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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • bw45sportbw45sport Posts: 151
    My condolences to you on the problems you've experienced. It's a pity your first Mercedes didn't come at a time when they still built great cars.

    I've posted numerous times in regards to the problems that I've experienced. I hope that the venom that seeps through when discussing Mercedes does not become tiresome but I do feel obligated to pass along my experiences. NO ONE deserves the treatment that I've received and have personally witnessed others receiving. If I cause one person on the fence to reconsider their purchase it will be worth my time.

    As Mark noted in a reply to me, it's entirely possible that the M35x he receives could turn out to be a lemon. I certainly hope this is not the case but the undeniable fact is that all manufacturers produce them. It's the frequency with which they are produced and the manner in which dissatisfaction is resolved that make the difference. I've dealt with Mercedes for over 20 years and they've always had an arrogant swagger to them but they used to build great products and would stand behind them. That's no longer the case. Maybe they fear that if they stand behind their cars their customers will back over them.

    Mercedesstinks, the only good thing that has come out of my recent experience is that it forced me to go back and test drive cars again and see how anxious other people were to have my business. I've found that I prefer the drive of Infiniti to Lexus but note that both offer well-built products that are feature laden and work. These two companies complete the ownership experience by offering unmatched customer service as well.

    BTW, Lexusguy, the article regarding quality (breakdowns) was not the full length version I'd seen in the newspaper a couple of months ago, but the source is the same. In the newspaper article they stated that the data were compiled from call-out records from emergency vehicle (towing) companies.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I, too, am an AWD-proponent. But I'm not so sure I subscribe to the "AWD all of the time" mantra, or believe that AWD will substantially gain market share in segments outside of LPS or SUVs/crossovers.

    Mark, if you happened to live in L.A. or Miami or Phoenix or even Dallas, I bet you would be singing the virtues of RWD....

    AWD brings several drawbacks....

    1. It adds a 300~500 pound weight penalty to the car, and weight is the enemy of performance and gas mileage.

    2. It also adds cost...probably an additional 5% to 15% to average MSRP, with the higher rate applying to lower end cars, if we assume AWD extends to those segments where most normal folks turn for their transportation needs.

    3. AWD cars are also more complex, and I would suggest their tendency for maintenance, break down, and repair will be higher on average compared to FWD or RWD.

    4. Another significant benefit of FWD platforms is that it helps with interior space, packaging, and design. AWD and its additional driveshaft/drivetrain components add cost to the process of maximizing interior space.

    Finally, there are many parts of the country where AWD is simply not necessary due to weather and driving conditions. Nearly all of the West Coast, the Southwest, much of the South, Florida, and parts of the lower half of mid-Atlantic, for starters. RWD and FWD offer far better alternatives to AWD.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Believe me I know where you're coming from. Many moons ago I used to drive German. The problems in those days were more mechanical than electrical, but the cars still made frequent trips to the shop, and I was always borrowing my wife's Honda to get to work. (Mysteriously, her car was always reliable). I tried the Q45, and it wasnt bad, but I was immediately sold on the LS400. I've been driving an LS in one form or another for over 10 years, and I'll never go back to german, not when the big Lexus has treated me like a king.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Many years ago I used to believe the Japanese produced reliable vehicle. Well I guess statistically they do. But I had a string of bad luck with 3 Nissans in row. Each one going back to the shop every few months for this that and the other thing. Good thing I leased.

    Now I'm a smarter wiser consumer and I wouldn't bet the bank on the fact when I buy Japanese I'll get a reliabile vehicle and when I buy German, I'll get a lemon. In fact it was the other way around. YMMV.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    There's no question that Japan has built some lemons. Some of the Japanese models from the late 70s into the mid-80s were not paragons of cutting edge engineering, technology, or even quality.

    Their main advantages were that they were inexpensive and different compared to domestic models, and they emphasized value in their marketing. The Japanese took many ideas that were originated elsewhere, and simply improved on those ideas through hard work, teamwork, and discipline. Japan was intent on taking over the world in 1944, and after being humiliated and totally destroyed after WWII, had to literally rebuild everything in 20 years without the benefit of any of its own natural resources.

    I think the biggest difference is that Japan continues to learn, improve, and evolve. That rate of improvement is nothing short of scary. They are light years ahead of where they were 10 years ago, and I'm not sure you can conclude the same levels of advancement with domestic or European manufacturers. They still burn with a unique global superiority complex that drives their success.

