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Luxury Lounge

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  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    LG -

    IIRC, your wife is currently driving an Audi Q5. Is she happy with it? What are your thoughts?

    For reasons related to health (recent major surgery), I'm beginning to think the unthinkable: replacing my beloved 330i with an upscale, compact SUV. And despite my horrific experiences with Audi back in the 1980s, I'm drawn to the Q5. It's just the right size, & the cabin seems like a great place in which to spend some time. I've also looked at (but haven't driven) the GLK-350. I didn't particularly like it; it seems to me that MB has cheaped out on the interior. Also, the GLK's back seat is harder to get into, & there isn't as much legroom as there is in the Q5.

    For 2011, the Q5 is available with the 2.0 turbocharged FSI direct injected 4 coupled to an 8-speed transmission. What are your thoughts about this?

    As always, your comments would be greatly appreciated. What else would you look at in this market segment? I'm also considering Infiniti's EX35, which will come with a 7-speed for 2011.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,619
    Would you consider the Acura RDX? Probably not upsacle enough but take a peek. ;)

    Regards,
    OW
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    It so happens that I was in an Acura showroom a few days ago & I looked at the RDX. Unfortunately, I also looked at the MDX, which has a much nicer interior. Once you've sat in an MDX, you'll pretty much stop thinking about the RDX. It's really too bad, because the RDX is exactly the right size for me; the MDX is too big, & I don't need the 3rd row.

    I wish that Honda would upgrade the RDX's interior to the level of the MDX. Most of the people who buy the MDX now would still buy it because it's more spacious & has that 3rd row, so Honda wouldn't lose many MDX sales. At the same time, they'd certainly sell more RDXs.

    I might yet buy an Acura. I'm partial to Honda products because my experiences with them go back more than 35 years to my 1st Civic & have been uniformly good. But if I do that, I'll pick the MDX - not the RDX. The RDX is off my list. Acura would sell more of them if they didn't display them right next to the MDX.

    Actually, I think that the Honda CR-V in its top-of-the-line EX-L trim is more appealing & certainly a better value than the RDX. If you gave me the money to buy an RDX, I'd use some of it to pay for a CR-V EX-L & spend the rest on base pleasures of the flesh.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419

    IIRC, your wife is currently driving an Audi Q5. Is she happy with it? What are your thoughts?


    The Q5 has been great, and my wife is very pleased with it. Pretty much the exact opposite of how she felt about the X3 after it came back from the dealer the second time they tried to fix the infamous transmission in that car.

    When we bought the Q5, nothing else came close. The XC60's interior is cheap, fuel economy is poor, and the electronics are terrible. The GLK is tiny inside and very bland to drive, and it's also a gas hog. My wife wanted her friends to be able to sit comfortably in the back, which they could in the X3 and Q5. In the EX, not so much. Infiniti really blew the packaging with that car.

    The RDX can't come close to the Q5. The interior is about at the same level as the Volvo's. It's really not a luxury product. The power delivery is old school turbo, it's a bit laggy and uneven, and not refined. Like most of the others it also gets 16 or 17mpg, while my wife usually gets around 20 in her Q5.

    At this point, I think the only one with the potential to knock the Q5 off of its perch at the top of the class is the second gen X3. It's a bit roomier than the Q5 and has more cargo space, and its using the same ZF 8-speed that BMW is rolling out in the rest of their cars, as opposed to the piece of junk in the first gen. It seems like BMW has done a pretty good job, but it would be extremely difficult to get my wife to consider another X3, no matter how much better it is. Fool me once and all that.

    As for reliability, both my S6 and the Q5 have been fine. Audi Care isn't as good as BMW ultimate service, but it does cover most maintenance costs, and there haven't been any problems with either car. Since around '06-'07 Audi seems to be taking quality a lot more seriously than in the past.

    The 2.0T is definitely worth a test drive. The 3.2 is very smooth, but I'm sure my wife would be willing to trade that last ounce of refinement for a few more miles to the gallon.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Very helpful comments, LG, & much appreciated.

