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High End Luxury Cars

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  • I'm just a 31-year-old man who loves cars. After reading all these debates on Germans vs Japanese, reliability, and electronic complexity, I feel like these debates will go on until the end of time. Let's just agree that it will never be resolved, and let's talk about what we love about cars.

    I work long hours everyday (6 days a week most of the time), and all I have to look forward to is time with my wife and our families, watching sports, being with friends, and driving our two cars. I drive a 2003 Audi A6, and my wife drives a 2000 BMW 3-coupe. Yes, we do like our German cars. The Audi is very comfortable, roomy, and pleasing to the eyes (both exterior and interior). The BMW is very fun to drive and looks great. Although we've enjoyed having them, they are not the most reliable cars that we've ever had. The Audi has been in the dealership once for rear window not coming up. The BMW has been in the dealership for several issues (VANOS intake system malfunction, molding came unglued twice, peeling of interior parts, and bad cd player). The Japanese cars that we've owned prior to the Germans never had any issue. This is not saying that Japanese cars will not have any problem and German cars will. It just means that this is what happened during our ownership. I've also owned two BMW's prior to the Audi and had many problems with both of them. Even though I had issues with the German cars, I still like them better than the Japanese cars as far as looks and the way they drive. But as far as reliability and cost of ownership, nothing is better than the Japanese.

    My wife and I want to start a family in a couple of years, so most likely we will not be getting anymore German cars because of the possible extra cash flow that we will have to spend to keep them. We decided that whatever our next car we are going to get, it would have to be Japanese. I'm not saying that the Japanese car that we will get is going to be trouble free. I'm just going with the odds that it will be trouble free.

    We just went to an auto show to see and sit in the beautiful cars. I still would rather get a German car, but I will have to get a Japanese car because we plan to keep it for a while. If I had $100,000, could spend it on any car to live with for the next 7 years, and pay for all maintenance and cost of ownership, it would have to be the Audi A8L. Simply, it was the most beautiful car there that can sit five, carry a lot in the trunk, had a strong engine, and turn heads. Unfortunately, I live in reality, so we will have to get a Lexus as our next car.
  • I have $50000 to spend on car, so I test drive MB ML500, BMW X5 a Lexus GX470.
    It was a very easy decision for me, I picked the GX470.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    Staregically, the move upmarket by VW is very understandable. Yesteryear's elite brands have becme today's mass brands. The BMW 3 series has long overtaken cars such as the Ford Taurus as best-sellers. Luxury has become a volume leader. That means that a brand like VW, which used to own the largest volumes with cars like the Golf and Polo in Europe, and was able to charge a premium due to the perception of durability and quality compared to Fiat and Renault etc faces a big strategic connundrum. Vision wise, they did the right move: they used their cash to buy themselves boutique brands... but there also major blunders: Audi was their natural brand ready to welcome aspiring luxury buyers, but the VW treasure coffins did very little for Audi, and the Audi strategy has remained too conservative - either because of more modest means, or because VW neglected to kick some butt within Audi management, demanding they take more market share away from the other big 2 German brands. Also, one must wonder why VW decided to actually compete aggressively against Audi. It'd be interesting to see a study of Phaeton buyers, and see what other car their top choice was - it would not surprise me if it would be the A8, in which case the Phaeton is entirely pointless for the VW Holding (as opposed to the VW brand). Te whole point about brand engineering is to compete with other companies - not to offer internal overlap.

    In AutoBild, they wrote an article that talked about how the early Phaeton success was almost entirely at the cost of the outgoing A8 model, which basically suffered the stiffest decrease in sales at the time. It has recovered with the new model, ergo the Phaeton's weakness. Figures.

    AutoBild also confirms the 7 series is officially regarded as a bust by BMW, and that very significant re-design (internally called "De-Bangling") will take place. The stuck on rear will be entirely gone, as will the angry eyebrows.
  • designodesigno Posts: 14
    I am new to edmunds. I have used this board numerous times to help my purchase of several cars, including my '01 S430 Espresso Designo (hence my name).

