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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • I think the entire LEXUS line up is comical (no insults intended).
    The GS for example, a car I dearly loved when I was in college, seeing it in person is a big disappointment-it looks Korean and cheap compared to the model it replaced. Again, these are just poor old Billy's assesments and no insults are intended.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    edited August 2013
    Our 2011 FX35 is coming off lease -- and Infiniti has already tried to lure my wife into another Infiniti with an "early out" or "pull ahead" deal (you know where at least 3 months of the lease is forgiven, plus any miles over are wiped off the books.) In the time frame where we switched from German to Japanese, the primary motivation was the super sub-vented lease deals offered by (at the time) Acura and Infiniti. We've actually grown to have more than a modest amount of appreciation for the Infiniti and, truth be told, my '12 SH-AWD TL Advance Acura has certainly made me confident that its reputation for durability is probably well deserved.

    The issue -- of course there is an issue -- is that theses otherwise fine cars still fall short of the driving pleasure of the German cars that have dominated our garage since 1977.

    We've driven, recently:

    Audi A4 2.0T '14 MY
    Audi A6 2.0T quattro '14 MY
    Audi Q5 (both 2.0T and 3.0T) '13 & '14 MY
    BMW X3 (with the turbo four) '13 MY
    Infiniti FX37 '13 MY
    Infiniti Q50XS '14 MY
    Volvo XC60 T6

    I'll jump to the most important points (in my mind):

    The Q5 3.0T can be very nicely configured for a hair under $50K -- and compared to the S4 vs the A4, feels like a bargain.

    The BMW nicely configured is breathtakingly expensive from an MSRP standpoint, perhaps there is a super sub-vented lease deal on it, though.

    The Audi A6 2.0T Premium Plus with Sport Package costs about the same as a NOT fully equipped Infiniti Q50 AWD -- but the A6 isn't nearly as quick. The A6, however, feels like a very good deal (the 2014 has a slight HP bump).

    I'd hold off on the A4 until the new one comes here next year -- it seems just like my 2009 A4 Prestige Sport -- not that that is a bad thing, but it seems more dated, somehow.

    The Volvo is very nice, but mostly because in T6 form it is very peppy. The deals and lease programs on the Volvos make them probably the most expensive -- which is to say they cost too much.

    The Infiniti Q50S AWD is slightly NORTH of $50K -- and that is without vented seats and without blind spot monitoring. The car is super nice -- but it feels small inside and although the interior is a huge leap forward over the outgoing G, $50K is too much for what you get. If you're looking for performance -- it seems to have it, but the engine in the Q5 3.0T is, about a million percent smooooother.

    Already the Q50 is being offered in AWD trim for $399 per month on a super lease deal (at least here in Cincinnati) -- so maybe the breathtaking price of the Q50 at MSRP should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Too bad you cant get an A4 with the Q5 supercharged engine in it (and not have to pay the premium to jump into an S4.)

    Bottom line -- it is a great time to be in the market for a new car. However, there may need to be a reality adjustment for Infiniti -- for as nice as it is, we still can't call the BMW the German Infiniti, we still, however, call the Infiniti the Japanese BMW.

    Based on the driving of these cars (and yes, I do know there are three CUV's in the above list), the Q50 and the Q5 are the most rewarding -- both in performance and luxury. The A6, if you're looking for a "bargain basement" sport luxury vehicle is also worthy of your consideration (they must have done something to make the A6 2.0T feel THAT strong!)

    The next few shopping months are gonna be fun!

    Drive it like you live.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,476
    As always, appreciate & enjoy your adventures
    at 'new vehicle time.'
    Thanks for posting.
    - Ray
    I'll give you 3 ¢ ...
  • Here is one aspect of the bundling of features and options the automakers seem hell bent to force onto us: the nearly autonomous capabilities some of the technology seems to imbue these cars with comes at a huge cost ($ cost.)