    We are witnessing the same levels of progress and evolution among the Korean brands right now. (Note that Hyundai was dead last in quality 5 years ago, and witness how far they've come in such a short time.) And if China or India ever get their act together in terms of internal infrastructure, government policy, and social engineering, those two countries represent the future from a global perspective.

    Japan's biggest weakness is that they have virtually no natural resources of their own, so must rely on other nations for raw materials. No wonder they have built manufacturing facilities all over the U.S. and even in Europe. Moving those design and manufacturing bases into global locations makes imminent sense.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    My wife got the ML when it first came out, and had a similarly bad experience. The car kept burning through oil and the dealership actually accused her of TAKING the oil out herself! They went so far as to tape the oil cap so they'd know if it was tampered with! Can you imagine the aggrogance in that? They actually blamed the customer for what was an obvious problem with the engine. So of course the car burned through the oil again despite their tape job and the offered her a great deal on a new ML (her's was 2 years old at that point). Then they turned around and tried to rip her off by giving her a crappy deal. Finally after she shopped the competition and threw a similar fit to your's on the showroom of the dealership they gave her a "good" deal on a new ML. On the other side of it, she did buy another ML and had no problems with it to speak of. This past weekend we drove the new ML500 which is a beautiful truck (sorry to post about SUV's on the LS forum, but I'm maily taking about Mercedes in general). Thing is, how many problems is the new ML going to have. Being a first year model probably a lot. Though I will say, my 545 is a first year model and I haven't had a single problem with it. I know others have, but a lot of people I've spoken to that have them haven't had any problems either. It's amazing though that a 2004 E320 would have those problems. Sounds like the car got in an accident, and they "fixed" it and sold it as new (and then to add insult to injury blamed you for doing body work!).
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    A dealer service dept taping an oil cap shut because they believed the customer was intentionally syphoning oil backwards out of the engine block has to take the cake for stupidity and arrogance. That is just plain bizarre.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Insightful comments off vtec.net regarding the 2006 RL...

    Here's what we already know about the '06 RL. As per (Honda CEO) Takeo Fukui's remarks at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2006 RL will be fitted with Honda's Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS). Other than that we don't expect to see much else for the '06 model, though we would really love to see Acura offer a factory option wheel/tire upgrade package, and perhaps even a sportier suspension tune along with it.

    Now, let's look at the bigger picture and beyond model year 2006 for a moment. The 2005 RL is selling much better than past RLs, but is it selling as well as Acura had hoped? Perhaps not. Acura projected sales of 20000 models annually, and in general their past projections have been fairly conservative. But in the case of the RL, the year to date total for calendar year 2005 stands at just under 5500 units after 4 months, so at this rate it appears they will fall short of projections in the first year. Generally that's not a good sign. It's not a disasterous result, but what's going on?

    By any measure, the RL is quite a superb car, but it's in a very competitive segment with a lot of appealing vehicles, many of which are all-new for model year 2005 or 2006. So it may be a tad early to say at this point, but it would seem that Acura may feel some pressure to do something more extensive than normal with the car when the time for an MMC (mid-cycle model change, or minor model change) comes. But if you think about it, there's not a whole lot that they can do to the car itself even if it is decided that changes are necessary. By virtue of the platform chosen by Honda for the RL, there are precious few options for the product planners to address much of anything with the car.

    Perhaps the most logical enhancement would be to fit Honda's IMA system to the car to boost performance and economy. This would make it Honda's first AWD high-performance hybrid vehicle, and one of the priciest on the market. But an IMA system would add weight, cost, and further reduce cargo area, and the car doesn't really have much wiggle room in these areas to begin with. Otherwise, it's not likely that there's any meaningful amount of additional power or torque that could be added to the car without extensive re-engineering of the package (there's not much that will fit besides the transverse V6 that is already found in the RL). To reduce costs, a 2WD version of the RL could be offered, but the platform virtually dictates that it would have to be FWD, and that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Perhaps the only remaining option would be to add more gadgets, such as laser (or radar) cruise control, lane departure warning system, nightvision, in-car entertainment systems, etc... But it's my opinion that adding these sorts of options will not increase sales. It will be interesting to see how the RL matures over the next few years.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I still think its a little early to decide wether the RL will ultimately be a failure or not. The TSX started out pretty slow, and has been steadily gaining in sales. On the other hand, the TSX still subscribes to the traditional "bargain luxury!" Acura formula. I think it just took America awhile to get past the EX-V6 Accord that can be had for similar cash. The RL is luxurious enough, but is it a bargain? IMO, not really. Acura's options with the car are hybrid power, which seems unlikely. HSD is buttery smooth enough in operation for Lexus duty, but IMA is somewhat clunky in its operation as it cant "mix and match" electric and gas power at once like HSD can. Its fine for a Civic HX, but I dont think people would be willing to accept it in what would probably be a $56K Acura. I dont think Acura could sell cars at that price yet anyway.

