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
#8568 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [domenickamarc]
Oct 13, 2006 (7:31 am)
More of the same...
Mercedes boss Eckhard Cordes launched a costly quality offensive designed to cut the number of defects and catch them before cars leave the factory. That involved forging a new quality unit and making sure engineers, designers, and production and assembly managers make no key decision on engineering or purchasing without the approval of quality managers. Long-term, the fix lies in designing cars that are less complex, stripping out excess electronics and bolstering testing before new models go into production. Paul Halata, president and CEO of Mercedes USA, insists the company's efforts to improve quality are finally showing. In the latest J.D. Power initial quality survey, Mercedes moved up from tenth in 2004 with 106 problems per 100 vehicles to fifth with 104. Many analysts are skeptical. "It's really too soon to tell on Mercedes quality," says Albrecht Denninghof, an analyst at HVB Group in Munich. "We need about 12 months to see if there are still problems."
Moved up by reducing problems from 1.06 per vehicle to 1.04?
What can such a jump mean? Most readers will just see "moved from tenth to fifth". Like checking in on a stock you own.
#8569 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [domenickamarc]
Oct 13, 2006 (12:44 pm)
If a CR reader was considering venturing into one of these "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars," to whatever extent they were influenced by CR, they'd probably tend to back off and not buy any of the cars. The magazine's rhetoric, which is the total deciding factor for a significant number of car buyers who have described their decision-making to me, has made a big contribution to a mind-change about cars: aim for 365 days of trouble-free, emotion-free driving and look elsewhere to be engaged with the world around you.
I think CR's influence at that level is marginal at best. I seriously doubt that anyone who is genuinely interested in a 911 or 650i is going to back out because it doesn't have the "red check". CR probably has a part in helping Camry and Accord to dominate the family sedan market. Those are the cars that CR readers actually buy.
Anyone who buys a SC430 over the competition was going to buy a Lexus anyway. I don't think CR would really be a factor there.
#8570 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [domenickamarc]
Oct 13, 2006 (1:15 pm)
For example, CR has a category "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars".........The only car they recommend in this class is the $65,0000 Lexus SC, which they find to have "handling that feels no more agile than on ordinary sedan," with "a harsh ride that doesn't befit a luxury car," and overall performance that makes it not "game for driving with enthusiasm."
I'm not a real CR proponent especially when it comes to cars, but their description of the SC430 was right-on. (I had one.)
#8571 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [domenickamarc]
Oct 13, 2006 (1:21 pm)
I was with you up until your final sentence which, I fear, is a bit overstated: "aim for 365 days of trouble-free, emotion-free driving and look elsewhere to be engaged with the world around you." As was noted elsewhere, they rank their cars independently of the reliability, and then they require average (or above) reliability and a few other considerations to be recommended. Their rankings, aside from reliability, aren't far from what most people on this board would think and really don't represent "emotion-free driving." For everyone's information, their first five cars in the "Ultra-performance and Luxury Sports Car" class are the 911 Carrera S, the Z06, Boxster, SL550 and 650i. Hardly emotion-free.
For myself, I've just had a 4 1/2 year reliability nightmare with my BMW X5 4.4. I've had a new transmission, I've had it in for work on the fancy suspension 4 times, and I could go on and on. I knew that the X5 didn't have a great reputation for reliability (thanks to CR) when I bought it and I'm paying the price. For my next ride, I think I'd like a few years of a reliable LPS, so I'm ranking the M a little higher than I would have had it not been for my personal experience. I'm also thinking about the Volvo S80 because they (like BMW) are putting new processes in place to address the reliability issues.
I'm not suggesting that everyone should follow CR slavishly, but for me reliability is a useful piece of information, and for my next car, after a really ugly few years, it's a piece of information that is particularly important.
PS: they also recommend the Nissan 350Z and the BMW z4 in addition to the SC430.
#8572 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [carnaught]
Oct 13, 2006 (2:20 pm)
The SC's ride quality issues can be fixed by dumping the run-flats for real tires, just hope you don't get a flat. Unfortunately, tires can't make the car less ugly.
