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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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  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    btw, keyless unlocking is pointless imo

    Its not a must have, however its a nice feature to have and is useful when you have your hands full. Full hands is a fairly common occurance; briefcase, jacket, coffee mug, etc - I would think women would appreciate not having to get keys out of their purse, especially in a dark parking lot.
  • #940 of 940 X5 3.0 by safeperfsnowsu Jul 11, 2005 (11:21 pm)
    Is the MDX for me?

    I live in Boston and have a 2 hr total commute each day across town. Lots of twits and turns and zipping in to traffic at rotaries and when a spot opens up on big traffic roads. Lots of people cutting you off on the rotaries too and cutting in front of you in high traffic. So performance means safety, Great braking and immediate and strong response when accelerator is mashed. I tried a passat top of the line with 4 motion and the thing increased my commute time by 15 minutes (on a 30 min segment) in order to drive it safely. It has terrible pick up, worse than most volvos.

    Anyway, I drive the x5 (2003 3 liter auto) for the commutes but also have a 2003 Ody that I use for throwing the bikes in the back and the dog. What I would like to do is to find one car that satisfies all my needs so that I don't have to have two for no reason. I looked at all wagons and basically none had the pick up that the X5 has and the BMW wagon has very poor visibility so that is out and frankly if a huge SUV was bearing down on me I would rather be in another SUV than in a wagon. I should also mention that my 5 year old is in the car most of the time.

    While the X5 satisfies all my driving needs (though could stand to have a little more power in the mid range acceleration from 40-60MPH) it cost an arm and a leg to gas up taking only premium and it is a work out to drive, also you can't fit anything in the back and the poor old dog can barely jump that high. Also as it is my "nice" car i am always worried about it getting dinged and putting muddy boots etc in there are hiking.

    I should also mention that I am 6'4 and about 280lbs so not a small person and have had a bad back in the past so seat comfort is essential for all the bum time I put in. The Ody seats are a joke and so uncomfortable and I am worried the MDX will be similar. The BMW seats are very firm and quite comfortable but not as good as some Volvo seats I have sat in.

    AWD or excellent snow ability is crucial as I have to be able to do the commute even in the worst weather (i always put on performance snow tires late fall and run the Potenza R950s the rest of the year).

    So really my priorities are:
    Performance so that I can safely do a shorter commute and ghet out of that big SUV's way but also stop in tim when that little zippy sports car cuts me off
    Safety features in case I get rammed by a big SUV (including rear airbags which i don't think I currently have)
    Very comfortable seats that will hold up over time (want to keep the car for min 6 years, probably longer as I usually drive them in to the ground)
    Enough cargo room that I can fit a small kids bike in there and a dog, maybe even a small night table or something like that.
    Reduce my running costs.
    Hopefully something that I can get in to under $50K new or late model used if no major model change.

    As I mentioned I tried all the wagons and even the E series 4 matic just didn't cut it (all wagons failed the 1st cut which is performance). I thought about going with sedan (was thinking the VW Phateon because of AWD and massive power from the V* and very comfortable setas) and keeping the minvan for the other stuff but still don't like the idea of being "down there" when that big suv comes knocking on my drivers side window.

    Should I even try the Merc SUV? The Lexus just doesn't seem as safe as the BMW or the Acura should acrash occur. Back to the original question, will the MDX cut it or should I stick with the SUV mini combo? Any other suggestions?

    By the way drove a 300M a while back *rental and thought it was horrible, both in terms of pickup, breaking, sea comfort, and especially 360 visibility (the X5 is just barely acceptable on that score with help from extra mirrors on rear view and sides) so not sure if that Pacifica is worth suggesting.

    Very light off road (logging track something easy like that) only really need good snow performance with snow tires and twoning capacity would be a nice extra but not necessary(have to haul large Hobbie Cat twice a year).

    Thank you for any suggestions.
  • nileshnilesh Posts: 5
    try the new 06 ml 350 or the 500. they are very comfortable and has lot better cargo area than x5.i have one and am very satisfied with my purchase
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "Lots of twits and turns and..."

    C'mon, you're being too harsh on Bostonians. Every town has got its share of boneheads. :P ;)
  • :-) yes I saw that. I moved here recently and love the place and find the people here to be very civilized and considerate drivers for a city this size.
  • Going to test drive the Merc and the MDX today. Hopefully one will work.
  • Test drove the MDX and pick up was very dissapointing as well quality of interior and seat comfort. Not a big step up from my minivan (in fact after having driven one don't know why anyone would pony up that kid of cash when the minivan is so similar but then again I don't care about people seeing me driving a minivan as some do). Struck out a again. Will say this though as a positive Nav system was amazing!

