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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • <"Interesting since Mercedes builds even more variants of their cars and has more models. I guess this is more about one plant's flexibility?"</i>

    Merc, I have no idea how BMW and Mercedes compare, along the specific dimension Business Week emphasized, which was ordering a vehicle with a customized set of individual options. I also wasn't quoting Business Week in order to praise BMW as the brand offering the most flexibility, only to add to the forum discussion an interesting contrast of brands offered by the CEOs of the two companies being contrasted. Unfortunately for Mercedes right now, when I read about its CEO being interviewed, he is always forced to defend the brand against the assault that CR and JDP have mounted against it.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Oh I didn't take it that you were hyping BMW up, sorry if you read it that way. I was just posting, thinking about that aloud. Yeah Mercedes' execs are still dogged by that as well as they should be until things show a marked improvement.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    They like a lot of BMWs and Audis too. CR does seem to be able to understand what makes a car "fun to drive", but they will really blast a car if they think the control systems are too complicated. (Witness the 7 series last place ranking).
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yeah really intersting to me. They say the 7-Series completely misses the point or idea of what a luxury car is supposed to be. Scathing. I wonder what the impact would have been if MB/BMW/Audi had been recommended by CR continuously all these years?

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I wonder what the impact would have been if MB/BMW/Audi had been recommended by CR continuously all these years?

    Good question. The Passat has for a long time either been their top rated family sedan, or 2nd place behind the Accord, but its sales are only a tiny fraction of what Camry and Accord ring in. It also often misses the "recommended" mark. I wonder if the two are related.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    WIth today's computer controlled assembly line programming, it really shouldn't be hard to allow the customized assembly. All of the manufacturers have gone to packages of options that, to me, prevents me from buying some of the cars I'd like. If a customer is willing to wait for a car to be built to his specs, you should be able to get one with the options you want!

    Being tall, and having a long torso, I just don't have many cars I can sit in comfortably that have the seemingly mandatory sunroof. To get some of the basic nice things, almost none of the LPS cars can be had without one, which severely limits my choices. Building a car with just the desired specs would open up the possiblities greatly.

    The US dealers like the instant sale and don't want the trouble of opening up the issues of so many options...well, they lost my business.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well I've always thought the Passat's biggest problem was price. I think a lot of people like the Passat and even go to test drive it, but at the end of the day the 5K or so premium over a comparable Camry/Accord might be too much for a lot of folks. The Passat has always been IMO, the best car in its class that is priced out of its class.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The Passat has always been IMO, the best car in its class that is priced out of its class.

    Good point. A "to the gills" 3.6 is ES350 money, way out of the Camry's league.
  • In my experience -- and this is, admittedly, a generalization -- people decide on the car they want and then work out the rationalization later.

    Once again, I spent time helping someone look at cars. This time the incumbant brand was Cadillac. She wanted to look at some "similar" LPS cars. We looked at the M's from Infiniti, even the 300C and a Mercedes.

    The prices, at first, were also similar.

    At the last moment (although truth be told she had already decided on another Cadillac) Cadillac "forgave" her last 4 month's lease payments, made her first lease payment on the new car (waived all up front fees, so she had a $0.00 transaction for 30 days) and made her lease 36 months and 18,000 miles, rather than the more traditional 15,000 per year.

    Her payment dropped nearly $200 per month on the 2006 CTS -- over her 2003.

    No one else could touch it.

    She wanted the Cadillac -- "once a Roll's man [er woman] always a Roll's man [sic]" -- Magic.

    CR sells no cars to nobody I know of, i.e.

    Of course, as usual, I could be wrong, just not uncertain.

    :surprise:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    She wanted the Cadillac -- "once a Roll's man [er woman] always a Roll's man [sic]" -- Magic.

    Yeah, in that case one of the other brands would have to have some kind of miracle deal in order for her to leave Cadillac. Some people are that way, (like you and Audi, for example) but I think most of the car buying public are "lot buyers" that go to one dealership, most likely the one they bought their last car from, decide on what type of car they want, and take what the dealer has on the lot.

    I'll give you an example. A few years ago, a friend of my wife was in an accident, and her Chrysler 300M was totaled. She probably would've just gone back to the Chrysler dealer for another 300M, but my wife suggested to her that I go along with her on some test drives and check out the competition. We looked at the TL, S80, Passat, A6 and she even briefly considered a 4Runner, but she ultimately went with an Avalon, which she liked a lot more than the Chrysler. I really don't think it even occurs to most people that there are about 10 other cars on the market competing directly with their car.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    True. If VW could only shave about 5K off the price of the V6 when loaded they'd rack up some serious sales IMO. I guess the Passat has to be compared with the Avalon, 300, Maxima etc.

    M
  • I think that the Passat is a good prototype for discussion of CR's influence.

    I don't know anyone who bought a car solely in the most simple-minded act of "I want a family sedan and CR says Camry is best so I ordered one even though I don't like the way it looks or drives."

    I routinely hear, however, people say some variation of "I'm looking for a car in this price range" or "I'm looking for a car in this category," and then immediately mention the ones that CR reports as reliable (and so the ones they will investigate more) or immediately eliminate one because CR says it's not very reliable (and so, they are not going to test drive it) -- even, at times, adding something such as "too bad; I like the way it looks."

    I've also been on test drives with friends who have wavered in this way: "I really like X. This one we're driving now is good too, but it doesn't light me up the way X does. However, CR says this one is the most reliable car in the whole class. I'd hate to buy X and then have something go wrong. I'd feel like an idiot for not having listened to CR (and/or JDP)."

