Last post on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:09 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
#16421 of 16985 BSM, Volvo dealers are no fun and techno overkill!
Aug 15, 2013 (8:02 pm)
When I bought my 2012 Mazda CX-9 last year, the only trim level I considered was the top-level Grand Touring. The 20" wheels and chrome door handles totally change the look compared to the lesser models (and their 18" wheels are hideous and look cheap). It also had Mazda's BSM (Blind Spot Monitoring) system standard, but the very concept seemed ridiculous to me. I expected to deactivate it and never give it another thought.
I've always believed that blind spots could be eliminated with properly adjusted mirrors, which was true based on all the cars I've owned in the past. But the CX-9 is a much larger vehicle that it looks, being classified as a Full-Size or Large Crossover/CUV. Even now, it simply doesn't look that big to me and it feels more like a sporty mid-size sedan behind the wheel than any other SUV I've ever driven.
Even with my mirrors perfectly adjusted (which so few drivers ever learn to do), there is a blind spot on both sides at the rear corners! I'm not sure exactly how other systems work, but on the Mazda there are cameras mounted under the rear bumper at both corners. When a vehicle enters the space that a camera is monitoring, a yellow warning light (little picture of one car driving into the side of another with a big X over it) appears on the side mirror on that side of the car. If the turn signal is activated indicating a lane change and a vehicle is in the 'blind spot', the audio system mutes and a series of warning beeps alerts the driver.
It actually works very well, although I still think a quick half-turn of the head to use my peripheral vision to make sure the lane is clear is important! Mazda has expanded the functionality of the system in some 2014 models to include Rear Cross Traffic Alert. RCTA uses the same cameras as BSM to scan for vehicles moving toward you as you back out of a parking space.
I am a very alert and focused driver. Instead of focusing on the car in front of me, I am always scanning further ahead so I can be ready to brake, maneuver or accelerate instantly if I need to. Even when I have no need to change lanes, I love the fact that I always know if a vehicle is flanking me on either side. For example, you're driving on a 3-lane expressway and suddenly a delivery truck drops a refrigerator right into yoru lane and you have barely a second to react. Knowing which side of your car was clear for your to swerve into that lane could be life-saving information!
While I find BSM to be useful, some of the latest 'safety' features available are over-the-top and seem like addded complexity just so they can add more acronyms to the car's features! The new 2014 Mazda6 has a Forward Obstruction Warning System that "detects obstructions ahead and warns you of a possible collision." My car already has this- it's called a windshield, you look through it and if you see something in your path, you press the brake and/or steer around it.
There's also Mazda's Radar Cruise Control that monitors the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you and adjusts speed up to a driver-set limit or down to maintain a safe following distance. Um, if I'm using cruise control then I'm on an interstae with two or more lanes. If a car ahead of me slows down, I don't want to slow down with them, I will go around them!
My mom was shopping for a new car earlier this year and the Acura TSX, Nissan Maxima and Volvo S60 were on her short list. We went to the Volvo dealer near my house and started walking the lot so she could see some different inteiror colors, available wheel designs and other features that can be difficult to decipher by looking at a brochure.
I have a rather dark sense of humor at times and I consider sarcasm (or smartss as my nana called it) my second language. My mom has a great sense of humor but she's a lot nicer than me (most of the time) and never rude or sarcastic, but every now and then she'll fire back a retort to a comment I make that surprises the heck out of me (and proves that I've been a bad influence on my own mom, which makes me very proud)! =)
While we were walking around checking out the S60 models they had in stock, we were greeted by a saleman who barely looked old enough to drive a car, much less sell them. He was obviously very green and instead of screwing with the kid's head, I actually decided to be nice. He started going over the cars features and one of the first topics was-
Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection
The Full Auto Brake with Pedestrian Detection was the world's first and he went into great detail. He explained that it was active at speeds up to approximately 25mph and, if it detected a pedestrian ahead, it would alert the driver if there was enough time to apply the brakes, or it would automatically cut the throttle and apply full braking force automatically if necessary!
I couldn't resist and asked, "But what if i WANT to hit someone in the road ahead?"
Before he could speak, my mom replied instantly- "Well you'd just need to be going over 25mph. Under 25mph you'd barely maim them, at best..."
