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Volvo XC90 vs MB M Class vs Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350 vs BMW X5 vs Cadillac SRX

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  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    That's interesting. The Toyota Highlander and the RX300 both felt like applicance vehicles to me. I also find the "lack of ergonomics" you mentioned interesting. Where do you find it lacking? The only thing that I can think of is the volume control knob, which is a non-issue for me since I don't really fiddle with it too often while driving. Almost everything else is within easy reach of both the driver and the passenger. One ergonomic flaw in the MDX is way the climate control buttons are housed in the top of the dash. I'm sure you're used to it now, but it felt strange to me.

    FWIW, it goes to show you how subjective perception of character is. You probably liked the goggle-eyed look of the Integra whereas I absolutely hated it. I much prefer the Japanese market Integra's rectangular flush mounted headlamps. The fact that the Japanese ones are HID Xenons are also nice :-)

    I do agree with you that the X5 is nice...however, I only find the front end appealing. I am not a fan of the steeply raked rear tailgate/lift glass styling, nor do I like the black colour plastic apron at the base of the rear bumper.


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket and Accessories message boards
  • egrandegrand Posts: 14
    I posted a similar question to this on Bmw board after reading on Motor Trends web site of a 2002 BMW X5L in the works with a ?third row seat. Does anyone have knowledge of a similar Mercedes or Lexus model like this planned in the future or of further details of the BMW model? Thanks. Elliot
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    The current MB M-class SUV already has optional 3rd row seats. The next geneneration M-class (late fall of 2004) will be available in two wheelbases. As for Lexus, I think they want you to move up to the LX470 if you want a 3rd row of seats.


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket and Accessories message boards
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Nah, I wasn't crazy about the headlights on the Integra either, but I got used to them.

    Re: lack of ergonomics on the M-class. I think you'd find them easier if you weren't so used to MB ;-) After all, they didn't get cupholders for a long time.

    Easy examples include lack of steering-wheel mounted audio controls, an awkward left-handed cupholder for the driver, lack of a "neutral" position for the mirror adjustments, and a rather confusing, many-tiny-buttoned interface for MCS and the stereo. The location of the window switches is really old-fashioned and they belong on the doors like most other vehicles. I'm sure there's more. Hopefully some of these can be fixed for 2002.

    These are of course quibbles, and I still think the ML is an excellent vehicle from an objective perspective.

    FWIW, it goes to show you how subjective perception of character is.

    As I said originally, it's highly subjective, and my statements are of course based on personal perception.

    And like I said, the RX has character to me, purely based on its radical exterior styling. I don't really care for the way it drives but that's just me.

    I actually like the X5's rear end. The apron is so-so, but I like the look otherwise. Unfortunately, the ML's rear-end, as practical and G-wagen-ish that it may be, is probably (to me, purely subjective) the most unappealing exterior styling component, and probably what leads some folks to call the vehicle ugly (e.g. my mother-in-law, who downright hates it, and my wife isn't thrilled with it).

    Ironically, while the MDX is the SUV that's based on the minivan, I've always thought the M-class looked like some strange, lopsided, truncated minivan. Over time I've gotten used to it, sort of. I think it'd be even less attractive for more people if it didn't have the three-pointed star on it. It's the main reason why I think people get so excited when they hear about a "facelift" for the 2002 ML -- they're hoping it makes a big difference whereas it's (probably) relatively minor.

    Hopefully the next-gen M-class will look better to more people, as MB does have talented designers who can execute a good look. They did a great job with the C-class, and maybe a clean start will produce a really great 2005 vehicle.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    "Examples include lack of steering-wheel mounted audio controls, an awkward left-handed cupholder, lack of a "neutral" position for the mirror adjustments, and a rather confusing, many-tiny-buttoned interface for MCS and the stereo. I'm sure there's more. Hopefully some of these can be fixed for 2002."

    Touché, steering wheel mounted audio controls would be nice. You may find it interesting that many long time MB owners are still on the fence about these steering wheel buttons on the new MB cars. As for the cupholder, the left hand arrangement seems perfect to me. Since most people are right handed, you can use your strong arm to hold the steering wheel. I've also found that it's actually a good place to hold a cellphone. WRT the mirror control, you'll find the exact same thing across the entire MB lineup. This has been the way for many years. Note that in order for the passenger side rearview mirror to tilt down when reversing, the switch has to be in the left position anyway.

    As for the MCS, aside from the volume control, I have to say that I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. All you have to do is press the large # buttons to switch radio stations. The list that calls up your preset stations can be called up via the left most button (closest to the driver) below the LCD screen. To manually enter of the station of your choice, all you have to do is hit * and then the frequency, ex. 9-5-3 for 95.3. Seems pretty straight forward to me. Perhaps you need more time to play around with it?