    If CR's attitude toward the Passat (total fantasy, I know) was some variation of "You'll pay 20% more and you might have to ask them to fix a few niggling things when you bring the car in for routine maintenance, but it might be worth it if you value innovative engineering and the engagement/fun factor of car ownership. So, we include it among the models we recommend" would that raise Passat sales? If CR was willing to write that, I'd be willing to make a wager that sales increase for Passat in the months immediately following CR's annual auto issue hitting the newsstands.
  • pg48477pg48477 Posts: 309
    Let&#146;s put it this way, most of the people will not be able to tell the difference in driving dynamics between Accord and Passat, may be Camry (because it&#146;s softer). Passat belongs in family sedan category, the emphasis is on FAMILY, therefore little difference in road feel will not make any difference. Why would anyone pay 4K more for potentially unreliable VW? And what innovative engineering, same old FWD FAMILY sedan, just like anything else out there?

    The problem with Passat is not CR it&#146;s the price. VW priced the car in entry luxury segment and expecting it to sell like Accord, whoever is in charge of pricing and marketing has to be fired?
  • I agree, mostly.

    I guess I didn't frame my post clearly. The intent of "total fantasy" was to alert forum participants that I was about to make up a statement about a car (not my assessment of the car) that, if CR published it, would have an impact on its readers. The point was, and this I believe to be true, is that CR's withholding recommendation (which it gives almost totally on basis of counting number of repairs) pushes some readers to eliminate a car. I was offering that as an alternative to framing a discussion of CR's influence in the language of "does or doesn't anyone buy a car only because CR tells them to?".

    Also, while I agree that VW would have to lower its price to compete with Accord and Camry, I don't agree that no one buying a "family" sedan would factor in fun-to-drive. Nor do I know how we could really decide how many buyers can or cannot tell the difference between how a Passat drives and an Accord drives. Certainly, all the auto mags depend on readers believing that their (the auto mags') differentiations among comparo cars' driving dynamics will be felt by those readers (although that doesn't tell us how many consumers would make those same differentiations).

    Anyway, I wasn't really intending to catalyze a discussion about the Passat.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    The last half dozen or so posts, taken together, probably paint a more accurate picture of car buying than any one alone. Some people might buy out of pure passion for one car, some out of brand habit/loyalty, some as a result of test-driving all the cars in a particular category. Similarly, some will not consider the Passat, if they find it priced $5K above the Camry and Accord, but some will, because the look and feel is compelling to them.

    I doubt that we'll identify "the" car buying strategy that non-enthusiasts will employ unless an enthusiast takes them on a test-driving tour, or for that matter, even "the" decision-making process that "lot buyers" would eventually use if a more flexible and/or knowledgable friend took them around and they test-drove all the LPS cars.

    That's why I agree that CR, while unlikely to be the 100% deciding factor in any car purchase, probably plays a significant role in the decision-making process of one segment of car-buyers.
  • Help! I have a 2005 Caddy STS4 (all wheel drive) with the luxury performance package. Here's my problem: I can't find any snow tires to fit because the car has different tire sizes front and back. Front is 255/45ZR18; back is 235/50ZR18. what can I do? The stock tires turn on a dime on dry pavement but are utterly useless in Minnesota snow.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Check back on your first post: mnjasper, "Snow/Ice winter tires" #531, 20 Oct 2006 8:10 am. You have some replies there. You also may want to visit our Cadillac STS/STS-V board.

    Welcome to the Forums.
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    The problem with Passat is not CR it&#146;s the price. VW priced the car in entry luxury segment and expecting it to sell like Accord, whoever is in charge of pricing and marketing has to be fired?

    VW made many, many mistakes Toyota and Honda never ever make. As you said, pricing is wrong, VW can't make up its mind whether Passat should compete in the Camcord segment or ES/TL/A4 segment.

    Second, remember how long VW left the previous Passat on the market. Eight years, I believe, double the Camcord cycle.

    I think the current Passat's styling is terrible. It looks more Buick-like than Camry. Styling used to be VAG strength. A4 used to be the most stylish in its class, but not anymore.

    The Japanese automaker VW most resembles in NA is Mazda. Very good, quirky cars that find loyal fan base, but never a threat to the big boys! Blame VW, don't blame CR!!!
  • carnaughtcarnaught Posts: 1,569
    I think the current Passat's styling is terrible. It looks more Buick-like than Camry.

    Looks are completely subjective. You're right though on Passat resembling Buick (Lucerne). But, the Lucerne came after the current Passat.
  • Hmmm ... I was wrong. I had posted something. Someone had mentioned the Passat in their response. I replied that the Passat was a good example. I was wrong about that. It's not turning out to be a good example to make the point I was originally trying to make.

    I don't believe CR makes or breaks any car. I do believe CR is an active ingredient in the decision-making process of a significant number of car buyers.

    The bigger point is that the "literature" on cars is not just entertainment. Nor does is it science, as in "just telling it like it is." It's opinion. It's slanted and it skews the collective consciousness about cars, in general, and increases or decreases the good/bad status of some cars in ways that might not be consistent with how many people would have ended up enjoying "the total ownership experience" of a certain car, if what they read about it hadn't led them to not seriously consider it.

    I think that what some people read in CR, or Car and Driver, or USA Today contributes to which cars they'll seriously consider and that it cannot be assumed people might avoid a certain car only if it really is a "bad buy."
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