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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • Mark,

    In one of my early posts (maybe in the spring) when I first started posting on this forum, I mentioned in passing that I had been driving a BMW 3-series and referred to it as a luxury car. You were dramatic in your confrontation, emphasizing that if BMW had convinced me that a 3-series was a luxury car, then they had done a great sell job. Do your recent comments represent a change in thinking about that?

    Charlie
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    The current 3-series is nearly as large in interior volume as the 5-series was when this board was born. It's L is at least equal and the P is considerably greater. So, why isn't the 3 an LPS?

    I have an E39 530 that I love and would gladly trade for a new 330 or (lustfully) a 335.
  • The 3 series and the X3 (sort of) are entry level luxury vehicles. The BMW family continues to advance the BMW way of presenting luxury.

    IMHO the most lux oriented BMW today is the new X5, yes even over the 7's.

    I really like the new X3 and the new 335 coupe.

    When you have a Lexus and an Audi A6 interior to compare a car to, the 3 series cannot be a true lux car, despite its many features.

    BMW's are NOT high on style nor interiors that make you exclaim "oooooo, ahhhhh, wow." That and the overall entry level lux category (which is discussed here on edmunds blogs) seem to still nicely define BMW's 3 AND X3.

    The new X3 is quite a fine "entry level luxury" vehicle, and especially at the mo pay on a lease for what can easily be a $50K SAV.
  • "BMW's are NOT high on style nor interiors that make you exclaim "oooooo, ahhhhh, wow." That and the overall entry level lux category (which is discussed here on edmunds blogs) seem to still nicely define BMW's 3 AND X3."

    By the same token, Edmunds has a forum titled "Large Sedans for Under $30,000 Comparision" about which one could say that it quite nicely defines the collection of cars it included at its outset: "cars like the Buick Lucerne, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Five Hundred/Mercury Montego, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Kia Amanti."
  • voxboyvoxboy Posts: 30
    If anyone can help me narrow the playing field, that would be great.

    For production years 2002 - 2007, please state your opinion on what you consider the best pick using the following criteria in order of importance:

    1. Safety
    2. Reliability
    3. General Performance
    4. Performance on slippery roads
  • Are you looking for maximum or optimum?

    Are you looking at #1 as a "deal breaker" and #2 as less of a deal breaker?

    What does the ranking of "performance on slippery roads" have to do with the [broader] "safety" trait? I would assume if #1 was safety that your current #4 would have been your #2, that is.

    Again, "general performance," [I would argue] is a significant contributing factor to the overall safety of a car, yet reliability trumps "general performance."

    Does this, then, suggest "safety" is more or less a "crashworthy" metric than overall safety suggests [to me]?

    I read your list and try not to figure out the rationale for the order of your criteria and my knee jerk reaction would be to perhaps suggest an all wheel drive Volvo of some middle or big size (in the Volvo lineup.) I guess I would suggest it be equipped with either a turbo motor or a V8 and either be CPO'd or brand new with a warranty extension "just in case."

    Whew, this is a somewhat difficult question, especially given your criteria's numeric ranking. And, to further exacerbate the situation, you have asked this to be, apparently, listed by car for a period spanning 6 different model years.

    Perhaps a Japanese marquis would pass "reliability" with flying colors, but not be #1 in Safety nor be particularly high performing "generally."

    Perhaps a Mercedes would acquit itself well in 1,3, & 4 and not so much in #2.

    The new A6 was one of 13 "most safe" cars -- period -- and the report was issued within the past month or so. Yet, before the 2005 model year (notably 2002 into 2003, the Audi reliability was not as high as the others, but the car was completely covered for 50,000 miles with a full on free maintenance and warranty protection.) And since most A6's were awd and many many many were turbos or V8's, well performance -- generally and on slippery roads -- was up there. But in some years the best performing on dry pavement, by far far far, was the car with the blue and white propeller. Not so much when conditions were slippery unless you got one of the X-drive versions, but they have not been around in that configuration for as many years as your date range demands.

    BMW, also a favorite for General Performance and, with X drive, Performance on slippery roads. BMW's -- some at least -- pass the safety ratings of the insurance institute. BMW reliability of late has gotten up there, but they still are nowhere near as reliable in some of those early years you list as some of the LPS Japanese makes.

    If safety is the #1, go look up the cars that have made the safety list for each of the past 5 or so years. List them.

    Then pick ones with at least 5 speed auto transmissions or with stick shifts (available); make certain they have high hp and/or high torque engines, within reason, the number of cylinders is important, but not the end all be all answer to your quest.

    How about this: the car must have at least 5 cylinders and at least 250 HP and similar torque (assuming it is an LPS or LPS-wannabe sedan.)

