Sunday, October 23, 2011

BMW vs. Cadallac vs. Mercedes vs. Lexus vs. Audi vs. Infiniti vs. Acura - My Thoughts

I've read just about every issue of Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track, and Automobile since the 80's. It started when I was just a kid and continues today. You could say I'm a bit of a junkie, but I like my cars. Few things get me more excited than driving fast, or even watching someone else drive fast, or the sound of a new 5.0 mustang launching from a stoplight (still one of the best sounding cars out there).

Here's some of my favorite brands (and not so favorite), and what model I'd choose and why. Also, I'm sticking to 4 door sedans here. I think moving 4 people in relative comfort and luxury while keeping up with a Corvette is incredible.

I'd stay with the CTS. It's Cadallac's poster boy car that brought them from 'old man' car to an actual enthusiast car. I give tons of props to Cadillac for re-inventing themselves, that's not easy for a car manufacturer to do (Hyundai did it too). BUT - I hate that GM (parent company of Cadillac) was bought out by the Govt. So to me, this is an Obama car, and represents everything anti-capitalism. That bothers me. GM and Chrysler should have gone bankrupt and been dissolved. Bailing out companies who make inferior products is bad for everyone. Anyway, back to the car...the CTS finally gives us an American car built well that has tons of athleticism borrowed from it's European competition. 

If I had to pick a Cadillac sedan - That's easy, I'll opt for the CTS-V. It's one of the baddest (and fastest) sedans in the world. Oh, and it looks like a transformer. And I have to mention that it does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and is the 2nd fastest car around Germany's Nurburgring (Porsche's wicked Panamera Turbo beat it in 2009)

This would be my personal choice. I've always been a BMW fan. I'd only buy a 3 or 5 series (or possibly a 1M, or I've always had a soft spot for the 850CSi). In that case, I'm not a HUGE fan of BMW's newest 5 series, so stick with the last model. The new ones are loaded down with all sorts of electronic assists that take away from the real BMW driving pleasure. PEOPLE should be driving cars, not cars driving people. You almost can't go wrong with any year of 3 series, but I'm partial to the newer turbo models. Basically, the BMW is the best 'drivers' car of the bunch. It's the most connected and athletic, but it's usually one of the more expenisve choices as well. And how cool do the 'halo' headlights look? Very cool.

If I had to pick a BMW sedan - Ever since I liked cars the M5 has been my favorite. But I have mixed feelings on the 2012 model. Something about (last year's model) naturally aspirated V10 revving past 8000 rpm makes me feel good, but BMW has handily proved that they can successfully chop 2 cylinders off and add a turbo. But again, there's something respectable about being able to produce 500 hp without forcing mother nature into the cylinders, but the 2012 does have 60 more hp with the turbos. I'll take them both.

I've never been a fan. To me, you're paying a premium for a name...and the actual car isn't exactly superior. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid contender among the competition...but I'd look elsewhere. Nothing really stands out to me here. They're also not the most reliable cars. Oh, and they merged with Chrysler back in 98, way to taint your image Mercedes.

If I had to pick a Mercedes sedan - Maybach, done and done. But if that doesn't count, I'll go with the E63 AMG.

By far one of the most smooth, refined, quiet, dependable, and boring cars on the road. And that's basically it, you sacrifice performance for total comfort. I don't mean they're totally boring, but compared to the others it isn't going to make you smile every time you step on the gas. But again, you won't find a smoother car ANYWHERE, so this is definitely more of a niche car. Granted, I do like the IS models...they look like fighter jets and you get some sport, but it's nothing a 3-series BMW wouldn't outperform. 