    Next year, I am ready to trade-in my S430 for a new luxury automobile. These are the following cars I am considering (seriously):

    2005 Audi A8L 4.2:
  • designodesigno Posts: 14
    sorry. I pressed post by mistake.

    2005 Audi A8L 4.2: great looking car, but doesn't seem that have the "characteristics" of a flagship sedan (styling...) I don't know.

    2005 BMW 745Li: I must be the only guy out there who really appreciates Bangle's styling. Was horrified at first, I must confess, about reliability issues and BMW's iDrive. I am considering one after the "refresh".

    2005/2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: I am looking most forward to this new car. I certainly hope it will regain the rock-solid, tank-like construction of pre-DaimlerChrysler.

    But what I am looking for is a Porsche 4-door luxury/sporty sedan that is based off the 2004 A8L and the Volkswagen Phaeton. Porsche already used the same design for the Cayenne/Touareg (I own a Cayenne S and personally it looks too similiar to the Touareg), and the "2005" A7 SUV will be based off the same shell. Are there any plans for a upcomming Porsche 4-door that will compete with, perhaps the BMW 7-Series or the Maserati Quattroporte? If so, I'll be heading straight for my Porsche dealer!

    Designo.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    You are right to point out my mistake regarding comparing CR survey methodology vs Gallup. But you don't have the facts regarding JDP survey methodologies. JDP solicits car customers (I suspect using state DMV info) via mail. I myself have received two surveys from them (didn't respond to either) for my LX. This methodology is, statistically speaking, no different from Gallup's, and does NOT suffer from the type of possible self-selection bias that CR does.

    That CR's sample is self-selecting does not statistically prove bias; it just means they COULD be biased. The fact that CR results are broadly inline with JDP's suggests to me that whatever biases might be present are less than you seem to think. But nonetheless, if you want to ignore CR results that's fine.

    But it's hard to dismiss JDP based on statistical methodology.
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    Another huge blunder by VW is when they conceived the new Golf platform, they didn't think of building a crossover off it. Now they have T-egg to fight RX & FX, but nothing to fight HL and Murano.

    VW would have their hands full fighting off the Japanese both here and in Europe w/o making strategic mistakes, which they made plenty of.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    In the past JD Power got their new car sales data from RL Polk. RL Polk tracks every car sale in the US through every state's DMV. This is also how JD Power tracks used car sales and knows - via the Polk data - which cars are being held onto. Thus they can survey satisfaction at any time during a cars existence and know exactly where that car went. The surveys are weighted but not in the true demographical (financial data on buyer income) sense because personal data about the buyer is not collected other than name and address. No information company is ever interested in the buyer - per se - just the block of constituents the buyer profiles. Car Fax - which is the company that tracks how often a car is re-sold and has a consumer relationship (the others are all B-to-B models) is now owned by RL Polk but was initially a JV between then and someone else. As I said - I went down this whole path of an auto strategy for my former company but abandoned it because we changed directions strategically due to other opportunities that materialized. Certain members of this board simply refuse to believe it but the auto industry has great respect (and fear) for the CR data and reacts immediately to it. If you notice none have ever been able to successfully sue CR and the quality of the data is the reason. I think I've said enough about all this but I know this whole area inside out.

    VW - a company that seems to be very confused at the moment and missed ordinary business matters such as currency hedging this past year. They were too lost on a lux strategy that only made sense if they didn't own Audi or intended to spin them off. Money wasted on the Phaeton would have been much better spent on improving car quality of both Audi and VW.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Perhaps you can answer this? I find it very curious how the BMW 5 series and Cayenne didn't get reviewed in CR. Both were out before the now-venerable Acura TL, especially the 2004 Cayenne which came out last year.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    FYI Re: Post #4431

    "The BMW 3 series has long overtaken cars such as the Ford Taurus as best-sellers"

    taint so per JDP year ending sales reports:

    2003 Ford Taurus 300,496

    2003 BMW 3-Series 111,944

    The entire BMW units sales for the U.S. including MiniCooper was 270,000 for 2003, about 10% less than the Taurus alone (which fell over 9% in 2003 from 2002).

    I don't think that the BMW 3-series has ever 'long overtaken' cars such as the Taurus.

