Last post on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Lexus GS 430, Acura RL, BMW 5 Series, Volvo S80, Audi A6, Infiniti M35, Infiniti M45, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac STS, Sedan
#1150 of 10348 Re: Comparison
Mar 12, 2005 (3:56 pm)
I've had 5 Audi Quattros going back to 1992 and I still have a 2004 S4. I just got a new Infiniti G34x AWD in July 2004 and I had to break my lease early since I was so dissatisfied; the quality of the interior materials was so much beneath what I was used to and the service was unreliable. I put a lot of time and research into my comparison shopping for a replacement. My Dad has a new Lexus ES300 and it's very much a luxury oriented big Camry. The A6 4.2 was my clear 1st choice, especially as it just won an international sedan of the year award (see www.audicanada.ca) and it's engine also just won a "top ten engines" award. It's far ahead of the others in terms of responsiveness, fun to drive factor, and torque and Audi's Quattro system remains superior to all the newcomers (despite the high tech descriptions in manuals) in snow. The only dealer that would offer me substantial help in breaking my Infiniti lease was at Acura and I got a deal too good to turn down for the RL. I just got it last week and I'm very happy with it; fit an finish ahead of Lexus, not quite up to Audi though and while performance average (in these days of 340 bhp Chryslers), I can very much enjoy it for a few years (after which I'm getting another A6!)
#1151 of 10348 comparison of RL, GS300 AWD and M35x
Mar 12, 2005 (5:35 pm)
I test-drove the Acura RL, GS300 AWD and M35x in the last several weeks, and would like to offer my views to a least partially reciprocate all the great info on this list.
The reasons why I would not buy the GS:
- Not enough headroom in the driver seat when I have the seatback almost upright, the way I like it. I am 6'0" and the sales guys blamed it on my "long torso build." He offered a custom-ordered car with no sunroom, but I would like to have a sunroom. (I have been suffering
the same headroom problem with my current Volvo S70 for almost 8 years, so I am definitely looking for a car with more space.)
- Not enough headroom in the rear seat (my son is 2" taller than me, so if I have problems fitting in, he will even more).
- It is difficult to get in and out from the rear seat since the opening near the threshold is not wide enough to get the foot out w/o tilting; ugly scuffing of the lower door panel is inevitable.
- Not enough engine horsepower for its class.
Acceleration is adequate but unimpressive for a $50k sports sedan.
- Driver's position is too much to the left side
because of the hefty middle part under the center console (transmission housing?). One feels crammed against the B-pillar and the top part of the A-pillar feels too close to the head. (I wonder what the safety test results will be like; probably like on the E320 in which the dummy's head actually went out of the left window.)
- The brake pedal is to the left of the steering wheel's axis. This is a safety concern because in panic mode one may accidentally step on the gas not the brake pedal. (This has been reported against various other makes, such as the Jeep. This is also an issue I have with the BMW and my current Mercedes ML.)
- A wooden steering wheel. Not only do I find this distasteful and overdone from the aesthetic point of view (to each their own, though!), but it also is a safety concern because of a slim and slippery grip. I understand a car without one can be ordered but I am not willing to wait 5-6 months for custom delivery. I would not consider wrapping the steering wheel in an after-market leather case only to obscure this expensive wood option.
- A relatively small trunk with a small opening. It is too narrow betwen the rear wheel wells.
- A relatively short service interval of 5k miles. I would like to see 10k+ miles with synthetic oil, as in the ML.
On the GS plus side:
- Frugality with fuel, although even at the high and rising premium gas prices, the annual savings are at the order of 1% of the price of the car compared to the RL and the M with average driving.
- Overall Lexus-brand reliability, although there were some scary posts on this forum about leaky headlights, etc. On JD Power's site, Lexus is generally given 5 stars for quality with Acura at 3 stars and Infiniti at 2.
But, unfortunately the GS is out for me.
My impressions of the M35x compared to the RL:
- The M generally offers all the same options, except for the rear mechanical sunshade that is only available with the expensive Premium package (and I do not need a rear DVD that comes with it). M's options over the RL are:
-- Backup camera with car path tracing that changes as you turn the steering wheel--really neat. (Wish the woman who backed up into my Volvo at the grocery store's parking lot today had one of those on her G20!)
-- Lane departure warning that activates above 45mph (may not work perfectly, as I read on this list, but at least it is there)
- Much tighter turning radius (great for U-turns in the city). It appears to be even tighter than my ML, which I find very maneuverable.
- Thicker steering wheel with a great grip that (unlike in the RL) does not obscure the gauge cluster in its top position when I adjust the driver's seat to my preferred position.
Apart from these above safety attributes, the M also has:
- Front bucket seats with a firmer sports upholstery and great lateral support
- Climate controlled seats, incl. cooling and at least 4-stage heating. (However, I read that the heating is with hot air not electricity, which would explain why some people observed it to be slow. If indeed there is no electric heat that would defeat the whole purpose, since IMO the seats should get warmer well before the engine does.)
