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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I can't imagine that anyone thinks they are getting a S-Class or 7-Series level car when buying an RL. Some buyers are clueless about cars, but I don't think any are that clueless. BTW, we don't get SWB S-Classes here and the RL and 745i, give me a break.

    "RL is 400lbs heavier than TL, how is that not "more substantial"? Remember, there was a time when MB's were sold on being "heavy and substantial"? (and poor crash results as we later found out despite their heavy weight). Some people still buy that, and find RL a half-priced S/7, certainly not performance-oriented drivers, but they do exist, in many retirement communities ;-) RL does have better interior material than TL; that's another one of those items MB owners used to brag about until the bean counters got to the recent offerings."

    Two things wrong here. The RL being 400lbs heavier than the TL helps it what way? None. It isn't any safer, hell it isn't even as safe as the TL. Does this help fuel economy? Heck no. Weight doesn't automatically equal greater safety, other wise so many SUVs wouldn't be do so poorly in crash tests. Ford Crown Vics are heavy as hell too, but you'd better not hit one in the [non-permissible content removed], boom...gasoline and fire everywhere. Good design is what makes a car safe not weight. Anyway, that the RL weighs more than the TL and has much less hp is bass ackwards and is not grounds for a boast. Secondly, a Benz being heavy was not intentional, but a byproduct of the way the used to build them. The RL having better materials is not worth paying what 10-12K (list price) over the TL. I'm dismissing any and all arguments about the current RL. You may re-submit your case when the 2005 model arrives, until then the current 1996-2004 RL is a dead issue (and duck) with me and the market obviously.

    The RL was never competitive with any S-Class or 7-Series, I wouldn't care if the S-Class and 7-Series had 4-cylinder engines!

    "A base E320 is actually not quite up to the engineering or quality standards of an Accord EX V6 or Camry XLE V6, and I'm not talking about merely engine, even thought it's a big part of it. Check the panel gaps yourself. Check the reliability record yourself. So what makes the E320 superior if the engine is subpar, the workmanship is subpar, and the reliability record is subpar? Electronic gadgetry count? In a fully loaded E320, at twice the price of a fully loaded Camry/Accord, the interior material (the choice of leather for example) is indeed superior to the latter two (just like RL interior material is better than that of TL; apparently that's of no great concern to you ;-)

    Heck no it isn't and the difference isn't worth the price over the TL! They should have given the RL a modern transmission first.

    This is a classic case of judging a car by your own criteria. Which is fine, but it surely isn't the only thing I and obviously a many others judge a car buy. The E320 will get an engine upgrade for 2006, it will become the E350 gaining the SLK350's 268hp 3.5 DOHC V6. The reliability angle has been long worn out here. Nothing more to say about that other than the surveys show the E320 to be less reliable than the cars you mention. The side of freeway stuff is bs in my book because I've seen cars from any every brand on the side of the road and I just like you had no real idea of why they were there unless the hood was up and the car was smoking etc.
     For me the ES330 could have the best quality in the world and it wouldn't mean squat when I have to look at and/or drive it. The car is a better Buick than the real Buicks. Sorry the comparison with the E320 is far to surreal to me, as is the Honda Accord and Camry, two of the blandest, most boring cars on the road today. Neither of them match the E320 in safety engineering either. The Honda might have tighter panel gaps, but that metal is like tapping on a tin can compared to the E320 or any other Benz.

    The E320 isn't supposed to be the mainstay of MB sales, it is the mainstay of MB sales because it (despite your low opinion of it) offers a great driving experience, styling, features and comfort for the class it competes. The Camry and Accord, ES330 comparison is totally ridiculous.

    I like how you try to cover the GS300 with an excuse about it not being the mainstay of Lexus sales. Do you think Lexus intended that? Do you not think they wanted to sell as many of those a Mercedes does E320s? Just because doesn't sell doesn't excuse it from the same knocks you've given the E320. Now I know the GS300 doesn't sell now because it is simply old and due for a redesign, but you didn't exactly state that. You tried to cover it by saying it wasn't a priority of Lexus. That is ridiculous. That is the same thing (nonesense) theory I was given about the Phaeton on the VW Phaeton board, that it wasn't a priority, absolutely absurd. Every luxury car maker wants to move their sedans in good numbers, and Lexus is no different. If the car is no priority why are they redesigning it?