    Good point about the 'massification' of the BMW market. 270,000 cars of any one kind isn't very unique.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    They didn't review the Acura TSX either. They extensively tested the TL in February but gave no data on satisfaction or depreciation because its so new. They scored it a notch under highest reliability though (every other Acura is as high as it can go). They will tend to predict reliability based on past models and how other models in the car line are doing. They probably underscored the Acura here. The 5 is yet to be tested and they simply did not predict its reliability. I'd be glad if I were BMW because the 7 scored very poorly, the X5 scored poorly and the 3 and the Z4 were average in reliability. The Cayenne has yet to be tested and CR does not publish data if it does not have sufficient sample so I'd guess the latter is the case.
  • prattsterprattster Posts: 59
    Yeah, the new TL being a top pick is interesting since it's been on sale since fall not much time to build a reliability picture but since almost every Acura and 90% Honda's are recommended or top picks CR is pretty confident. Nonetheless, it's flying off dealers lots even prior to this good buzz.

    Real surprising is the '03 Toyota 4runner V6 being below average but the V8 much better than average. It being the only Toyota on the used cars to avoid list. The GX470 the only Lexus rated slightly below average. What issues were affecting the GX, small 1st year production issues? How the heck they list the LX470 as NA data it's been out since '98?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    They've had the LX like that for years so I don't get it either. The TLC always scores the highest marks possible though. A lot of reported vibration problems with the GX that some have said they have are probably behind that average score. I asked my sales guy what was going on and he said they had no reported problems out of the norm but that Lexus was changing tires because enough complaints had come in. Lexus pretty much switched over to Dunlops and Michelins and away from Bridgestones on the GX as a result. Mine is perfect and I expect it will be that way for the 3 years. GX problems have been way toned down on the GX board so maybe they are gone or very minor now. I had also heard that Lexus was overwhelmed by demand for the GX and had to scramble to up production by 35%. By the way the SC430 also scored only average in its first production year.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    I forgot to say "in Europe". The 3 series is the best selling sedan there, period. The trend will become true in the US too, the trend upmarket is clear.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I doubt it. The 3 series is 40% of BMW sales and will compete with BMW's own X3 in future. If the 3 were to overtake a Taurus in volume then BMW would either need to increase sales by a factor of 2.5x to 700k cars a year or have the 3 series represent 65%+ of all US BMW's sold. I don't see either scenario happening anytime soon. The 3 is just not that popular and doesn't meet the family needs the way a family sedan does.

    Merc1 - been kinda quiet. Maybe you're away . But anyway I finally caught up on the Maybach board. Seems MB hasn't made those cars as perfect as they represented they would. Maybe they just can't do it the way they used to anymore - even on a very low volume car.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yep, you're right....they've lost it. How dare Maybach deliver one defective car! Even higher priced German junk. The only "perfect" cars come from Buick and Lexus.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I do have one question for you though. I'm reading through your posts here and I'm curious to know where you've combined or incorporated CR AND the carmags into your car buying decisions? You have all Lexuses, and they've never been praised for anything even remotely interesting to enthusiasts, but they are the CR's darling. Didn't you tell me a while back that CR is the single most important thing in the automotive world for consumers and that the autorags are worthless because they don't worship at the CR/JDP alter? You just wrote that 100 out of 100 news programs will carry CR's info, but only 10 out of 100 will even mention the car mags, so why even incorporate them?

    I'm trying to see where picking a LS430 over much more dynamic/exciting cars in the segment is even remotely a nod in the enthusiast's direction.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    That's easy. It's the car mag comparison tests that I have zero respect for, the cars will win based on what the driver wants. Since most want handling the 7 series usually wins. Heck - they voted the old 7-series as better than all the cars that were redone a few years ago. that was the stipidest thing I ever read. If that were the case why do a new edition.

    As for them dissing Lexus. Read between the lines and you'll read a lot more. Read the test results and Lexus wins in some cases and they still vote it behind. I remember some memorable posts on this board. these guys - in some, not all cases have yet to accept Lexus. That is their problem not mine.

    As for CR - I said it carries much more weight with the car buying public than the mags. That is because the enthusiast represents less than 10% of car buyers.