If I had to pick a Lexus sedan - I'd get an IS350 AWD, or if I didn't live in Utah maybe an IS F (still not sure if I like the funky quad exhaust)

Audi has come a long way in my books. They've stuck true to their 'quattro' roots, which has become one of the best AWD systems in the world. Also, every time I see LED lights on a car I can't help but admire Audi for bringing this into the mainstream first, and they do a sexy job at it too. Audi's have always been more of a subdued car, but high praises to overall drivability. However, as of the past few years I think Audi makes a better looking car than any of the cars mentioned in this post. Clean lines, sharp headlights, and a gaping grille. And the inside is classy. Only problem is that they're not the most reliable cars, as they share many VW components. So I'd make sure mine was under warranty to avoid the many costly repairs you'll be doing. They've recently broken the mold with the R8, and this could be the car I'd buy if I had to spend around 175K on a single car. I'm also a big fan of the S5 coupe.

If I had to pick an Audi sedan - this is a hard one, but I'd go with the S4 sedan, as it's most comparable to a BMW 335i (which I'd rather have).

Infiniti has come a long way in the luxury performance sedan arena. The original G35 was a home run, sharing engines and driving dynamics with the sporty 350Z. It was termed as a cheap BMW killer. Then the M35 comes out and is acclaimed as the best sports sedan among the competition by numerous car magazines. Infiniti just doesn't make a boring car anymore. Not to mention the mafia looking QX56. It's a tank. To me, Infinities are cheaper BMW's...and that's a pretty appealing position.  However, Infiniti just doesn't have the branding power that BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, or Audi have...but that doesn't mean it's an inferior car.

If I had to drive an Infiniti - I think I'd stay to the smaller G37XS.  AWD, 330hp and sexy wrapping make this an ideal car (and I'd have $$ left over to buy a Tacoma)

Acura is kind of in a different class. I can't really think of them as a true sports car manufacturer, one reason being they don't make anything rear-wheel-drive. But they're packed with technology, which is cool, but again that may take away from the actual driving experience.  Look up their SHAWD (super handling all wheel drive) to see what I mean. I'm a huge honda fan...and Acura basically adds some performance and luxury to an already solid, reliable, and practical car. I will go out on a limb and say the last TL (04-08) is one of the best looking sedans ever made. Very clean and sharp's ageless. And the 'type-s' makes it look even better by sporting one of the best looking quad exhausts of the group. I'm also a fan of the TSX 5-speed. But again, I group Acura as a high end Honda that doesn't really compete with this group.

If I had to pick an Acura - I'd go with an '08 TL Type-S, black.

There you have it. Let me know what you think, if you agree or disagree, or if you think I missed something here. Until then, I'll keep dreaming in my 03 G35.


  1. Clayton I find it almost weird that I share your thoughts and opinion almost to a "T". I too am a HUGE CAR GEEK. One of those guys that's been able to to id a car from a distance by headlights or tail lights.

    BMW- As a daily driver I'm a fan of a couple different models. I always liked the E39 5 series ('98-2003). My choice would be the 2003 540i (money prevailing a 2003 M5) -a simple rear wheel drive V8 sports sedan. Next would be something with the "angel eyes" circa 2007-2009 when the twin turbo found its way into the first 335i. Although Ive never driven the 3 series auto with paddles there's jut something to be said about 3 pedals and manually shifting gears. Money no object would have to be a 2003 M5 black on black with graphite rims or a 2011 M3 sedan- both with 6M.
    Mercedes- feel same, however my choice would be a 2006-2007 CLS 63 AMG

  2. Clayton- Nice Blog. Enjoyed the post. I've loved the CTS for years and have been saying for 5 years now that I will get one someday. I love the body style and you've got to love the comfort and power of a cadillac. A couple more years and I'll splurge for one.