    If you could narrow your years that you are considering, that could go a long way for helping someone give you an informed (but still biased) opinion.

    With your ranking, I'd still have to strongly consider the Volvo 60 or 80 series w/AWD and the Turbo motors or a V8 if new enough -- leaving all other subordinate traits as you have them listed.

    Help us help you by further narrowing and/or clarification.

    To me, performance (within reason) IS a safety characteristic.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    For production years 2002 - 2007, please state your opinion on what you consider the best pick using the following criteria in order of importance:

    2002 - 2007 is a VERY large range of cars. That covers two generations of the RL, GS, M, 5, A6, and S80.

    If you are considering buying one of these cars, you first need to narrow down how much you want to spend. The difference between a used '02 LPS and a new '07 can be $30K or more.
  • Two questions:

    Does your question imply that you're open to buying any car? No aesthetic, test-drive, or previous ownership experiences, nor even things you've read, have narrowed down the field in your mind?

    Are you interested exclusively in cars in this LPS category (e.g. a Volvo S80 but not an S60, or Infintii M, but not a G35)?
  • I had a 2000 A6 2.7T and have a 2003 coming off lease in March. They've been great in snow and wet conditions. Because of the secure feeling they have given me I'm only looking at all-wheel drive cars to replace it. In all the professional and personal reviews I have read I have seen very little comparing the all wheel drive systems in rain and snow between the M35X, 530Xi, GS 350, RL and E350. Right now I'm leaning to the M35X but would like to know how it compares in inclement conditions to the other cars. Can anyone give me any insight into this? Thanks
  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    I have an 05 G 35x. It shares the exact same drivetrain..

    It handles very well, we have a steep driveway that can be icy and we make about a 120 degree left turn into it. No problems with that maneuver :shades: Driving slippery roads the awd drive cuts in and out seemlessly. Using "Snow mode" locks the torque split 50 / 50 to 29 mph and then goes back to normal rwd, until any slip is detected. It also retards the throttle response so you are less prone to spin the tires at start-up.

    In the one winter we used it so far, it has more than proven itself as a capable snowmobile.
  • "For all practical purposes," you will be pretty much OK with almost any of these AWD systems.

    Folks here (and sometimes I am one of them) are not as keen on FWD biased systems. Volvo's Haldex system, for instance, has been 95% FWD, 5% RWD in a "nominal" state or as I put it, "in its natural state."

    Audis, in this class are either 50% 50% biased or 40% 60% biased depending on which one you get. The next gen of Audi's TorSen system will be RWD biased across the board (more or less), the current A6 (but not the S6,it is 40% 60& f/r) is 50% 50% biased.

    BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes are already RWD biased.

    Acura is FWD biased. Cadillac, I assume, is RWD biased on the STS. As noted a Volvo S80 will be FWD biased.

    Real world -- there are, of course, differences. Everyone will tell you why their system is different [and better?] from competing systems, or how their system is special even if it uses a non-unique system (SH-AWD is different than others to be sure; and, there is evidence that SH-AWD can offer advantages.)

    My wife has X-drive, I have quattro (TorSen). There are "technical" articles that explain how these systems work. These are written by mechanical engineers -- not marketing guys from Ingolstadt or Munich.

    TorSen claims to be able to activate in "real time," whereas the other systems activate the shift in torque in reaction to a slippage event.

    On paper, perhaps "at the limit" a torque sensing differential since it "binds" as it is needed rather than waiting for a "difference" in wheelspin between wheel A and B would seem to offer clear advantages.

    If you can tell the difference on public roads between the two, your butt is better than mine.

    Intellectually, I know that TorSen "ought" to be better and perhaps it may be. It is, however, heavier too.

    [non-permissible content removed] for tat.

    Currently the Infiniti system wants you to know that it is first and foremost a RWD system with "instant" reactive capabilities.

    I would have no quarrel with either TorSen or ATTESA (which stands for: Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All, at least I think that's it.)

    Likewise, I would have no problemo with X-drive.

    Now, Audi will "soon" have another AWD advance, called Torque Vectoring Technology which seems, to me, to be kind of like the reverse of ESP (ESP's sensors determine what was "intended" and applies brake or brakes and limits engine power; TVT seems to sense what was intended but instead of applying brakes and limiting engine power, redistributes torque in "real time.")

    Today, get the one you like, can afford or think has the best styling.

    I personally don't think you'll go wrong with any of these fine cars interpretation of AWD.

    I just happen to prefer the Audi system, but that's just me.

    :surprise:
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Over 2 winters of ownership thus far, we've had very good experiences with accelerating, controlling, and stopping the RL through various grades of snow and even ice.

