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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • Your niece -- based on my experience, the current car market and those of us who tirelessly post here on edmunds -- will be well served by almost any one of the cars represented here on this blog.

    If she is "now" a big time lawyer and this is a recent promotion, one of the biggest bangs for the buck HAS to be the Infiniti M's (and there is an M35X which is Infiniti's potent V6 coupled to a drive line that is a rear wheel drive biased all wheel drive.) But the buzz here and elsewhere is that the Acura RL (which is fully equipped with all the do dads standard) is being discounted now and in the future via de-contenting) to offset slow sales. The RL ONLY comes in AWD.

    While the journalists, the paid ones, may disagree, the BMW 5 series, too, remains a favorite mode of transport for many professional types who still value performance over luxury -- and last year BMW finally brought their X-drive line to this family of two. At list price, however, the BMW's may be thousands and thousands more when equipped to compete with the Japanese LPS versions. OTOH, the BMW is regularly and frequently offered with heavily subvented leases which can make it easier to afford (and it comes with 100% maintenance for 50K miles.)

    My wife, also a lawyer, "used" to work for a law firm, when we schmoozed with these folks, it seemed some of the Partners (avert your eyes) preferred the E (and sometimes S) class Mercedes. Here in SW Ohio, I have to remark I have seen more Mercedes badged as "4Matic's" (AWD) than not -- which for your niece would also be attractive.

    The hue and cry here (other than from few of us) seems to be to "Avoid Audis" because they are suspect from a reliability standpoint and that the Lexus GS models are, umm, "cramped and boring to drive, but otherwise exceptional in the reliability department." But, as in the previous candidates for you barrister niece's bucks, both the German and the Japanese come in AWD (standard or available.) FWIW the Audi, too, for this year at least offers full maintenance for 50,000 miles or 4 years.

    Based only the cars discussed on this board, only the BMW can be had with either manual or shiftless transmission -- this remark seems to place me more and more on the lunatic fringe so I'll just leave it at that.

    Now that Mercedes has pretty much spread the AWD love to virtually every car they sell, it is possible to get AWD in both Audis and Mercedes V8 LPS's (and from Detroit, the Cadillac STS V8 is also offered with either RWD or AWD if your niece needs to impress clients with 'merican iron.)

    Finally at the modest-sized Cincinnati Auto Show, the only 5 series BMW elected to bring was a 530xi -- they also had the X3 and X5 represented. Funny, the 3 series on the floor was a normal RWD version, despite the conversation overheard. :shades:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    On this morning's Motorweek, the 2006 "driver's choice awards" went to the 3-series for best sports sedan, while the M took best luxury sedan. Chalk up another one for Infiniti.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    another one for BMW! :P
  • bdr127bdr127 Posts: 950
    (whoo, makes me hoarse)
    Pontiacs and 3-Series are not in this category.

    The BMW 3-Series isn't an LPS?
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    The awesome BMW 3 series at this point in time on Edmunds, is considered to be an "Entry-Level Luxury Performance Sedan" which has its own board.

    On that particular board, BMW truthfully has no competition, as just about everybody and his cousin picks the new Bangleized 3 series as the best in its class.
  • I only read that AOA was going to "discontinue" the Audi Advantage program in 2007, have you actually confirmed this with your dealer?
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hpowders is correct... at least about where that vehicle fits in our class discussions! ;)

    "ELLPS" ?? Too funny!! :P
  • "I will grant RWD is for the Passionate Driver, but the performance driver will most of the time be looking at the tailights of the AWD car that just passed him."

    Given equal horsepower, the weight penalty and drive train losses of AWD will put it at a disadvantage in acceleration (0-60, etc.) times.
  • What other cars fit into this ellps category? Also since we are not to mention pontiacs here I guess we can't talk about BMW 3 series either?
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    By jove, I think he's got it! ;)
  • I think despite tangents, the headline above says it all:

    "What is this discussion about? Lexus GS 430, Acura RL, BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS 300, Audi A6, Infiniti M35, Infiniti M45, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Sedan."

    Month after month in the print versions of magazines, the LPS and ELLPS (sometimes called Premium or Luxury and Entry level Premium and Near Premium -- which does from time to time blur) cars that we love to write about here are defined and redefined suggesting the "species" is evolving.

    Of late, it would appear than BMW's 5 series and Infiniti's M class have greatly impressed the buyers and automotive editors respectively. Audi has received quite of few "honors and accolades," too (they claim they are the most honored car in this class over the past year -- I guess they have people who count the awards so I will not challenge this assertion.)

    But at this stage of evolution of the species, the BMW 3 is in the Pre-Premium class whereas the 5 is in the Premium or LPS class.

