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High End Luxury Cars

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  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    A 1996 LS 400 is more problem free than a 2003 BMW 7-series. That is incredible but at the same time doesn't surpise me. The 1996 car also had plenty of advanced technology on it. It just shows you how well made Lexus cars are, particularly the LS.

    By the way CR is a BMW fan and in the past has said the 5-series is the best car they've ever driven.

    It's inevitable that euro sales will fall at the high price levels that exist today unless the quality comes back. In the past depreciation was exceptional for many Euro lux brand. But now it is average and even poor in some cases. The Japanese cars are starting to get the grades Euro cars used to get in depreciation and customer satisfaction. I'm not sure the Euro brands ever had the reliability levels that the Japanese have today. But long-term - falling car depreciation makes the high upfront payment for a new car unsupportable - particularyly given the leasing nature of the most expensive cars.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I was surprised when I learned that back in 1990, MB led the JDP quality surveys. (Well, I didn't buy my first car until 1992, so maybe I'm excused for my ignorance.) So in a relative sense the Europeans, or some of them, did lead in quality. In an absolute sense (number of defects per 100) I think they never achieved current Japanese quality numbers...after all, all or almost all car companies have shown long-term improvements in problems per 100. That the Europeans now slightly trail the Americans in this metric is more due to improvements (or improvements at a faster rate) by the Americans.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    I meant quality from a relative standpoint not an absolute standpoint. I don't think the Europeans as a whole ever dominated the top reliability spot the way the Japanes (as a whole) do. I'm pretty sure that in the past MB would have gotten the type of quality ratings (relative to the industry in the past not the problem occurence of today) that Lexus now gets. With all that said it is nice to see the improvement in the American cars.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    We often hear from fans of German cars that Lexus "rides like a Buick". Well, maybe the refrain should be that "MB has worse reliability than a Buick". CR puts Buick as above-average in reliability for new cars, 3-year-old cars, and 5-year old cars, and MB as worse than average in all 3 categories.

    problems per 100

            MB Buick
    2003s 22 13
    2001s 79 48
    1999s 87 72
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      I hope this isn't the beginning of another Lexus vs MB debate..The BMW statistic doesn't surprise me. The 1996 LS was alot less complicated than the current 7 series. Obviously the more complicated the system the more issues that can arise with it. From my own personal experience, my 92 LS has had fewer issues than my LS430. Of course the cars differ greatly in complexity.

      Anyone want to postulate reasons for the European issues? (I'm NOT trying to start another Lex vs Germany thread here..) My feelings are that the autos are heavily concentrating on cramming electronics into these cars at a torrid pace. That works to the Japanese competitive advantage, as they are the unrivaled leader in this sort of thing. I think the main issues for the Euro automakers are electronics related. I somehow doubt I'd see a BMW, MB, or Jag with Engine or transmission issues..

    Your thoughts?

    SV
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    The problem is that the 7-series didn't need to be all that more complex than the 96 LS400. BMW went there because of a desire to lead in electronic auto technology. The real issue is whether the Germans will let the Japanese lead here because they are no match for the Japanese in electronics. My bet is that pride will not allow it and the quality slide will continue.

    No - I don't want another Lexus vs MB debate either. We've been down that road a few too many times. But 10 - 15 years ago would anyone have ever thought the ratings would look like this for the Germans?
  • prattsterprattster Posts: 59
    Well, I'll bet pride has some bearing but then Porsche is using Japan supplier Aisin for the Cayenne transmission and that's one of the most complicated components in any car. It's that same pride that got the domestics buried in the 70's-80's. I'll bet 10-15 years back, German manuf. thought that the luxury market was all locked up for them, well til 86'(Legend)I guess but 89' was the 1st wake-up call.

    Japanese don't just make great electronics, their mechanical stuff is top notch also as in long life engines. It's no surprise that Boeing awarded Japanese suppliers to do the electrical systems for their new upcoming jetliner. Talk about complicated electrical.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, I know very well that the hype says that they are virtually flawless; however, my experience has been anything but that.

    My last (and only) Japanese car (a Mazda 626) was a nightmare (many mechanical and electrical failures), and interestingly enough, the only car I've ever had that had a transmission failure, and it was a 5-Speed manual. My last American car that had any failures at all (four American cars ago) had only two failures, the fuel pump, made in Japan, and the alternator, also made in Japan. Go figure.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe that on the whole, the Japanese build generally more reliable products that do the Americans or the Europeans. Of course, then I look over to the next two houses on my street where a Honda Odyssey and two Accords live. One of the Accords is a 4-Banger with a 5-Speed manual transmission, and other than a bad cat (something like $1,200 to replace), it has been quite reliable. The Odyssey and the other Accord have required three transmissions between them. Hmmm, then again, maybe it's all hype.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • We are not compairing Mazda's to MBs and Lexus and BMW..Please.