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I am, for the most part, on Merc's side on this issue. I dont see anything wrong with M-B's SOHC designs (now if they were push-rods, then I would have an issue, and there would be saugatak as well, saying the LS1\6 and Hemi are the worlds best engines). The RL stinks. It has always stunk. I know Legend people that were SORELY disappointed with Acura for that sorry half-assed effort at an LS400. Acura messed up, they underestimated the competition, and they paid for it with pitiful sales. The appear to want to change that with the new car and make something that actually DOES compete with the E, and we'll have to wait and see how that pans out.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    I don't see the point of using the old RL in ANY comparos. This is a car that hasn't been updated in 9 years and is the acknowledged dog of its class by everyone.

    My point was that having a spot on the Ward's top 10 list alone is no reason for boast; every major manufacturer, including lowly Chevy, has a spot on that list. Ward's has a way of making all the major players content ;-) Does making the list make it a _bad_ engine?

    Now you're bashing GM's inline 6 4.2L engine?

    Have you ever driven a Trailblazer or Envoy and tried out that engine? It is incredibly smooth and powerful. It's just a shame that such a great engine is mated to a decent looking but shoddily built car like the Trailbalzer or Envoy. The 4.2L straight 6 completely deserves its spot on Ward's Top 10. This is a 6 cylinder engine that slaughters a lot of V8s.

    Check out the torque curve on GM's 4.2L straight 6.

    http://www.gm.com/automotive/gmpowertrain/engines/vortec/apps/veh- icle/images/ll8curve.jpg

    That is one of the flattest torque curves I've ever seen. Plus it looks like that engine is hitting around 235 ft-lb (or 87% of peak) at just 950 rpm! When GM dyno tested this engine, they had some running smoothly on dyno for over 300,000 miles and still going strong. They eventually took it off dyno b/c they needed the dyno to test other engines.

    Ward's opinion is that every well made straight 6 belongs in Ward's Top 10 and I fully agree with them.

    You make a lot of good points, but bashing Ward's is not one of them. Maybe engines ranked #7 through 10 could switch places with engines ranked #11 through 13, but every engine in Ward's Top 10 is a fine and worthy engine.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    now if they were push-rods, then I would have an issue, and there would be saugatak as well, saying the LS1\6 and Hemi are the worlds best engines

    LOL.

    Well, unless you're in a Porsche or a Ferrarri or are driving a turbo-boosted car, the SOHC or DOHC v8 powered luxury car you're driving would get flat out spanked by the Corvette (and probably the Dodge Magnum/Chrysler 300C).

    It's hard to argue with #s like 400HP and 400ft-lb.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Saugatak, RL isn't exactly a dog. We (myself included) tend to get a little performance-drunk around here. Let's not forget about price, the roomy and nicely finished interior, the straightforward no-nonsense exterior, PLUS Acura quality. For utilitarian sedan lovers who don't need to debate performance on Edmunds, the current boring RL is a bargain. In the HP wars it's easy to knock, but for those who know that luxury sedans don't compete with sport sedans and roadsters, the RL adds up just fine in the big picture. It takes a lot of abuse among the cognoscenti but I'd take one and exploit the price hits.