    I have now had blind spot monitoring for nearly 6 years -- and as much as I am against the government telling us what we HAVE to have, must pay for, etc, I am literally dumbfounded that BSW isn't as standard as turn signals, brake lights and seat belts. Infiniti, for instance, offers BSW as part of a package of technologies that literally makes the Q50 damn near capable of driving itself -- and the charge is over $3,000. Audi and Volvo charge $500 to $700 -- which has to be about 90% margin.

    My point is, why not offer an unbundled price list -- I don't want all the autonomous driving stuff (at this point) that you are forced to buy if you want the perfectly reasonable and proven BSW technology.

    On the other hand, if you really do want all of the mitigating technologies offered, I would understand a bundling discount.

    For years, it used to be you had to order a truckload of options just to get a heated steering wheel -- or you had to get leather seats if you wanted rear seat heaters.

    If there is a technology reason to bundle some feature set, I'm OK with that -- but at this point, the current generation of autonomous technologies offered are just not likely to be used by either my wife or me -- but we want BSW, just like we want turn signals, ESP, seatbelts and so forth.

    Additionally, so many of the new EXPENSIVE options offered seem to be computer processor, software or chip based -- meaning super high gross margins. Why make me buy lane keeping technology and automatic cruise control when what I would find far more useful is BSW.

    Assuming I can justify a $50K Infiniti Q50 when a much nicer A6 quattro sport is about $1,000 more (and that includes BSW) why ding me for yet another $3K when all I want is a fairly priced (~$600) technology that has saved me tens of thousands of dollars as it warned me my blind spot was full of a big ol vehicle just waiting for me to have a stupid attack?
  • sweendogysweendogy Posts: 1,052
    Seems like a long post for one option- my opinion which means zero - you can get a 50k q50 with bsw - I'm sure at that price point one would get a boatload more car then an 51k A6 with BSW. (Again I've not done the apples to apples research)

    This BSW must be something for one to go off on such an item- one would also argue the bSW and other options on that package are options that most people would not want- I like options packaging as long as the lower options (sunroof and nav) get priced at the lower end of the packaging range and not forced on you with other packages like BSM and lane departure - things I can live without. I think the Japanese have made options packaging a thing because it cuts down on costs. German cars can be ordered ala cart which is cool -

    Drive fast, take chances - sween
  • Yes, a long post if the entire spirit of what I was "on about" was a single feature -- my peeve is with the concept of being able to choose to select a set of features or to customize. I am fine with the concept of discounting if a bundle is selected. Yet, there are customers who would upgrade and add X option but are discouraged from doing so by virtue of the bundling cost.

    I read an article about the concept of the "option-less" vehicle. In short, since most of the options are software or firmware based, it is actually more efficient to build every option possible into every car and charge those who want it.

    Our IBM computer, for instance, has a capability called "computing on demand" essentially the computer is delivered with the biggest baddest CPU made -- but it is hobbled at 60% 70% 80% etc capacity unless you're willing to pay for the extra horsepower. Some companies pay for 2 days of full horsepower once per month for the monthly demanding processing routines.

    My last Audi -- with the assistance of a free software program and a $300 cable, was able to have any number of features enabled or disabled via a laptop. Companies -- both factory approved and not approved -- offer performance upgrades via a reprogramming of the vehicles on-board brain. Volvo even offers a PoleStar upgrade to its turbo engines -- for a price.

    Point is, we've been at a time and place in technology where our cars are largely controlled by software, so putting in every possible feature or option into every car and charging those folks like my wife and me to turn features on and off, would be a revenue (and income) enhancer.

    Mass customization has been possible for some time -- and it would be a money maker. Bundling just pisses people off or puts them off spending.

    On the other hand, BSW is one of those things that once you have it, you can't imagine how you ever lived without it.
  • sweendogysweendogy Posts: 1,052
    I hear what you are saying and it makes sense about the full packaged car with expandable options, even after you leave the lot. (Would like to see the software program that includes wheel and tire, sunroof, seats, suspension and other items thou). The car makers will learn a lot about what tesla is doing with its customizable options and production line efficiency. Bsw seems like a good idea to be standard - but I wouldn't use it.
  • At the risk of raising the ire of the moderator, I am wondering, not critically, why you wouldn't use BSW? To underscore the point, I would assume you don't stick your arm out the window to indicate you are turning -- you flick the turn signal stalk, yes?