    The other option is an A-spec package, which probably will show up at some point. Again though, I dont see this making much of an impact, as maybe 1% of TLs are A-spec.

    Acura should've skipped the AWD, and made the car a more agressively styled RWD car. This could have saved hundreds of pounds, eliminated the understeer problem that requires SH-AWD in the first place, and gotten the performance more in line with the 300hp rating. Then price the car at maybe $43K, and Infiniti and Lexus might find it much harder to sell M35s and GS300s.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    My use of the term AWD all the time was perhaps more of a "writing device" -- sort of meant to conjure up the sing-song like phrase from top 40 radio "all the hits all the time."

    On the other hand, the constant move forward by many auto manufacturers into AWD technologies (current fave of course being to point out that your AWD version is "rear biased" AWD or as Audi is now starting to use in their copy "asymmetrical" AWD) is expected to accelerate in the next 2+ years and newer (lighter, more efficient, better perhaps) technologies are presumably on the horizon that when coupled with hybridization (?) begin to make even more sense.

    Since we (my wife and I) have two cars (well, we have three at the moment) at any one time and we basically designate one "his" and one "hers" we will stay with AWD all the time (hers a new X3 mine a new M35X (soon).)

    I started out pointing out that I didn't mean to be taken literally.

    "Never mind." - E.L.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    IMO, Honda threw so much at this RL that there's really no meaningful room left to go with it. I predict it will be left to fester for 5-7 years like the last one. As far as increasing power, they're already stretching that 3.5 V6 pretty thin as it is as far as natural aspiration goes. They could turbocharge it, but that will add at least a few thousand to the price, thereby making it even less competitive in its market. Or they could, as you already said, go hybrid with it; there again adding at least a few thousand to the price and still making it less competitive in its market.

    As near as I can tell, the only real fans and purchasers of this RL are the diehard Honda fans. I think anyone who objectively cross-shops the RL with its competition will, 90% of the time, find the competition to simply be better. This is not to say the RL doesn't have a lot to offer, because it does. I cross-shopped it and the two, and only two, things that turned me away were its uninspiring looks and its diminutive back seat. At the time, I was shopping it against the E500 and the new A6 4.2. The RL's numbers say it has a bigger interior, but the actual layout tells a totally different story. I'm not sure how they did their measurements, but in reality, the whole does NOT equal the sum of its parts.

    Anyway, now that the new Infinity M is out, that's the car for me. It has the size, power, performance, and amenities that I want in a "luxury" car.

    I will say, though, that cross-shopping the RL against the new GS300 AWD would be a good way to go. They both have a lot to offer, but they're both tiny on the inside and have very little room for cargo. A perfect matchup!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "IMO, Honda threw so much at this RL that there's really no meaningful room left to go with it. I predict it will be left to fester for 5-7 years like the last one"

    Actually, the previous RL has been with us since '96. Acura tweaked the styling and made some minor changes in '99, but it was just a refresh. I agree with you about the RL losing to its competition. The M is just too good for Acura to keep up.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    You may be right that the majority of RL buyers are previous or current Honda/Acura customers. Our household certainly qualifies, since my daily driver is an Accord 6-spd coupe, and I've also owned several other Hondas. My wife is 80% driver of our RL, and her prior car was an Audi A4 3.0.

    I would also bet that Infiniti is winning more conquest buyers from other brands, and a fair number of M-buyers are probably upgrading from another Infiniti or Nissan.

