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vip9

The teleaid was included, first year is free, then a monthly fee, I'm not sure how much.
All scheduled maintenance is included (everything) while the truck is under warranty.
I did indeed get it in writing from the dealership that my truck will be picked up on service days leaving me a loaner. My friend who sold me on the ML lives around the corner from me, he used the same M-B dealership and has been satisfied with the loaner policy. A nice perk since I live 45 mins from the dealership (Litchfield to Hartford CT) The Acura dealership (Avon, CT) is 30 mins away and would not provide this service.
 

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GREAT article William, do you happen to have an English to English translator? :p I'm not exactly sure what the following quote means, but it sure sounds funny:

"But the men from Mercedes remain adamant: they concur that M-class owners are unlikely ever to tackle anything more onerous than the back-seat whinnying of Jocasta protesting that her pony is long overdue glue status."

Huh? :confused:

My other favorites were the reference to "Slosh Puppy" and this liitle gem:

"Though that separate ladder chassis insulates the cabin nicely from the intrusion of minor road surface imperfections, larger undulations and divots set the car pitching, rolling and yawing like a toy duck in a busy paddling pool.

Through bends, meanwhile, Poseidon Adventure levels of roll are still very much in evidence, as is a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey- accurate helm that, though appropriately weighted, is far too slow on the uptake."

The writer sure seemed impressed by the "1,000 modifications" :p :D :p

I feel sorry for the Brits that they can't get the MDX.
 

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I'm afraid I don't have a King's English to New York English dictionary. (Plus I'd imagine there are no translations for some New York words ...)

Wasn't Jocasta the mother/wife of Oedipus? The one who killed herself because she was so unhappy? Not that this is on-topic, so I'll get off of this aspect.

The review is certainly rather "floral" in its prose. And I thought Edmunds reviews were overly disgressive! Maybe that's why Edmunds captured the story!
 

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About the M-class.....

"...centre armrest box lid about as firmly attached as tinsel on a Christmas tree, and steering column-mounted control stalks shaped like well-sucked Lyons Maid Zoom ice lollies."
- The Daily Telegraph, 11/10/01


Ouch....good thing those ice lollies aren't in my MDX.:D
 

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test drive - 2002 ML 320

What a great board this is!

Looking at an 02 ML320 vs 02 MDX.

Currently drive a 2001 MB SLK 320 convertible, wife drives Odyssey. Have also owned A4, Accord. This would be my first SUV.

My impressions:

Visibility
MDX has better visibility, in the MB I felt a little "boxed in" (I know, not nearly as much as in a roadster, but hey, with the top down, there's lots of room & visibility). Anyway, I like the sight-lines in the MDX better, seems to have smaller blind spots. Driving position and ergos are good in ML, better in MDX.

Ride & Handling
After a year of driving around in a low slung roadster with a nice 6sp stick, everything else will be somewhat of a change, so my expectations are properly set. I had over an hour alone with the ML. I enjoyed the ML ride from the drivers seat, and then picked up my 73 yr old dad, for a ride in the back seat, said he thought it was too jarring. I will have to see what he thinks about the rear seat of the MDX, I hadn't considered the comfort of the passengers as an issue (another roadster orientation), but now I do. My sense is the MDX will be smoother for passengers. Only drove one for 10 minutes, but really liked it. Pretty responsive and agile for a 2 ton vehicle. I think I would prefer the MDX, will want a 2nd drive alone to validate.

Cargo
from a cargo perspective, the MDX is easier to work with, and although I don't need a third seat, I like the idea. With our Odyssey, I can see the advantage of a fold-flat utility space. The ML, while simpler than previous years, is still a little harder to work with, and I do not like their version of a 3rd row.

Interior
The ML revised interior, in Java and burlwood, is beautiful. I prefer the look & feel to the MDX in Saddle/woodgrain. I am probably biased because I sit in a leather & wood MB every day. The ML seats are terrific. I am 5'7", so I don't pose much of a test for interior space issues either way. "Interior" proved to be a major factor in my previous purchase decisions (Audi over BMW, and MB over Porsche, most recently). I will spend a lot of time on the inside, and I want to enjoy every minute.

