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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Guilty as charged, Dave. Certainly not my brightest move. I should've gotten rid of that clunker when it turned 10. But life & work were so crazy then that I had no time for car stuff. The easy way out was to hand my credit card to my mechanic & tell him to call me when he had fixed the Green Turd.

    I do think, though, that he should've put me on his Christmas card list after that.

    I'll probably never again keep a car past its 10th birthday.
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Hpowders: Recheck the M boards. Almost all of the problems reported concern the moonroof (rattles--where there is at lease one TSB) or noise level. A few people have some type of problem with a heat-exchanger or something making a racket as the car is cooling (after parking).

    My M was on the second shipment from Japan and had both the moonroof rattle and exhaust pinging sound during cool-down problems. My dealer bent over backwards in correcting both problems (TSBs were issued for both - that's my car in the picture!). The engineers were really eager to find out about and to resolve any issues with their new baby. Infiniti quickly changed their production methods so both of these are no longer an issue. I've had no other issues with the car. My complete story is documented on the Edmunds forums.

    I'm a previous owner of a 5-series, E-series, Porsche and Lexus Coupe. All were first years of their design and all had issues. The difference is that not only did the BMW and M-B have more problems but their service departments treated me so poorly - I'm wasn't sure that they cared about such mundane things as quality. Lexus acted liked Infiniti has - Porsche in the middle.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Good to hear Infiniti took care of your problems.
    In 12 years of BMW's, the only service visits were for oil changes, hot chocolate, bottled water and Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.
  • I need to ever so slight amend my position: insurance, INCLUDING self-insurance is what I was speaking about, generally.

    I, like many folks, do indeed self insure many things. I self insure appliances, but not my uber expensive washer and dryer -- considering the cost of the insurance was $29.95 per year.

    I read with "concern" the posts from folks who have NOT had such and such a car that are both positive and negative and based on the person's proclivity at that time, apparently, they use this as part of the rationalization to buy or not buy.

    "I wouldn't have such and such because Consumer's Opinion magazine said they have such and such issues."

    Based on such reports and the hostility (almost) against Mercedes (for instance), you'd think they would be pulling out of the US sometime in the near future. Yet Mercedes and BMW are neck and neck to be either one or two in terms of popularity based on unit sales.

    Were I to acquire a Mercedes, I might, for instance, allocate (as a journal entry) an expense item, "reserve for bad debt" (or the automotive equivalent.)

    Or I might consider extending the factory warranty for a price that at the time seemed appropriate.
  • I don't know.

    I didn't want the older tech, thirsty engine.

    I have had three Audi 4.2 engines -- they were very enjoyable and quite thirsty. An FSI version at the time was not available. I love the sound of the 4.2 when it is angry.

    I drove both.

    Under urban conditions the differences were certainly noticable but not compelling even though my preference would be for the V8 all other things being level.

    I also found the M35X was certainly adequately powered, too.

    I miss my 2.7T with a 6spd manual. I'll bet my current car with the manual treatment normally passed on by Audi (lower final drive ratio and different gear ratios) coupled to the exact same engine would be perhaps 1/2 second quicker. And more fun and more likely to impart the feeling of control.

    Traffic and perhaps even my age have made me reconsider the need for ever greater engine displacement especially considering I am convinced that $4+ gal gas is coming soon to a pump near you.

    I did not even price or configure the 4.2. I had configured the M35X and the A6 3.2 as comparably as possible and I was willing to drive either car for at least 33 months.

    Since then, I have driven the 530xi auto and found the A6 3.2 auto preferable. But the STS V6 completely blew me away when I was offered the opportunity to compare it to the 530.

    No stick version with AWD of the BMW is or has been avail to test, but I suspect it would get my dollars today over either the M or the A6 (assuming all 3 were close in cost.)

    My A6 was $53,286. Lease is $642 with no upfront money and 15K per year for 3 years. I am NOT displeased with the car, the technology, the appearance or the cost.

    Actually I am very pleased with just about everything with this A6.

    My decision, once the financial playing field was leveled, was not particularly rational; but, it was not insane.

    A combination of reading, test drives, experience and edmunds posts made and read lead me to the conclusion that the LPS cars generally discussed here are pretty darn close to each other in terms of content and performance (and even, today, reputation, given their past 15 year or so history in the US.)