**I have never been more proud of my Mom in all of my 39 years!
The poor salesman (sales-boy, sales-child?) had a look on his face that I can't convey in words...he excused himself less than a minute later and the Sales Manager came back in his place and we never saw the kid again.....And I was ready to start asking about trunk space and how many cubic feet of space does an average human body occupy...
Once we realized that the Sales Manager was completely devoid of any sort of perosnality, we were bored and decided to move on to another Volvo dealer for the test drive. We both behaved very well right up to the end...when I decided to test the Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake by driving at constant 20mph directly toward the wall of the service department. It worked...but apparently the salesman with us felt that I should have warned him before I did it!? Did I need to tell him before I turned on the stereo, or clicked on the turn signal??? If I'm going to buy a car (or my mom), of course I'm going to test out every feature it has....duh!
There are only three Volvo dealers in Metro Atlanta and we decided not to visit the third one sinice we probably won't be welcomed with open arms at the other two! =)
She ended up falling in love with a CPO 2010 Infiniti M35 Sport with 21k miles on it. My step-dad insisted on going with us to buy it so he could act as a buffer between us...we were on our best behavior...I almost died of boredom. But the car rocks!
#16422 of 16985 Re: 2¢ More [robr2]
Aug 15, 2013 (9:43 pm)
Excellent drivers check their blind spot, every time, no exceptions.
Of course, if you don't check your blind spot, and the system didn't warn you (essentially it fails), how do you prove it, who do you blame, and do they take the liability of payments for damage?
I seriously doubt it, I'd look every time even with the blinking side mirror. If it proved itself faultless after 5 years and millions of lane changes, perhaps I'd ease up on it.
#16423 of 16985 Re: More Test Drive Reports [graphicguy]
Aug 15, 2013 (10:08 pm)
Lexus IS 350 report.
I drove the regular RWD IS350 and the F-Sport IS 350 (RWD too).
Several years ago I drove an IS 350 and it had a tremendous engine, it felt very fast and had it all over the TL-S even though the numbers were close, the speed wasn't, Lexus won easy. That is why I gave the new IS350 some consideration.
While a very nice, comfortable, quiet sports sedan, it just feels devoid of soul, with no personality other than being modern and techie.
I am feeling nearly 100% positive the 8-speed automatic must be programmed to allow only 70% engine power during the first 1,000 miles (for proper break-in) even during full throttle acceleration, because I felt the car was slow and sluggish, and not giving me the 305 HP I wanted to feel. I am spoiled by a dual clutch auto, but dang it, I wanted to like the car, but I just didn't.
Superb leather, drive, ride, handled pretty good, well put together, but it just didn't feel like a $45K car. 100% made in Japan; that was impressive.
There just wasn't all that much difference between regular comfort mode, and sport mode, nor from sport mode, to sport + (only in F-sport trim). I felt the '11 S4 had much more noticeable difference between comfort and dynamic (more legit and mechanical; less electronic feeling).
A Lexus dealer quoted me sticker MSRP on one; is it 2002 again? What's the point of online quotes if you just reiterate the sticker price?
While seemingly significantly sportier than previous Lexus attempts, it still comes off as a softer quieter car.
ATS test drive: Some of the same feelings, though the 3.6 is much more refined and has more punch than the 2.0T. The interior doesn't do it for me in the ATS though. There are a few interior parts and pieces that you can tell belong on a 10K car, not a 50K car (moon/sun roof cover is one). The 2.0T felt like 200 HP since that's what my Audi had stock with its 2.0T. Maybe Audi underrates, Cadillac overrates, and there you go. The ATS was a good handler though, but didn't feel fun. The 3.6 was more fun, and sounded better under hard acceleration. Changing from TOUR to Sport mode didn't do much.
The ATS chassis and suspension was upset and unbalanced by minor imperfections in the roadway. A 1" deep 1' diamter circle in the asphalt would be run over in my Audi and ignored, but in the ATS, it felt like the back end came out and I wasn't going fast, nor accelerating hard at the time. Happened with both ATS' trying both engines.
#16424 of 16985 Re: BSM, Volvo dealers are no fun and techno overkill! [igozoomzoom]
Aug 16, 2013 (5:35 am)
Interesting discussion about safety nannies. I bought a Volvo S60 last year with the tech package. The only one I find annoying is the lane departure warning, so I have it turned off.