- More adjustments to the driver's seat
- 14-speaker Bose, incl. 2 speakers in each front seat. (The multichannel Bose is somewhat overrated, as is the the Mark L. system on the GS, in the standard stereo mode. The stereo Bose in my ML sounds clearer and has deeper bass, actually. Try Peter White's "Talkin' Bout Love" piece from his "Confidential" CD for your tests.)
- Larger NAV display that also plays DVDs in park mode
- Better acceleration due to the higher low-rpm torque
- More effective brakes with less fade. (Compared to the G35x that I also test-drove, the brakes are less grabby and easier to modulate.)
- Appears to have more room in the rear seat.
The items of concern on the M were:
- Stiffer ride. Have been suffering this on the Volvo GLT, esp. with its tires inflated to a full-load 36 psi per spec. On the tested M, the display showed 31-32 psi; the tires are 5mm lower profile and 1" larger diameter than on the RL. Did not check the treadwear number; hope at is at least 340 as on the GS.
- Noisier engine; perhaps the exhaust note is tuned to be more sporty. Actually, online mags report a similar level of noise at full throttle (within 1dB) but about 6dB higher for the M at idle than for the RL.
- Unclear service interval. (Oil change recommended every 3,750 miles, except if synthetic is used as the dealer claimed; I have this under verification on the M discussion thread).
- Somewhat high fuel consumption reported on average by users online.
In terms of the overall safety, I cannot compare the 2006 M to the 2005 RL because neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have tested the M yet. I can only speculate that, as a bigger cousin of the G35x, the M will have similar ratings, being all Good, except for the driver side dummy touching the steering wheel through the airbag in one test (Acceptable). Yes, I have seen a post arguing all these tests are antiquated and irrelevant, but IMO this is the best we have available.
Hope this is useful.
#1152 of 10348 Re: comparison of RL, GS300 AWD and M35x [marko7]
Mar 12, 2005 (8:42 pm)
Excellent review. My only concern with the M35 is the quality of the interior materials. I didn't feel they were up to the same high quality of the Lexus. Just wondering about long term durability. I'm only 5'-8" and the back seat of the GS is cramped - the M35 had plenty of room.
Mar 12, 2005 (11:11 pm)
Thats really to be expected. No Infiniti in the history of the company has ever matched a Lexus when it comes to interior materials quality. The M is more for people interested in handling than the quality of the woodgrain.
#1154 of 10348 Re: drtravel [lexusguy]
Mar 13, 2005 (5:41 am)
While that may be true, the interior of the current M is superb in fit, finish, texture, and quality. The woven headliner is superb, the plastics appropriately "soft touch". I personally like the "matte" rosewood, and find the aluminum accents tastefully done. The leather is soft and aromatic (one might quibble about the Infiniti logo in the seat, but that's a small matter when you're sitting!) Other nice touches like the padding on the centre and door armrests and dual flip-down sunvisors add to the ambience. I think that it will easily age as well as current Lexus interiors -- but only time will tell . . .
#1155 of 10348 Re: M35x observations
Mar 13, 2005 (7:28 am)
Re: interior materials. I found the M35 interior to be a pleasant surprise. After the G35 (including the improved 2005 model), this was an area of concern.
The seats in the M are comfortable and supportive. There is plenty of head and leg room for tall people - more so than is the Lexus GS. Infiniti may have taken a few styling cues from Audi - as noticed by others, the head liner and materials covering the pillars are of high quality, as are the softly retractable grab handles. While sitting in the Lexus GS, I noticed the hard, molded plastic grab handles, very close to the drivers head (at least for tall drivers).
The woodgrain issue is a matter of personal taste. Infiniti went with a matte-appearance rather than the lacquered look - hard to say how it will wear over time. The shiny aluminum (?) in the Audi is prone to scratching, if you’re not careful, but the wood looks great. As there are Eddie Bauer and LL Bean editions of certain vehicles, perhaps eventually we’ll see someone offer the Ethan Allen interior.
There has been so much written about the difficulty in using some of the new auto interfaces, that it appears Infiniti tried to address this by also providing dedicated buttons for many functions - apparently too many for some people. There are a lot of buttons, but they are large and clearly labeled. Lexus hides some of the buttons by putting them in a pop-open door near the drivers left knee.
Several people have mentioned the short service interval for the M. At Audi and BMW, service is included - and they’d rather you not come too often. At Infiniti, you pay - and they’d prefer you come back as often as possible. I don’t know why Audi/BMW can have 10K mile service intervals, and Infiniti suggests 3,750. At least they provide a fleet of G35 loaner cars (as opposed to the Mitsubishi Mirage provided by my Audi dealer via Enterprise).
Re: ride quality. I found the M to be firm, yet compliant and comfortable. It felt more planted to the road than the Audi A6 (non-sport), and steering was more accurate. No doubt, there is a fair amount of engine noise which may get annoying on a long road trip.