    Shipo someday take a lease on one of the top 3 and see if your attitude changes. Just test drive an MB or a Lexus or a BMW, it is a totally different experience then driving an old Accord or 626.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Sorry guy, I've owned four Audi's and I am now on my second BMW, a 530i this time that I had the pleasure of picking up in Munich and running it through its paces on the Autobahn. If that's not enough, I spent several years in the mid 1990s working for MB-USA in Montvale and Stuttgart, and I drove everything they had as well as all of their competitors that they would buy and MAKE us drive for a week at a time, just to get the feel of them. As such, I think I am very well versed in what the various cars have to offer.

    That said, I stand by my statements, Japanese engineering is, IMHO, overrated. They're good, but there nowhere near as good as the hype would have folks believe. The opposite is true for the American and European manufacturers; they are not as bad as the rhetoric from the Japanese loving public would have us believe.

    Oh, and FWIW, the Odyssey and the two Accords are not very old, maybe four years for the oldest. The 626 on the other hand was a 1993 model.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    This "argument" about reliability never gets us anywhere but in trouble.

    Anecdotal evidence is just that - there are those of us who want to rely on it, and those of us who don't. Whatever - we're all entitled to our own points of view.

    Why don't we just talk about what we like about these vehicles and where we think the manufacturers can improve instead of getting into yet another "my car/opinion is better than yours" debate?

    It's not worth it. There are really great cars in this category, and there is no reason for any of us to pursue these turf wars. All of the cars that fit the topic here have characteristics that many appreciate, and yet they all seem to have some minuses - can't we talk about these things without the territorial ground-pawing and snorting that seems to come with defensiveness about personal choices?

    And we do need to remember our subject ... we're getting into vehicles that none of us believe belong here.

    :)
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      Back to the topic I posed...Should the auto manufacturers continue to cram all these electronics into cars? I somehow don't see my LS430 holding up as wel as my original LS400 has over 12 years..There are simply too many electronic gimmicks in the car. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems like these cars are not being designed to be trouble free as the old MB's and original LS cars.

     You're all going to call me crazy, but Lexus owners, sit in an original LS and then in a new one..You'll notice the switches are lesser quality, and the car doesn't exude the solidness that the original did. The numbers even tell the tale. In 1990, it was estimated the car cost around $42-45K to manufacture. (Leading MB to charge Toyota was dumping the vehicles in the US market) Two years back when I bought my 430 the invoice price was around 50K. Maybe this is why I probably won't keep the car beyond it's warranty which expires next September.
    I firmly believe what some have posted here: Automakers should offer simpler versions of their cars. What do you all think?

    SV
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I remember the concept clearly...the Cadillac Cien. I agree on the styling, it was a gorgeous and edgy excercise. It carried Cadillac's new styling theme better than anything since, especially the CTS and XLR, both of which could use some softening, imo.

    shipo,

    Be careful with that view expressed in your post #4376 particularly that second paragraph, as the surveys and CR rule this board, nothing else matters, including knowledge about the cars themselves, CR/JDP history or anything else. A Buick is a better car than anything German.

    M
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    shipo... I agree with the overrated/underrated extremes that car buyers go to as you suggest. As a note, my father bought a Hyundai around the time they first came out. Geez was it tinny and couldn’t get out of its own way, but it just kept running to my surprise and delight.

    sv7887... If I could have one wish granted with cars, it would probably be to reduce the electronics and gimmickry. I agree it is out of hand and getting worse. There are more heating zones in luxury cars than there are in most homes. My wife brought our 03 BMW 530 in for a simple oil change yesterday and it comes back with the computer reset. The on/off characteristics of the lights are now in a manual mode. So now I have to make another trip back to get it reset to our preferences. Wouldn’t mind if you could do it yourself, like resetting the radio stations, but you become dealer-dependent. The proprietary aspect also handcuffs us.

    merc1... gear up sir. What with the latest CR deal I think German cars are going to be taking a beating around these threads whether it is deserved or not. It wouldn’t trouble me though. Living in the shadow of big brother 911 and less expensive stars like the S2000 and 350Z, my Boxster often takes a pounding. But I know exactly what I want and am very comfortable with where my passions lie. In the end, however, I think the fierce competition is very healthy for all brands. And as much as I disagree with many of the posters, I am thoroughly entertained by their takes and the candor we couldn't possibly find in a cocktail conversation. You have to admit, this place is a gas.