    Me - I think the individual car write-ups are good in the mags. It's the comparos that are worthless and usually determined in advance by what the car was built to do. It's CR and JDP that tells you what the buyer experience is. The car mag guys tell you an individual - usually predjudiced opinion towards his preferences - which are out of sync with 90% of car buyers.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi all,
      Here we go again..The Lexus vs German war..I agree with ljflx on the CR front. The results of CR and JDP are far more publicized than those of Car and Driver. CD's bias is clear towards German cars from the start. Their criticism of the LS usually revolves around the "Too much of an isolation chamber" I've been reading this criticism for over 10 years..Obviously the buyers of Lexus aren't listening.
       We've all debated the nuances distinguishing these cars. What are consumers looking for at the end of the day? A High Quality product that features the cutting edge technology and good residual value. Criticise Lexus as you may, but they fit this criteria perfectly. If the mainstream consumer weighted the handling and other "feel" characteristics as C&D do, no one would buy a LS to begin with.
       As for this continuing argument over the Lexus being boring...I might have bought that with the LS400, but the LS430 is far more nimble. My LS430 has the Sports Suspension, and it's pretty good to me. I feel that the the differences between Lexus and other automakers are greatly exaggerated. If I were to believe what I hear on this board, the LS430 would be the Airliner equivalent to a 747 whilst a MB or BMW a F-16..I haven't driven an LS with the 18" Sports Suspension package..How does it feel relative to the competition?

    SV
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Spectacular. Tight handling with virtually no sacrifice of the great ride. Very nimble. Great car but not easy to get. I wish you could combine the sport suspension with the custom lux package.

    Great points on your post. Better said than mine as I was in a rush this morning. I'll never take the comparisons seriously. Not even the one the LS won last year. It's very hard for seasoned guys who work for the mags and who've been bred to believe the Germans have conquered the auto world, to ever accept that the old school ain't the same anymore. But as you say the buying public doesn't buy what they say anyway.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Where do you get that less than 10 percent of the car buying public are "enthusiasts"? How in the world would you know that the car mags comparos are out of sync with 90 percent of the buying public? That is ridiculous. Tell that to all the people who buy BMWs and find them to be exactly what the car mags said they are. Did you or did you not find the LS430 to be everything they said it was??? Boy, if I had made such a blanket statement with percentages attached, this server would shut down due to over posting.

    Yes Lexus wins some comparos now and then, but if you read between the lines, like on the latest comparo in C&D you'd see that they really didn't expect the car to win or even appeal to them, the car basically won on doing everything well, which is not a problem..that's what luxury cars are supposed to do. However they never ever said anything about the LS430 being the enthusiast's choice because it isn't.

    You really don't incorporate anything from the car mags unless it agrees with CR and JDP.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The analogy about the BMW and MB handling like an F16 is the same as the reliability issue on this board. Exactly the same. No matter how you view it, the BMW and Mercedes do handle better, the numbers prove it. Ditto for the LS430 being more reliable. If one trait is overblown and ridiculous the other is also, but they are true.

    What defines the mainstream consumer for this end of the market? The S-Class, 7-Series and LS all sell pretty much sell the same somewhere between 20-25K, and the BMW rides and handles way different from the LS, with the S in the middle handling/ride wise, so obviously some of these mainstream consumers like the BMW's handling over the LS ride-is-everything disposition.

    Let me guess JDP and CR has a survey with the breakout on who is and who isn't an enthusiast.

    M
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Merc,
      I have to disagree. I know how much you hate JDP, but they seem to be the only ones who provide "accepted" stats on this subject. For 2002 Lexus cars had something like 178 defects per 100 vehicles. Jaguar was third with something like 250 and I know MB, BMW are signficantly higher..
      That's almost a 50% differential. I'd say that is very significant. It means the competitors to the LS have 50% more problems and as a result cost more to maintain. I believe this JDP survey measured problems within the first few months of ownership. You can't deny that a consumer would be detered from purchasing a car that has 50%+ more issues than a Lexus car. Time is money.

    In comparing this to the handling argument I presented, Lack of handling doesn't cost $$$..It's more of a perception thing and is highly subjective. However, Reliablity is a tangible thing that can be easily measured. I think consumers do weight relability more heavily than handling characteristic for the reasons I've stated. That's probably why these CR and JDP studies are publicized more.

