Goodbye Tesla, hello BMW

Warning: this is going to be a very different post from my others – I’m more writing to my future self than an audience. It might sound like ranting against Tesla, but I want to remind myself why I sold my Tesla in the first place if I ever find myself wanting to buy one in the future.

The Tesla Model Three™

Some of you might know that for the duration of 2021, I owned a Tesla Model 3.

A blue 2021 Tesla Model 3 parked in an empty parking garage
The Tesla Model Three (my Tesla), just after taking delivery in December of 2020

Specifically, it was a:

  • 2021 Tesla Model 3
  • Standard Range Plus
  • Deep Blue Metallic Paint
  • 18″ Aero Wheels
  • All Black Interior
  • Full Self Driving Capability
A table showing the options I selected for my Tesla, with a subtotal of $48,990, a destination fee of $1,125, a documentation fee of $75, an order fee of $100, and a total of $50,290.
The price breakdown from the Tesla’s purchase agreement

When I bought it in late 2020, I paid $50,290.00. Today, a similarly specced car would cost nearly $56,000.

Before taking delivery, whenever my boyfriend or I had a complaint with one of our cars that would be solved with the new Tesla, I’d irritate him by sarcastically going, “Well, with The Tesla Model Three, that isn’t an issue.” That lead to me naming the car “The Tesla Model Three™️.”

When I bought my Tesla, I was a tech person, and not a car person. The only two car makes I was actually familiar with were Toyota, because multiple family members have a history of running Toyota dealerships, and Tesla, because Teslas are targeted towards tech people. A Tesla was the obvious choice for a car for such a person, and if that still accurately described me I would still have my Tesla. However, in the past year living with my boyfriend and his friends (his two best friends are our housemates), I have definitely turned into a car person.

A view of the interior of a Tesla Model 3 with a white interior from the passenger seat
The interior of a Tesla Model 3, image from Tesla

As I begun to learn more and more about cars and other makes, I realized I could do much better than Tesla. While the Tesla handled much better than any car I had driven in the past, it was no true sports car. Performance-wise, while it is fast, it isn’t all that special for its price point. As for the interior, the salesperson at BMW of West Houston put it perfectly – it feels like a Kia. Now, that’s not automatically a bad thing (because Hyundai/Kia is perfectly capable of making beautiful interiors), but the general feeling of that statement just feels about right.

And then there’s the build quality.

I was lucky. There were no glaring defects right out of the factory, so I was able to take delivery with no hiccups. There was one thing I noticed after a few weeks, a rubber piece that wasn’t properly seated under the front hood, so after a rock somehow cracked my panoramic sunroof I had the service center fix that rubber piece while the car was in the shop for a sunroof replacement. That was back when Teslas weren’t as popular in Texas, and it was possible to get a service center appointment and loaner in Houston.

A few months later, a whistle popped up. When cruising down the highway, especially when it was windy, there would sometimes be a loud whistle that was audible over just about every other noise – including the excessive wind and road noise.

With a normal automaker, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s just a matter of dropping by the dealership, having them work on it for an hour or two, and getting the car back. If it ends up taking longer, the dealership will give you a loaner to live your life with until the service is complete. With Tesla, I had to deal with the service center situation.

I live in Brenham, a town about an hour west of Houston. There are two service centers in Houston, North Houston and Westchase. With the recent explosion in Tesla owners, both service centers are swamped with appointments, and with the car shortage they aren’t able to offer service loaners. So, if I want service, I have to make an appointment months in advance, leave my car at the service center, and have a friend drive me home (then back again when the service is done). That’s a terrible experience, so the whistle never got fixed.

The Avalon

My mom is getting a new car soon – a 2019 Toyota Avalon Limited. I promise, this is going somewhere.

A view of the interior of a 2021 Toyota Avalon Limited from the passenger seat
The interior of a 2021 Toyota Avalon Limited, image from Toyota

She asked me to show her around all the gadgets and gizmos in the car, and I was happy to do so. In doing that, I had a realization that my daily driver has a worse interior than a Toyota. The most expensive Toyota sedan, but still. I decided I want a proper luxury car.

I considered an SUV for a while, particularly the Toyota Venza Limited and Mazda CX-5 Signature, but ultimately decided I want something fast and fun. That’s when I remembered the BMW i4.

The i4

A 2022 BMW i4 as viewed from the front-passenger corner
The exterior of a 2022 BMW i4, image from BMW

The BMW i4 is a sexy car. It’s the only electric sporty car that doesn’t try to look space-age, and BMW deserves massive praise for it. At first glance, you might think it’s just a 4-series.

The i4 was the first BMW I really researched, back when it was announced. I’m still a big fan of electric vehicles, so an i4 would be a great car for me. It’s bonus that it beats the Tesla Model 3 Performance in most ways. I got in touch with BMW of West Houston, and it turns out if I want an i4, I’ll be waiting quite a while. That won’t do, I’m impatient, impulsive, and want a new car soon!

The Mazda CX-5

I still went over to the dealership to check out what stock they had, and I fell in love with one of the cars on the showroom floor. It’s a 2022 BMW M340i – the M Performance model of the 3-series, which many consider a better car than the previous generation M3.

The rear end of my BMW M340i, with the M340i badge
The rear end of the Mazda CX-5

For those not familiar with BMW M’s models, they have M Performance models, with model numbers like Mxxxi (e.g. M340i, M550i, etc.), and true M models with model numbers like Mx (e.g. M3, M5, etc.). M Performance models are really just trims of the normal series they belong to, whereas M models are separate models, where M is allowed to basically change whatever they want. Of course, M models run quite a bit more expensive than M Performance models.

That first visit, I didn’t give it a test drive. My boyfriend and I just sat in it and thoroughly enjoyed the interior, especially compared to the Tesla. We left to go to dinner, and I tried and failed to convince my boyfriend to go back to the dealership and buy the car right when we were done.

I did convince him to come back with me the next day, however.

That day, we took a test drive. Halfway through, we switched seats and he drove it. The whole time, there was a grin on both of our faces that hadn’t been seen since I first drove a Tesla. This was the car.

It was a bit of an upgrade price-wise, with an MSRP of about $59,000, but it was 100% worth it. Of course, I’m a sucker and bought some extra insurance packages (like tire & rim, windshield, paint, prepaid maintenance, etc.), but given how expensive BMW repairs are and the fact that most of them are cancellable for a prorated refund, I’m not going to lose sleep over that. Overall, including the sales tax I had to pay on the difference between my trade-in and the new car, my purchase came out to about $65,000. It’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made, but I suspect I’m not going to regret it.

We decided to see how long it would take for our housemates to notice I got a new car, so when they asked where we were, we just said we were checking out a Mazda CX-5. We regularly go to car dealerships and take test drives (it’s our idea of a fun afternoon), so they didn’t bat an eye.

I got all the paperwork filled out, talked with an interesting, eccentric finance manager, transferred my belongings from the Tesla to the BMW, and said goodbye to the Tesla for the last time.

We went out to eat, then drove home. I can’t exactly say I followed the speed limit… but then again, this was US-290 – nobody follows the speed limit. The BMW handled itself so much better than the Tesla ever did all the way up to… whatever speed I went (which was definitely less than the speed limit), and it didn’t feel like it was going so fast (in a good way – it still felt fast!).

When we got home, our housemates immediately noticed (because of course they would – why wouldn’t they?), and I decided to jokingly name the car the Mazda CX-5. My last car’s name was an inside joke after all, so this one should be too.

So, that’s the story of the Mazda CX-5 so far. Farewell Tesla, I sincerely hope you improve your customer experience, because there are many like me that will take a similar route.





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