#8573 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [lansdownemike]
Oct 13, 2006 (7:03 pm)
You make some good counterpoints to my comments.
I was looking at the October 2006 issue of CR, in which the Nissan 350Z and the BMW z4 were not including the comparison, although they are recommended on the sidebar chart.
And, also, as you say, CR routinely talks about handling, engaging drive quality, fun-factor, etc.
My main point was that, in the end, they convey the sense that, when it comes to recommending a car, the only solid basis is their reliability rating. I think that they have been believed by many buyers (although, again, I agree with your toning down of my comments, in that they are probably less influential with buyers of this particular group of cars than with buyers of family sedans, where they exert enormous influence). It would seem more honest to say that they cannot recommend any car, in a comparo where the only one that meets their reliability standard is, according to them, a mediocre driving experience (that's what led to the comment with which you took issue, about what is implied when you suggest someone buy a car with what you yourself have assessed to be mediocre driving quality). To do what they do, does seem to me to imply that, taking all factors into account, they recommend you choose a car they don't think is engaging or enjoyable, just because you'll avoid a few unscheduled service visits. That's how it reads to me.
My main problem with CR and JDP is that such ratings are presented by them in ways designed partly to inform and partly to inflate, through over-dramatizing of the statistical significance of the ratings, the importance of CR and JDP.
#8574 of 10348 Re: CR shapes the American dream [domenickamarc]
Oct 13, 2006 (10:13 pm)
To do what they do, does seem to me to imply that, taking all factors into account, they recommend you choose a car they don't think is engaging or enjoyable, just because you'll avoid a few unscheduled service visits. That's how it reads to me.
Yeah, I can see that. I think what CR is trying to say is that while we didnt necessarily like the car, owners say its reliable, so if you like it, by all means. Perhaps they should change the "recommended" tag to "reliable" or something like that. Something to further differentiate the reliability score from the overall score.
#8575 of 10348 Reliability as a general issue of discussion
Oct 14, 2006 (6:57 am)
A frustrating personal experience with a car or SUV, such as the BMW X5 mentioned a recent post, would definitely weigh heavily on my mind in going out to buy a replacement.
Figuring out how that bad experience and/or CR's assessment of the X5 should, if at all, influence anyone else is a different issue.
I don't believe that we have the kind of reliability statistics (from either CR or JDP) that is very helpful. Use of statistics is tricky, even in very scientific forums, but as reported by CR and JDP none of us could figure out what the probability is that an M will be more reliable than, say, a BMW 530i. By choosing an M over a 530 will I be decreasing my chances of unscheduled service by 2%, 10%, 50%. No way to know from CR. And, all JDP lets us know is that, the most reliable model averages 1 or 2 unscheduled service stops in three year and the least reliable averages 3 or 4.
Similarly, anecdotal information is easily balanced by other anecdotal data. I have lunch every few weeks with a man who has owned a BMW 328i for seven years and bought an X5 about three years ago -- a 2003, I think. He was concerned that the X5 is produced at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina and he went with the 3.0i that is powered by the 225-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six because he associates BMW with that famous inline-6 cylinder and he thinks that might have increased the probability of his trouble-free experience, since, according to what he's read in CR, for some reason, owners of the X5 Inline-6 report fewer problems than owners of the X5 V-8 . He says both of his BMWs are enjoyable and have been what he considers to be trouble-free. The X5 has had two unscheduled service days in three years. When I emailed him the "nightmare" X5 anecdote, he wrote back saying that he's going to replace his X5 with a new one, sooner rather than later if the upcoming design change "instantly infatuates" him.
To show how anecdotal reports work in completely chaotic ways, the irony is that this man is about to give his son the 328i and he's shopping for an LPS. He's been skimming Edmunds forums and formed a completely skewed and subjective negative impression of the M, which he summed up: "more complaints about gas mileage than for any other LPS I'm considering" and "four or five people who didn't complain about defects (he found lots of those complaints on MB forum boards, he says), but actually said that, driving it everyday, they had to come to very much dislike the way the car drove" (I had come across those myself, when I was using Edmunds to research my own car purchase and also found that specific odd type of complaint written only about the M), and "only LPS that some auto mag reviews (including Edmunds comparison test, second opinions section) said is noisy" (which he finds completely incompatible with the entire LPS concept). I encouraged him to test-drive the M and I don't really know how influenced he is by such anecdotal data anyway.