    I'm in no rush. For one thing, I have to sell 2 cars - my BMW & my '06 CR-V - before I buy anything. (I'd rather sell privately than trade. That way, I squeeze the maximum value out of my old car while also simplifying the new car buying process.) For another, I really want to see the new X3 before I make a decision. Nine years of nearly trouble-free service from my 330i have left me partial to BMW products. And, if I decide that I'm not yet ready for an automatic (almost all of my 40+ years of driving experience have been with sticks - I never really mastered automatics), then I'll have to go with the X3.

    Right now, it's the Q5 (today's favorite) vs. the upcoming '11 X3 vs. the MDX, which is really too big for this category but which wowed me with its interior.

    (You're right about the RDX. Around here, you see 5 MDXs for every RDX, even though the MDX is considerably more expensive. You'd think that someone at Honda/Acura would notice this & do something about it.)
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm surprised you were so impressed with the MDX's interior. I can't stand any Acura interior at this point. Acura charges over $50K for acres of wood like plastic, a button explosion center stack, and the same cheap feeling Honda parts bin steering wheel that they use in everything else they make. The EX has wood from trees at $35K.

    The Q7 is just in a different league on the inside.

    http://www.audipic.com/audi/2009/09/2010-Audi-Q7-3.jpg
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    My impression was that the quality of materials in the MDX was top drawer - certainly better than the stuff used in the RDX. If you order one of the packages - Technology or Advance - you get a better leather than you do on the base. The front seats were among the best that I've ever sampled, & I'm picky about seats.

    The controls were on the busy side but nothing that you couldn't master in a half day. The smallest buttons, in the center of the stack, control secondary audio functions that most people would use only occasionally. More frequently used controls - climate control, for example - are easy to see & use.

    I haven't driven the MDX - in fact, I haven't driven anything at all & don't plan to until I'm much closer to the actual buy date - but its car-like ride & handling have gotten rave reviews.

    For me, the MDX's biggest drawback is its size. We're empty nesters & we just don't need something that big. We certainly have no use for the 3rd row seat. We're also not DIYers - the most frequently used tool in my house is our checkbook - so we don't spend a lot of time at Home Depot stocking up on stuff. If I picked the MDX over the Q5, I'd be dragging around an extra 450+ pounds every time I fired up the car. That's the equivalent of 2 average mothers-in-law in the back seat.

    The Q5 is the perfect size for us. Although I'm shopping for me, I'm also mindful of my wife's preferences - she'll drive it in bad weather or when I'm drunk - & I know that she would be unhappy with something as big as the MDX (or the Q7, for that matter).
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,619
    edited August 2010
    I understand you concerns and agree. My CR-V-EX (which goes to my daughter in 6 months) is really the best value I've experienced so far. No leather fits her lifestyle at the moment.

    I am favoring the MDX for my wife to replace the '03 Yukon Denali in a few months. Funny how the resale value fluctuated from $10K in '09 at the height (depth) of the recession to over $15K today for the GMC. Makes a man smile! Didn't know regarding the upclass leather on the pkgs. Interesting.

    Anyway, try the CR-V EX-L only if you you you are light on the pedal straigtaway but you'll love it in the twisties. Damn near decent, I say! (upgraded the tires one size @ 23K, fit is perfect, response is outstanding with the stock set-up).

    AFAIC, you might have been half-joking about the CR-V but you'd be spot on perfect for your desire to keep your wife happy and blow away the value proposition vs. the RDX. It's really that good for the Ladies. My daughter thinks it's great and she drives me to the BMW dealer every week to see what's going on (good practice on the permit)! That says a lot! ;)

    For me, I'm following a friend who is trading in an '06 S-4 in a few months...

    Regards,
    OW
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    AFAIC, you might have been half-joking about the CR-V but you'd be spot on perfect for your desire to keep your wife happy and blow away the value proposition vs. the RDX.

    I have an '06 (last year of the previous generation) CR-V, & I really like what Honda has done with the current generation. It's a tidy little package that deserves its sales success. I for one prefer the CR-V's styling to that of the RDX.

    What Honda should do is take the CR-V, replace the I4 with a small displacement V6 & upgrade the interior with higher quality materials & more goodies, such as power passenger's seat, a killer sound system, etc. That would be more appealing than the current RDX. In my area, I see a half dozen MDXs for every RDX, even though the latter is much less expensive.

    For me, I'm following a friend who is trading in an '06 S-4 in a few months...

