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Re: Congrats!

Jnanas,

congratulations... after waiting since my deposit was placed in June, I visited the MB dealer today and looked at the 2002 320... I liked it much more up close than the times i've seen it on the road... I think my wife and the two little ones liked it as well... good luck with your new purchase..
:)


vip9 said:
John,
Congratulations on finally making a decision! I thought you'd never do it! :):):)

......
Also, you did not mention the 3rd seat - does MB have it? I really appreciated it a few times when I HAD to use it in the MDX.

BTW, that $42K sticker - your price, or MSRP? How much can you shave by applying "$500-over-invoice?" Does the price include "On-Star" (or whaterver MB's version of it?)
VIP9.... just visited the MB dealer today.. the ML series does offer a 3rd row seat as an option.. it's a little hokey in that they don't fold down into the floor like the MDX 3rd row, but actually fold up and to the side of the rear compartment... almost like a folded up jump seat.. they also can be removed... additionally, the 2nd row seats can be moved forward to provide more leg room in the third row... the 3rd row is about a $1200 option and if you want it, the car needs to be ordered for you, thus probably john's 8 week wait for his car....

as to the onstar... MB calls it teleaid which i believe is free the first year and about $200 for the second +
 

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Wexy99 got it right. The 3rd optional row is two seats that fold and flip to either side, just like in the Land Cruiser.

I took a look at the 01 / 02 ML's yesterday--that ML55 is something else...0-60 in 6 seconds?! :eek: The ML is undeniable among the top SUVs available today.

John--it sounds like $59.95 buys you HIDs now in the MDX, (http://www.acuramdx.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=29804#post29804 ), so is the $800 still justifiable as a price point?

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Unfortunately, $800 is justified as the price for the Xenon's - even a hokey aftermarket system should cost at least $500, and that's without the self-leveling system (plus, mine come with nifty headlamp washers!).

As far as the third row - they do have to be ordered, but there's no delay. I happened upon a strange delay because of the Bose + Third Row option. Apparently, the third row folded right upon where the CD changer's installed. So, production had to figure out another spot for it. I hear that's been resolved.

The logic behind the seats - I don't mind the hokey fold up system, since I can remove the seats. I figure you go into three categories with rear seats:

Regular use - you're using them on a daily basis.

Rare use - you use them once in a blue moon.

Every-so-often use - use them a couple of times a month, on occasion.

I fit into category three - and they come out easily enough such that I can part with the seats, and just install when necessary. There's already a closet in the garage all sealed up waiting for them. Cost of the seats to me - $1k.

Tele-Aid is an Onstar replica (run by Toyota I assumed; is this correct?). Prices are about the same - first year free, $200 per year afterwards. Since it drives down the cost of my insurance, and I expect the cost to go down as years go by, this was definitely worthwhile to me (insuring the ML by me was roughly 8-10% cheaper than the MDX; I assume this was the cause for the difference).

Xenons - I think two things about them - one, they're really handy, and someday soon, all vehicles will have them. Two - they're expensive, and they're a high theft item. Luckily, MB carves the VIN into all parts of the car (or ones that would actually be stolen; don't think the door handle applies). Acura - here in NYC, there is quite a second-hand (wink,wink) market for Acura HIDs. Damn shame people don't respect anything anymore.
 

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Which MB Dealer?

John,

Which dealer are you working with for the ML320?

I'm continuing to compare the $$ for what I expect to pay for a 2002 base mdx with rack, side steps and tailgate deflector against a 2002 ML320 with leather, 3rd row, and sunroof..... It looks like if I pay $1000 over invoice for the ML320, then the total difference in price between the two is about $2000.

My dilema... although I don't love the look of the ml320... for another 2k I'm getting a mercedes benz, with a stability/traction control system, and the additional side airbags.....

decisions... decisions...

larry
 

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JNanas said:
William,Worm-

Thanks for the congrats at the end of the other comparo thread - I figured I'd tack it on here since after side-by-side test driving of the new ML320, I decided to go with it instead of the MDX, so I might as well post my findings.