Safety
reading the IIHS tests, both vehicles are clearly much safer and more protective than what I drive now, and both are "Best Bets" in their 40mph offset tests. We do not have children, so while still important, this metric is not as major a decision point for me as it might otherwise be. That said, I am a BIG FAN of MB Teleaid, for both safety and for convenience. I have used it several times, both for roadhazard (flat tire; overfilled at the gas pump) and for directions/information, and I have nothing but glowing remarks for the people on the other end of the phone. I would pay for this service and would seriously miss it if I bought a car without it. I also like the idea of telematics/messaging and concierge via these services, so it's important to me. I consider the MDX Navigation a plus in terms of safety, so it does offset the lack of Onstar, but if made available, I would be a definite buyer and user of the service. I do recognize and value the other aspects of MB safety advantages (8 bags, teleaid, heavy truck frame), but the MDX is clearly a very safe vehicle. Hey, I'm in a convertible now, so anything with a fixed roof is an advantage!

Major Features/Amenities
MDX with NAV will be very nice. Didn't listen to their Bose, but the ML Premium Bose is awesome. ML with Nav is also good, but creates a price gap that I won't straddle.

Dealer Experience
I have enjoyed being a Mercedes customer and would not mind being a repeat customer, either. Fine dealership and service experience. At the Acura dealership, the Sales rep, who was professional but a little young, actually confided that it was his dream to sell MB, "what auto salesman wouldn't dream of one day selling for Mercedes" was his quote. Could just be a nice line to recognize a potential future client, too, so either way he earns a point! The free MB Maintenance is nice, and the dealership is much closer to my home than the Acura dealership.


Price/Value
As a repeat MB buyer, I have been offered a 2% off MSRP discount in the first round, and a pretty decent price for trade (but still too far below Edmunds' projected value. No KBB on my car yet). An MB with upgraded Bose/CD, leather, roof, convenience package (but no heated seats, xenons, or Nav/phone), with 2% discount, is roughly $2k more than an MDX Tour/NAV at MSRP. So, if Acura matches the trade for my MB, I'm looking at a $2k savings with an MDX vs the ML, before any consideration of accessories or maintenance, or pushing for additional consideration at MB. I think that a price difference of $1000 is really a "wash" and I'll probably throw it out in deference to other factors.

Many here have been through this very decision. Any advice? What am I missing in the evaluation?
 

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Redirector,

You have done quite an analysis comparing the two vehicles from your point value system. All I am adding here is my primary reasons for not getting the ML:

1. The ride is too jarring (rocking), especially for passengers.

2. I do not like the look/appearance of the ML.

3. Maintenance cost of the ML. True that there is free maintenance initially, those maintenance is minimal, confined primarily on fluid exchanges and few minor items. As you may see the MB dealer will recommend you another additional menu which is more standard to the maintenance plan the dealer normally does if there is no free maintenance. During the warranty period, the additional menu services may be "superficial" amd more in terms of comfort for know ing that every thing is OK or top notch. After warranty, the maintenance cost and repair of the ML is significantly more expensive than the Acura.

4. Poor mileage and less brute horse power.

5. Higher purchase price when comparably equipped.

6. Acura Navi and TLC services plus your own cell phone probably is cheaper and more flexible than MB teleaid, IMHO.

Hopes this will help your decision making process.
 

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Insurance rates

TDone, thanks for the reply. Some good additional thoughts there.

More research, this time on cost of insurance, using Progressive.com as a proxy.

Pulled internet quotes for my specific situation, so while it's not going to be the same as for others, the relative differences between quoted costs -- for identical coverage and vehicle use and drivers -- are relevant. A few surprises emerged, so I went a little overboard, and ran quotes for a variety of 2002 vehicles, all identical terms & locations.

Here are my findings, indexed vs a Honda Odyssey as a baseline (ie, 2002 Honda Odyssey = 100, so 105 is 5% more expensive, 95 is 5% less expensive).