    Interesting. Very interesting. You must keep us posted.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    LG, is your wife's Q5 equipped with factory navigation? According to Audi's build-your-own configurator, which hasn't yet been updated to reflect changes for 2011, the nav package costs a cool $3K extra.

    My gut tells me to skip this because (1) my new $220 (from Amazon) Garmin nuvi 765 has all of the navigational functionality that I need & (2) Germans just don't do electronics as well as the Japanese do, & factory nav is just 1 more thing to go wrong down the road. Unfortunately, you have to buy Audi's nav package to get a rearview camera, as far as I can tell.

    What are your thoughts?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    My gut tells me to skip this because (1) my new $220 (from Amazon) Garmin nuvi 765 has all of the navigational functionality that I need & (2) Germans just don't do electronics as well as the Japanese do, & factory nav is just 1 more thing to go wrong down the road. Unfortunately, you have to buy Audi's nav package to get a rearview camera, as far as I can tell.

    She does have the NAV system. I have the previous gen in the S6 which is decent, but the latest version which they call Nav Plus is excellent. It has the same features that you get on current Garmins and TomToms like lane assist, as well as some neat 3D tricks that the portables (other than the super advanced Navigons) don't have yet.

    The days of truly horrible nav systems in German cars are over, and I would argue that they are now among the best. The Lexus mouse system would probably be the easiest for someone to just jump in and start using, but the Audi system is definitely better than what Acura has, and is more advanced than the somewhat stale Infiniti system.

    The brand new setup in the new A8 and the A7 is the most advanced in the industry.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Again, thanks for your comments. I've pretty much decided that unless I'm offered a killer deal on a nav-equipped Q5, I'll stick with my Garmin. No matter what car you're considering, the price spread between factory systems & aftermarket units is simply obscene.

    It's not an issue of factory vs. aftermarket for us. Even if all of our cars were equipped with factory systems, we'd still want an up-to-date aftermarket unit on hand. Many of our vacations involve flying somewhere & then picking up a rental at the other end, so I'll always want something that I can toss into my carry-on.

    If a year from now, Garmin comes out with something that's head & shoulders above my nuvi 765T, I'll just eBay what I have now (or give it away - I only have $220 invested in it) & buy the latest & greatest. You can't take that approach with the factory systems.

    From where I sit, it looks as if the only real advantage that the factory systems have is the absence of an unsightly power cord running across the dash to your cigarette lighter. For $2K or more, I'll live with the cord.

    I'm boycotting factory nav until manufacturers get more realistic about pricing.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,156
    Factory nav is a tough decision. On one hand, you are correct, it is way overpriced. But as an example, when I bought my '05 TL I figured, "I'm paying over $30K for a new car, I might as well add a couple grand and have it all.

    At least on the Acura, the advantage of the factory unit (we also have a portable Garmiin in another car) is:

    - bigger screen (5 or 7 inches - can't remember which)
    - no cords
    - can't easily be stolen
    - nothing blocking my view through the windshield since it is integrated into the dash
    - full integration with the audio system. This is a biggie. I can hit the button on the steering wheel and say "find nearest [gas station/fast food/chinese restaurant/post office/ATM/gas station" /etc.] and the nav presents me a list sorted by distance from my current location. When the nav speaks directions it mutes the audio system. If I call up that restaurant from the previous verbal command, for example, it shows me the name and address and I can hit the phone button on the nav screen and it will call the establishment on the car's bluetooth, which connects directly to my phone in my pocket. When the call connects, the radio mutes and I can speak while driving "reserve me a table for four at 8pm" or "what time do you close?". Meanwhile I have hit the "ok" button and that establishment is already entered as my destination. So one of the big benefits is the seamless integration across all of the electronics: voice control, steering wheel, bluetooth, audio system, etc.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419

    From where I sit, it looks as if the only real advantage that the factory systems have is the absence of an unsightly power cord running across the dash to your cigarette lighter. For $2K or more, I'll live with the cord.


    There are a few more positives than just no power cord. Not having navigation in a luxury car is definitely bad for resale, although this is likely only an issue if you're buying rather than leasing.

    The screens of factory systems are much larger which makes them easier to read and lets them show more information. Portables pretty much top out at 5", while the standard factory NAV screen is now around 8". BMW likes the ultra wide format and uses 10" screens in their latest cars.