    Audi is the big loser in terms of monthly sales (or is it Acura?) Yet, 2005 for Audi was a fantastic year when they compared the year to their own history rather than the other LPS cars here discussed. Mercedes or BMW (one of them) was the winner in 2005, but wow Mercedes must need a technician and a parts inventory or both in the trunk to read some of the posts.

    Lexus seems to "get the reliability" defense more than the performance, safety or fun to drive argument. Yet, other than the car magazines, not much negative is ever written about Lexus cars -- it is just that beyond reliability it certainly seems that even repeat owners seem less interested in driving than they are in frequency of repair.

    Yet, even this, is most likely my own bias showing through. The BMW folks have to be the most passionate, at least this would be my take based on what is written here. Infiniti M drivers and even RL drivers are quite powerful advocates for their cars. And a few of us seem very pro Audi, but I read many very passionate "I wouldn't consider an Audi because they are unreliable" posts even though not many of them seem to come from past or present owners.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Were I to acquire a Mercedes, I might, for instance, allocate (as a journal entry) an expense item, "reserve for bad debt" (or the automotive equivalent.)

    That's just what I've done for years, except that I do it for all of the stuff in my life that might go wrong - both automotive & non-automotive.

    Here's how I look at it. The odds are fair to good that at some time in the next 90 days, I'll have to cough up at least $2K to cover an unexpected expense.

    Perhaps my wife's Lexus, out of warranty now for 3 years, will require surgery. Or my beloved 330i, also out of warranty, will break down in some expensive, characteristically BMW, way.

    But my experience has taught me (& 13 years of Quicken data will confirm) that large unexpected expenses are far more likely to be house-related than car-related. I have no idea how old our washer & dryer are - they came with the house - but the color scheme suggests that they date back to the glory days of disco. And then there's the designer oven, which was cutting edge in the 2nd Reagan administration but which is beginning to beep in a strange & alarming fashion. I'm almost certain that I'll spend far more money on appliance repair or replacement during the coming year than I will on car repairs.

    And that's only a small part of what can go wrong in modern life. We have a new puppy, & my vet might nail me with a 4-figure bill (my sister spent over $6K last year after her beloved pointer was hit by a car) or I might have to bail out my brother-in-law or the IRS might dun me for back taxes.

    All of this goes to the heart of my objection to "extended warranties." When you don't know what will go wrong next, you can't afford to lock up dollars in a single-purpose service contract. For real peace of mind, you need nothing less than a sizeable interest-bearing slush fund.

    My wife sometimes talks about replacing her Lexus with an E-class. Am I concerned about post-warranty repair costs if she goes ahead with this? Yup. Will I buy a service contract? Nope. But I will add more dollars to my slush fund. For this sort of thing, you can't beat money in the bank.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Great post, I hardily concur. ;)

    Regarding 10+ year old cars, I passed down my 93' Infiniti J-30 to my son, and 13 years 142K miles later, it is still going strong. He was six when I bought the car. The only major cost was a timing belt replacement, even though I had a contingency slush fund. My only "service contract" was the extra cost for synthetic oil.
    My son still gets the Saturday car washes, coffee and donuts at the Infiniti dealer, and they treat his car, and him, just like the guy that drove the new M35 off the lot.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "And, I hope you are not saying that BMW and Lexus are putting significantly lower quality tires on their cars compared to Audi."

    Thats not really what I was getting at. All-season tires are by definition "compromise tires". Where were those compromises made? In C&D's big tire test from a few months ago, the differences on the skidpad of tire grip mounted on the identical car in wet conditions were as much as .20g from worst wet tire to best wet tire. I would think that if they did a skidpad test on ice, the differences could be even greater still.
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    Jimbres: Sounds like it's time to replace that washer and dryer. Your utility companies (water and electricity/gas probably offer great rebates. Using an old washer/dryer is like throwing money down the drain, and probably more than you think.

    It's a tough trade-off, but we found that a new unit paid itself back in about 5 years. PLUS the new units are so much quieter,they get the clothes cleaner, they look better, and ours are stackable, so we gained a nice spot in the garage (much needed in our cramped California "two-car" - yeah right - garages)

    and....er....then we have more room for the Luxury Performance Sedan of our choice......
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    You're probably right, Dave. This is shaping up as the Year of the Major Appliance.

    I also hope that at some point in 2006 my lovely wife will settle on a replacement for her '99 Lexus ES 300.

    Over 6 months ago, at the beginning of last summer, I suggested that she test drive the Japanese Big Three: the Acura RL, the Infiniti M & the Lexus GS. I was certain that she'd come home with the GS.