Worm - I didn't get the vehicle yet, so as to my hitting 300 before I snuck out - if I sit up all night, I might just make it ;) (kidding - I have a couple of months until my car actually gets here - I'm a sucker for a wait).

Performance & Handling:

Engine -

The MDX beats out the ML320, although not as badly as you'd think when comparing the 240 HP of the MDX versus the 215 of the 320. Engine sound was quieter on the MDX.

Transmission-

Both are 5 speed, capable, smooth transmissions. The ML's full time 4WD makes it more off-road ready, and can tow up to 5k pounds (this was a consideration for me - towing my boat, which is right at the MDX's capacity, was a concern).

The ML320 here wins with a full time 4WD system, and the ability to do clutchless-manual shifting.

Steering-

I felt the ML320's steering was more responsive than the MDX, and a tighter turning radius on the ML320 was also noticable (although, I was surprised to see it was only 37 vs. 38 ft - I really thought it would be much different).

Ride-

Sacrifice - that's what design is all about. Sacrifice the chassis design, to make it more car-like, and you end up with a car pretending to be an SUV. Take the SUV, and you end up with a bumpier ride. Plain and simple. The ML320 loses to the MDX in terms of ride, by a longshot.

Safety-

Ultimately, where the MDX lost. I've been driving an SUV since before they became stylish. One thing I've always been aware of - the propensity for the rear end to swing out during emergency maneuvers. I tested both these vehicles in emergency-like maneuvers (and was scolded in both cases by the salesmen). The safety features and sturdier construction of the ML320, with active brake assist, side curtain airbags, stability control, etc. - just made it too hard to pass up.

Not that the MDX isn't a safe vehicle - I'm sure it will do just fine when it's crash tested. But my main priority was safety, and I couldn't resist that here, for the good of my family.

Interior:

Not even close - the ML320's revamped interior is another one of my major deciding factors against the MDX. I liked the leather all around and the solid feel to the controls. The third row seating option (which I purchased) seemed to be a bit more useful, since everyone else in the vehicle can essentially move forward to give the third row some breathing room (although I'm still not thrilled with the hokey fold-and-lift method of putting away the seats).

I was previously not impressed by the ML320 because of a few seriously lacking items - like automatic climate control. 2002 brings you that feature.

The problem I have with Acura is it's Honda lineage. I kept thinking 'this is an Accord' when I was driving in the MDX. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing - but if you're going to hit me for $40k, please upgrade some of the controls over the Civic.

Cargo space - MDX wins here, but not by as much as you'd think. Also - the extra 6 inches of vehicle length and 4 inches of width made the MDX a tough consideration for my unusually short garage (188" whereas my garage's length is 192").

Exterior:

Neither of these cars will be winning awards for high-styling. Not that I don't like both of their appearances, although the style changes to the 2002 ML320 could have gone even further than they did. I give the MDX a nod here, but the ML is not far behind.

Both vehicles had excellent fit and finish. Clearances and body gaps were great. 2k2 ML320 comes with 17" tires standard, and thanks to MB for finally getting rid of those ridiculous General tires.

Equipment and Value:

Here's where I shock the world - everyone is of the impression that a fully loaded MDX @ $40k is a great value. I've got news - none of these vehicles is an impressive value at that cost. Not the MDX, ML320, RX300 - none of them.

At $40k, the MDX sports quite a few gadgets - including navigation. I couldn't manage navigation @ $40k for the ML320 - but at that price, I did manage to get Xenon HIDs and the Bose system, which with 9 speakers throughout the cabin, performed very well (for a Bose). I don't know if Acura toyed with it's stock system - but they should. The quality was sub-standard, even for Bose.

I rate this one a tie - since Acura decided not to throw in side curtain airbags and stability control, both which are standard in the ML320 - hard to compare apples vs. apples, but I don't think either of these vehicles stands out as a great bargain.

Reliability

Where do you go with this one? The ML had two years of questionable reliability, plus one year of average reliability. The Acura - should be solid, but it's in it's first MY. Will the VTM-4 system be a typical Honda product, or will there be issues down the line? This one was a wash for me - I was convinced that the first two MY's of the ML320 were growing pains, for a company recently merged and opening a new plant for a new design.