    Then on to the Merc dealership. WOW do they have some nice cars. Anyway after lusting over a little convertible number I see the new 2006 M series and frankly it looks like an explorer but as I could care less about the looks I go sit in one. Now this is quality, even nicer than my X5 and seat comfort was very good. Also much roomier than anticipated (I am a big guy so that was appreciated, in X5 my head is 2-3 inches from column, in Merc at least 5+ and leg, hip room and adjustability of controls much better than 2003 X5 too for a much more ergonomically satisfying driving position) and good head room too even with sunroof package (didn't like the dials for the radio control but again who cares, minor stuff). Still a little on the small side for cargo space but just enough to live with especially with the bike rack accessory that attaches to the trailer hitch. Rear airbags a huge plus and all sorts of safety features, very impressive. So now I am hoping that the test drive will not disappoint so I asked to test drive the 500 but they didn't have any so i tried the 350. Again WOW. It is quicker off the mark than my X5 and does much better than the X5 between 30-60 as well. Far less jerky, a much smoother ride and yet without sacrificing any performance and apparently getting better gas mileage too. It isn't a very exciting car in terms of driving as you don't feel as much as you do with the X5 but for 2 hours commute a day that is OK by me. Also I plan to get the suspension option so you can change from comfort to sport for when excitement is required, should also come in handy for the big snow that they get up here. I took it out for about half an hour and put it through its paces (the poor asistant salesman the head guy sent off with me was a little nervous at times) but everything exceeded my expectations and braking was excellent (apparently where the BMW breaks 20 times a second the Merc brakes 40 times a second) and this was all in the 350 mind you, not sure what the 500 will be like but if it is as big a step up in performance as they say it is then it will be worth the extra $6k, going to try it on Friday when a new one comes in.

    One question I have for those who are lucky enough to have one (kind of a no brainer once you drive it) or are in the know, does the suspension option allow you to lower the car from its standard height as well as raise it or is it all levels of raising it from is standard height? I would need to lower it one inches for it to fit under my old style garage door or take off the roof rails if that can be done (don't need them). Also does it retain its tightness (ie non frame flexing) in the long run, the BMW feel very solid , the Merc a little less so but I think it is because they use lighter materials? Lastly does this business of using virgin steal vs. recycled really make any difference and does BMW really use recycled steel?

    Anyway it will either be the 350 or 500, excellent car.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Far be it from me to want to change your mind, but I find some of your comments interesting. We purchased a 2005 MDX in January. Our runner up choice was a XC90 V8. But we ruled out the M350/500 almost from the beginning based upon the horrific reliability and build quality issues Mercedes has had with the M class. Both objective sources like Consumer Reports and JD Powers, as well as numerous friends and associates, steered us clear of the M-class.

    As far as performance, I found the the MDX's 3.5 liter 265 hp engine to be very adequate - quicker than the X5 3.0, on par with the ML350, and behind the XC90 V8. Handling was also adequate, although I admit the braking could be better.

    I will not dispute that the M350 is an improvement over the previous ML320. But nothing suggests to me that this vehicle will reverse the substantial decline in Mercedes quality over the past few years. A recent business week article listed the worst 10 luxury cars in terms of reliability and Mercedes captured 4 of the 10 spots.

    It would seem to me that, given your priorities of performance and seat comfort, the XC90 V8 should have been on your shopping list. It is not the highest rated vehicle with respect to reliability, but is well above the M-class.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    If you buy MB, good luck to you. MB is not known for its reliabitiy. Ask previous owners before you buy.
  • Thanks for the suggestion, will give it a test drive. Only reason I have hesitated to do so is that the wagons are so slow off the mark (what I really mean by performance is low end torque to get in to traffic). The MDX is better than the X5 from 30-60 you are right, but 0-30 the X5 smokes the MDX(because the MDX, and Ody's Vtech engine really gets going with the higher revs) 0-30 and the 350 smokes them both.

    If I didn't have such long urban X town commutes to do and all in heavy slow small street traffic (no highway) then the MDX would be fine, actually the Passat wagon would probably do fine but for my commute I need to safely (quickly) be able to pull in to traffic from a stand still and that means low end torque and the MDX just doesn't have it.