100 Odyssey
123 MDX
108 ML320
117 MB SLK320 V6
109 Subaru VDC 3.0
129 BMW X5 3.0
138 BMW X5 4.4
130 RX300 2wd
134 RX300 4WD
98 Volvo XC
104 Audi A4 2.8Q (didn't have Allroad)
112 Ford Expedition 4x4
112 e320 Wagon
120 Acura TL 3.2
106 Honda Accord EX V6
127 BMW 330i (didn't have an Xi quote avail.)

To read this correctly, if it costs $1,000 a year to insure a Honda Odyssey, it would cost $1,230 ($1,000 x 123 index) to insure the MDX, all else being equal.

Findings from this analysis:
- Not too surprising, the Odyssey is pretty cheap to insure! Only the Volvo XC beats it, despite the +$10k price tag.

- As far as the elite SUV's, the MB comes out very well, beating the rest of the SUV's fairly convincingly. Even cheaper to ensure than a Subaru Outback VDC 3.0, despite a +$15k price tag. One note: "Teleaid" is also considered a vehicle tracker, so that helps lower the premium a little bit (about 1.5%)

- I was surprised to see the RX300 at such a premium.

- No surprise -- BMW's aren't cheap, whether SUV or no. Look at A4 vs 330i.

- The MDX isn't exactly a bargain, it's more expensive to insure than my MB SLK 320 convertible (and, on this scale, $150 more than an ML320). That one I don't understand, my roadster is more expensive, is a convertible, is smaller, lighter, has fewer airbags, 2wd, etc. I can't explain it.

- In general, Acura is not an Insurance bargain. Look at the TL 3.2 vs its sister, the Accord EX V6.

Anyone with fresh eyes care to make any conclusions or implications from this? I've probably put the group to sleep. After all, we are talking about insurance. Yaaaawwwwnnnnn!
 

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Actually, wide awake

That didn't put me to sleep at all -- actually, it was extremely helpful -- thanks for doing the legwork -- good to know.
 

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Re: Insurance rates

redirector said:
TDone, thanks for the reply. Some good additional thoughts there.

Anyone with fresh eyes care to make any conclusions or implications from this? I've probably put the group to sleep. After all, we are talking about insurance. Yaaaawwwwnnnnn!
The question is, what risk premium does an increase in rate reflect (i.e., what attributes makes an RX300, or MDX a higher risk for the insurer than an Odyssey)? If we assume (for arguments sake) that the estimated $ damage from a typical collision are comparable across all three vehicles, then the increase in the risk premium is attributable to an increase in the probability (frequency) that the event will occur. Thus, one can conclude, that the insurers are categorizing the typical owner of the RX300 (or MDX) to have driving habits more similiar to BMW owners, and conversely the owners of the ML to have driving habits more like the owners of the Odyssey (read minivan) or a Volvo.

The same principle applies to the risk premium computed for the probability of theft. The more desirable a vehicle is to a car thief, the greater the probability of theft, the greater the insurance premium. (I am not saying that the MDX is 15% more desirable than the ML, the insurance companies are ;) )
 

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I agree. The MDX is a poser. The ML is the real thing. A very good write up of the ML-55 at http://www.curtrich.com/october2001.html

Honda (oh I forgot Acura) will never match this design with the MDX.

Even the brand Acura is fake. It was invented by Honda to jack up the prestige of ordinary Hondas in North America. Much like Lexus who can take the Toyota Harrior and sell it in the US as the RX/300 for twice as much. There are no Acura plants, design centers, etc. They are all Honda. In Europe and Japan Acura does not even exist.