Misc

Both of these vehicles are warranteed for 4 years. ML320 includes maintenance over 4 years. MDX was missing as options - HIDs, VSA, side curtain airbags. ML320 was not missing any options available on the MDX. Negotiating prices - MDX still in high demand - ML320, can get a deal for $500 to $1000 over invoice. Snob factor - meaningless to me, but must count to someone - a MB is an MB.

Price as tested -

$42,500 for the ML320 - fully configured, no navigation.
$37,450 for the MDX - no navigation.

I consider the price difference to be about $2k (factor in the fact that VSA is unavailable - but would be a ~$600 option, HIDs unavailable ~$800, side curtain airbags ~$500, 4 years no-maint).

My final thoughts:

My primary concern was safety, thus the MB won. If I cared only about the ride and handling, the MDX would have won. If I cared a lot about the luxury of the vehicle, the MB would have taken the top position.

This was a tough call - because MB managed to considerably improve this vehicle, and it was pretty good to begin with. Ultimately, neither of these two vehicles would be the wrong call.

In my grand SUV comparo, here is the summary:

1. Mercedes ML320 - good overall, safest of the bunch.
2. Acura MDX - comfortable vehicle, excellent ergonomics.
3. Ford Explorer - not a bad redesign - but questionable safety and reliability.
4. Lexus RX300 - too small to be a factor in my comparo.
5. BMW X5 - see #4.
Just wondering if the latest two crash results (5mph and 40mph) would have had an impacted your decision. Both are very fine vehicles, but one can make a pretty good argument that the MDX is an overall safer vehicle. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Not really - that's only if you consider crash test results as a measure of safety. I think the lack of VSA, side impact air curtains and MB's excellent Brake-Assist system (which I put some extra stock in, since I live in the city), make it's accident avoidance systems much better than the MDX.

So - although there's better crash test results for the MDX (I haven't seen the full report, just the IIHS grade), the accident avoidance features of the ML320 still make it the safer vehicle IMHO.
 

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The ML320 Does Not Have a Monopoly on Safety

No doubt that the MDX should have VSA.

However, there's more to accident avoidance than VSA. There are many, many variables to accident avoidance. E.g. stronger acceleration (MDX definitely beats the ML320 here) is itself a measure of avoidance because it gives the driver better power to execute highway passing safely.

Even something as mundane as steering-wheel-mounted audio controls (which the ML320 still doesn't have, strangely enough) help prevent accidents by reducing driver distraction. Indeed, driver distraction probably causes far more accidents than the lack of stability control.

Even high visibility is a strong accident avoidance measure. I always disliked the thickness of the ML320's pillars. While they're great for roof crush resistance, they do obscure some traffic, especially on crowded city streets.

Also, VSA will not prevent many offset frontal crashes, where the MDX's excellent crash test scores should substantially reduce the risk of injury. Again, the MDX should have VSA, but it isn't a magic bullet.

Bottom line, you can't avoid an accident sometimes, and the IIHS test demonstrates that you're more likely to have a neck or head injury in the ML320 than the MDX.
 

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William,

thanks for sharing your thoughts.... I'm stuck though between the MDX and ML320. They both appear from the crash tests to be worthy, safe vehicles. The problem I'm having is deciding which is a better $ value.

Paying MSRP and forced options on the 2002 MDX (assuming a $500 increase) and paying $1000 over invoice for the ML320 with leather and sunroof, brings the ML320 to approx $2000 more than the MDX... so which is a better $ value? :confused:

larry
 

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Larry,

I can understand your dilemma, as I was 55%/45% in my MDX vs. ML320 decision and that was last year (my wife favored the MDX much more, however).

I think which is the better value comes down to what you value in a vehicle. The ML320 has the "kitchen sink" approach to safety (e.g. it has rear side airbags and side curtains) and if you value having that extra degree, that may easily take the $2k price difference. BTW, the rear side airbags, while sometimes controversial (don't let kids lean against the doors!!!), are probably more valuable than the new side curtain airbags, since they have somewhat less value in a high-riding SUV (IIHS had to create scenarios like spinning into a telephone pole to try to push it when they did studies with auto makers).

