Last post on May 09, 2013 at 9:32 AM
You are in the Sedans
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BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37, Acura TL, Lexus IS 350, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac CTS, Volvo S60, Audi A4, Acura TSX, Car Comparisons, Sedan
Apr 13, 2012 (11:33 am)
I'm not exactly sure if CR is a publication that I would use as the basis for my automotive purchases. We've been down the "CR argument" path so many times before here on Edmunds, I would assume we don't need to go down it again. I must admit however, that I am not a subscriber but I have taken to reading CR's automotive tests and comments of late because of reading some of the posts here on Edmunds. I was encouraged to see that CR now seems to have more subjective prose (not much more, but a little more) pertaining to the cars under their review. In other words, the CR reviews I have read over the past couple of months no longer seem to have been written by a Vulcan. Indeed, the test reports and comparisons seem to have been written pretty much by actual humans.
I read, here, posts that discuss "reliability" (one of the WORDS that needs to be used carefully) and often the poster will suggest that the reason they didn't seriously consider a German car (for instance) is that they are unreliable. The poster will continue to say that they went with the Japanese brand (they chose) because of its reliability.
I know there are lemons from the US, Europe and Asia -- and I know someone will likely have an anecdote to share about how his Audi or Volvo or Buick was constantly in the shop or broke down frequently. And, often the same person will laud the absolute reliability of their fill-in-the-blank car from Japan or Korea or somewhere else.
I am also going to pass along what might be considered anecdotes, but they might also be considered data points. I can't remember EVER having an unreliable car including my first POC which was a 1963 Chrysler Newport. Moreover, since my wife and I have had over 30 German cars, I can assure you we really would have to go some to claim any of them (even the ones from the 70's) were unreliable.
It is very difficult to find a car today -- from anywhere -- that would be able to be called unreliable.
Here, however, is another WORD that probably should enter our vocabularies and that has both a difference and a distinction -- that WORD is "durable" (or durability.)
The issue, in my mind is not how reliable the car is -- hell, all of these cars are reliable, they won't leave you stranded, and they won't break or have anything major go wrong with them for at least 50,000 miles -- many of them will go double that before any real coin is required to replace a failed part.
What I have learned -- now having about 40,000 miles experience with two Japanese cars (one Infiniti and one Acrua) is that the Japanese cars have the reputation of being durable and being able to be kept so without breathtakingly expensive maintenance, once the warranty expires.
The German cars are just as reliable, IMHO, but -- after the warranty expires -- they can be breathtakingly expensive to maintain and they stand the chance of not being as durable as their Asian counterparts, or at least they are perceived to be less durable than the Asians.
I am not certain what exactly CR means when they speak of the reliability of such and such brand -- for from where I sit they're all very reliable these days. I am constantly told, however, that my Acura is likely to be "the most durable car I have ever had." But often the WORD reliable and durable are used as if they are different words but lack distinction.
Makes my head spin.
Are German cars less reliable than Japanese cars? You can't make that case with me. In fact, since I have already had to have the front brake rotors on my 2012 TL turned (due to warpage) and the rear differential oil changed (at great expense, I might add) and the car only has 15,000 miles on it, I would say it is the least reliable, no, check that, least durable car I have had this century.
My 2009 Audi came will all maintenance paid as did my wife's 2008 BMW -- so far the Acura and the Infiniti seem to visit the dealership for some multi-hundred dollar required "maintenance" procedure about every 3,750 miles.
If I only were looking at cars as being reliable, I would say the Germans (Audi and BMW) would be at the top of my list since I only had to visit the dealership about once every 10 or 15,000 miles, and when I did the visit was "no charge."
My point is we need to use the correct word to describe these cars -- and I suspect what we mean when we say "reliable" is "durable."
These cars, today, are all reliable -- some, however, are more durable than others. I suspect the Germans can be as durable (as the Japanese) with breathtakingly expensive maintenance procedures applied regularly after the 50,000 initial warranty expires. But since most of these cars are leased (the Germans, most certainly), most folks get rid of the cars before durability becomes a factor.
CR is best used to buy toasters, not cars, if you axe me.
#13718 of 16087 Re: Infiniti G35 & Acura TL Comparisons [kyfdx]
Apr 13, 2012 (12:08 pm)
I'm indifferent about the drivetrain - not a make or break decision for me.
I'm currently coming from a FWD vehicle, which I know the TL is.
Apr 13, 2012 (12:12 pm)
Excellent post as always mark. Pretty much every car on the road today is reliable. None, especially in this class of Mid $30 to $50K cars is going to leave you stranded on the side of the road.