    The ML's tailgate is not G-wagen-ish at all (the G-wagon has an external rear spare and the tailgate is almost perpendicular to the road). I think it's the combination of the short overhangs (partly for off-roading) and the car compatible/car height bumpers that gives it that minvanish rear look. I guess we have something in common then. The MDX looks very much so like a minivan from certain angles too. :-) Particularly the base models that don't have the roof rack The slab sided doors and lack of rub strips doesn't help either. BTW, are you planning to add those on at some point in time? I can't say that I've been particularly impressed with the ones that some other owners have installed so far. It almost seems like the MDX's styling defies one from adding the rubstrips (i.e. the front bumper line is a lot heigher than the rear, and the vehicle sort of slants downwards towards the front - like an arrow tip).

    On another note, did the X5 you drove have the navigation system? I found that (like most LCD screens), the screen was absolutely unreadable when sunlight hit it. I'm perplexed as to why BMW chose such a strange angle for it.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    This is one of the large parking lots (there are 6 of them in all) where I test drove the MDX and X5/X5 Sport in the snow. The picture was taken a few days ago when we had that snowfall, BTW. As you can see, I had a lot of opportunity to play around and compare the different 4WD/AWD systems, as well as the stability control/traction control systems, if so equipped. ;-) Limits of the vehicles can be safely explored in this area. But if only those light poles weren't there...that would be perfect.

    I guess you all didn't get even close to this much snow :-p

    image

    image

    image

    image


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket and Accessories message boards
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    As for the cupholder, the left hand arrangement seems perfect to me.

    I am afraid I don't buy into the idea that it keeps your right arm free, because your right arm certainly isn't free when you have to adjust the stereo, window switches, mirror controls, etc. And of course your right arm is used to access the transmission (a TipTronic-style one, at that). Since most folks are right-handed, they may as well drink right-handed too, with less risk of spilling their drinks (and distracting themselves). Plus the left arm is in a somewhat less free position with the door on the side, especially if the driver is more, ahem, generously proportioned.

    WRT the mirror control, you'll find the exact same thing across the entire MB lineup.

    Doesn't mean it's an ideal arrangement. It wouldn't cost much to have a center "neutral" position.

    As for the MCS, aside from the volume control, I have to say that I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

    Again, most of this is fixed with steering-wheel mounted audio controls, to adjust volume, change presets, and move around CD tracks. I didn't find the MCS CD changer controls to be very intuitive. I'm not the only one who doesn't like the MCS interface, I'll have to see if I can dig up autojournalist comments on it.

    Heck, the volume control is enough, unless the stereo has auto-leveling in it. Dang radio stations play their commercials at much higher volumes than the regular programming.

    The ML's tailgate is not G-wagen-ish at all.

    Uh, I didn't say it was. If you check my previous message, I said it was the rear-end (in general). And actually, it was you who several months ago said the rear-end was G-wagen-ish ;-).

    You won't find me cheering the MDX's plainish side view. Though I like the front nose more than you do, especially when the headlamps and foglights are on.

    I still maintain that, even though the MDX is the one that's based on a minivan, and definitely has some minivanish exterior qualities about it, the ML looks even more like a minivan (especially if the ML isn't dressed up with the nice chrome bumper guard, which I've always admired, and foglights).

    The power of knowledge is very strong. If a neutral observer had no idea which vehicle was derived from a minivan platform, and the brand badges were removed, I still think they'd be more likely to pick the ML as the minivan. I still remember how surprised I was when I first saw an ML.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Hmmm, maybe it's the detail in the photos, but those lots look "too clean." A lot of problems aren't on relatively clean white powder, but combinations of slush, snow, ice, and water. E.g. when we went over the mountain passes for Christmas, there was no white powder to drive on top of, it was just a mess of the aforementioned combination. I find driving over a few inches of powder a much different sensation than driving over slush, snow, and ice, at least in past vehicles I've been in.

    Maybe you should bring a hose with you ;-)
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    There are always areas of slush/ice too. I just didn't take any pictures of them since after I "used" the lots, they looked pretty terrible with all of my tire marks in them ;-) Some sections of the lots were actually ice, with 3-4" of snow on top. Other parts were compacted snow. You'll find that most winter driving schools/test tracks utilise compact or powder snow covered areas.

    Here are the rest of the pictures, if you're interested:
    http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=137587&a=11472157

    WRT the cup holder, must you drink while you touch the transmission lever, fiddle with the radio, etc.? One shouldn't be doing that while driving the vehicle anyway. Ah well...

    As for the CD changer, you must be referring to that joystick control. FYI, the soft buttons below the screen can also be used. I think the reason why I don't have this problem is because I don't have the changer. Oh and BTW, yes, the radio is auto compensating/leveling. Great feature, though it is somewhat subtle.