    Styling is subjective, but I prefer the interior/exterior styling of the RL over that of the M35/45. To me, the RL looks like a TSX/Accord on steroids, and the M looks like a Maxima/Altima on steroids. I don't care for the tail lights or "boy racer" tailpipes on the M, and with the 19" wheels, the M screams "look at me." I guess I am more of a "Q-ship" driver. The blue/white lighting in the interior of the RL is also more attractive (to me) than the yellow/red combo in the M. I'm generally not a big fan of Nissan's heavy use of yellow instruments. Agree that the RL is far more conservative in appearance, and neither car is ugly or controversial, that's for sure. And clearly, the M is the better driver of the two, which is where it counts for me.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    . . .my initial impressions of our 400 mile old BMW X3 are over on that forum. After a few days with this little dude, I can ALMOST see it as an honorable mention for inclusion as an LPS vehicle.

    I did say almost.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Heh. If only BMW had some sort of sedan version of the X3 :)
  • scoop4scoop4 Posts: 40
    I'm someone who almost bought an RL but decided on a M35x. I could have gone either way. Both cars are great but the M had:

    1) 4 yr / 60,000 warranty
    2} rear camera display on nav when backing up car
    3) 6 way power seats for the passenger (my wife couldn't believe that the RL passenger seat wouldn't go up and down like our BMW did)
    4) ventelated seats that can be cooled as well as heated ( great when you buy a black interior)
    5) variable all wheel drive (rear wheel car most of the time)

    Having said that I though the RL had a great ride and was bluetooth compatible with my Palm Treo 650 PDA phone which the M isn't at this time.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    ". . .my initial impressions of our 400 mile old BMW X3 are over on that forum. After a few days with this little dude, I can ALMOST see it as an honorable mention for inclusion as an LPS vehicle.

    I did say almost."


    Almost nothing. It handles better than many sedans. Enjoy.
  • imani_techimani_tech Posts: 3
    The Infiniti M is an excellent car, but Acura does not need to keep up. The RL is not far from its sales goals overall. Remember that we're doing an "apple-to-oranges" comparison here. We are comparing the Infiniti M product line that consists of 5 separate models (M35, M35 Sport, M35x, M45, M45 Sport) to the Acura RL which has 1 model in the product line. A more realistic comparison would be between the RL and the M35x.

    The M35x is great car and I came close to buying it. I especially liked the cooling seats and the passenger seat that is more adjustable than the RL's seat. The problem (for me) is that the M35x adds the weight of AWD without any additional power. Also, I didn't see any advantage of the M's AWD sending torque mostly to the rear wheels by default. In addition, I really like the NavTraffic system on the RL. It's great for surviving traffic in DC! Finally, the RL cost me less than the M35x would have cost for similar features, so I went Acura. To each his own, though. There isn't a bad car in this bunch.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    They need to advertise more. It seems GS and M have a blitz going.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    An issue (not mine, exactly) is that the RL is a FWD biased AWD car. To play in this game (right or wrong) you need to be at least symmetrical (think Subaru and the current crop of quattros) AWD "posers" like Acura and Volvo are being dissed.

    Frankly I am not convinced this is all that big of a deal as a practical matter.

    But after all these years for Audi to announce it is determined to shift to RWD AWD bias should tell the engineers and marketing types at Acura they may have underestimated what the market currently expects.

    Don't shoot the messenger. I already suggested that I understand the market's message despite its value primarily "at the limit."

    I know this will raise the ire of the RWD folks and I do not have a strong argument to defend this apparent market thrust -- overall the RWD bias seems to preserve the ability to induce "tail out" (oversteer) behavior. FWD biased AWD seem determined to offer understeer.

    SH-AWD does mitigate this for all practical purposes.

    Yet, to be in this crowd anymore it seems that RWD biased or at the very least 50-50 balance drive is the price for respect.

    The RL is, by all accounts, worthy of inclusion in the LPS ranks -- yet as more and more of the big guns move to RWD biased AWD, those FWD biased AWD guys (like Acura and Volvo) need to "get with the perception is reality" crowd and announce the next gen will be RWD biased, SH-AWD.

