Thanks for all the responses folks, giving me some really good feedback. A few comments:
- no go on the CX5 - not a Mazda fan and not enough power. No go on the EX35, she just doesn't dig it.
- color/config - her exact config is just like yours Transfer - xline, midnight blue, terra, matte wood, loaded.
- Tirpitz - great way to simplify. I do feel like if we bought the car I'd be excited/happy....but thinking about what's next, so ultimately not satisfied. She drives cars to the ground, but in a year or two I'll want something more in line with my expectations as I'd like to drive it too. Im only getting older so the AC seats, power trunk, etc will only appeal more to me as time goes by. Thats my concern, that ultimately I won't be happy and want to swap out her car in a year or two with her kicking & screaming. She has a Jetta now that she's driven for 5yrs+ and it just feels old, rattly, stiff, etc...I fear the X1 is going to feel the same way to me in 2 years....outdated look and feel.
- RedBread - you are right. The X3 definitely feels more like an SUV, but it feels like you're getting way more car for another $10k in terms of technology, quality, etc. Thats what she likes about the X1 so much is the driving experience - it's fun, zippy, has room but feels small, etc.
- edx1 - thx for the tranny info - Im a big paddle shift guy and its so important to feel an instant shift when you press that paddle. If there is lag, it ruins the whole driving experience for me. I have yet to drive a 35i with paddles, curious if anyone has any input here on quickness of shifts via paddle 8sp vs 6sp.
- dandaman - with regards to practicality, the 28i is perfect. With regards to putting a smile on my face, I'd like to mod that 35i a bit, make some good power, and have a big smile as I jam onto the highway. Thats the tough call.