#8576 of 10348 Re: Reliability as a general issue of discussion [domenickamarc]
Oct 14, 2006 (9:33 am)
Sometimes the best data going into buying a car is data like the mpg issues, or the noise, from real life owners (even if its only a few) rather than a bunch of stats about powertrains and electricals. I've driven Ms on three occasions, and really enjoyed driving the car every time. It does have some faults though (as does every car) that I might not like as an actual owner, though. My suggestion would be to take a very long test drive, and try to do every type of driving on as many different roads as possible.
#8577 of 10348 Re: S6 - the temporary king of the LPS class? [sfcharlie]
Oct 14, 2006 (4:09 pm)
Well, thank you for asking.
I'm driving a Lincoln LS with a manual. The main reason I own this car is that it came with a manual (the first one for Lincoln in 50 years, BTW). It was part of a brief wet dream that Ford/Lincoln had back in the late '90's having to do with competing with European brands on their own turf (this was before Ford bought Volvo & Jaguar). Anyway, the concept sputtered to its ignominious end earlier this year when the last LS came off the assembly line at the Wixom plant. They "updated" the car in '03 with lots improvements, one of which was to eliminate the manual.
I'm well beyond bitter. I bought into the original concept of a BMW competitor from the U.S., and ended up with a car that you have to review the depreciation numbers to fully appreciate. Depreciation aside, I wanted to get in on the ground floor with a vehicle that would improve year-over-year for decades. This same corporation pumped out another enthusiast car a few years earlier (Merkur), but I wasn't dialed in then. Fool me once. . .
(All) That said, it's a fine car. I'm presently in central Texas enjoying the hill country (where I went to high school), and it's been a delight. The LS turned 100K miles just before I left, and blasting across Texas at 85 (80 is legal -- God bless Texas) on I-10 was pure pleasure. I spent the day today puttering around backroads near San Marcos & many of them were curvy & uncrowded. Wonderful.
I've only driven a few vehicles farther than this one -- my Kenworth truck accumulated over 200K miles in a bit over two years, so it wins for rate of accumulation. The high-mileage champ was my '73 240-Z that I drove off the showroom floor in Edmonton with 3 miles on it. Eleven plus years later it was no match for a Chevy Suburban -- 224K miles. I loved that car.
After the 240, I bought a used Datsun 510 (with 163K miles on it). Put a junkyard engine in it & drove it an additional 106K miles over the next seven years. I modified it quite a bit -- went around corners really well. Sold it to another enthusiast who loaded it on a trailer. It went to a good home. I was pleased.
But, before any of this I drove a used MGB a little over 104K miles in a bit over 3.5 years. This was where I acquired my jones for tight steering & a transmission linkage with no rubber. This car & I went to 44 states & 6 provinces. I could change a generator (this was before alternators) bushing in under half an hour. I could pull an engine in under two hours. Lots of maintenance, but much joy as well.
After the 510, I went for a couple of Mazda Miatas, in honor of the "B". Fun, but no passion. After them, I went for a larger car (Eagle Vision), since I had a "management" job & needed something in which I could take people to lunch. It was great for the first 5 years or so, then went way South. I will never own another car with an automatic transmission, but this one gave me 98K miles, most of which were pleasant.
Our family has owned a couple of Chrysler minivans, the first one for 115K miles ('86 Voyager) & the second for 158K miles ('94 Caravan). Other than the transmission "issues" on the second one, they were more-or-less bulletproof.
As I've said before, for me the vehicle is the means to an end. The end is an excellent driving experience, preferably at 3 in the morning on a totally empty road with the Northern Lights showing, or as the sun comes up rolling down the Fraser Canyon, or as the sun sets across New Mexico on US 60 at 120 mph.