  3. Clayton.....ever thought of writing for a car magazine? Enjoyed this blog!

  4. How bout this bad boy that Lexus is taking to SEMA- This gives me hope that the Japanese can bring some true competition to the segment otherwise dominated by the M5 and CTS-V

  5. Clayton, glad to see your putting yourself out there to be criticized in a field, where opinion rules everything.
    I have been a car guy since before i could read. Its in my hands, its in my bones, and i can "ID cars" by smell. But this is the thing, i dont read the mags every month, and i don't compare apples to oranges. So, this post was kinda "slanty face" to me.
    Really, the only thing that bothered me about this otherwise interesting take on some cars you have probably never been in (hahah jk, just a bad joke) was the political statements you said about GM, Obama, and Capitalism. Basically in one sentence, kinda ruined the tone. Politics has no place in a drag strip. But anyways, i dont want to get into it. Back to cars, hahaha love me some cars. Ok so strictly speaking 4-door flagship cars for each company:
    Cadillac: [never been in a modern Cady, Thank God for that] Don't agree with your company synopsis. But still have to go with CTS-V tho, no other coice really, you nailed it.
    BMW: [Driven 330ci 5-speed tons and tons, at very high speeds] Agree with you on most of it, but you failed to mention that you can turn off ALL of the driving assists that the BMW computer has, if your a computer programmer, that knows German. But still, its possible. Fav car: 2012 M530d, or M-tuned 530 diesel. No explanation necessary.
    Mercedes: [Driven a C230s tiptronic all over Utah, at high speeds] IMHO Mercedes has a leg up on BMW in quality, and forward thinking. Fav car: C63AMG Sedan No replacement for Displacement. As a wrench head, this engine is ready for a aftermarket twin turbos, that would smoke any other car in the lineup. even the +100k models
    Lexus: [never had the joy] First company to use LED in headlamps actually. Solid cars, never boring, easy to work on. Wish i could find a good on to get my hands on. Fav car: GS450H, im a sucker for technology. H = awesome.
    AUDI: [fastest car i ever drove, at the fastest speed i had ever drove 160mph, was in a little Audi 2.3 that had been tuned to 500hp] I dont like Audi. An overpriced VW, for people who watched The Transporter, and were totally jelly. Also, Audi fanboys are always so annoying. Fav car: S4 why not. Good call on that one.
    Infiniti: [Drove an M45 once, not my cup of tea, waaaay too over the top luxury] The thing is, Nissan had some fantastic cars, and Infinity is the benefactor of all the good tech that Nissan has developed. I like Infiniti a lot. Fav car: G37 RWD, the modern day Skyline (or, up until the actual Skyline was introduced last year or whatever.)
    Acura: [driven an RSX like it was stolen a few times] In my mind, they still have to mature in order to compete. They have a super good head start tho. Love the RSX series, and you are quite right about TL. Sexy sexy car. Black on black, beautiful indeed. Fav car: TL

  6. Vance, I checked out your link but I’m just not interested in promo items at the moment…

    Jaimie, glad to hear your opinions. I know we don’t agree on many political/religious issues but I’ll always respect a car enthusiast with an opinion. Let me clarify that I’m not completely basing my opinions on what the mag experts say. I’ve actually driven or been in most of the mentioned cars. Also, I do somewhat judge a car by how much I respect it’s manufacturer. For example, I’d most likely choose a Ford over a Chevy not only because I think they make a superior car, but because I respect the decisions they’ve made as a company. Detroit’s big 3 were all in the red a few years ago…Ford decided that (instead of taking a hand-out) it would start making better cars. And they did! Ford is now making GREAT cars, and is even in the quality ranks of Toyota, Honda, and Subaru. And I respect that. Anyway, nuff said about that.

    Regarding your Mercedes quality comment…well, Mercedes is one of the only manufacturers that has WORSE reliability from 2010-11. And, MB represented the most models in last place in reliability for any given car segment. I’m not saying the BMW has great reliability, but overall it’s definitely better than MB.

    And yes good find, Lexus was first to pioneer the LED headlamps. I’m more referring to Audi’s use of LEDs as accent exterior lighting, sexy sexy.

    One final comment, not fair that you get access to all the foreign BMW flavors. M530d sounds slick. I’ll have to go straight to Germany to pick up my full-powered M-car if I ever get lucky enough.

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