I dont know what the steering problems are, if youre referring to lighter steering on the 2001 Models that is the nature of that model year vehicle, it is not a defect. Also 00 and 01 are not really less reliable than other years depending on who you ask,of all the typical problems, the only thing that was replaced on mine was the window regulator. You should make your purchase based on which one has the best features for the price you want to pay. Once again, the E46 and the GS are two completely different cars, for completely different catergories. I honestly dont see the BMW as a reliability problem, but as I always say GET AN EXTENDED WARRANTY, itll save your ass in the end in one way or another, and can usually be negotiated into the price of the car quite easily. Certainly Lexus will only be slightly better in the reliability department, but not a whole lot, and they will absolutely eat you on parts and maintenance costs, as will the BMW to an extent unless you take it somewhere other than the dealer. Bottom line is for the money, you just cant do better on the overall package than the 3 series, many have tried, many have failed. Good performance, Good resale, Good features... I purchased my 2001 330iA for about 26k with 31k miles on it and the Premium Package w/xenons, a 325 will be substantially less, while a convertible or AWD 325 or 330 will be a bit more. In my area, the same car sells for no less than 30k typically and 02's are even more.
<img src='http://members.cox.net/inelson5/330i.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
<img src='http://members.cox.net/inelson5/wooani.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' /> The whistles go WOOOO!!! *BUBB RUBB FAN CLUB*