    Suction cups stink. They fall off all the time (it's wonderful to have your NAV system fall on the floor while driving) and they leave an ugly ring on the windshield which also serves as a nice "there's a NAV in here to steal" target. Plus, they are simply illegal to use in some states.

    The only realistic alternative is a dash pad. Garmin is actually the leader here as they make their own easy to use pad. I had to custom make one for my Navigon that I use while traveling. While the pads are much better than suction cups, they still have some tendency to slide around after bumps or aggressive cornering or braking.

    I agree with you that factory NAV systems are overpriced, especially now that you can get turn by turn directions on an Android phone for a grand total of $0. Mostly I just don't like having stuff on dash that takes 3 minutes to assemble and disassemble every time I want to use it.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    I agree that the larger screen is nice. My wife's Lexus has factory nav, & the larger screen, which is slightly recessed into the instrument panel, is easier to read - particularly on a bright, sunny day when glare is a factor.

    The latest Garmins incorporate Bluetooth, although it doesn't work quite as well in my nuvi 765 as it does in my wife's factory system.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Not having navigation in a luxury car is definitely bad for resale, although this is likely only an issue if you're buying rather than leasing.

    Not according to a piece that ran in the Wall St. Journal a year or 2 back, according to which you'd be lucky to get back 40% of the cost of factory nav in a 2-year-old car.

    In any case, we keep our cars for a minimum of 8 years. At that point, mileage & condition - not color & options - are the main price determinants.

    Suction cups stink.

    Agreed. I've always used weighted dash pads, which make moving the nav between cars much easier. Garmin's latest looks good & stays in place no matter how spirited the driving style.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Agreed. I've always used weighted dash pads, which make moving the nav between cars much easier.

    I'm surprised that Garmin is still the only one to make a pad that attaches directly to their standard mount. The only other choice if you want to use a TomTom, Magellan, etc. is to attach their suction cup mounts to a universal pad, which doesn't get rid of the suction cup which is the problem the pad is supposed to solve.

    My Navigon 8100T is by far the best portable I've ever used, but it's also heavy and the suction cup mount is completely worthless. I ended up buying a universal pad and a third party mount. I removed the suction cup, and riveted the base to the pad. It's a bit fiddly, but it works. The nice thing about it is that I can attach any brand of NAV system, phones, etc. to it.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Well, I've been known to change my mind. Since my last post, I rode in & drove a friend's new S4. He has factory nav, & it is a sharp system.

    I could be talked into it...
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    I don't know if all manufacturers do this, but on Infiniti M-series, if you have the factory nav system, it uses that to correct the speedometer and odometer readings. I think it also sets the time-of-day on the electronics (don't think it adjusts the analog clock). If found this out when I discovered my readings were off and started reading the service manual to find out if it could easily be adjusted. If you have the nav, it happens automatically. if you don't, you need the special dealer computer to access and adjust it. My dealer said they could not adjust mine per state law unless it was off by greater than mine was off, so I'm stuck with it reading fast (and recording more miles than it should!). the only good thing about it is if I'm not thinking, I've got a (small) cushion if I match the reading to the speed limit!
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,156
    The latest Garmins incorporate Bluetooth, although it doesn't work quite as well in my nuvi 765 as it does in my wife's factory system.

    We also have a portable nuvi with bluetooth and the sound quality is so poor that it is sometimes hard to understand the person speaking. Plus of course the audio system in the car is not muted when directions are spoken. On my Acura the built-in bluetooth works extremely well and the sound quality is excellent.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,619
    Boycotting the factory nav is the easiest way to say money on any vehicle purchase. The creative bundling ensures it's harder to accomplish given the desire for other tech that is far more desirable like a hard drive for unlimited music, among other things like bluetooth pairing, rear camera, etc, etc.

    Regards,
    OW
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    We also have a portable nuvi with bluetooth and the sound quality is so poor that it is sometimes hard to understand the person speaking.

    That's one of the reasons I switched from Garmin to Navigon. The speakerphone functionality of a Garmin is pretty much useless at highway speed because the sound quality is so poor.

