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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    edited July 2012
    I test drove a CTS/4 Premium Luxury with the 19" wheel option and the FE2 suspension.

    This was the day I test drove an Audi S4 and the TL SH-AWD Advance.

    The Cadillac was the least desirable of the three -- IF one had any lust for even a hint of performance. The 3.6 engine seemed enthusastic in its sounds and refinement but was unable to press you back in the seat at full throttle. The feeling in the CTS was "same day service."

    The CTS lacked the driver and passenger above-door handles that even the least expensive VW's offer -- and it's not like passengers would have no use for them. This symbolically told me where Cadillac's head was, and that is Cadillac's head is up its nose!

    Now, for the money (not MSRP, lease money per month, that is) the pecking order (from low payment to high) was Acura TL SH-AWD Advance, Cadillac CTS/4 Premium Luxury and the S4 (Prestige). At these respective levels of trim each of the three offered about the same content (although the Cadillac didn't have blind spot monitoring which seems like a glaring oversight.)

    If Acura is trying to compete with Infiniti, I know of none of their cars that offers the performance level, interior poshness or HP for the buck offered by Infiniti.

    I do like my Acura (which is $547/mo for 36 months) -- I am not crazy about the styling (exterior) and there is very little "premium" anything in the interior except the heated and ventilated seats -- the 2012 Acura does a decent impression of my 2005 Audi A6 (which had the +sized wheels and tires, but no sport suspension, but w/sport seats) -- and the SH-AWD allows the TL to perform "similarly" to an Audi S4 (S4-Lite, i.e.)

    Rumors are rumors and who knows what is real -- so I am planning on keeping my mind open about a 2014 TLX, Cadillac ATS/4, Audi A? and both the G and M Infiniti's.

    I am looking for my next car to have what appears to be the reliability and durability of my '12 Acura and my wife's '11 Infiniti (and the performance of at least an Audi A4 in terms of handling.) The Audi may have to be removed from my list, in fact, due to my suspicions that virtually any German car on the market (and I have had 29 of them) shows and feels its age more quickly than the Japanese (and maybe even than the Cadillac, I have no experience with that.)

    I priced out an ATS/4 with the turbo four and premium pack -- it turned out to be just south of $50K -- with a 6 speed auto. Word is there will be an 8-speed auto "soon." Might be worth a look-see.

    If the greatest gripe I have is that the lesser TL's have no place on either the ELLPS or LPS boards, but that the top o' the line SH-AWD version is decent -- well, I think we all are in pretty good shape with any of these vehicles if configured to match one's proclivities.

    Still, 2014 can't come soon enough! :surprise:
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    It seems to me that Acura has decided to compete more directly with Lexus as evidenced by the new RDX which is clearly aimed at the RX. The RX is certainly a premium or luxury vehicle but also not a great driver or handler.

    I disagree, the MDX is the direct competitor of the RX, in both price and size. Lexus does not have a RDX/X3/EX competitor as of yet and I don't believe Lexus has to have another SUV in it's lineup.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    The comparison that makes the most sense, size-wise and price-wise is to compare the MDX to the RX. I don't believe there is a car in the Lexus lineup that in similar in size/class, etc to the RDX.

    I have NOT driven the RDX. I have read reports and sat in one.

    The RDX is a nice step up from the old RDX -- in terms of "styling." In every other way that I can think of, the new RDX is clearly a nice, a fancier a "better" CR-V in about every way that I can think of.

    At the current moment, I would look closely at a new BMW X1 (w the turbo i4) over the RDX. I'd probably look at a Q5 over the RDX, too.

    Now then, offer up the SH-AWD on the RDX and it becomes the pick of the litter since it would be a bargain, or at least one would think it ought to be.

    For the record, as if there is a record, I do not track my cars -- I look at SH-AWD as both a performance improvement on regular roads and a safety feature considering the understeering habits of virtually all FWD and non-SH-AWD, AWD versions.

    Drive it like YOU live!
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    Graphic while the Legend was a good car, I believe what set Acura apart from everybody else was it's dealership and how they treated the customer. Loaner cars, greeting the customer with a smile, going to the customers place of work and exchanging cars. Going beyond the typical dealership experience that was being offered in 1986, even by the Germans.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,859
    The TL is sold as an extra-large Accord over there.

    Actually you're wrong on this count.

    The North America Accord is sold over in Japan as the Inspire. The TL isn't offered there at all as it was replaced by our Accord.

    Yes the TSX is the JDM/Euro Accord. It is a bit of a pedestrian car in those markets and with good reason - that's what sells. Bringing it here as the TSX was a way to get people in the door of Acura dealers as the TL was getting bigger and more expensive.