    My first experience with BSW was accidental -- I ordered a new Audi A4 in 2008 with what was then the just announced Prestige package. BSW came standard (as did a backup camera).

    I, initially, thought, how lame -- backup cameras are for mini-vans, real "men" (or women) don't need no stinkin' backup camera. As I recall, the default for BSW was to come on when you started the car (like ESP, ABS, and "auto" for the Audi Drive Select system) -- then, you could punch a button to turn it off.

    After a few times of "forgetting" to turn it off, I noticed that little amber stack of LED's (in the outboard mirror housing) come on when there was no one or nothing around -- you know, I checked my mirrors. Well shut the front door -- multiple times over the initial few months of having this "excuse to charge more" feature (that I didn't even order), I would see the light come on, see nothing in any of my mirrors and "just for the heck of it" I would look over my shoulder, and damn if there wasn't someone in my blind spot.

    In short, I came to not only appreciate BSW, I started to count the number of times the lights came on that I would have sworn no one was near me -- just one time of ignoring those lights (or, god forbid, not having them) would have been at least a 4-figure episode at a body shop (or worse, especially if it had been on the freeway.)

    What I am saying is that I was (past tense) in the same place you're in when my new 2009 A4 came in in October 2008 equipped with this "who needs it" piece of tech. Further I am suggesting that as perhaps stupid and simple as it may seem, it is right up there with such things as sealed beam headlights, turn signals, brake lights, backup cameras and holes in the roof.

    What once were vices (?) are now necessities.

    Finally, don't discount it until you've had it for a few months and find out that it has both a positive financial and safety feature.

    Drive it like you live.
  • sweendogysweendogy Posts: 1,052
    edited August 2013
    No offense but I think I'm a good enuf driver and constantly scan my mirrors and understand my driving position at all times on the road. I'm not saying its not a useful tool certainly to people who are preoccupied by other driving features not we all are saddled with. I've used the lane system thing in a m35 a few years ago for a week when I swaped cars with a co worker- I found myself looking to shut it off every time I started the car. I like technology but do we need cars that drive itself like the new q50? I can count the lawsuits. I can see its benefits but I wouldn't equate it to seatbelts, break lights or blinkers (or even slipmanagement systems).

    Drive fast, take chances
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,701
    No offense but I think I'm a good enuf driver and constantly scan my mirrors and understand my driving position at all times on the road.

    You must be outstanding then. I've never had a significant accident in 40 years of driving (knock on wood), but I've definitely had times I started a lane change just "sure" that nobody was in my blind spot, then heard a horn honk! How many drivers, really, have never made that mistake?

    While I've never had BSW in one of my cars, I can see how it would be useful.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,601
    How many drivers, really, have never made that mistake?

    I consider myself an excellent driver (don't we all!!). Just this week on long highway drive, I started to change lanes and lo and behold, there was someone in my blind spot on the passenger side. I got the typical Masshole horn blow and swerved back into my lane.

    Did I check my blind spot? No I didn't and most people don't.

    I've driven a car with BLIS and it's a great item to provide an assist for all of us excellent drivers.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 2,897
    edited August 2013
    "I would see the light come on, see nothing in any of my mirrors and "just for the heck of it" I would look over my shoulder, and damn if there wasn't someone in my blind spot."

    I've never had a vehicle that had a blind spot if my mirrors were adjusted correctly. Just google adjusting mirrors and you'll find advice. Keeping my head almost absolutely straight ahead I can glance in my side mirrors and see both adjacent lanes if I'm driving in the middle lane of a three lane. The rear view is for for that....rear view. When a car leaves my vision in my rear view mirror the front grill of the vehicle appears in my side mirror. When I actually am going to change lanes I lean and turn my head and look in my side mirror and make sure I am missing nothing but I never have to turn my head and look over my shoulder. Never had a close call when I checked....only those very infrequent times when I might have been a little agitated and started to make a quick lane change did I even come close to a problem. Been driving over 40 years and never had an accident involving changing lanes and not seeing someone. This was taught in driver's training I took during high school and I probably really got used to adjusting my mirrors correctly driving a truck and having to use just the side mirrors to back up with.