    :-)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Oh no, I'm done with the reliability debate, especially on this board. There really is nothing to debate, German cars are junk and the Japanese ones never, ever have a problem. Never. Me? I'm going to get a Buick. Nice and simple obsolete technology can't be beat for reliability...lol.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Don't know what you see in your car but I've had the 95, 98 and 2001 LS430's and they just keeping getting better and better. I'm about to take a 2004 LS430 and gave some serious thought to buying out my 2001 because it is so good. Interior is better than ever and I don't see any departure from the excellent switch gear that has been in the car in the past. I don't think they've ever changed it nor do they need to. I'll tell you what is best of all. My lease on the 2004 - which if I get the car I want - will have a $62k sticker (but I may opt for the full ultra lux model) and will price out at $10 a month less than the 1995 I had which had a $56.5k sticker. The 2004 is naturally a safer car and has far more equipment included. I realize some of that is interest rate reduction but some of it is also because the LS430 now has one of the highest residual values in the industry.

    merc1 - you'd look great behind the wheel of a Buick. All kidding aside - the NY news media and evening reports had a field day with BMW and Mercedes yesterday. I hope the German execs were paying attention because it's reports like those - which are widespread and can't be missed or forgotten - that make reality overtake perception. You don't think Buick will play up that tidbit as future marketing hype?
  • edspider1edspider1 Posts: 195
    I don't think it makes a lot of sense to compare old model reliability with new models. The market demands technology. The market for 2004 MY cars with 1990 technology is tiny.

    When I moved to Lexus from MB in 2001 it wasn't because of quality, it was because of features. Only in the last year or so did I connect the absence of LS problems compared to my 98 E Class experience. The MB was out of pocket for 40 days while they replaced the engine. The parking lights would burn out every 60 days until a recall finally fixed the problem.

    Lucky for me I still see Lexus has having the highest techology and I get the quality build as a bonus! They don't have all the gadgets though. Lexus botched XM radio. Their NAV lacks the 3D birdeye view. They still haven't made radar pre-crash available. There is no display showing what audio system is playing.
  • As a Lexus owner, I ran out and bought the new CR. I drive a Best Pick!! Maybe I can buy a decal for my RX330 announcing how smart I am...

    sv7887...Sometimes I do wish that the autos were simpler. I really liked my 1992 Q45 because of its uncluttered dash and relative simplicity. I don't recall having any problems during my 24 month lease. On the other hand, I enjoyed all the gadgets on my LS430 and RX330 and haven't experienced any problems with them.

    merc1...Wouldn't you really rather drive a Buick?
  • The Consumer Reports staff know their cars, but it's the readers who determine the reliability ratings by sending in their votes, right?

    If so, these ratings are statistically bogus from the get-go. If report submission is voluntary, and if it's from a non-representative sector (Consumer Reports readers do not represent MY interests or preferences!), then the data is flawed and the results are worthless.

    For example, I'd wager that Jaguar owners who subscribe to CR are an anomaly within the Jag-buying demographic. (Whereas Buick-owning CR subscribers are probably represntative for the fuddy-duddy Buick-owning demographic.) My guess is that Jag-owning CR readers are made up substantially of traditional American-car buyers who have decided to "take a flyer." They ecountered more service issues than they expected, and thus Jag models get low ratings.

    NO volunary owner surveys are going to generate good statistics. You need to research actual shop records and manufacturer data for the brand. All the rest is highly suspect, and I think tends to favor the status quo.

    Why is JD Power so highly regarded? Because the manufacturers quote it all the time in their advertising. Circular reasoning aside, it's a somewhat too-cozy relationship for my comfort.

    While I'm not completely dismissing these surveys, I think they should be regarded with skepticism and not the sole determinant of a person's choice of auotmobile.
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    But isn't JD Power giving pretty much the same picture as CR? And that survey by the biggest drivers association in Germany, it said the same thing, didn't it?

    One interesting thing is how the Swedes are doing so much better than the Germans. Aren't two Saabs (their entire lineup) and three Volvos on CR recommended list? The Germans place two or three on it. Weren't the Swedes in quality trouble just a couple of years ago?

    If the Germans studied how the Swedes turned it around, their problem will be forgotten in a few years. And I expect them to.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      In comparing the quality of an early 1990's Lexus to those of today I was attempting to make a statement of Absolute Quality. I've had a 92,98,and currently a '02 LS430. I paid $42.5K in 1992, $59K in 1998 and $64K in 2002. I buy cash and not lease, b/c I like to hold on to them if possible. I do realize that the trend has moved toward leasing..I guess I am one of the old timers.

    My statement simply concerned the solidness that the old car possessed. Feel the switches and controls in the new cars, they don't have the solid feel that a W126 MB or original LS does. The chrome on the radiators are thinner, and the switches have this tinny feel to them. Call me crazy, but I thought I'd put it out there.

    My previous post questioned the validity of the Technology craze in today's cars. I believe that Absolute quality has fallen as a result. Does anyone think these cars are built to last 20 years like a W126 MB or 90 LS? Keep in mind I'm talking about Long Term ownership here (>5 yrs) I point to my statement from my last post: The more complicated the design, the more issues you'll have. What do you all think?