    Is it an ELLP? That's up to the buyer to decide. By offering it with a V6 in North America (it's not offered that way in the other markets) was a way to bring it up to ELLP standards although the 4 offers sufficient engine and chassis performance.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,262
    Mark...I enjoy reading your impressions. Although, my GF's S4 is the first Audi I've experienced, it is a step above (actually, a couple of steps above) my former TL SH AWD....regardless of the parameters I use to measure both of them. The S4 performs better, has better materials, etc.

    I've had 3 BMWs. And, all of them have been as stout as anything I've ever owned. So, we'll have to disagree about how they age.

    I've mentioned before, I've tried to like Infinitis. I've test driven (several times) the new M37 and the G37. While the have the "window dressing" down pretty well. The refinement and suspension work is where they fall down....at least compared to what I drive.

    I thought the M37 was very nice on the inside, however.

    I've never been able to warm to the exterior styling of either the G or the M. M was cheaper than the GF's S4. We still didn't like it.

    FN.....I think everyone in the Acura community is awaiting the worthy successor to the Legend, for all the reasons you state. It hasn't happened yet.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    Is a CTS-V quite a bit different car than the base CTS? Is the Shelby Mustang quite a different car than a base V6 Mustang? I don't believe just because a car is sold somwhere else that outfitting the car completely different doesn't change the character of the car.

    I would say yes, just as there is quite a difference between a 528i and a M5, basic body shell, but after that completely different car.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    Is it an ELLP? That's up to the buyer to decide.

    Not on this board some people have decided for the whole group that the TSX does not belong here. However, I agree, the buyer is the one who decides their money.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    I've had 3 BMWs. And, all of them have been as stout as anything I've ever owned. So, we'll have to disagree about how they age.

    Graphic I agree here too, my 05 has no rattles, and the body alignment is perfect not bad for a car that has been tracked. Mark has made comment the age thing a couple of times, I wish he would give examples.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    Actually we're both right. The RX competes against both. If you look at size the RX is smack dab in between the RDX and MDX but is actually closer in size to the RDX. It's a five passenger like the RDX, rides and handles similar to the RDX and has almost the same powertrain as the RDX. The MDX is bigger, holds 7 pax, has the sportier engine and also SH-AWD. The main thing the RX and MDX have in common is the price.

    I think with the redesign of the RAV-4(after a long in the tooth run) you may see a Lexus CUV based on that and a stretched RX go to 7 pax seating to compete more directly with the MDX and JX. I think if anything goes in the Lexus lineup it may be one or more of the more traditional based SUVs. There is already rumors of a Lexus version of the Prius V.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    That was my point exactly. Just because a car is based on something equestrian doesn't mean with the right drivetrain/suspension/luxury fittings the car isn't a different beast.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    I agree completely with your comments re:Audi S4. I likened the TL SH-AWD Advance 6 speed auto to an S4, but it is S4-lite or S4-like -- I use those words, phrases in an attempt to offer up my impressions as a long-time Audi owner (who has also had 3 BMW's). I don't think most folks would ever cross shop these two cars.

    I was looking for another A4 Prestige with sport package, etc, but I was also looking to keep the payments UNDER $600 per month. Couldn't do it with the content I wanted in the car. The A4 Prestige content and the TL SH-AWD Advance have similar content. The TL and A4 have similar wheel bases and both are "nice" cars -- with the nod going to the A4 on all counts.

    If I were forced to keep the TL for 5 more years, I think I could live with that, since the TL refuses to betray its mileage. By this time on my A4 (20K miles) there were "feelable" signs of wear (not tear, just wear) -- which also goes for the 3 BMW's we had. The BMW dealer said to us that BMW's are higher performance machines and they are built to outperform their competition at the cost of needing to be fiddled with, adjusted and tweaked more than the other cars that have lower tolerances and so forth.

    This proved true with Audis too -- even as they got better and better in terms of reliability. My experience is just another data point: German Cars, Japanese Cars and I assume [hope] American Cars are all reliable (getting stranded in the wrong part of town just doesn't happen in a modern car like we're talking about.) What little disagreement we have or may have is that the German Cars seem to require "lots of little adjustments" to keep them feeling young -- the Japanese Cars, on the other hand, "feel" (at 30,000 miles in the case of my wife's Infiniti and at 20,000 miles in the case of my Acura) unfazed by the passage of so many miles.