    If you are driving looking straight ahead and glance to your side mirrors and can see any part of your vehicle, then your mirrors isn't adjusted right. You don't want to see your vehicle....you want to see the lane next to you.

    P.S. Is it just my browser or did the ability to BOLD, Italicize, etc disappear???
  • sweendogysweendogy Posts: 1,052
    "You must be outstanding then."

    Yes

    "While I've never had BSW in one of my cars, I can see how it would be useful."

    I said the same thing in my post.

    Drive fast, take chances
  • flightnurseflightnurse at 35K feetPosts: 1,524
    "While I've never had BSW in one of my cars, I can see how it would be useful."

    Traveling all over the US and being in cities that I'm not familiar with, trying to navigate freeways, toll roads and highways, listening to the GPS at times can be daunting to say the least. I like the BSW feature, I just had two 2014 Chevy Impala's ( In Chitown and San Fran) with this feature, and I liked it. I arrived in Chicago during rush hour traffic (thanks to ATC delay) and it was a nightmare.

    When people are traveling the same route everyday to work or the store or in laws house, one really doesn't need the BSW, but when you unfamiliar cities BSW is very helpful.
  • flightnurseflightnurse at 35K feetPosts: 1,524
    "P.S. Is it just my browser or did the ability to BOLD, Italicize, etc disappear???"

    Nope they are gone from mine too, I hadn't seen them in a few days. At first I thought it was my iPad, but they don't show up on my laptop either. I wonder if its an upgrade....
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,701
    Nope they are gone from mine too, I hadn't seen them in a few days. At first I thought it was my iPad, but they don't show up on my laptop either. I wonder if its an upgrade....

    Last time this happened I think it took weeks for it to get fixed....Edmund's IT is not too fast...
  • They got lost in a recent maintenance outage. Hope they'll return soon - sorry.

    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • flightnurseflightnurse at 35K feetPosts: 1,524
    edited September 2012
    Sounds like USAirways IT department...
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 790
    When I bought my 2012 Mazda CX-9 last year, the only trim level I considered was the top-level Grand Touring. The 20" wheels and chrome door handles totally change the look compared to the lesser models (and their 18" wheels are hideous and look cheap). It also had Mazda's BSM (Blind Spot Monitoring) system standard, but the very concept seemed ridiculous to me. I expected to deactivate it and never give it another thought.

    I've always believed that blind spots could be eliminated with properly adjusted mirrors, which was true based on all the cars I've owned in the past. But the CX-9 is a much larger vehicle that it looks, being classified as a Full-Size or Large Crossover/CUV. Even now, it simply doesn't look that big to me and it feels more like a sporty mid-size sedan behind the wheel than any other SUV I've ever driven.

    Even with my mirrors perfectly adjusted (which so few drivers ever learn to do), there is a blind spot on both sides at the rear corners! I'm not sure exactly how other systems work, but on the Mazda there are cameras mounted under the rear bumper at both corners. When a vehicle enters the space that a camera is monitoring, a yellow warning light (little picture of one car driving into the side of another with a big X over it) appears on the side mirror on that side of the car. If the turn signal is activated indicating a lane change and a vehicle is in the 'blind spot', the audio system mutes and a series of warning beeps alerts the driver.

    It actually works very well, although I still think a quick half-turn of the head to use my peripheral vision to make sure the lane is clear is important! Mazda has expanded the functionality of the system in some 2014 models to include Rear Cross Traffic Alert. RCTA uses the same cameras as BSM to scan for vehicles moving toward you as you back out of a parking space.