    I haven't checked lately but perhaps a pretty cool townhall would be the ELLPS you invented -- one would assume the baby siblings of the LPS cars (plus perhaps an honorable mention of some other notable cars from Volvo and Acura) could make for a spirited discussion.

    The LPS forum, however, does appear to be quite popular and there is a lot to be learned from the folks who take "pen to paper" so to speak.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Speaking of Volvo, I'm very interested to see how the next S80 turns out. My guess, based on the XC90, is that the top version with the V8, AWD, and Four-C chassis will price around $48-52K putting it in this category. Perhaps the S80 will make it onto the LPS list?
  • The program will be changed. AoA seems poised to offer three flavors of maintenance through its dealers:

    #1 Pay as you go, with some maintenance free of cost but only during the first year of ownership.

    #2 Audi Advantage option @ $550 which would continue the current program for 4 years or 50,000 miles "same as it ever was." In 50,000 miles an Audi will require an oil change @ 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 thousand miles, a tire rotation (one time on Audi) and "one" major service which, as I recall might include a flush of the brake fluid and maybe even a set of spark plugs. The key thing to remember is maintenance is different than warranty and the warranty soldiers on.

    #3 The Audi Loyalty Advantage -- which, according to the dealer, appears to be an "incentive" to repurchase an Audi. Supposedly, the Audi Advantage will be offered to repeat buyers that is.

    The maintenance requirements are so skinny, I, frankly, don't get it (just raise the price and bury it in the MSRP and brag about how Audi started the free maintenance programs imitated by the other guys and be done with it.)

    If Audi totally drops this included maint program, as did Mercedes, you can bet BMW will keep it only as long as it feels it has to (but that might be at least a couple of years beyond Audi.) The Maint on a Bimmer in 45K miles is 3 oil changes, fundamentally, perhaps some wiper blades, etc -- so why not keep differentiating yourself with it?

    The Japanese and the American LPS do not offer "free" maintenance -- but here in our little city, many of the dealers (THE DEALERS mind you)offer "comprehensive" and "free" maintenance -- but that is only good at the purchasing dealer. But with these "annual" maintenance events becoming the norm, it appears to be neither a huge cost nor a customer inconvenience.

    The Loyalty Advantage details are apparently not completely ironed out.

    I would think that a line item option for full-maintenance would be a plus for the LPS cars generally. I think Audi dropping it after only ONE year as a legitimate LPS member is premature.

    But they didn't ask me, didn't survey me and didn't (or haven't) warned me.

    It may be a tempest in a teapot. And, for $550, assuming I knew what was included, it may or may not be the push I need to really -- this time -- drop Audi like a hot rock.

    The way I figure it, it was never FREE, it was just no additional charge -- but hey, this has been "huge" and one less issue that dealers had to deal with when customers had "issues."

    Frankly, I just "hate" $100 oil changes -- and full maintenance just "smells" like it helps define the LPS category.

    But, speaking on behalf of the "lunatic fringe," I can't figure out why y'all don't buy stick shift equipped AWD LPS cars that come with full, free-maintenance -- well other than the fact that the only one you even could get is the BMW 5 series and it has only been on the market for 7 or 8 months, so you can be forgiven. Me, I came "this close" to the new Infiniti M before "an offer I couldn't refuse" from Audi sealed the deal in Audis favor.

    The BMW 5xi is, in some respects, about the only one of this crowd of LPS cars that doesn't seem to be turning into a very nice version of the Buick Lucerne (for $15 - 20,000 more, of course.)

    Lunatic Fringe, "I know you're out there."

    Drive it like you live. :shades:
  • Re: turnbowm "weight" of drive line comment.

    Umm, "Man" does not live by acceleration alone. These days, AWD's hardware can come in at under 200 pounds and the use of an auto trans over a manual trans typically carries with it more of a mileage penalty than does AWD over a 2WD version of the same sheen.

    Moreover, AWD does overcome (or can, largely) the rolling resistance issue that a 2WD drive line can pose. And, Dr. Piech claimed (not that I am by nature a skeptic) that at speeds above 40MPH AWD cars have better mileage (marginally) than their 2WD counterparts.

    His argument again? Rolling resistance is nil in the AWD car. Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player -- I do recall reading this in an interview with Piech who apparently isn't just a car hack, but a real engineer.

    I could, as usual be misinformed, but confident in said information. :)

    Plentiful, these days, is information pertaining to the overall efficacy of AWD in adding "improved" dynamics (and performance), safety and "fun."

    Who knows, next they'll be saying that AWD is for Passionate Drivers. Mmmm, maybe . . . we'll see.

    One thing is for certain when both "America's Newspaper" (USA Today) and "America's Information Website" (MSNBC) proclaim folks who are in the market for an LPS insisting on AWD is "the fastest growing" subsegment, well then, you know it must be true.

    Anyone see those robots who are stealing my luggage yet.