    I'd take an S4 over virtually any of the cars in this class -- if money wasn't an object. Of course an S6 would be, for me, even better. I had an A8 upgraded at the dealer to an S8 suspension that I had them order from Germany -- now that was very nice. Today, however, I'd still prefer the S6 over the S8 even if I were spending "other people's money." The S4 and especially the S6 seem to be great "middle sized" vehicles -- and both are fun to drive. I may have shared this before, but my 1995 S6 remains my favorite car of all times -- not the BEST car I ever had, just the one that recalls the fondest of fond memories.
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,161
    edited August 2012
    Rob2, just because Acura dropped a v6 into the tsx doesn't make it Ellps- first of all they sell less then 10% of all v6 tsxs. Second doesn't the accord offer a v6?
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,006
    "Second doesn't the accord offer a v6?"

    So does the Altima....what difference does that make?
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,161
    "By offering it with a V6 in North America (it's not offered that way in the other markets) was a way to bring it up to ELLP standards although the 4 offers sufficient engine and chassis performance."

    There you go
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,262
    Mark.....you and I pretty much are violently agreeing. :)

    Audi, Acura, Mercedes (every once in awhile) and now BMW...all offer 4 cyl motors in their ELLPS.

    I test drove an A5. Frankly, that's a mighty nice car. Matter of fact, even though it's down on HP vs BMW's new N20 motor, I'd still prefer it over a new 328i.

    I'm still trying to wrap my mind around being able to hit the $50K mark with the 328i and a 4 cyl (optioned up). Personally, there are still plenty of new '11 328i cars on the market (BMW cranked production on the '11s knowing the '12s would be initially only a trickle coming out of the factory). I'd jump on one of those with the 6 cyl....save me some money and get something I consider to be superior to the newer model.

    I know it's next to impossible to get a '12 335i (although you can find old body style coupes on lots, still). And, I don't think they only started producing the '13 335i.

    GF's S4 is a Premium Plus. Seems loaded up to me. What does the Prestige net you?

    I don't think an A4 can be optioned up to $50K like the 328i, can it?

    As you're aware, all loaded up, I think the TL SH AWD Tech is low-mid $40s. I thought you could get a loaded A4 quatro for about the same price?

    Either way, you have a very nice car which would be a pleasure to drive for the next 10 years, if you so choose.
  • An Audi A4 2.0T Prestige can be cranked up MSRP-wise to more than $50K.

    An Acura TL SH-AWD Advance (not Tech) plus a la carte options like splash guards and back-up sensors is north of $47K MSRP.

    The Prestige vs the Advance offers similar content if not similar engine transmission set ups.

    The way the '12 Acura TL is configured however -- it feels more like the Audi A6 version C6 (the last model before the current body style of the A6.)

    The BMW 328/AWD ('13) is easy to zoom past $50K, too.

    The SH-AWD (aka torque vectoring) masks the porkiness of the TL, and the 19" wheels and "sport tuned" suspension yield a TL that is more like an A4-SLine or S4 "lite" -- the A4 currently only offers the "sport differential" on the highest buck flavors which makes the TL the bargain of the bunch (and still an ugly duckling.)

    I priced out a new X1 and even got that to go north of $50K (and that was with the 4cyclinder).

    There's a phrase I have grown up with: "you can pay too little, but you really won't pay too much -- if you get what you want, rather than settling."

    Oddly, with the TL at $547 per month, I feel a bit like Goldilocks, "It's just right." I can say this with a straight face since the '09 A4 2.0T Prestige w/sport and ADS was about $120 more per month than the TL.

    Don't confuse my rationalization as anything but "driving it the way I lived -- at the time I entered into the transaction." I was looking for something that I could live with, feel safe and comfortable with and that had decent performance -- AND was a prudent choice during a crappy economy.

    Still, however, I think 2014 can't come soon enough (for Acrua at least.) The company seems adrift -- even after the Avenger's movie was supposed to show us that Tony Stark used to drive Audis and now he drives Acura's.

    Pull the other one. :blush:
  • Mark-What are the signs of a warped rotor?
    Is it the vibration on hard stops?
    I think mines are warped but I just wanted to make sure.
    The dealer wants $220 (this is an online discount), the normal is $320.
    Does that sound correct?
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,859
    Rob2, just because Acura dropped a v6 into the tsx doesn't make it Ellps- first of all they sell less then 10% of all v6 tsxs. Second doesn't the accord offer a v6?

    My point is that the consumers in this market slice have typically sneered at anything that didn't offer a 6.

    Now that the great propellered one has deemed 4's worthy in the American market, perhaps that requirement will disappear.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,262
    billy...not Mark. But, what you describe sounds like warped rotors to me. They can usually turn the rotors once. So, ask them to do that, first.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,262
    Mark....I'm not a lessee/payment buyer. So, the monthly payments have no relevance on my end. But, from what I understand, BMW subsidizes their leases pretty heavily. So, that's one way of allaying their cost.