    I can only hope that with the new and completely redisgned 2006 M series they have addressed some of the reliability issues (I understand that the M series are the only Merc's to be built in the US, Alabama or somewhere? X5's built in SC very good build quality). If they haven't and the Volvo (they do have the best seats) doesn't work out then I will stick the M series out until BMW comes out with their new larger X5 in late 2006 hoping that i won't have to deal with too many issues in the interim.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    The MDX is better than the X5 from 30-60 you are right, but 0-30 the X5 smokes the MDX(because the MDX, and Ody's Vtech engine really gets going with the higher revs) 0-30 and the 350 smokes them both.

    Are you sure it's just not a perception? Even a conservative publication like Consumer Reports timed the 2003 MDX's 0-30 as 3.0 seconds, and the 2005 X3 3.0 at the same 3.0 seconds. The MDX was faster 0-60 and 45-65, as expected.

    The new M-class is much improved but it's the first year, and first year models can be very dicey for any brand, especially Mercedes. If you do get it, make sure you get the Airmatic suspension as quite a few reviewers and test drivers have found the difference to be night and day.

    The XC90 V8 won't handle as sharply as the M-class or X5 but it should give you plenty of low-end torque.
  • Yes I saw that as I was doing research this evening and was surprised because in the MDX it really does not jump from a stand still like the X5 does and I could not safely enter traffic in the MDX that I could with confidence in the X5 or the M350 (here is another twist, the edmunds first drive review says the 2006 Merc is lacking low end torque so I am not sure what I am talking about when I am talking about performance from stand still now as he M350 jumped off the line even faster than the X5 does). Yes the airmatic is one of the options I would get.

    The XC90 V* looks like it will fit the bill very nicely and while it doesn't have all the gadgets that the Merc does it seems just as safe and the seats very comfortable (I have found that Volvo's seats are the most comfortable), and visibility seems better too. I just hope it is quick off the line or I will have to pass on it and pay at least $10K more for the Merc. Look forward to test driving it tomorrow. Thanks again for the suggestion.

    I agree with the 1st year worries with the new model but it may be my only option.
  • Tried the Volvo V8 and it was a nice car (certainly a nicer looker than the Merc which I still contend looks a little too similar to an explorer) but pick up was still not as good as the M350 or the X5 but slightly better than the MDX.

    Braking not as good as the Merc and surprisingly the seat ws not as comfortable either and I did not feel that the seat gave me enough depth either and also visibility was not great as the top of the windshield was at my eye level even with the seat all the way down (great visibility if my eyes were 6 inches lower). The interior was very nicely laid out but didn't feel as luxurious as the Merc.

    The worst part though was that it bounced around all over the place at the slightest yaw, when breaking and cornering (the Merc standard has quite small bounce but with the airmatic system virtually eliminated, X5 is very good in this regard) and felt like almost as bad as the older Landrover Discovery's were. I bet it is a very good off road car though but my needs are on road.

    So I will be getting the Merc (unless there are other suggestions that people have that I should try) and will keep my fingers crossed that relaibility holds up. If it doesn't the new roomier X5 comes out fall of 06 and I will trade in the Merc and get one of those. I am taking the M500 out tomorrow and will post my impressions vs. the 350.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Sounds like you have convinced yourself that the Mercedes is your vehicle of choice.

    Obviously, a lot of the attributes you are looking at are subjective, since I found the ML350 to be below both the X5 and XC90 V8 in terms of handling. We test drove both the X5 3.0 6-speed and Cayenne V6 6-speed because of our preference for manual transmissions. (The MDX is the first automatic that either my wife or I have owned in 28 and 30 years of drivien respectively). Unfortunately, as much as we liked the X5, it was just too small. And I found that the X5 3.0 needed a manual transmission to keep up with the MDX, so go figure your different impression of "off the line" speed. I admit I am used to and comfortable with the V-tech engine characteristics, having owned a Honda S2000 and Acura TL 6-speed.

    The only other vehicles that I would suggest, with some reservation, are (1) GX470 w/ sport (KDSS) package. The 2005 is improved over the previous model, with a 270 hp (vs. 235) V8 and the sport package helps take some of the body roll out of the suspension. I doubt you would find it better than the ML in driving dynamics, but Lexus is far superior in reliability, build quality and resale value.

