for my 2005 BMW X3 3.0i totals ZERO dollars ($0).
One may argue that luxury cars (or any car, for that matter) should not require expensive maintenance within the first 50K miles and I tend to agree with that. However, regardless of how much you paid for your car, wear and tear items tend to add up over time. Replace your 3 wiper blades with quality Bosch wipers 4 times over the life of the car: $120. My friend’s brake job for his Mercedes ML350 at 33K miles: $1275. Regular maintenance estimates for an M-Class Mercedes over the first 4 years: $1300 (source: 2007 Automobile Magazine TCO estimates). So I look at it this way: If I pay for one brake job plus maintenance over the first 3 years on a new Mercedes ML350, I am out almost $2600. I would rather keep that $2600 in my pocket or invest it in upgrades on my vehicle. If you are leasing, that $2600 equals $72 more per month – I’d rather pay $72 a month for a nicer trim and options.
And the unquantifiable benefit of BMW’s Ultimate Service plan is, of course, piece of mind. I know I won’t be surprised with a big bill every time I show up to the dealer.
That being said, it’s time for me to pony up for a new car and I’ve decided to place an order for a 2008 BMW X5 3.0i. I won’t go into why I chose the X5, but, bottom line is, I like it. I like the look. I like the drive. I like the options. I like that it’s a BMW. The lease is not up on my current car until March, but I needed to take advantage of some fantastic owner loyalty programs that BMW is offering through the end of the year. Therefore, my dealer is holding the production order until mid-January and will store the new BMW as long as I want them to.
So, here’s the specs on the new X5 that I’ve ordered:
2008 X5 3.0i Sports Activity Vehicle
Black Sapphire Metallic
Black Nevada Leather
Dark Burl Walnut Trim
All Standard Options, Plus the following:
Voice Activation System
Real-time Traffic Alerting System
Parking Distance Control
Rear-View Camera with virtual track and docking lines
Electronic Damping Control
19″ Light-allow wheels Star Spoke with run-flat all-season tires (I love these wheels!)
20 Way Multi-Contour Comfort Seats
Sports leather steering wheel
Universal Garage Door Opener
Digital Compass Mirror
Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors
BMW Assist (BMW’s version of OnStar)
Cold Weather Package
Heated front seats
Ski bag (where’s the snowboard bag??? 😉
Heated Steering Wheel
Retractable headlight washers
iPod and USB adapter
The BMW site says it will look something like this:
Also, I should note that if you are looking for a top-notch BMW dealer in the NYC area, OpenRoad BMW in Edison, NJ is amazing. I really dislike car dealers and I really want to find something bad to say about them, but it’s very difficult to say anything negative about these guys. Sales and Service are both excellent.