    I am a very alert and focused driver. Instead of focusing on the car in front of me, I am always scanning further ahead so I can be ready to brake, maneuver or accelerate instantly if I need to. Even when I have no need to change lanes, I love the fact that I always know if a vehicle is flanking me on either side. For example, you're driving on a 3-lane expressway and suddenly a delivery truck drops a refrigerator right into yoru lane and you have barely a second to react. Knowing which side of your car was clear for your to swerve into that lane could be life-saving information!

    While I find BSM to be useful, some of the latest 'safety' features available are over-the-top and seem like addded complexity just so they can add more acronyms to the car's features! The new 2014 Mazda6 has a Forward Obstruction Warning System that "detects obstructions ahead and warns you of a possible collision." My car already has this- it's called a windshield, you look through it and if you see something in your path, you press the brake and/or steer around it.

    There's also Mazda's Radar Cruise Control that monitors the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you and adjusts speed up to a driver-set limit or down to maintain a safe following distance. Um, if I'm using cruise control then I'm on an interstae with two or more lanes. If a car ahead of me slows down, I don't want to slow down with them, I will go around them!

    My mom was shopping for a new car earlier this year and the Acura TSX, Nissan Maxima and Volvo S60 were on her short list. We went to the Volvo dealer near my house and started walking the lot so she could see some different inteiror colors, available wheel designs and other features that can be difficult to decipher by looking at a brochure.

    I have a rather dark sense of humor at times and I consider sarcasm (or smart@ss as my nana called it) my second language. My mom has a great sense of humor but she's a lot nicer than me (most of the time) and never rude or sarcastic, but every now and then she'll fire back a retort to a comment I make that surprises the heck out of me (and proves that I've been a bad influence on my own mom, which makes me very proud)! =)

    While we were walking around checking out the S60 models they had in stock, we were greeted by a saleman who barely looked old enough to drive a car, much less sell them. He was obviously very green and instead of screwing with the kid's head, I actually decided to be nice. He started going over the cars features and one of the first topics was-

    Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection

    The Full Auto Brake with Pedestrian Detection was the world's first and he went into great detail. He explained that it was active at speeds up to approximately 25mph and, if it detected a pedestrian ahead, it would alert the driver if there was enough time to apply the brakes, or it would automatically cut the throttle and apply full braking force automatically if necessary!

    I couldn't resist and asked, "But what if i WANT to hit someone in the road ahead?"

    Before he could speak, my mom replied instantly- "Well you'd just need to be going over 25mph. Under 25mph you'd barely maim them, at best..."

    **I have never been more proud of my Mom in all of my 39 years!

    The poor salesman (sales-boy, sales-child?) had a look on his face that I can't convey in words...he excused himself less than a minute later and the Sales Manager came back in his place and we never saw the kid again.....And I was ready to start asking about trunk space and how many cubic feet of space does an average human body occupy...

    Once we realized that the Sales Manager was completely devoid of any sort of perosnality, we were bored and decided to move on to another Volvo dealer for the test drive. We both behaved very well right up to the end...when I decided to test the Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake by driving at constant 20mph directly toward the wall of the service department. It worked...but apparently the salesman with us felt that I should have warned him before I did it!? Did I need to tell him before I turned on the stereo, or clicked on the turn signal??? If I'm going to buy a car (or my mom), of course I'm going to test out every feature it has....duh!

    There are only three Volvo dealers in Metro Atlanta and we decided not to visit the third one sinice we probably won't be welcomed with open arms at the other two! =)

    She ended up falling in love with a CPO 2010 Infiniti M35 Sport with 21k miles on it. My step-dad insisted on going with us to buy it so he could act as a buffer between us...we were on our best behavior...I almost died of boredom. But the car rocks!
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,284
    Excellent drivers check their blind spot, every time, no exceptions.

    Of course, if you don't check your blind spot, and the system didn't warn you (essentially it fails), how do you prove it, who do you blame, and do they take the liability of payments for damage?

    I seriously doubt it, I'd look every time even with the blinking side mirror. If it proved itself faultless after 5 years and millions of lane changes, perhaps I'd ease up on it.
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