    The other suggestion is off topic. Since you seem to want to use an SUV as a sporty commuter car, have you considered a new BMW 550i 6-speed sedan through European Delivery?? This is about the safest sedan you can buy and it will nearly match the old M5 in performance. The price you could get through discounted ED might not be that much more than the ML350. Obviously, you won't have the cargo capacity of a larger SUV, but the 550i damn near matches the X5 in "utility" and even the renowned Cayenne TT won't come close to it in "sport".

    Sorry to get off topic, guess my recent shopping for a Boxster S has clouded my thinking.

    P.S. I feel compelled to mention that, having bought two vehicles in the last year from a Mercedes/Acura dealer, the sales manager privately discouraged us from considering the ML 350 over the MDX purely because of reliability issues. Similarly, the Porsche sales manager who is a friend privately discouraged us from considering the Cayenne for similar reasons. I am now about to award him for his honesty by buying either a Boxster S or 911 Cabriolet. If you decide to roll the dice with the ML350, I stongly suggest you get an extended warranty and make sure they will take care of you in the event of problems (i.e. drive a loaner to you, etc.). Simply covering the cost of repairs under warranty doesn't make up for the extreme pain in the butt caused by a vehicle that has repeated problems. We know at least two friends whose ML is the last Mercedes they will ever buy. Ever.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    I, my wife, and my father-in-law used to own MBs, we will never buy MB again. Same with my physician friends. Again good luck to you.
  • I have been reading about the M series and apparently even people with the 2006 are already complaining about reliability issues and the car has only been out 3 months! It is giving me pause as one of the things I read was tranny related.

    I would much much prefer to drive a sedan than an SUV and the 550i is a great suggestion (my father traded his 7 series for one of these) and one of the three that would consider( the other two being the VW Phaeton and the Merc E AMG) but don't want to have two cars (or at least not two if one of them isn't a sports car, DB7 is on my shopping list once my child is a bit older) and need one that I can take the dog and the bikes around in and that will reliably have no problem with a Boston snow storm.

    You have a lot of experience with cars and it surprises me that you feel that the MDX could pull in to traffic as quickly as the X5 auto (remember I am not talking about a highway on ramp but from a stop sign on a side street in to a rotary or from a side street in to 2 lane fast road with practically bumper to bumper with the odd break here and there, also I don't know if this makes a difference but I have the 2003 X5 haven't tried the new ones) . I haven't had the range of vehicles you have but I have been driving for 20 years mostly in European cities (London, Rome, Barcelona) and I just couldn't pull in to traffic with the MDX where I could with the X5 or the 350.

    Didn't look at the cayenne because I surmised that it would be even stiffer than the X5 and not great for a commute, also had read the seats were not that comfortable and the MPG was not good.

    Anyway I do appreciate your suggestions, and your warnings about the M series have sunk in (I was so taken by the 350 because it was the 1st car after test driving so many that impressed me with both its pick up and its comfort and safety and frankly just didn't want to have to do anymore "shopping"). I have decided to hold off for a few more months to give the new M's some time to get some more reviews from owners. Also, I have some extensive hiking and backpacking planned for the summer and frankly don't want to do it in my new car as it will get messy. The more I think about it it might just be worth keeping the minvan for that kid/bikes/hiking type stuff until I am ready to get the DB7 (the 1998 is my favorite year, a truly beautiful car).

    I have a suggestion for you too: go for the 911 unless your wife will be driving it a lot, and congratulations, very nice car.
  • Thanks CT warnings have sunk in. My wife is an ER Doc which is why the ability to deal with the snow is so important.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Obviously, a lot of the attributes you are looking at are subjective, since I found the ML350 to be below both the X5 and XC90 V8 in terms of handling.

    Just out of curiousity, is that the old ML350, or the new 2006 one? Just curious in how you ranked it if it's the new one.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    One plus for the ML (and the X5) is that it should handle Boston snow storms slightly better than the MDX and XC90. I think the latter two will be adequate, but the ML and X5 will inspire some more confidence. Since you seem to be looking for maximum levels, I thought it worth mentioning.

    An odder possibility that you may or may not have already mentioned is the Infiniti FX45. It should have a decent amount of power and good handling, at the expense of some ride comfort and of course passenger and cargo room. Reliability should be impeccable, safety won't be as strong as an MB or Volvo, though.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Assuming you can get past the styling (of the FX).
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