    But I know the RL would do even better if it were shod with better rubber than the so-so OEM Michelin Pilot MXM tires. And the ground clearance on the RL feels to be a skosh lower than in comparable AWD vehicles I've driven or seen.

    Agree with Mark that most of the competing systems will navigate just fine through most conditions, but I recommend that you also factor in the tire choices and measurable ground clearance. Virtually all AWD LPS cars will also have the full complement of traction/anti-skid devices to provide a secondary level of safety and control beyond AWD propulsion.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The ATTESA E-TS system in the M does a very nice job. As in the 530xi, you can fool yourself into thinking you're driving a RWD car. That said, Quattro AWD owns all other contenders in deep snow and ice. I'm not sure how the competition's systems would rank in terms of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. but there's no question about who's in 1st place.
  • Great explanation. Thanks so much. I certainly liked my Audi and if the lease costs didn't go up so much I would have a different decision. I'm finding it hard to justify $150 a month more for the Audi then the M. The Audi is spectacular in the snow.
  • I looking to spend 50 - 60K on a car (used or new). I will be driving 170 miles per day Monday thru Friday (all highway) in the Northeast. I value comfort, a great sound system, good power, awd and reliability most. I was originally thinking of a used Mercedes S500, but have been scared off by the horror stories around problems with reliability. I'm a fairly big guy (6'1" / 240 lbs), so I'm thinking a large luxury sedan is the class I need to be looking in. Basically I like a sharp looking car as much as anyone, but its the inside of the car that's more important to me than the outside.

    Any suggestions?
  • I'd look at Audi A6 4.2 or Acura RL. I don't think the Mercedes S500 is AWD. If not important I'd recommend Infiniti M45. Lexus GS350 also although a little smaller inside but OK in front. Infiniti M35X is AWD that fully equipped comes into the 50-60K range.

    J
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,476
    The S500 ( and now S550 ) have been available with AWD = 4Matic.
    But adding such a system would likely result in even more repair \ reliability "issues", seems to me....
    - Ray
    Agreeing that the Audi A6 4.2 or even a ( Certified ) used A8 might fit....
  • I am the similar size to you (6'3'' 250#) and recently bought an Acura RL. It is the most comfortable of all I tested (of course this is subjective to each individual). But I found the seating position, comfort and adjustments ideal. Better yet the car was such a surprise on how much I liked it compared to the others. When I found the price was in low 40K, it was a no brainer. Acura may not have the identity of the others, but I would certainly give it a test drive. The comfort, technology and features sound ideal for your requirements. The drive is a good balance of comfort and sport and the economy is very good on the highway (I avg 23-24mpg on my mixed commute).

    I had not considered the RL in my initial search, but after driving it, I was sold on the car itself, and not by the ratings, reviews or marque mongers.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I value comfort, a great sound system, good power, awd and reliability most. I was originally thinking of a used Mercedes S500, but have been scared off by the horror stories around problems with reliability. I'm a fairly big guy (6'1" / 240 lbs), so I'm thinking a large luxury sedan is the class I need to be looking in.

    I would suggest trying the Lexus GS350 AWD, Infiniti M35x, Audi A6, BMW 530xi, and Volvo S80 AWD. The Acura RL, in my opinion, is just mediocre. It may seem like a bargain at the $40K you can get one for now, but thats all its really worth. Its not that quick, not that comfortable, not that big, the reliability has been only average, and the fuel economy is fairly lousy. The M35x has the same issue with fuel economy (another 5-speed auto in that car), but its at least fast and fun, which makes up for it.

    The GS350 has loads of horsepower, a fantastic stereo, and is likely to be the most reliable, but its somewhat cramped for someone 6'1", and the trunk space is a joke.

    I personally love the M35x, but spend some time on rough roads and highways and make sure that the ride quality\road noise doesn't bother you if you are seriously considering the M.

    The A6 has really grown on me. Its very quick with the V8, comfortable if you avoid the sport package and rubberband tires, and has much better secondary controls than the BMW. There's lots of space, its fun to drive, and in bad weather its unbeatable.

    I'm not really a fan of the 5 series, but its still worth a test drive. If you don't mind the looks and iDrive, its the most entertaining car in the group.

    My wife and I ended up not testing the new Volvo S80 V8 AWD, so I don't have any personal experience behind the wheel. I can tell you though that the seats will be spectacular, Volvo's Dolby Pro-Logic\Dynaudio sound systems are amazing, and the driver adjustable steering and blind spot warning system are very cool ideas and the first of their kind.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,897
    i second the Volvo S80. Since you list comfort first, and they have the most comfortable seats in the industry ... 2nd you list sound system and their available dolby prologic system is superb.

    I don't know WHEN you need the car, but the all-new S80 is coming soon (spring, i think), so if you can wait ...

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

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