    Ljflx:
    Nothing like a piano to add cheer, music culture, decoration to a home. So from this perspective you can't go wrong with ANY piano. But a Steinway is in a different league and that Fazioli comparison that Shiftright was talking about in the other thread is less than accurate and overly spectacular. In order to keep this as brief as possible, my point is that a Steinway grand not only is the crème de la crème among music professionals and amateurs, it is a proven investment for anyone. I paid $11K for mine in '85. I can now sell it for around $30K overnight. My sister paid $35K for hers about eight years ago, and it commands close to $60K today, that's what, roughly 5%-6% per year and I think they say it's reasonable to expect 4%. Talk about getting some real use out of your money. I know not everyone is ready to drop 30 grand on a piano but both of us have actively played since we were 7 and music comes with our family traditions so it was a no-brainer for us. I think you said you work in NY. If you haven't done so, I suggest taking your family to the Steinway showroom on 57th street off 6th. Not only is it impressive in itself, but listen to the musicians who come in to try them out. Then pick their brains about the piano. Even if you don't wind up with one, I think you will find it to be a most pleasant experience. BTW , the standard ebony (black) is by far the most desirable and sellable, plus it works with any décor from traditional to modern. I don't know, maybe you already know about these things… sorry if it sounds didactic.

    How's this… a Steinway in the LR to complement an MB in the driveway… uh oh, here we go again.

    ;-)
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    Well if you take price hits into account then the RL is fine, but we're talking high end luxury marques here, and the RL is not a high end luxury marque.

    By "dog" I dissed the RL more than it deserved. I guess I should have said that the RL is underwhelming vis a vis the competition in its alleged bracket, but does OK when compared to the competition in its "real" bracket.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Actually I should have included lexusguy in my response. He said the RL stinks and has always stunk (I prefer "stank"... love that "word" ;-)

    Maybe the RL is not a high-end luxury marque per se, but hey, there are people who swear there are $20 bottles of wine that beat the $200 per bottle varieties. I tend to be in that camp.
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    I am really in a quandary over the S430 4Matic and the LS 430. The LS is a great car with fantastic luxo interior, sound system, very quick and bullet proof quality.

    The MB is more my style in terms of looks, drives great (I like the Euro ride a bit more than Lexus), feels like a tank, and has all wheel drive. I wouldn't be surprised with a few visits to the service dept. for some electrical "adjustments". By the way, on 2 different test drives in 2 different cars, I experienced 3 problems first hand: Tilt steering wheel wouldn't tilt down after I moved it up, air suspension wouldn't adjust and door locks would not close! Each salesman said that it may be a fuse or something.
    Am I nuts for still considering anyway.

    The real issue for me is that with the heavily incentivised pricing, leasing and interest rate from MB the cars are very close in price. That's a tough pill for me to swallow when it's fixed in my mind that MB is the far more established prestige player and for the same $, it's hard to swallow emotionally if not rationally. Throw in free maintanince and all wheel drive too.

    That said, the LS 430 may be the best luxo car in the world for comfort, quiet and quality. The Levinson sound is fantastic and blue tooth is a real plus. In addition, it really gets my goat that on the top of the line S Class you don't get things like xenon lights as standard. The TL has them and blue tooth for almost 1/3 the retail price.

    Regarding RL. I think that was their attempt at an LS /Q45 competitor and at the time it probably provided about 80% of those attributes for 80% of the price. Now it's so outdated. The new one looks like it might be a winner.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "Stank" is now sanctioned by Webster's due to common usage. I don't believe this was the case years ago. Anyone know for sure? Can't remember. And sometimes words play games in the head. This is one of them for me. What I do know it is a funny word. Just reading the definition of "stink" and all the forms makes me ROTFL. And just when you thought that George W's pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nuke-u-lar" is churlish... SURPRISE... it's acknowledged by Webster's as common usage among many dignitaries and luminaries!

    And by THAT logic, it's OK for MBs and BMWs to be ugly! What's this world coming to!

    Yah, suh Bangle cars stink stink unt zay alvays stank!

    ;-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    Thanks for the Pian data. We will probably buy one in September and Steinway is the heavy favorite.