Stability control is certainly something the MDX should have. The MB 4WD system is technically more sophisticated and adaptable to more situations though not everyone will notice the difference. I think EPA fuel numbers have actually gone down for 2002.

If you value better quality interior materials, the ML320 has the definite edge here, with real wood and a higher grade of leather. Though the interior is still relatively Teutonic (plain).

The "free maintenance" of the ML320 is quite deceiving as it is only based on the computer saying when it's time to change the oil -- usually from 10k to 15k. Heck, even JNanas has complained about the system over on Edmunds. While the system probably does save unnecessary oil changes, a lot of owners get additional services and pay for it out of pocket, and MB service, at least from what I've seen, is quite expensive (about $200 for an FSS-A, $400 for an FSS-B). Also, the "free maintenance" doesn't include brake pads, which seem to wear out pretty quickly on the ML320.

However, the Acura isn't super-cheap to service either, especially if the dealer inflicts a "severe driving conditions" schedule on you and you end up having to get the VTM-4 service much more frequently.

We weren't thrilled at the looks of the ML320 and the 2002 only provides minor improvement (sort of like a plastic surgeon giving a nose job when what was really needed was lipo and a posterior reduction). Not enough to stop us from buying the vehicle, but we certainly don't think it's attractive.

I value the ride comfort and extra power of the MDX. While the truck-basis of the ML320 gives you towing and some more off-road capability, and it rides well for a truck, it wasn't as comfortable to me as the car-based MDX. As far as the power goes, well, the MDX was actually close in acceleration numbers to the discontinued ML430, which makes the MDX look like much more of a bargain.

I also valued some of the conveniences in an MDX. Heck, John has ordered an ML320 for $43k and while he's gotten niceties like HID's, that configuration still requires that he run around the vehicle to the cargo area to change a single CD (no CD player at all in the front)!

Bottom line is that I don't think you can go wrong with either vehicle. It's just too bad that the New York area Acura dealerships seem to be so poor, at least as a whole. You shouldn't have to buy with forced options; I think John's last deposit was for an MDX with a minimum of forced options and at MSRP.

I still think that the MDX will eventually be sold with discounts, but not until the second half of the second model year.

If we had been required to pay above MSRP or buy a lot of forced options, we would have went with the ML320 and had been happy with it. As it is, we're happy with the MDX, but I think the decision would be even tougher this time around. And if you can get the MB dealer down to $500 above invoice, that makes it even more attractive. Good luck!
 

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larry - i think i will be going with an ml-320. i dont see why everyone thinks the MDX has so much value to it. it shares the entire parts bin of the honda civic!! wmquans argument - the cd changer is in the rear. wow - that's pretty weak. is that supposed to counter the lack of stability programs on the car?

i pm'd jnanas to get his opinion, and was told he was asked to leave by this board because he does not own an mdx. he mentioned that there was a real bias here, and i can see from the "brake pads wear pretty quickly" remark he wasnt kidding. nobody posting on edmunds or the m-class mailing list seems to have a problem before 35k miles. wonder why thats quickly around here?

john did mention that he will answer pm's, and he was very friendly and unbiasd. i would write him if i had any questions.
 

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buzzinfrog ...

... why are you still here? Obviously your mind is made up and you are only trying to make yourself feel better.

Statements like "it shares the entire parts bin of the honda civic!!" is such a joke as to disqualify you from any serious discussion.
 

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really, a joke?! then explain why the same switches are used in the MDX as the Civic. my mind made up - against the MDX yes but im undecided about the lexus or mercedes, the real luxury suv's.
 

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Again I ask ...

... since your mind is made up aginst the MDX, why are you here?

Of course we will NOT talk about all those Toyota parts in that luxurious Lexus. Never let it be said that I would stoop so low as to condemn a Lexus because it is a glorified Toyota.
 

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buzzinfrog said:
larry - i think i will be going with an ml-320. i dont see why everyone thinks the MDX has so much value to it. it shares the entire parts bin of the honda civic!! wmquans argument - the cd changer is in the rear. wow - that's pretty weak. is that supposed to counter the lack of stability programs on the car?

i pm'd jnanas to get his opinion, and was told he was asked to leave by this board because he does not own an mdx. he mentioned that there was a real bias here, and i can see from the "brake pads wear pretty quickly" remark he wasnt kidding. nobody posting on edmunds or the m-class mailing list seems to have a problem before 35k miles. wonder why thats quickly around here?
Are you just a proxy for John, trolling around here?