    SV
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Loss of Business due to Durability of Product.

    If these cars (ie the high end of the market) last as long as 20 years, it'll drive down the market within a few years, and the manufacturers surely do not want that.
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    I agree with others here that the perception of the public is not always accurate.

    But - seeing big headlines in the major papers highlighting the 'unreliablity' of German cars will help form the perception of the public.
    Most consumers are not real car junkies and will just skim a small part of the information that is available.

    Merc/BMW/Audi management is well advised to take the quality/reliability issue very seriously.
    At 47, I am old enough to remember how Cadillac management and fans dismissed negative feedback 25-30 years ago. It is much less costly in the long run to maintain brand image than to try to restore it once it is lost.

    Scott.
  • 6sn7s6sn7s Posts: 9
    Are CR and JDP accurate? It depends!

    Car surveys are like TV surveys.... we know it is inaccurate from year to year but that is fine because you cannot possibly control for all anomalies!

    However in the lager scheme of things the data is vaild because the effects are cumulative in nature - they take samples every year - such that after a number of years the picture gets more accurate and increases in accuracy the longer a trend can be traced.

    For example, Lexus has won so many awards for so many years in JDP and CR that you really would be hard pressed fault the data. That is assuming of course the test itself is 'valid' - testing what it suppose to.

    On the other hand, if you get a car model that seems to be good for only one year, it may just be an anomaly.

    Moral: So when quoting such data, like all things in life, context is critical... think trends not individual years!
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Scott and Vcheng - great points.

    vcheng - I do think some of these cars will go 15-20 years but there are so few buyers who want to hold them more than 5 years anyway. The market has moved on due to acceleration of auto improvements and stronger than ever competition.

    Scott - I remember the Cadillac denial also and the MB/BMW version is a mirror image of it. But you know what - it happens in business all the time - in every industry - and it could happen to Lexus and the Japanese in the future as well.

    CR - not statistically weighted but always on the leading edge and well respected and believed in. Witness all the press coverage it got yesterday. As well getting a statistically weighted car sample is not the same as getting a statistically weighted TV viewership behavior sample ala Nielsen's TV ratings. CR won't publish the data if there is not enough volume from its members hence the NA's on the newest cars. Where it has the volume - and it has plenty for cars like the LS430 and S-class - it publishes its survey results.
  • 6sn7s6sn7s Posts: 9
    I understand what you're saying.

    My comments have more to do with addressing the general comments and issues that the data these companies produced is invalid.

    Issues like audience sampling size, where they got the samples from, or whether the buyers of certain brands have unique characteristics that may slant the ratings.

    These are all good points but people also need to realize that given a long enough testing period and a large enough data base these anomalies will work themselves out.

    The question then becomes, how big is big enough and how long is long enough? Again, it would depend on a variety of factors too numerous and too boring to discuss here.

    Suffice to say that these testing methods are probably - I don't have all the details on their methods - as good as it gets, in stats nothing is absolute, just a best guess.... a really good guess though : D
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there's statistics!
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    You are right, ljflx - the Merc/BMW/Audi denials and arguments on quality issues are eerily like those of Cadillac supporters in the 1970s.

    History may not repeat but sometimes rhymes.

    Probably the Japanese brands will face their challenge some day too.

    I also think that people with financial means will tire of cars after 4-6 years of ownership no matter how reliable the vehicle has been.

    Scott.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    I'm in the media and marketing information business so I know exactly what you mean about surveys and weighting sample pools. Nielsen puts out national TV ratings that drives $50bln+ of TV ads with a sample of 5,000 people. Meager as that may be as a representation of the US population - it is well modelled and statistically weighted - it is still the best measurement out there. I wonder how many people knew their sample is that small. Just think of all the auto advertising that is based on that small sample. I can tell you that JD Powers has phenomenal quality as I was part of a team that looked at acquiring them for my former company in the past. We passed for different strategic reasons.
  • On More technological complexity in newer cars:
    -All car companies need an edge to differentiate themselves from the pack.It can be styling, gadgetry, safety devices, pricing, buid quality etc. On the area of electronics-digital gadgets are permeating almost all facets of the car and have definite advantages that can be used to descriminate on performance (e.g.faster braking; less weight by using non-mechanical parts etc.) and cost of production. It's a calculated bet that automakers make every year on what gadgets or functionalities to introduce. I just think that some companies get hurried up by marketing deadlines and product intros that they screw up a lot.Toyota makes mistakes too, but I notice that they stabilize their production line quality first before they introduce widespread changes and will delay introduction of new functions/gadgets for the sake of perceived quality,even for 1-2 years behind.

    On JDP, CR, NHTSA, edmunds, etc.-believe or not?:
    Caveat emptor-but it sure feels great when what you choose seems to be confirmed by a majority of entities that are viewed by many as reliable or by entities that require credibility to continue to function.
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