    Now here's one for you. In machine appliances (washing machines etc) the Germans have as their great brands ASKO (Audi), Bosch (BMW) and Miele (MB). I believe Asko is German. Nice little co-incidence, huh. My Miele Dishwasher which was touted as the best money can buy and which was supremely quiet had reliability problems up the kazoo and lasted 6 years. Somehow I expected a lot more. Our friends Bosch though has been spectacular and that was the one my instincts told me to buy when we built our house. We ended up switching off to a high-end Kitchen Aid which has been great and is just as quiet as the Miele. These high-end appliances are real fickle as well. Our sub-zero has humidity problems in the summmer and repairs on it over 10 years has cost us about half as much as a high quality "ordinary" fridge. Come to think of it we never had a problem with a refrigerator until this sub-zero. These high end things can be so damm problematic.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    I think I figured out your problem. You wish the Lexus was the Mercedes or that the Mercedes had the build and quality of the Lexus. You should buy the car your heart and desires tell you to. But forget the heritage/established brand argument. The fact that Lexus bests MB in so many categories in such a short time, and at a lower MSRP, makes the heritage part of the argument worthless. In fact by putting too much value on it you've made it a big liability to yourself. The MB S-430's are being priced low (nearly equal in lease) because the MSRP is out of sync with the market right now. It's happening in the S and the E. If people won't pay the premiums 2 or 3 years from now when the cars have 20-30k miles on them, then the up front new car premium is done - unless a bunch of MB buyers want to play Santa Clause to Daimler. MB's are still great quality cars, whether reliable or not (by the way the test drives would scare me a lot, if even those cars show hints of problems to come) but the lack of reliability is killing the status and hence the premium is headed south.

    merc1 - you should note that an S430 is no longer much more expensive than an LS430 in its popular trim - as topspin noted - and the Lexus still easily outsells it. The 7 is even closer or about the same price, less in the case of the LS430 ultra, and it is also badly outsold.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    I think its a case of the head-vs-heart. Shrinks will argue that purchasing a car is not a rational decision for many people.I will remind you of a small/minor point you made in one of your posts. The fact that you found 3 electrical problems on 2 test drives in the MB may be a sign of what's to come. Ignoring the obvious may prove to be costly. But I am not you. Its your money, spend it wisely !

    Remember, the key is not to have any regrets after purchasing either of these cars. So go ahead and buy what your heart desires, instead of what may appear to be the more rational buy. Just MHO.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Just get the LS. The S class came in last place out of ALL the competition in C&D because it is last place at this point. Its dated, doesnt offer enough features, doesnt have the driving capability of BMW, or Audi, and reliability stinks. They are discounting prices for a REASON and its not because they like you and want to be your best friend by selling you a cheap car. The LS is more comfortable, and 99 out of 100 times when your in regular crappy 20mph traffic, sport suspensions dont come in to play, but quality of materials and ergonomics and electronics does come into play. 100 out of 100 times.
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    All valid points.

    I have many problems but picking out a luxo car is not really one of them, just a hobby.

    You are very correct that I wish the MB had the reliability of the Lexus and that the Lexus had the "sex appeal" of the MB.

    I also wish that my wife looked like Catherine Zeta Jones and had the personality of... well you get the idea.

    Yes, if I ignore what I found on the test drive than I have no excuses. Same as what I read in CR and the others. Funny though if you ask people who own the cars you get different answers sometimes. I saw a woman today who had an S Class 6 mos old and loved it, no problems. I guess you have to be lucky too. But for sure, not as much luck involved with the Lexus.

    Decisions, decisions. You know, I have a friend in the high end Swiss watch business and it's very similar in that it's a totally emotional sale. If you want something that gives very accurate time you can use a $50 quartz watch or just use your cell phone. Yet people spend tens of thousands of dollars on mechanical hand made watches that are not as accurate and need expensive up keep periodically. The enjoy them immensely. The "best" product is not always the easiest to own or most trouble free. It's the one that gives you the most enjoyment. That's value and it's very subjective.

    By the way, today I upgraded to a blue tooth phone just in case my next car has that option.

    Anyone have experience with that.

    To be or not to be.....
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    Please tell me you have Verizon as a service provider. They didn't have blue tooth as of two weeks ago. I'm dumping them in two months if they don't get with it.

    Whatever you lease make it no more than a 24-36 month deal as both cars will be very different by MY 2006's end. Whichever way you go - don't look back and good luck with your decision.