    Oh yea, announcing a V8 would be a big help (to sales) too.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm not sure its as clean cut as that. Weight balance is just as important as where the majority of torque is being sent. I think even if you are pushing 60% or more of torque to the rear wheels under "normal" road conditions, if the car is front heavy, like the RL, the Volvos, and pretty much every AWD system derived from a FWD design, including Audi, understeer is inevitable. To get the RL to handle like the M35, they would need to get the weight balance to within at least 53\47 or so. If they did that, it wouldnt need SH-AWD's special abilities.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    A rather strange statement by MB about previously stated goals of beating Lexus..and I guess Subaru now in JD power ratings from C&D:

    "But, during a question-and-answer session following a speech at an industry conference in Spain, Eckhard Cordes, head of the Mercedes Car Group, said "We are carefully analyzing whether this is a reasonable goal or not, and then we will answer the question once we have finished our analysis."

    Cordes added that the survey is based "not only [on] hardware quality" but on "American tastes and how they want the cars....On the steering wheel, if you have four, five or six buttons, you get a lower rating....One has to analyze...whether it is worth being No. 1. We are still debating this or whether we are better off with No. 2 or No. 3."

    Mercedes has a hellish amount of work to do to even get 3rd place, let alone first.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    After the merger, the arrogant folks from Mercedes complained that Mercedes was making all the money and Chrysler was losing it. Now the shoe's on the other foot, with Chrysler and its various 300 models making money for the company and Mercedes, with its miserable repair record destroying sales, is losing it. (I still suspect that after the novelty of the 300 and all its gas guzzling variations wears off, Chrysler will revert to form.)
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    Agreed.

    Weight balance, too, is important.

    The BMW x cars are darn near the best balanced of the bunch -- and despite the other issues that may be currently plaguing BMW, it does have the holy grail, RWD AWD and excellent balance.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Mercedes makes the best luxury cars in the world. While people here have complained about Mercedes quality, I know people who have had great success with very high and medium end recent models.

    People keep coming back to Mercedes because they realize that fact.
  • ksomanksoman Posts: 590
    KD, now you are being paid by mercedes too?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Actually based on recent sales, less and less people keep coming back to Mercedes. I cant imagine why.
  • nebraskaguynebraskaguy Posts: 341
    >>Finally, there are many parts of the country where AWD is simply not necessary due to weather and driving conditions. Nearly all of the West Coast, the Southwest, much of the South, Florida, and parts of the lower half of mid-Atlantic, for starters. RWD and FWD offer far better alternatives to AWD.

    I totally disagree. Just because an area doesn't get snow, or much snow, doesn't mean AWD isn't necessary, or at least very useful. In the DC area there are two problems. 1. We often get heavy rains after long periods of dry weather - a problem shared by many of the areas you mentioned in your post. This tends to make roads very slick, which is what happened to me last summer - I lost it on a curve in the rain with my FWD RL. 2. We get 3-4 heavy wet snows each winter which many RWD cars simply can't handle, unless you want to use snow tires all winter for 3-4 snows.

    As a result, I'm sold on AWD and love my RL. I might go back to RWD if I moved to the sunbelt, but I wouldn't go back to FWD.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    This has to be "just kidding" doesn't it?

    I certainly don't claim I know who makes the best lux car in the world, and I guess if the list was a "top 10" based at least on perception, that Mercedes would make that list. But I find it hard to believe that most folks (with experience or who are automitive "journalists") would put Mercedes in the top 3.

    I've been wrong before.

    Now if we're talking about a time long since passed, sure, I'll give you that. . . .
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    AWD's winter prowess is a bonus to be sure. But AWD is for performance, practical day in day out performance.

    Well as they say "it never rains in Southern California" but even there, there are certainly times when the performance advantages (for mere mortals like us) of AWD have value.

    Now I know there are a lot of figures swirling about and my guess is someone who has some time and patience will get the data -- but I have been reading up on AWD systems and SOME of the systems that are written about currently claim a weight penalty (sometimes) as little as 150 pounds and they also claim an IMPROVEMENT in fuel economy at speeds above 40MPH virtually offsetting this weight penalty. Moreover, as the AWD technology moves forward with hybrid vehicles this penalty has some promise of even diminishing further.

    I'm not suggesting some inferiority with RWD -- and I am certain that it can be demonstrated that a perfect RWD car in a racing setting probably makes more sense than an AWD car. But please read the new Automobile magazine article on 25 years of quattro before you dismiss AWD as not being of any advantage in certain parts of the country.

    Just like orange juice (not just for breakfast anymore) AWD is not just for winter anymore.
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