Uh, yes, sure John is unbiased. Look at his original thread comparing the MDX vs. ML320 here, and how much he slammed the ML320 and ended up choosing the MDX. Now he's claiming on Edmunds that his original research was "flawed" and that he should have even picked the 2001 ML320 over the MDX back then. Funny how previously he felt so strongly for the MDX, and was so anti-ML320. Now he's anti-MDX, and very strong for the ML320. The 2002 isn't that different from the 2001.

And if you bothered to read my other posts, you'll find that I was the one here most encouraging John to get an ML320, as I thought some of his changing requirements clearly favored the ML320. Sure he's not biased. No one is free of a vehicle bias, including myself.

You're oversimplifying with out-of-context extractions comparing a CD changer to stability control, which demonstrates that you're clearly more interested in being disruptive than being reasonable.

It's quite obvious that you haven't been reading and/or comprehending Edmunds Townhall enough. There have been quite a number of posts in the M-class forum complaining about ML320 "brake pads wear pretty quickly". And certainly before 35k miles. Go back and read several hundred posts please, and you'll find that your statement that "nobody posting" is not accurate. I stand by my statement, please do your homework.
 

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buzzinfrog said:
... he mentioned that there was a real bias here, and i can see from the "brake pads wear pretty quickly" remark he wasnt
kidding. nobody posting on edmunds or the m-class mailing list seems to have a problem before 35k miles. wonder why thats quickly around here?
In the hope that you are at least truly interested in information rather than trying to spread bad karma around, please allow me to enlighten you with the following links from the M-class mailing list:

Front brake pad wear at 16k:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m12528.html

Front brake pads replaced at 19.5k:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m12533.html

Comment acknowledging front brake pad wear at 19.5k:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m12536.html

Brake pad wear 21.5k:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m12542.html

Front brake pads replaced at 12.5k miles:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m13313.html

Brake pads at 24k miles:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m8989.html

Knowledgeable statement that 10k-50k is the range for wear, and "all too many had to do a replacement at 15k."
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/european/mbmc/m7366.html

I can go on and on, but I've made my point. Your statement that "nobody posting on edmunds or the m-class mailing list seems to have a problem before 35k miles" is clearly inaccurate.

MB doesn't include brake pad replacement in their "free maintenance schedule."

The ML320 is an excellent vehicle. I hope you enjoy your's. However, before you purchase it I would highly recommend that you educate yourself more.
 

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William ...

... great post, but I am afraid that buzzinfrog has no intention of educating himself.
 

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What I have really liked about this forum is that posters have been willing to hear each others views and (generally) respectful, but still willing to speak their minds. JNanas posted lots of very interesting info about his comparison. Now, at some point, since he chose against the MDX, after saying why he chose against it (for those of us making the same decisions), he doesn't have much more to contribute to a forum dedicated to the MDX.

As wmquan said, we all have biases, and we all have our own reasons for choosing the cars we do. I noticed the switch in JNanas' rationale based on his postings; that's fine, those are his thoughts based on his experiences and needs/wants for a car. In fact, his recent posts encouraged me to test drive an 02 ML 320 yesterday.

My thoughts: the 02 is improved over the 01. It makes the decision a little tougher. However, I didn't rush out and cancel my 02 MDX order, or put down money for an ML. I'm weighing the pluses & minuses, many learned from these posts, and will probably continue to wait it out for the MDX 02 (promised by March 02).

So lets keep the forum open for those sharing their views about choosing, or at least considering, MDXs.

Thanks,
2labs
 

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wmquan brings up a good point. anyone here with an MDX over 35k miles?

probably not. another good reason not to buy an MDX - no proven track record.

i dont mind the mdx bias, since it is an mdx site. its a little ridiculous around here though. someone disagrees, and you send them packing. maybe you should run for governor of afghanistan.
 
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