    I do like the MDX's front end with the headlamps/foglamps on (which is how my neighbour drives his MDX at night). Without the headlamps on...well, I think I prefer the 1.7EL's front end (which is, BTW, not too far away from the MDX's front fascia).

    Well, that person would have to be pretty ignorant then. MB doesn't make minivans!....yet ;-)

    FWIW, at a recent Chinese New Year party, one of my parents' friends (Not asian but caucasian, and a Durango owner) absolutely loved the M-class. He liked the styling of the front and even the back! Perhaps the rear deflector, trailer hitch, Parkpilot sensors, and the chrome accents around the taillamps helped :-) Speaking of the rear deflector, is yours there yet?

    image">
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    WRT the cup holder, must you drink while you touch the transmission lever, fiddle with the radio, etc.? One shouldn't be doing that while driving the vehicle anyway.

    Not all at the same time, obviously ;-) It's just easier to handle a cupholder on the console side (right arm for the driver). My point is that it doesn't really have much benefit to putting it on the left side (though southpaws here might disagree). If the idea was to keep the right arm on the steering wheel, then a lot of controls would have to be accessible on the left to maintain that idea.

    Besides, your left arm is used to hold the folded-up newspaper while you drive. No, Drew, I'm kidding ;-)

    Anyway, as I said before, these are more quibbles on an otherwise excellent vehicle.

    Well, that person would have to be pretty ignorant then. MB doesn't make minivans!....yet

    That's exactly my point ... when you have that knowledge, you adjust your perception to fit your experience. But the base perception still would say "more minivan-ish."

    Nope, rear deflector isn't on yet, still a twee bit busy, working on the computer, taking short breaks on it too ;-) I also got the replacement front air deflector this week (to replace the one that was damaged during shipping). A&H MotorSports slapped fragile stickers all over the box this time (though it had been marked fragile before; I guess UPS needed a half-dozen more to get the idea!).

    Say, you haven't added a CD Changer to your M-class yet? I knew you wanted to add your own audio equipment rather than the Bose "high fidelity" stuff, but I'd have thought you'd done it by now. Maybe with big enough speakers, you can roll down your windows and blast Wagner as X5's, MDX's, RX's, and other lesser SUV's go by.
  • Egrand, I just took my RX300 in to have the antenna replaced as some children accidentally broke it while playing. While I was there the serviceman said that the 2002 RX will have a third row seat and they are also planning on putting a new type of tire on it. I asked him if the seat will be like the one in the Volvo V70, which if you have not seen it is basically flush with the floor, so your legs are sticking straight out. (Definitely for toddlers only and for short trips)

    According to him the plan is to have the seat facing the rear of the car and you will pull it up and push up, then back, leaving a space for legs.

    I also have the navigation system which you will find invaluable when purchased. It is one of those things that once experienced,you wonder how you ever lived without it. I do not even travel outside of my city at this time and I use it almost every day. I am curious to hear about the Infinity navigation system though. I like this idea about being able to see the road in different ways.

    Truthfully, I made my purchase based upon the navigation system. I really liked the way the Volvo drove, but they had no navigation systems anywhere in the country and to order it from Sweden would have taken three months. The dealership here said that people balked at the extra price, but that seems strange to me based upon the price of the car.

    I liked the Mercedes, but people I met were having trouble with it, and the navigation was a cd based regional one. which would need to be changed if moving out of the area.

    The MDX seemed fine. I did not like the front grill and there was something a little annoying about the screen to me. Everything on the screen looked a little large, as though it was made larger so the driver wouldn't have to put on glasses to read it.

    Of course you all know that all of these things that seem so important when you are choosing a car become very insignificant after a few months. Not many things can stand up under the intense scrutiny we give our cars when purchasing. For example, I have often read criticisms of the gear shift in the RX300, and while it was a little odd at first, I don't even notice it now. As a matter of fact, I rather like it.
  • rnbnmrnbnm Posts: 3
    I am the mother of a 2-year old and am expecting twins in a few months. I'm looking for a vehicle that will fit 3 car seats plus 2 parents (plus occasionally an extra adult). I'd strongly prefer not to buy a minivan (no offense to minivan owners). Any views on the MB M-class or any other ideas? Doesn't need to have loads of cargo space--I know I can't ask for too much without buying a minivan! The Acura MDX would be great, but the wait is currently at least 6 months in my area and I need a vehicle much sooner. Thanks alot in advance for any suggestions.
  • Reva, looks like you're considering ML, MDX and Volvo XC.

    MDX wait time too long: You can get out-of-state delivery. I have a local friend(SF Bay area) who bought his MDX from Oregan and his wait time was less than 2 months. But if you don't want to put in the extra work for this, go with ML or XC.