    By the way I don't buy the MB 5th place finish in C&D's lux car comparo. It's No. 2 in my book.
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    Thanks. No, I don't have Verizon. It's ATT but I don't know if the provider matters. The phone is a Sony Ericson.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    How is the S430 #2, when the A8L is better at EVERYTHING than the MB? I dont buy the XJ8's 2nd place finish, but I certainly would not have put the MB in there.

    Oh and topspin, precision crafting and engineering and reliability should not be mutually exclusive. If you want to compare watches, I think in many ways my own Breitling Windrider is similar to the LS430. It never lets its superior craftsmanship and engineering stand in the way of its functionality, as its a "watch for professionls" first and a piece of jewelry second. Lexus is kind of like that.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    I can't imagine that anyone thinks they are getting a S-Class or 7-Series level car when buying an RL. Some buyers are clueless about cars, but I don't think any are that clueless. BTW, we don't get SWB S-Classes here and the RL and 745i, give me a break.

    You'd have had your break if you had noticed the past tense in my previous post. The RL was designed for 1996 model year, and hasn't had much updating. Let's see, what MB and BMW had in 1996 for 7 series and S class base models: S320SWB for NA market, S280 for the rest of the world; 740 for the NA market, 735/728 for the rest of the world. Like I said, RL was once-upon-a-time semi-competitive with MB S and BMW 7 when it was introduced.

    Every single criticism you worked up against RL applies to MB of the mid-90's too. Mainstream MB cars were always "heavy tanks"; even the S class of that era faired poorly in latter crash tests (contemporaries were not as obsessed with barrier crash tests as we are now). There is a difference between barrier crash tests vs. real life crashworhiness against another car of average weight (not the a heavy car's own weight as the barrier tests imply).

    Heck no it isn't and the difference isn't worth the price over the TL! They should have given the RL a modern transmission first.

    By the same token, heck no, E320 isn't worth the price over the TL! They should have given the E320 a modern engine first. I like how you try to cover the out-dated engine issue with an excuse about its being upgraded for 2006. Do you realize that RL is getting an upgrade even before 2006?

    Like I said, E320 is out-dated in its competitive market segment, just like RL is in its own. The big difference is that RL is a marginal part of Acura's market, whereas E320 is the mainstay of MB's sales (given that the ML320 completely lost its market segment to RX300/330).

    Now I know the GS300 doesn't sell now because it is simply old and due for a redesign, but you didn't exactly state that.

    That's implied to be common knowledge, no specific mention necessary. GS300 was introduced before RX300, yet the latter got a complete redesign three years before the GS300 despite the latter's fabulous sales throughout its life cycle. That should tell you where Lexus' priority is. When Lexus put out the new SC430, it didn't even bother making an SC300 version. Lexus has the meat of the entry-mid luxury market taken care of with the ES300/330 and RX300/330. MB's offerings in that segment, the E320, E320 wagon and ML320/350 have been losing sales to Lexus in dramatic fashion. That is MB's biggest problem. It's holding tenuously onto the relative small "somewhat sporting" corner of the entry-mid luxury, with what's left over by BMW 330i/530i (and Acura TL at somewhat lower price point); it's not a big slice of the pie to begin with, especially with BMW's dominance in that corner. With GS300 redesign coming soon, MB is in even bigger trouble.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    there are people who swear there are $20 bottles of wine that beat the $200 per bottle varieties. I tend to be in that camp.

    I'm in that camp too, and it's probably true. Wine makers bottle the same wine in different bottles and sell at vastly different prices all the time. The economy of scale and the delay in "vintage" vs. economic cycle dictates that. Car making is rapidly approaching that sort of economy of scale concern. The latest Civic redesign had more R&D funds to play with than that of the Maybach project. That's why MB is busy trying to amortize its R&D cost on Chrysler models.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    but hey, there are people who swear there are $20 bottles of wine that beat the $200 per bottle varieties. I tend to be in that camp.

    I wouldn't know. I am proud to say that I am too cheap to spend $200 on wine when I know for a fact that vineyards have overproduced and modern farming techniques have improved quality all over.

    Same thing is happening to cars BTW. The gap between the "economy" cars and the "luxury" cars is getting slimmer with each year.
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