Mercedes owners in buying a ML320 are buying the entry level version of their highly advanced SUV. It benefits from all of the design work of expensive cars. For example the modified Mercedes-Benz 4-matic used in the ML (same as that in the E-class) is the best AWD system in the world. The MDX on the other hand is a collection of Honda parts found in economy cars. Its drive train is derived from a mini-van. To add further insult to injury, the MDX owners are going to have to deal with the fact that Honda is going to produce a much cheaper version of the MDX under the Honda brand name. Something that Mercedes owners don't have to worry about.




proteus said:
Hmmm...
Actually 0-60 in 9.1 is pretty much the norm for the ML. MB is usually quite conservative when they publish those numbers.
The ML is hardly underpowered for its job, safe family transportation through all terrain.
It amuses me to think people actually consider SUV's sporty. The ML and MDX are both nice, but both handle like pigs compared to any modern sedan...like an Audi, or Acura TL. Simply a matter of high center of mass, and more weight.
Sorry to say, you DON"T buy an SUV for acceleration and handling...thats what sedans or sports cars are for. SUV's are for all weather,all terrain ability to haul large amounts of cargo or people. Of course, there are always those poseurs who feel driving an SUV is "cool" or "Macho".
Bottom line. You choose a vehicle based on how well it does what its meant to do. I submit the ML seems to be better in this catagory.
ML gives you CHOICES on the engines. For those practical people amongst us, we don't get into stoplight drags, and appreciate the safety, and handling factors more, thus the ML320. If you need more power...get the ML500. If you need to smoke RSX's at the stoplight...get the ML55.
However, the main appeal of the ML is it has a build quality and solidity that no Japanese car can come close to. Unlike the MDX, there's nothing fake about the ML. I've driven both. Have you?
 

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To the Mercedes Fan...

You state:

"To add further insult to injury, the MDX owners are going to have to deal with the fact that Honda is going to produce a much cheaper version of the MDX under the Honda brand name. Something that Mercedes owners don't have to worry about. "

I would bet that MDX purchasers as a whole aren't "worried about" what other folks drive and how their "MDX Image" might suffer.

If you want to pay for an "Image" and buy something that costs more than an MDX, that's your right.

YOU don't have to justify to US why you spent THOUSANDS MORE on something YOU wanted. You apparently want everyone to know though, that you DID.
 

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I love the MDX but...

I drove the 2002 ML320 today and it was very nice. On top of that the dealer states he'll knock $2300 off of the sticker for a sunroof/3 row seating car if I order bringing it to $37K. The MDX is stuck at the $35.1 MSRP. I just got off the phone with USAA, my insurance company, and they quoted me annual premiums of $862 for the MDX but only $682 for the ML320. What's up with that??? I'm going to have to think about this...
 

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Just remember one country's luxury automobile is another country's taxicab. :D

There is one thing to be said about the ML series they are very popular so popular on dealer lots one can be had for a under MSRP and the current 4.4 lease deal is very good, that just shows you the incredible profit built into each car. Both I guess are a win for MB, although the residuals take a hit, in the end a win for Acura and their owners.

I have two neighbors that own ML-series, one first year 320 and the other last years 430. The later is very happy with his and I do like the interior and the acceleration but not the price. The former well lets say that he really enjoys his "C" class dealer loaner. I have seen that car in the driveway at least 6 times this year and once for a week(I have only lived in this house for a year). The win I guess goes to MB for having a standard practice for giving a loaner. The owner is a BMW guy; he owns an M3 and 1100 series bike. He is still holding out until they ship ML's or some new MB SUV from Germany. Gotta like the dedication to a brand...

Yes a "brand", that’s really all it is. For me I liked my 94 Accord EX and it has been the "PERFECT" car for 8 years (i still own it). Only one voluntary recall in YES the 7th year, and American Honda paid for everything including the cab, tow, lunch, and threw in a 90K service for the cost of the parts, their cost! For me I like the Honda "brand", ever since my 81 Accord, 84 CRX-LX, 85 Accord-EX and 90 CRX-SI.

I like BMW's, but not the '01 ML. If I had to choose all over again I would give the new ML series (and the 1000 changes) a test ride again and then wait a year, just with the MDX I never buy a new model the first year. The only time I almost broke that rule was to put a hefty deposit for an M5 which I later pulled out of when an 8 month delivery wait turned in 18 months :(

So far I am very happy with my 2002 T/N RR as I should for a $40K SUV. But for some reason I don't have the want/need to go to MB site/forum, I guess it just shows my comfort with my purchase decision after the purchase.