    ML: It's also a great vehicle as many posts have discussed. Three kids should be able to fit the 2nd row although it might be a little tight when compared with MDX which is wider. It also has the 3rd seat that expands the total seating to 7. Its safety features are excellent.

    XC: The 2nd row should be very similar to ML's. But its 3rd seat is useless. And it's not an SUV -- no high seating, but drives/rides better. Safety features are also great. I personally think XC has the best safety among the three.

    Hope this helps...
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    To add to Albert's excellent message ...

    You may also like to consider a full-sized SUV like the Toyota Sequoia. It'd be comparably priced to the Mercedes, adding greater room if you ever decide you do need it. It also has excellent safety features, but is quite a heavy vehicle. It supposedly "drives lighter" than it is but you'll notice a huge difference with the Mercedes.

    Good luck, and congratulations on the upcoming twin birth.
  • robin007robin007 Posts: 4
    I have been told that the dealers are willing to sell 01 Rx 300 for close to invoice price. Has anyone experience this, and how close is it? Any suggestion and recommendation of a dealer is appreciated.

    Thanks.
    Robin
  • kimwipeskimwipes Posts: 21
    I got mine $450 over invoice in Lexus of Portland and was offered the same deal in Lexus of Eugene. A bit of a drive from SF ...
  • djdjdjdj Posts: 111
    Yesterday I took a neighborhood street drive in a 2000 ML320 with 19K miles. Today a new RX300 (went to look at a 2000 but the saleman said a new one is just a little more).
    The Mercedes SUV lacks most of the good toys and several expected amenities but drives/rides like their sedans; solid, in control of the road, great seats, a driving machine. You do fall in love with its soul.
    The RX has all the neat stuff, autotemp, reclining rear seats, storage everywhere, accesible CD. The biggest drawback was the driver's seat. Every 2 minutes during a 25 minutes (my option on whether to bring the saleman) I was trying to adjust the seat bottom. No position evenly spread my weight; there was always one spot that felt pressure. I think the seatcushion is too flat, and doesn't cup to support you. A nice passenger vehicle.
    On the MB I set the seat once and never changed it; didn't even think about it.
    RX300 problem 2 ... boring to drive, no character, no road feel. Also not as quiet nor as smooth riding as I expected. For the most car-like SUV from the quietest car company I expected far less windnoise.
    After I drove the MB, I made an appointment to drive it again when I had more time. Only downside to this 2000 is that it has a skyroof which doesn't really interest me. I loved it though and may even consider a new one.
    The Lexus may be more reliable but it won't be enjoyable.
    (Don't really like the looks of the MDX or BMW.)
  • djdjdjdj Posts: 111
    Wish it were nicer here today so I'd have an excuse to open the roof and drive somewhere.
    Yesterday I bought a 2000 ML320 with 19K miles, black, ash leather and the skyview roof (which proved to be much better than I expected.) I testdrove it in the pouring rain and it was a still great drive; solid, surefooted, smooth.
    The day before I drove a new RX300 and the used M-B was no noiser (Lexus has wind noise around the outside mirrors, the M-B around the skyview roof) and just as smooth riding. But you drive the M-B, the Lexus you just steer. When you get behind the wheel in the ML, the gearshift falls into hand. In the Lexus, its that odd lever in the middle of the dashboard that you have to reach for, almost an inconvenience.
    Even the buy experience was good. My wife hates that part of carbuying and she said "this wasn't painful at all". The saleswoman was never pushy, even thought my kids were cute when they set off the alarm on the SLK in the showroom (nice car), and got my coffee order right. They were much fairer on the trade-in than the Lexus offer was and didn't try to switch me to new like the Lexus salesman. It came from Motorcars East in Bedford, Ohio, saleswoman Kathy Stape.
    I actually like the cruise control lever, I would like steering wheel controls for the radio but don't think its that far to reach (Lexus lacks them too), would prefer autotemp but am willing to swap that for drive orientation of the car. Lexus has the little things, Mercedes has the soul.
    Just hope my wife doesn't appropriate it too soon.
  • Recently i took test drive for both.

    I can get MDX for around 38.8K onroad with all the options. (base MDX+running boards+ carrier+wheel locks)

    ML320 is for 41.6K on road with all my options (base ML320+leather+sunroof+CD+3rd row seatings)

    I found ML320 much heavier to drive.

    I am looking for SUV which can be used for 7 people once in while. MDX is best for that. ML320, i couldnt see the 3rd row seats as dealer didnt have one.

    Does anyone have 3rd row seats in ML320? How comfortable are they?

    I am not sure if i should go for MDX, value for the money or ML320 the old mercedes name???

    Any thoughts???
  • gpvsgpvs Posts: 214
    When do you need to get one? ML is available now and MDX, well, depends on when your dealer can get it for you.

    ML - you can get at or below invoice with the rebates

    MDX - MSRP - no discounts yet
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