    Anyone? Anyone at all? :confuse:
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You and Mark and maybe others might have missed this discussion which has been underway for quite some time: Entry-Level Luxury Performance Sedans. That's where hpowders got the ELLPS acronym. :)

    In that class discussion, we're talking about the BMW 3-Series, Infiniti G35, Acura TL, Lexus IS 350 and 250, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Cadillac CTS.

    Hope you and anyone else interested will join us there.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    "Maint on a Bimmer in 45K miles is 3 oil changes, fundamentally, perhaps some wiper blades, etc -- so why not keep differentiating yourself with it?"

    Plus a couple brake jobs--no small item at BMW dealer prices.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    "His argument again? Rolling resistance is nil in the AWD car. Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player -- I do recall reading this in an interview with Piech who apparently isn't just a car hack, but a real engineer."

    Piech isn't here, so you're the stand-in. Rolling resistance, as I understand it, is the loss created by the continuous deformation of the tires as they roll. Steel wheels without tires would have little to no rolling resistance, supposedly.

    So why does it matter whether a wheel/tire is driven or just along for the ride? It still deforms as it rolls.
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 7,471
    No not the electric kind, but a cross between an Audi and a Lexus. Let Audi do the styling both in and out (except for the drooping grill)and let Lexus do everything else.

    2013 LX 570 2016 LS 460

  • Umm, "Man" does not live by acceleration alone. These days, AWD's hardware can come in at under 200 pounds and the use of an auto trans over a manual trans typically carries with it more of a mileage penalty than does AWD over a 2WD version of the same sheen.

    Moreover, AWD does overcome (or can, largely) the rolling resistance issue that a 2WD drive line can pose. And, Dr. Piech claimed (not that I am by nature a skeptic) that at speeds above 40MPH AWD cars have better mileage (marginally) than their 2WD counterparts.

    His argument again? Rolling resistance is nil in the AWD car. Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player -- I do recall reading this in an interview with Piech who apparently isn't just a car hack, but a real engineer.

    Not to be argumentative, but the facts do NOT support what you and Dr. Piech are saying. Herewith are the official EPA fuel economy (city/highway) numbers.....

    530i - 20/30 (Man.)
    21/29 (Auto)
    530xi - 19/28 (Man.)
    20/27 (Auto)
  • One thing at a time.

    In response to an LPS “debate” over both the effectiveness and efficiency of Dr. Piech’s “AWD” (aka quattro, aka TorSen); and with all due respect to as many of the “rules of the road” as I dare break, I presented without substantiation “my recollection” of some of Dr. Piech’s conclusions and discoveries.

    N.B. Dr. Piech, aka, "the father" of Audi's quattro and some would say the father of “cars” — as opposed to “off road vehicles” — employing AWD not only for “on road” but for use to gain performance advantages both in normal driving and on closed course events (races, shows, tours, etc.)

    Whew! :shades:

    Here, Cluk Click is a more complete and hopefully appropriately posted “essay” on the apparent contradiction of how Dr. Piech’s concept (NOT BMW’s X-drive per se) "mysteriously" saves fuel despite what some would argue are weight and friction penalties imposed by the mechanisms that are required to turn a 2WD car into an AWD car called an Audi quattro.

    Hope this is "fuel" for thought.

    - Mark :shades:
  • What may (or may not) be true at 170mph ("higher top speed" when the electronic governor is obviously removed) has no bearing whatsoever for the real life speed situations of 90mph or lower. As much a lover of AWD myself, I can't argue against real life EPA tests consistently showing all vehicle models turning in lower mph in their AWD models than 2WD counterpart . . . a theory is nice but it can't hold candle to real life data.
  • I had not intended to go down a path that more than remotely suggested acquiring an AWD vehicle would or should be undertaken because it was more fuel efficient.

    Piech's findings of improved fuel efficiency required speeds in excess of 40MPH; and, using my "average speed" feature on my trip computer, I see that even when I drive from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh and back (and even at speeds well above 70 or 80) that my "average speed" for the trip including all the non-highway time rarely exceeds 38 or 40 mph (often less than 33.)

    I would and am NOT encouraging the consideration of AWD by those here on the LPS board or those shopping for cars in general as a way to improve gas mileage or whiten teeth.

    The issue of the "excess" weight and its penalties on economy and performance do have their legitimate roots. The point has been to suggest that it is becoming a "Mega-trend" for the Premium Class (aka LPS) of cars to be expected to "offer" AWD. If AWD was horribly wasteful of fuel and decreased performance (and fun), I am confident the "market" would speak and pretty much squash AWD's growing popularity.

    The effects of AWD drive lines applied "appropriately" will be improvements in control, fun, performance and safety with very little "negative improvements" (is that an oxymoron?) in economy.