I think each driver is responsible for the safe operation of his or her own car. Technology can fail. I like blind spot warning, but I still visually check the blind spot before changing lanes. On the other hand, I'm not perfect. The eyes and reflexes aren't what they used to be. So, if technology can give me a "heads-up", I'll take it.
Love the S60, BTW.
#16425 of 16985 Re: More Test Drive Reports [andres3]
Aug 16, 2013 (6:08 am)
Andres...thanks for the update. You and I seem to have the same perceptions.
While I haven't driven the '14 IS 350, and I doubt it's on my radar anytime in the foreseeable future, it's good to hear initial impressions.
I did test drive an ATS. The 2.0L is coarse, to say the least, and certainly not remotely as smooth as the Audi 2.0 turbo. The 3.6L is smoother, but I'm not so certain it performs any better than the 6 cyl. Like you, I found some of the interior materials to be "Chevy Cruze" looking.
It did handle well, but also as you point out, the suspension crashes a lot over the slightest road imperfections to achieve most of its handling abilities (that, and some impressive weight trimming).
Again, to me it didn't feel like a mid $40K car.
Markincincinnati, I was wondering how the 2.0L in something as big as the A6 would work. So, you're saying it isn't sluggish?
I like the Q5. And, a Q5 with the S/C 3.0L would be the first vehicle I'd be looking at IF (BIG IF) I were ever in the market for an SUV.
BTW, the S4 is over in Beechmont (already tried Montgomery twice) for the 3rd attempt to fix the Quattro "binding" issues, and iPod issue resolved. They put me in another A6 3.0 for the weekend. Man...is it nice, fast and handles well for a big car. That said, it's also much "softer" all the way around coming from the S4.
Aug 16, 2013 (6:22 am)
Although I had previously seen the "Car & Driver" set up of the three mirrors that adorn modern autos, I did a double check last night after work as I made myself and the car ready for my 20 mile commute home (up I71 North from downtown Cincinnati). The set up of the mirrors and the driver's posture and seat position are very important to reducing (but as I came to find out, NOT eliminating) the blind spot. My 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD advance comes with BSW. I assume it is a radar like system, rather than a camera system.
Sitting up straight, hands at 9 and 3, not slouching, etc, I began the drive up I71. I was in the center of 3 lanes. In my three mirrors, I could -- so I thought -- see cars coming up on the right, center and left and I could see the perfect transition of the image from one mirror to the next.
It is indeed critical that the outside mirrors do NOT show you a view of the side of your car -- the key is to set them exactly at the point where you just lose sight of the side of your car.
OK, so I am thinking, "with my mirrors, seat and posture all perfect, I probably don't need BSW." The thing is, I look around and more than 50% of the drivers clearly appear to be slouching and/or talking on the phone, fiddling with the phone's key pad or, with a cool day like yesterday, driving with their windows down and their left elbow hanging out.
So I think I am in the safe zone blind spot wise. Less than one mile up the freeway, my left BSW comes on and stays on. I am looking in all three mirrors and I see nothing. The thing is, there was a car one lane to the left hanging at a geo synchronous position just out of the view range of the left outside mirror. I know this because after the light stayed on for more than 5 seconds, I took my foot off of the accelerator and almost immediately the car "hanging" out on my left rear became visible. Without the light, had I attempted to change lanes (to the left), I assume I would have either heard a horn honk or, worst case, been clipped (or perhaps I would better describe it as I would have been the clipper and the guy in my blind spot the clippee.)
Nothing anyone could have said to me, back in 2008 would have made me spend money to buy BSW -- it just came along with all of the other things I wanted on the Prestige trim level. But it is a great technology.
Perhaps there is something that someone here could say to persuade the doubters to make certain they at least gave BSW a chance to prove its merits. I have no idea, however, what those words would be.
Suffice it to say that it is very possible to greatly reduce the value of this technology by properly setting your mirrors, steering wheel and seat position. However, I can only assume that it is the MINORITY of folks who actually do this.