    I don't think reliability is overblown. I'd venture to say it was the most important factor in my purchasing a Lexus and not another MB. People do vote with their wallets..Back in 1986 I owned a Jaguar XJ6. It was a lovely car when it wasn't in the shop. While more of a purist car, it wasn't worth the hassle. Sure, I'm trading off some handling when I buy a Lexus, but I'm buying piece of mind.

    Of course, some "purists" on this board own several different cars and are more willing to tolerate minor quirks. But I don't think the mainstream overworked American consumer has the time to deal with the newfound issues these German cars are having. Sooner than later, this issue is going cost the Germans in the sales dept.

    SV
  • lexus0622lexus0622 Posts: 27
    All in support of Merc1, vote "I'm more than 50% with Merc1."

    Those who support sv7887, vote "I'm more than 50% with sv7887."

    No dangling chads, dimples, partial punches, or any other stuff -- just vote and let's move on (once again). This is objective, statistically sound, and transparent. Pat, you count up the votes and authenticate. That will save the rest of us the time from having to tally the count ourselves.

    All votes are due by 5:00pm EST tomorrow (Thursday 3/18/04)!
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    You said in post #4447

    '"Too much of an isolation chamber" I've been reading this criticism for over 10 years..Obviously the buyers of Lexus aren't listening.'

    Even if they are listening, the interior of the LS is so silent and isolated from outside noises that they don't hear the criticism.

    Scott.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    would someone please formulate the issue succinctly? Maybe it's something like, "my car's better than your car!"
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    ha ha

    We're not going to vote on who agrees with whom, we're going to continue to discuss our viewpoints. After all, we all have our own points of view to share and discuss. No need to get caught up in "taking sides". Let's just keep the conversation centered on our own personal views without making things personal.

    And while I'm here, let me ask that we try to get our focus back to the cars and get away from the merits of the various magazines. I'm aware of at least two discussions over on the News & Views board that are great places for that conversation. This is not the right place, of course.

    :-)
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      Merc and I were just posting our contrasting viewpoints on the issue. No need to take sides here. I like my isolation chamber..

    The way I see it, a man's car is his inner sanctuary. (Violin plays..Spotlight switches on)

    "While I'm driving my LS, I feel that the troubles of the world are absorbed by the smooth suspension..The senses are tickled by the sounds of the Mark Levinson audio and the sights of the maple wood and leather trimmed cabin. The stone silence of the car provides a refreshing chance to think and reflect.. You feel as if nothing can penetrate your inner sanctuary. The stresses of life seem to vanish...No deadlines, no bosses, and no wife to drag you to the opera.."
    (If my wife reads this, I'll probably be sleeping in the car tonight..)

    How about it Jag, Audi, BMW and MB owners? How would you characterize your car in the manner above? I think this would be more of a humorous way to express our contrasting opinions...

    SV
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    When I was comparing/shopping a few years back, I checked out Buick Park Avenue Ultra. None of the two dealers here had the bucket seat with console and floor shift option. The Lexus LS430 won me over because it had a console, buckets, and floor shift. I love the 2004 LS430 six speed selectronic shift.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I don't "hate" JDP, I just think on this board the preaching about their stats is ridiculous and to try and portray them as being the bible on car buying information. I'm not sure why you're going into the results again; I'm honestly not disputing what they found.

    "In comparing this to the handling argument I presented, Lack of handling doesn't cost $$$..It's more of a perception thing and is highly subjective."

    This is exactly what separates the enthusiasts from the JDP/CR crowd, because I personally can tell the difference between a LS and a 7-Series or a S-Class. Secondly seeing as how this board loves to use numbers, the handling numbers don't lie. The German cars handle better, whether you can tell or not is based on your driving style.

    I won't argue that consumers place more emphasis overall on reliability, but to say that less than 10 percent of consumer care about handling is pure absurdity. If that was the case the LS430 would outsell a car like the 7-Series by more than 5K units a year.

    I don't think reliability itself is overblown, but the reliability argument on this board is past overblown. Reading this board in particular you would think not a single MB, BMW, Audi or Jaguar is capable of providing a decently reliable luxury car experience.

    M
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