    AWD has "lost weight," become less expensive than, ummm, Satellite Navigation and has been all but demanded by Premium car buyers. Hence, a conclusion that one might reach is "you can't be in the LPS crowd without it."

    My gut tells me BMW's only regret is waiting so long to offer it on the 5's. Of course, they are making up for lost time.

    I don't want to lose the concept of AWD's efficiency -- potential efficiency -- but at this point the ~165 pounds of weight are simply not overcome [yet, if ever] in daily mixed driving in modern AWD LPS cars (and non LPS cars for that matter.)

    As Physicist Niels Bohr says, "Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think." Or my corollary, "Never think more clearly than you are able to express."

    "May I have the envelope please?"

    "What say ye?"


    Damn. :surprise:
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 7,471
    Well, it seems the verdict is in. Let's take the guilty bas***d out and hang him!! :)

    2013 LX 570 2016 LS 460

  • kssod1kssod1 Posts: 50
    A 2006 RL probably can be had for 45-46k. I've seen 2004 and 2005 Phaetons for the same on ebay and autotrader with 10-15k miles. Which is the better vehicle?
  • How LARGE of a car do you need?
  • kssod1kssod1 Posts: 50
    bigger than my X-type. I want to have AWD, luxury and some sport, with a usable back seat. The GS is under powered and was very floaty on the road. I am waiting on the new 07 G35x, looks great if they redo the interior and move the seat controls out from under the right thigh. the 06 just felt cheap compared to the Jag. There are many knocks against the X-type, but it certainly drives great at speed.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Well, if you want a car that absolutely no one else has, then I suppose its a steal. For the same money though, you could get a 2004 LS430. The LS will hold its value, and will be reliable. The Phaeton's value will continue to tank (W12 cars are mid 50s on the used market) and its long term reliability is highly questionable.

    Also, thanks to the big VWs 5200lbs of heft, its slow, and handling is sloppy. The RL will outrun and outhandle it easily.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    How about the M35x? Its roomier, sportier, and has every feature that the GS does.
  • The Pheaton has a very large back seat. It has a somewhat thirsty V8 and it has AWD.

    It will probably have the balance of the VW full free service, will be eligble for being CPO'd and if you need to get it serviced -- and you need it NOW rather than free - the Phaeton can be serviced at VW and Audi dealers very readily.

    The Phaeton is a lot more lux than sport.

    The Pheaton's electronics are fine, but they are nowhere near the standards you would get in the Japanese counterpart.

    Yes the Pheaton is a heckuva discount -- but that is because, in large part, they have a steeply declining residual (but this may be a bit of a who cares since in fact you will be the guy enjoying this decline in value from the day it landed on our shores until now.)

    For similar money -- IF you are NOT writing a lump sum check or are not getting 0% interest or some other qualifying reason that may sway you -- the Infiniti M35X has a decent back seat (I think it is bigger than the RL which seems a bit cramped to my eye.)

    The Acura will have all the do dads on it at that price -- the M35X probably will not, but it depends on what you want.

    You would certainly want the M35X with the Journey package and you may want it with the Technology package which does raise the MSRP to ~ $50K before any discounts, deals or financing incentives that may tickle your fancy.

    The Lexus GS300 AWD may be able to be had for such a price, but it too is a little bit cramped according to some.

    Personally I like the looks of the Lexus and if that is a concern, well you need to check out the three Japanese cars side by side so to speak (or brochure by brochure.)

    I would not have any issues in terms of being stranded with the Phaeton -- but, and this pains me to say this, I would probably put the Phaeton as my "plan 'B'" despite my bias for German cars.

    If your main two or three considerations are AWD, Luxury and "some" sport -- well then my personal "plan 'A'" would have to be the M35X -- it is often said to be the "most" German like Japanese LPS car on the market today.

    One writer said the M threatens to make the other LPS players "irrelevant." While I take issue with THAT characterization, well, I do think the M may merit your strong consideration.

    Also, while I am objecting, the VW is not slow and "all things considered" it is not sloppy either.

    But these things ARE relative to "what?" and even with objective data the interpretations can be quite subjective.

    The Phaeton is REALLY nose heavy which makes it understeer, but it can be pushed quite hard before the understeer gets in your way. But not anywhere near as hard as the Acura or the Inifniti M. The wrap about the Lexus is that it gives up too much performance for lux -- and so the debate goes. Less filling or tastes great?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "Also, while I am objecting, the VW is not slow and "all things considered" it is not sloppy either."

    I certainly wouldnt call it fast. The W12 can only manage 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds, not exactly impressive for 400+hp. The LS and XJ which weigh a good half ton less, and pretty much every other car in the full-size lux segment, would make short work of the Phaeton V8 in a straight line.

    In the big C&D test, it managed only second to last place, and there werent a lot of praises for steering or ride quality.
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