Therefore, however, notwithstanding: this technology is (relatively) cheap (except when Infiniti makes customers spend $3,200 to get BSW in a package that contains a bunch of technology that seems overpriced and perhaps not ready for prime time insofar as most drivers are concerned) and it works -- typically better than we humans are able to do every time.
I can remember when I got a car -- in 1985 -- with ABS, I also remember 13 years ago getting a car with ESP. ABS and ESP were, for over a decade, available as options, primarily on expensive German cars. Now most cars come with ABS and many come with some form of vehicle stability software (ESP). Way back when (mid 1980's) these technologies came on Audis, they actually had a button on the dash to turn them off -- and I can remember reading letters to the editor in car magazines decrying these electronic nannies. Now, however, we recognize that the computer can pump the brakes 18 times a second -- but that we mere mortals are lucky to get two pumps in a second. We also appreciate the "miracle" of ESP in its ability to apply the brakes to one or several wheels at a time to reduce or eliminate spinouts and other out of control automotive behaviors.
The list of technologies that I rejected, in multiple letter acronym form, would fill up the page -- now I expect them and appreciate how they keep me out of many dangerous and/or expensive situations, situations that seem to grow in frequency as our highways become ever more crowded and our drivers ever more unprepared to drive defensively.
In any case, I'll sign off of this topic and hope that you will seriously consider testing or taking a trial term with blind spot warning technology.
I predict BSW will be made "standard" equipment in the not too distant future -- assuming it can be turned off, perhaps that is the best possible outcome for folks like me as well as the doubters among us.
Drive it like you live.
#16427 of 16985 Re: BSM, Volvo dealers are no fun and techno overkill! [jeffm5]
Aug 16, 2013 (7:33 am)
S60 would love to hear more about your experience with the car- don't see too many of them
#16428 of 16985 Re: BSM, Volvo dealers are no fun and techno overkill! [sweendogy]
Aug 16, 2013 (3:57 pm)
I posted my impressions of my S60 about a year ago. (BTW, this is the FWD S60 T5.) It's number 14708 on this thread and was posted 8/14/12. The only thing I can add to that is when accelerating hard from a dead stop there is slight "turbo lag". Acceleration from say 55 to 80 is immediate and effortless. The only nagging problem I have is that sometimes the seat memory won't hold the position it has been set for. I had a minor interior trim issue that the dealer took care of. I'm getting better gas mileage now than I was when I wrote the review. I still very much enjoy driving this car, which now is just shy of 12,000 miles.
This is my first vehicle in this class, so I have no idea how it compares to say an ATS or 3 series, outside of it being more affordable. I love the looks of the ATS, but to equip it the way I wanted was not in the budget.
Anyhow, if someone is in the market for this class of car, I'd recommend that they take one out for a spin. I'd be interested in hearing from someone who crossed shopped the S60 to find out their impressions.
Hey, I just noticed that just after my original post, you thanked me for the info. You're welcome. You asked why not another Avalon. My wife and I were anxiously awaiting the 2013 Avy, but when we saw that front grill, our hearts sank. It's a great looking car inside and out, except for that, in our opinion. I think I was ready for a change anyhow, having owned 1 Camry and 2 Avalons, all very trouble free, but not very exciting cars.
Aug 17, 2013 (6:05 pm)
I test drove a new 320i today. Plain Jane with auto tranny, engine idle-stop, and leather or vinyl - I couldn't tell.
Anyways, I was surprised by it's pep - torquier than I expected. Engine was smooth (not straight-six smooth, but Honda I-4 smooth, yes) and turbo lag was very minimal. It isn't a fast car, but it felt quick. Confident power for merging onto freeways and passing at speed. Handling was very nice too - smooth and refined and I didn't really sense any vagueness in the steering (very tight and responsive, but road feel is non-existent). It felt more nimble than other recent 3ers I've driven. Cornering was surprising flat and tenacious at 8/10ths.
Overall I think it's without a doubt the nicest Buick I've ever driven. Not outstanding, but very competant. If someone gifted it to me, I'd keep it.
#16430 of 16985 Re: BMW 320i [fedlawman]
Aug 18, 2013 (5:01 am)
fed.....thanks. You're the first person I've heard from who has driven a 320i. Matter of fact, I haven't seen one on the road yet. Saw a couple at the BMW drive event, but no one was test driving them.