I hope that your ML gives you a long time of dependable service. Stop back from time to time and let us know how your ML is treating you. Seriously my parents will be in the market for a new car/SUV next year and HID's, Stability Control, and Towing a large boat are requirements.

Happy Trails!

Steve...
 

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Hey Mr. Rich

Curt (oh I forgot) Lester,

Give me a break!!!!!!!

Lester89 said:
...Something that Mercedes owners don't have to worry about.
Then why the hell are you here AND making post to defend the ML55 you own?!?!?!?!?!?
 

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Not to mention the strange logic in comparing a $65k-$70k ML55 to a $35k-$40k MDX. I don't think an ML55 owner thinks of their vehicle as being too similar to an ML320. Especially the 2002 edition which has gained about 175 pounds and lowered its mileage ratings, while power remains the same.

Heck, if I could buy an ML55 for $45k, I'd be all over it. But that's neither here nor there.

I was surprised in reading that, uh, balanced comparison from the MB salesman, that the M-class's turning circle went up a couple of feet. Still very similar to the MDX (one foot more rather than one foot less now), but I was still surprised.
 

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Lester89 said:
For example the modified Mercedes-Benz 4-matic used in the ML (same as that in the E-class) is the best AWD system in the world.
Lay of the juice buddy, NOBODY i repeat NOBODY thinks that the ML320 4wd system is the best in the world!! I would say Audi(every vehicle they offer has a quattro option)or Jeep, or even Subaru(every vehicle has 4-wd as Standard equipment)!

I read the link that lester provided, truly entertaining:p

lets get this straight, when curt is talking about the MDX he criticizes the "weak" VTM-4 system, points out 2 or 3 times that it is only used in 1st and 2nd gear, etc. etc. however, he never mentions the fact that the MDX has more storage capacity(50 cubic ft. behind the 2nd row seats vs. 34 in the ML), or the fact that the ML is the "king of Recalls" or the fact that warranty repair on the ML over the last 5 years has cost MB over 1 BILLION dollars(it was such a concern that i was discussed in a special board mtng)......btw, VTM-4 kicks in at any speed, but can only be locked in 1st, 2nd or reverse.

when he talks about the X5, then he points to the fact that the ML is larger, and has more storage(funny, he didn't mention the storage of the MDX), and has a pretty good 4-wd system(because it is similar to the ML). .... oh i could go on and on :mad: :rolleyes: :mad:

oh and another thing, i would have bought the MDX even if it was sold at a Honda dealership, why, because i trust Honda, I believe that when Honda launches a new vehicle, it is usually revolutionary or at the least the gold standard by which every vehicle(in that class) will be measured(MDX, s2000, Odyssey, civic, accord)

you notice that HONDA is named after the gentleman that founded the company(Soichiro Honda), unlike Mercedes- whick was named after the daughter of an exporter of their vehicles

btw, IMHO, MB is the Chevy of Europe(or actually i should say the chrysler) and Middle East. like Eruption stated, it is the Taxi-Cab Co. of Europe and Middle East:D
 

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jeff968

I would have to agree that the ML looks to be a pretty good deal when u compare the real world prices of the ML to the MDX. I would say the ML is ALMOST worth considering if u got an equally equipped ML(3 row seats etc) for the same price as the MDX at MSRP(specially when finding one is difficult).

However, remember, there are a couple of other things to consider. First, when u compare cost of ownership over 5+ years, the MDX will most likely be cheaper(even if maintenance on the ML is free for first 3 yrs). don't just take my word for it, Kiplinger's voted the MDX there choice for best luxury SUV- partially due to its lower cost of ownership. Second, you can't put a $ value of satisfaction. multiple trips to the dealership for quality control problems, breakdowns, and recalls can be extremely frustrating. no matter how many improvements the new ML has, I believe it will continue to have reliability issues(even in MY'02). as long as you know and accept these conditions, you will probably be satisfied(may be not happy). ;)
 

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oh, and regarding the cost of insurance---well i don't have a good answer for that one. I read Donsev's comments but, that still doesn't quite satisfy me. I will see if i can find out from my agent.
 
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