Last post on Jul 29, 2012 at 6:31 PM
You are in the Volvo XC90
What is this discussion about?
Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Acura MDX, Lexus RX 330, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Toyota Highlander, Volvo XC90, SUV
Jul 12, 2005 (4:47 pm)
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.
#947 of 1084 Re: Merc is it [safeperfsnowsu]
Jul 13, 2005 (12:16 pm)
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.
#948 of 1084 Re: Merc is it [safeperfsnowsu]
Jul 13, 2005 (1:20 pm)
If you buy MB, good luck to you. MB is not known for its reliabitiy. Ask previous owners before you buy.
Jul 13, 2005 (1:49 pm)
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.
#950 of 1084 Re: Volvo [safeperfsnowsu]
Jul 13, 2005 (6:28 pm)
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.
Jul 13, 2005 (8:05 pm)
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.
Jul 14, 2005 (10:51 am)
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.
#953 of 1084 Re: Merc it is [safeperfsnowsu]
Jul 15, 2005 (3:51 am)
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.
#954 of 1084 Re: Merc it is [safeperfsnowsu]
Jul 15, 2005 (6:33 am)
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.
#955 of 1084 The warnings have sunk in
Jul 15, 2005 (6:39 am)
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.