    Several weeks later, she announced that she had narrowed the field to 2 candidates: the Lexus ES 330 & the Mercedes E350.

    I know what you're thinking & what someone will probably say: these cars are in altogether different categories & happen to be some $20K apart in price. No one who knows anything about cars would cross-shop these 2. And you wouldn't be wrong to say this. That would certainly be my response.

    But my wife isn't a car nut & doesn't think along these lines. It doesn't matter to her that 1 of these cars is a sub-$35K front-driver that some would describe as a dressed-up Camry while the other is a north of $50K (well north when you add the stuff that most of us want in our cars) rear-driver. All she knew was that these were the 2 cars that she found most appealing. She liked both the way they looked & the way they drove. For a bunch of reasons, she didn't like any of the original Big Three enough to go back for a 2nd test drive.

    (FWIW, if I had been permitted to make this decision, I would have picked the Infiniti M. But my wife hated it. It seems to me that the Infiniti M, more than the others discussed here, is a guy's car. Women's reactions to it range from indifference to outright dislike. Has anyone else noticed this? Any ideas why?)

    Finally, after listening to her hem & haw ("I really like the Mercedes, but I'm not sure that I like it $20,000 more than I like the Lexus"), I suggested that she wait until the spring of '06, when Lexus will roll out the next-generation 2007 ES 350, which, it has been speculated, will feature a 6-speed transmission. (This is one of the benefits of owning, as opposed to leasing, a car. You can always put off these decisions until next year.)

    I've also heard that the E-class is up for a mild exterior refresh & that these '07' cars will hit the showrooms sometime in the 2nd quarter.
  • jimbres,

    It seems that our wives have a lot in common. My wife has a '98 ES300 that she has loved from day one.

    She recently drove the new GS300, but said that it didn't feel or drive any different from her ES300. Really liked the LS430, but felt that the styling was looking a bit dated. The Mark Levinson sound system in both was a BIG disappointment, compared to the Nakamichi system in her ES300.

    She really likes the styling of the E-series MB, but the reliability issues are a deal-breaker. Every MB owner that she has talked to (including her sister) has had nothing but problems!

    I keep telling her to wait for the new 2007 ES350(?). With my luck, however, the new 2007 LS-series will be "drop-dead" gorgeous, in which case I will be writing a much bigger check!

    Martin
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    Sounds to me as though both you guys may be writing substantual checks...The same happened to me a few month ago Tony
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The Avalon may also be worth considering. No info on the ES yet, but considering how nice the new Camry is, I'm sure it will be very impressive, and will have a lot more high tech features than the E class, for a lot less cash.
  • aas5aas5 Posts: 50
    I still don't understand how you seem to be fine living with the premise that you expect to shel out $2K on car related issues (and I don't know whether this is per car or total) within the next 90 days while the extended warranty for my M45 sport for 10-years and 100K miles is less than $2K. As much as I believe in reliability of japanese makes, my parents' 10 year old Camry required $4K to $6K in repairs every year until we traded it in. And if you do the research, you can find more than one A+ rated companies that are underwriting these extended warranties, and even these companies have performance bonds so if they go out of business there is an insurance company that will pay for your repairs. I just don't understand the premise of tying up capital if we are talking less than $2K up front on a $55K+ car.
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    I don't think there is an extended warranty out there that is going to pay for repairs on a 10-year old car. Most of us will hit 100k miles long before ten years. It's essentially a 7-year warranty. So you'd be SOL for those $4-6K/year in years 10, 11, etc.

    If there is a true ten-year warranty (without a mileage limit), it will cost more than 2k.

    if extended warranties were such a good idea for the consumer, they'd be more expensive

    ;-)

    but you guys get my meaning

    the insurance companies do make money on these policies, or they wouldn't sell them. Insuring against a 5k loss is just bad home economics. If you can't afford to fix a car when it needs a repair, then you probably spent too much on your car to begin with. You should have bought a used one and saved your money for when the repairs come.

    for every one of us with a story about how great extended warranties are, there are ten of us who have bought an extended warranty and never made a claim
  • Wondering:

    "what is the dollar value of the factory 50,000 mile warranty or warranty/maintenance?"

    Wondering:

    "would you take a new XYZ with a 'credit for no warranty' or would you jus' go ahead and pay the price for the car with the warranty?"

