Everyone’s had that moment, while looking for a new car, when they ask themselves, “What’s the least I can spend on a new Dodge Charger?” Well, you’ll find the answer is in the $30k area for your everyday Charger SE, but then you may notice that next to that SE is the $70k Charger SRT Hellcat. That’s right, you can get two basic Chargers for the price of a single Hellcat. Granted, the Hellcat engine transforms the Charger into a completely different animal, but the Charger isn’t even close to the most egregious example of price disparity within a single model’s lineup.
BMW has been the benchmark of luxury car sales in the United States for decades. The BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, X3, and X5 have provided the German automaker with ample opportunity to dominate sales charts here.
Worldwide, though, the other two German companies have been slowly inching closer to the sales king by offering what many consider to be better-designed cars that provide superior value. Mercedes-Benz and Audi are top-tier luxury players and last month both managed to outsell their cross-country rival.
Does this mean we have a new champ in the luxury and performance category? Not yet. But BMW ought to quickly come up with a plan to keep itself on top.
There’s a German automaker in the midst of a turnaround. The company has redesigned many of its vehicles and has plans to introduce additional models, including sedans, crossovers, and SUVs.
The brand is also forging ahead with plans for dedicated electric vehicles and cars with advanced autonomous driving technology.
The front-end design has evolved over the years into a signature look that the automaker hopes to expand into new models, while continuing to push design limits in future concept vehicles.
The automaker has also sworn off trends such as convertible SUVs and 2-door SUVs in favor of more traditional sedans, SUVs, and crossovers.
We’re talking about the new face of Mercedes-Benz.
But could the German car giant be gunning for some of Audi’s success?
Don’t drink beer out of green bottles, don’t forget to stretch, and always remember to write your grandmother a thank-you note. Along with these basic rules for success, when researching new cars, I’ve always eliminated options that were available only with automatic transmissions. Car enthusiasts argue over almost every imaginable detail, save this one. Perhaps it has to do with their beloved “involvement” with the machines that they adore, but manual transmissions have long been a unanimous preference for card-carrying members of the local gearhead union.
Is a Lincoln as good as a Lexus?
Can an Acura take down an Audi?
Will an Infiniti be as good as a BMW?
There are two groups of cars in the luxury world: the ones that command respect and the ones that desperately want it. Automotive News breaks these down a little more formally, calling them the “Tier 1” group and the “Tier 2” group.
Tier 1 includes BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. Tier 2 includes Lincoln, Acura, Cadillac, and Audi.
If I were making the rules, I’d put Audi up in Tier 1, because it has decidedly outsold the others in Tier 2 and has, in my humble opinion, eclipsed the quality level of BMW.
The Tier 1 group continues to establish its dominance, while the Tier 2 group struggles to maintain relevance. Are cars from Tier 2 worth considering?
I pulled up to the bank yesterday and parked nose to nose with a Mercedes-Benz.
It was kind of weird at first glance but I only looked for a moment and didn’t give it a second glance until I passed it again, on foot, on the way into the bank.
The car was an “Anniversary Edition,” at least according to the crudely applied stickers near the front fender. That’s when I paid more attention and realized the car wasn’t a Mercedes at all.
It was a Kia.
Consumer Reports has drunk the American Kool-Aid.
The magazine, influential among car shoppers who commonly consult its ratings and recommendations, has made a decision that doesn’t make any sense.
I’m not saying car shoppers should dismiss the magazine’s advice, but I will say, on this topic, mine is better.
As the singer Lorde likes to say,
“But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.”
It’s interesting that the Maybach made it into the lyrics of a hit pop song, considering the luxury car company built its last car in 2012.
Owned by the people who bring us Mercedes-Benz, Maybach floundered in the luxury game and couldn’t keep up with the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Perhaps thanks to a young singer, the brand is being revived and will attempt to sell to young millionaires in the United States.
We all want more. Whatever it is, we’re never content with what we have. We need more money, a bigger home, more ice cream and a better car.
This is as true for corporations as it is for individuals.
The guy with a BMW eventually grows tired of his ol’ Beemer and wants a Rolls-Royce. The Porsche driver might tire of his sports car and want to upgrade to a Lamborghini. It’s the nature of humans to strive for the next attainable goal.
Since humans own corporations, they too never stop making purchases to expand.
Even when sitting parked in the garage, a car costs big money.
Owning a car is like having a constantly running meter of dollar signs adding to your monthly financial obligations. Things like insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking and loan payments contribute to the gigantic price of owning a vehicle.
Not driving your car certainly reduces the costs of having it, but you’ll never eliminate the financial obligations of car ownership.
Public transportation is a viable option when trying to reduce or eliminate commuting costs. The tradeoff, though, is becoming reliant on someone else’s schedule and being forced to interact with certain members of humanity you otherwise might choose to avoid.
Car sharing is a fairly new phenomenon and might be just the solution for those who need to reduce their transportation costs but don’t want to give up the freedom of having a car. If only some cooler cars were available….