There's always the debate about how much value there is in BMW's including scheduled maintenance as part of the car's price. Now I don't have the receipts in front of me, so I'm going from memory here. I planned on keeping my former TSX for the long haul. In the almost 50,000 miles I owned it, I changed the oil (full synthetic) 5 times. Every time I brought the car in for an oil change, I had the dealer rotate the tires. There's $500 right there. I also had to have the rear brakes replaced at 33,000 miles. I was partially reimbursed for this via a class action law suit settlement. I had to have the front rotors resurfaced. Now Im a pretty educated car guy and know that most of the "major services" that are "recommended" are unnecessary, but They aren't cheap. I wonder how many people walk into the deslership's service department and tell them that the car calls for a B1 service and get charged $250 - $300 for what amounts to nothing more than a visual check and an oil change.
Apr 13, 2012 (1:30 pm)
"I wonder how many people walk into the deslership's service department and tell them that the car calls for a B1 service and get charged $250 - $300 for what amounts to nothing more than a visual check and an oil change."
Well that describes me -- hell, I came from an Audi and the mntce was "free," but every damn time I go in for an Acura "oil change" somehow, someway it turns out to be some $200+ -- and I think there are robots stealing my luggage too, come to think of it.
Maintenance included has really spoiled me.
#13721 of 16087 Re: Durability [markcincinnati]
Apr 13, 2012 (1:53 pm)
There are some services besides oil changes that are vital & necessary for a vehicle's long term durability such as brake fluid, transmission fluid, differential fluid (why was that needed so early, btw?), coolant, & spark plugs.
Remember, a dealership's service department usually makes the dealer more money than they make selling new cars. Most coolant & transmission fluid changes on Hondas are simple "drain & fill" procedures. The dealer can charge more money for a "power purge" service of these same procedures. Unless the car specifies something I mentioned above be changed or done, just tell them you'd like just the oil & filter changed.
#13722 of 16087 Re: Durability [nyccarguy]
Apr 13, 2012 (2:26 pm)
Simply open the manual and get just the recommended service that the engineers that built your auto recommend. Dealers publish their own "over and above" suggested maint. items but they are just money makers and serve no real purpose to the operability or longevity of your car. I've had an Infiniti for almost 10 years(95k miles) and probably haven't spent more than a $1500 in routine maint the whole time. Oil changes are about $30-$40 and the dealer always rotated the tires for free during the original warranty period. Now Costco does it for free as part of their tire deal. That's about $150 a year and there were several years where it was just two oil changes and that was it. Total repairs to this vehicle are also under $500 although I do need a new power antenna. All in all very inexpensive except for the fact that it sucks gas.
#13723 of 16087 Re: Durability [markcincinnati]
Apr 13, 2012 (2:36 pm)
Well, before I bought my 328, I went to the service dept. to talk what "free" really means. You see those "EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING BUT TIRES FREE commercials all the time. Surely enough, alignment is not covered. And of course, wouldn't you do a fuel induction system cleaning. Prices? $200 for alignment and $200 for cleaning. So your "free" maintence visit turns into dropping over four hundred bucks for services that can be performed at third in any other place and who knows if you even need one.
#13724 of 16087 Re: CR and a couple of WORDS [markcincinnati]
Apr 13, 2012 (2:59 pm)
While very long, your post did include interesting points but I do one again take issue with the toaster comment. They have available data for 10 years worth of data for each cars reliability- so the sample size is bigger then one Audi and one Acura - I agree with you that if you are looking new the first 50k in driving should be pretty worry free- plus if it's not the standard warrantee should help with the major items - and any savy person should know what's real required and recommended services and know what makes up one service. The german lease argument very true but what if your looking at a used BMW - shouldn't you look at an unbiased mag like CR (who has 10!yrs of data) to make an informed decision - or just ask a buddy who has had ONE reliable/durable audi that he owned from new ? CRs sample size - to big to ignore.(sorry for the long post)
#13725 of 16087 Re: CR and a couple of WORDS [markcincinnati]
Apr 13, 2012 (4:33 pm)
so far the Acura and the Infiniti seem to visit the dealership for some multi-hundred dollar required "maintenance" procedure about every 3,750 miles.
Interesting you should mention that as the Infiniti salesman who dealt on my 2007 G35 lease admitted that the warranty would still be in effect even if the recommended maintenance (aside from oil changes) was not done. I don't know if that has changed from recommended to required.
Reminds me, when I brought my '08 E-Class in for its 1yr. maintenance for $250+, not only did I get the checklist of things done, but I got a ding over the rear fender wheel opening for no extra charge .
#13726 of 16087 Re: CR and a couple of WORDS [carnaught]
by kyfdx HOST
Apr 13, 2012 (4:38 pm)
3750 mile oil change on our Infiniti was $27.... That included valet pickup and delivery ...
We've had BMWs under the maintenance plan for 10 years total... Never needed an alignment or a throttle body cleaning.. Never had any maintenance recommended that wasn't included in the plan.. (not that I would have them do an alignment, anyway....)
Now, on a CPO BMW, I've been stuck with one repair that I thought should have been covered... but, other than that, I've had only good experiences with them (they did quote me $950 for two tires and an alignment, though.... took a pass..lol)