    My neighbor's 7 year old SUV is paid for. His maintenance costs are probably somewhat higher on this vehicle than on a 2006 model. His "fix" costs, so he claims have exceeded, $4,000 per year (so he says) for the past 4 years. I keep trying to cipher and speculate and calculate, because this, apparently, doesn't include tires, oil changes and "wear and tear" items.

    He has no payments (no fin or lease payments), but he is apparently running some $350 per month AVERAGE to keep it going (not including the expensive maint items like tires, etc.) I dunno how much the thing cost new but it is a Chebby Suburban, Land-Yacht edition (and he does love the car, so that is a factor.)

    I just wonder if my "permanent" car payments (which includes 'everything' since I have one Audi and one BMW both with full maint and warranty to 50,000 miles) are that much different than my neighbor's?

    Someone here will certainly tell me where my thinking has derailed -- but, it seems he has had the same car for 7 years (not that there is anything wrong with that), meanwhile for similar out of pocket money I have a current technology (and hopefully superior content) vehicle and in the same period of time have had three vehicles.

    I don't know that this makes sense, most of us seem to be ready to argue that this "story" even if we accept it as 100% true and accurate is an anomaly. In fact it seems that some folks here think "reliable German cars" are an oxymoron (or just an anomaly) but that "reliable Japanese cars" are standard normal expected outcomes.

    I'm probably wrong headed and what's wrong with this country today, but I'd rather cough up my monthly lease payment which includes the "insurance policy" from the factory in the price, rather than be in my neighbor's situation. It just smells like he spends about the same as I do, but has a 7 year old car that seems to need something worked on regularly and frequently.

    The Audi CPO at ~ $1295 seems like a great way to "self insure a bit and spread the risk a bit."

    If the 1 in 10 comment is accurate, and I have no way to prove or disprove it except that it seems to make sense, perhaps simple self insurance still is prudent and my neighbor's situation would be the 1, rather than the 9.

    I'm so confused -- I thought I had a pretty rational approach, you have made me reconsider it.

    Ignorance may actually be, after all, bliss. :confuse:
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    anyone spending $4k/year to keep a $20,000 (at BEST) vehicle alive is a moron.

    Granted, we never know what next year is gonna bring, and we all hope that today's big car repair expense is going to be the last one for a while, but....

    I can see spending that money in year 4...and year 5...but AGAIN in year 6???...AND year 7? not likely
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Go back & re-read my post. My point (& perhaps my style of writing obscured it) is that past experience has taught me that this $2K expenditure will probably be house related - not car related. I then went on to list all of the stuff in my house (antique washer/dryer, etc.) that will likely head south during the coming year. My conclusion is simply this: if you don't know what tomorrow's crisis will be, you're far better off building up your savings.

    Suppose you spend $1800 on a gold-plated service contract on your new car. Six months later, your cesspool caves in. Wouldn't you have been better off if you had stashed that $1800 in, say, EmigrantDirect.com's 4% savings account?

    (I'm not a shareholder in or an employee of Emigrant Bank. Just a satisfied customer.)
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    There's another way of looking at this, Mark.

    Yes, the $4K per year that your neighbor is spending to keep his SUV on the road seems like a lot of money. Hell, it is a lot of money.

    But the 1st-year depreciation on a new $35K SUV will be at least $6K. So you could argue that your neighbor is actually saving a cool $2,000 per year by fixing what he already owns.

    At some point, of course, he'll grow weary of the hard seats, old magazines & bad coffee in his dealership's service area waiting room, march into the showroom & pick out something new & shiny. We're only human, after all. We can only take so much.

    But your neighbor isn't dumb. I've observed that most folks worry too much about post-warranty repair costs & too little about depreciation. Most of the time, what it costs to keep an old car on the road is less than what depreciation will cost you in the 1st year that you own (or lease) a new car.
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    But your neighbor isn't dumb. I've observed that most folks worry too much about post-warranty repair costs & too little about depreciation. Most of the time, what it costs to keep an old car on the road is less than what depreciation will cost you in the 1st year that you own (or lease) a new car.

    you are right (and don't forget the sales tax on that new car) - but 4k/year for a 7 year old Suburban? Maybe it's smart to do that on a $60,000 vehicle, but there's no way that's smart with a Suburban that is 5-years old and has become a money pit.

    and the car's big depreciation is in year 1, not years 2, 3, 4, 5. So even with 6k depreciation, the guy is "making mone" half-way through year 2.

    I agree with keeping old(er) cars on the road, but not at 4K/year.

    I'm still not sure how you spend $4k/year on repairing a Suburban. It's probably completely rebuilt by now.
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