    I also didn't know you could get an A4 into the $50K range. New lesson learned. Personally, if I were going to option out an A4 into that price range, I'd go ahead and move right on into an S4.

    Speaking of 4 cyl lux/performance cars, I just read a C&D article stating that Audi is upgrading their current 2.0 engine. Expect it to come in at around that 240 HP mark (not sure about ft/lb ratings) in the A4.
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,161
    But even thou the tsx offers a 4 and a 6 does that make it Ellps? Fwd, slow, no awd option
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    Graphic VW/Audi has had a few cars with a higher HP 2 L turbo (VW GTI-R) 256HP, Audi's TTS 265HP. Aftermarket companies have had a "chip" for the ECU for a while, 250hp from either the 200 or 211hp 2l turbo. Audi/VW really needs to up their HP and torque if they want to stay competitive, like you, I like the A5, but a 2L turbo making 211hp in a 50K car how can Audi justify that.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    My point is that the consumers in this market slice have typically sneered at anything that didn't offer a 6

    Could this just be the big marketing machine making people think that if it doesn't offer a bigger engine then it not a luxury car? It appears that both BMW and MB are slowly ditching their V12 engine in favor of a twin turbo V8.

    Ford took a big risk in their F150 by offering their EcoBoost 3.5L twin turbo engine, however, it has been a sales success for them. With CAFE # climbing quickly manufactures are being forced to offer engines they wouldn't have 5 yrs ago. MB offers more cars with Diesels then VW and they sell every one of them. BMW will be bring over a new 3 series oil burner for 2013 and I believe Audi will be doing the same.

    The Germans imported the higher end cars because they knew they could sell the and make higher profits. I wish I could buy a 328i with cloth seats, 6 spd manual like the Germans can, I have friends who don't want power windows, and sunroof (this is not an option on the 328i.) but BMW doesn't offer that here...
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,262
    FN...didn't know that about the higher HP/torque of the Audi 2.0. Sounds like they're getting ready to drop one of those in the A4 from what I'm reading.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,642
    I hope so, like you I like the A5, now with 265hp, and about 280lbs of torque that could be a fun car.
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,161
    Ecoboost f150- good post, ford reported that 42% came in Eco form- should continue to gain traction as people realize they can still haul the boat with a 6
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,532
    edited August 2012
    'I wish I could buy a 328i with cloth seats, 6 spd manual like the Germans can, I have friends who don't want power windows, and sunroof (this is not an option on the 328i.) but BMW doesn't offer that here...

    I just built one on bmwusa.com with an M6 and no sunroof -
    cloth, I admit, not available here....
    - Ray
    Happy with leather, DCT and a hole in the roof...

    Build Your Own 2013 328i Sedan
    PERFORMANCE OPTIONS
    STEPTRONIC automatic transmission $0
    Manual Transmission $0
    Sport automatic transmission with shift paddles $500
    CONVENIENCE OPTIONS
    Heated front seats $500
    Moonroof $1,050
  • Warped rotors make a sound and usually a feel. The term that describes the feel is shudder or shuddering. The sound that is made will remind you of the sound you hear when your ABS brakes are activated. The ABS could be said to pulse rapidly -- typically the warp sensation although similar to the pulsing sensation of ABS is somewhat more violent.

    The higher the speed the more the shuddering is noticeable and the louder it is too. As the warp becomes more and more severe, the onset of the shuddering is at lower and lower speeds. Mine was seemingly cured by the rotors being resurfaced or turned as it is called.

    Some rotors cannot be turned without serious longentivity issues. Acura claims their rotors are thick enough to withstand up to three turns.

    The price of the rotors at an Acura dealer (front pair) installed is about $350 for new Acura replacements.

    Acura's brakes are fine for most normal driving, but they seem a bit delicate and are not fans of heat (not that any rotors are, it's just that Acura's seem particularly prone to disliking heat.) I can't imagine having this car in the mountains or living with mountains with brakes as intolerant of heat as these.

    I have no idea why (other than $) a more durable or heat tolerant rotor is not used, especially when we're probably talking about a relatively small $ number to set the car up with bullet proof brakes.

    My wife's BMWs and my most recent Audis had excellent brakes -- I know they're out there.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    I'm sure most of you have seen this, but I'll post it for posterity.

    Warped rotors usually aren't...

    http://www.stoptech.com/technical-support/technical-white-papers/-warped-brake-d- isc-and-other-myths

    "every case of "warped brake disc" that I have investigated, whether on a racing car or a street car, has turned out to be friction pad material transferred unevenly to the surface of the disc. This uneven deposition results in thickness variation (TV) or run-out due to hot spotting that occurred at elevated temperatures."
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