    In any case, Google maps navigation will soon make all portable NAVs obsolete.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    You're right about the bundling. If you don't buy the nav package, you miss out on the rearview camera & parking sensors.
  • skarieskarie Posts: 78
    2011 Porsche 911

    Once upon a time, the 911 was Porsche's bread-and-butter product, but these days, the Cayenne and now the Panamera are easily outselling the sports car icon.

    Not surprisingly, the competition is facing similar problems. Audi, for instance, has scaled down R8 output from more than thirty to less than ten units per day, and Chevrolet has cash on the hood of the Corvette (including the ZR-1).

    Porsche feels that the best remedy for this decline in sports car sales is fresh product with advanced technology, and thus is preparing the most ambitious 911 update in years.

    Unlike the current-generation 997, which was a thoroughly revised 996, the next 911, codenamed 991, is definitely brand-new. Big advances include a redesigned suspension (albeit still the same basic strut-front, multilink-rear setup), electrically-assisted power steering, a push-button handbrake, optional twenty-inch wheels, more powerful engines, and last but not least, a seven-speed manual transmission. That's right, seven. Additionally, the 991 is said to be about 100 pounds lighter and ten percent more efficient than the current car. To achieve that last aim, Porsche is refining the aerodynamics, introducing a new thermo-management complete with advanced battery management technology, and incorporating stop-start technology and brake energy regeneration. There will also be new high-performance capacitors, which can store -- and release -- more electric power than a battery alone. Predictably, the next 911 remains loyal to the traditional rear-engine layout, but to improve cabin space, directional stability, and the handling at the limit, the rear axle moves back nearly three inches.
    link title
  • clemboclembo Posts: 253
    Who knows if this is just too much technology or not. I don't think it is needed, I recently bought a new 911S and the engine is so strong it pulls from about any gear, a seventh gear will just make first even taller which is not needed.

    Porsche needs to offfer more "value", their prices are too high, options prices are crazy. I got a great deal on my car beacuse it is a 2009 which are still available on dealer lots, not very many people are spending $100K on 911's in this economy.

    Make it lighter, great, offer some more features as standard, yes, add power, make it sleeker, yes, but 7 gears may be too much.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    The Europeans are getting quite serious about fuel economy. The first six gears may just be the same ratios, and 7th is much longer for loping along the autobahn with as much economy as possible.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    edited August 2010
    electrically-assisted power steering

    Ruh-roh. The new 5 has gone to electric steering, and it hasn't been praised. Porsche steering is arguably the best there is outside the realm of super exotica, so I would hope that they don't screw it up to save a couple of bucks or 0.5 mpg.
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,860
    Hi Phil

    My wife is thinking of getting the a8 convertible, and I wondered if you have any thoughts..Such as the engine being only four cylinders, and if the transmission is o k for it??? Also how much longer before a major body change? Thanks Tony
  • rockshocka1rockshocka1 Posts: 310
    edited August 2010
    Hello Tony, good to hear from you again.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you meant the A5 convertible? I could never recomend an A8 cabrio with a 4 cylinder engine. :blush:

    I haven't driven, or personally know anyone who has, the 4 cylinder A5, though if I were to choose, I would not go with the CVT. I would also opt for the S-Line package, if nothing else, to make sure I had the seat extenders. But your wife may not need them.

    I don't have a historic knowledge of Audi life cycles for their models. Perhaps LG or somebody else can help there. The S5/A5 is entering it's 4th model year FWIW. I still think it looks outstanding & should age very gracefully for several years IMO. I actually fear a major body change may do more harm than good.

    If your wife test drives it, & feels the engine to be a bit on the weak side, the S5 Cabrio should do the trick. :shades: Obviously, not as MPG friendly as the A5, if that is an important issue. Over 22K miles, my S5 is averaging over 20 MPG, & while I don't track it, I'm in sport mode having a lot of fun a good bit of the time, when traffic allows. I'm about a 75% highway, 25% city (more like suburb) driver.

    Hope this helps somewhat. Take care.
    Phil
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,860
    Thanks Phil

    Always count on you for first hand information and a cheery greeting :)

    I guess when we get back to Chas it will be the Audi or BMW...I personally like the Audi, but for a few years of ownership , the hard retractible top would probably be better....It`l be her call, and as usual she may just do nothing, as she likes her bmw wagon.., but when we went by `The Collection` interest perked up .Later Tony
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