I wish Infiniti had made more of an effort to distinguish the look of this vehicle; it simply looks too much like the G35. Watching them come and go at the dealer, you really have to look hard to tell them apart. The Audi A6 has a more impressive presence (the Lexus GS and RL also have somewhat generic overall exteriors).
#1156 of 10348 Test drove the GS300 RWD, M35x, M45 Sport.
Mar 13, 2005 (12:16 pm)
I took a couple weekends to test drive the GS300 RWD (almost everything except Levinson), M35x (Journey and Tech) and M45 Sport (Journey and Tech). I am someone who is “into” cars, my wife (more like the average person) is someone who is NOT “into” cars. Here are my (and my wife’s) impressions.
M: I really like the aggressive, yet classy front end treatment of the M. The profile is okay, but not emotive. The rear end is pretty bland, except the very large tail-lights. My wife just said the car “looks okay.”
GS: The GS has the best looking profile in this class. It flows well and looks luxurious. The rear is just okay. What I don’t like is the front. The front is not aggressive looking at all, the bulge on the headlights gives it a bug-eyed look, and the separate headlights are too “cluttered” looking. My wife agreed that the profile looked good, but really hated the rear end, saying that it looks like a Civic but bigger. Personally, I don’t see the resemblance to a Civic’s butt. She also harped on the grill of the GS for some reason.
M: The M tries to do something different, and overall the effect is pretty good. I like the large, colorful screen. There is the right amount of wood in the car, and I got used to the matte finish after a while. However, although the orange lighting makes the car more sporty, it is not a personal favorite of mine. Orange reminds me of some of the computer screens from the 80’s.
GS: Lexus took the safe route, giving the GS a generic, yet familiar center stack design. The glossy wood looks good. I really like the machined finish of the instrument clusters, as well as the white lighting.
My wife did not like the “font” on the buttons on either car. (???)
Very good materials on both. I felt and rubbed the materials on both cars, and I could not tell that those inside the GS were any better, contrary to what some others have reported. If anything, the thin strip of “aluminum” around the screen in the GS felt somewhat tacky. The leather seats in the GS were definitely softer, and the leather in the M was somewhat between the “soft” leather in the GS and the “hard” leather in the German cars. Matter of personal preference here, but I prefer softer leather.
One thing, I hate the feel of wood steering wheels, as in the GS. It looks good, but even regular old vinyl feels better in your hands.
Although overall ergonomics in both cars are pretty good, I would say that the GS edges the M in this regard. The buttons on the GS are more conveniently reachable, and I love the 10 way power adjusts on the passenger seat. I hate the fact that the front portion of the passenger seat cushion in the M cannot be adjusted separately. My wife likes to have the seat high, and felt that the front portion of the seat sloped too far down relative to the rear portion.
The M was just more spacious than the GS in basically every dimension. I was surprised by how cramped the GS felt. Even my wife (5’4) noticed this. There was a guy about 6’2 there, and he was saying how much he liked the GS, but just could not fit in it. The trunk on both cars is not that great, but the opening on the GS is just horrendous. A box of normal size won’t be able to fit through that opening.
The 5.1 Bose in the M was really nice, even with a regular CD playing. Unfortunately, the GS wasn’t equipped with Levinson, and the regular setup was really disappointing. The speakers just crackled and could not handle some low bass coming from an FM station. This was confirmed from a friend of mine who bought the 2006 GS300 without Levinson, and he said the stereo is pretty weak.
The M35x, even with all that additional weight, just felt more powerful and faster than the GS300 RWD. The M35x did have that trademark VQ growl (coming mostly from the exhaust I think), which may get tiring after a while, depending on your preferences. The GS300 felt more sluggish than I anticipated. Even my wife said that she had to “push the pedal down further” to get the car to go, and it didn’t seem any faster than her 2004 Accord EX V6 auto.
The M45 was simply smooth and POWERFUL.
Handling and ride:
The GS300 was typical Lexus smooth. The road-feel and handling were pretty good, although I felt that the handling was too light and too boosted. Even though the M wasn’t as smooth as the GS, I was surprised to find how well the M35x and M45 Sport soaked up road irregularities, contrary to the reports of others. The handling of the M was very precise and “German” in feel, and there was definitely less body roll than the GS. Some people have said that the handling edge of the M won’t be apparent other than on a track, but I felt that it was definitely apparent in normal driving.
Mar 13, 2005 (2:32 pm)
Are you sure it wasnt just bad FM reception? Normally the words "bass" and "radio" shouldnt appear in the same sentence, as analog broadcast isnt really capable of transmitting any. If the standard system is really capable of being undone by lowly FM, thats really disheartening. Lexus standard systems are usually very good, so it would have to mean that they purposely made it as bad as possible kind of like Ford does to get you to pony up for the good one.