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Robert A
11-09-2004, 08:12 AM
From the Wall Street Journal - 11/9/04:
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RATING THE CARS
European brands fared particularly poorly in the sedan segment


Top 5 "most reliable"


Lexus IS 300

Acura RL*

Toyota Camry 4-cylinder

Toyota Avalon

Lexus LS 430

Top 5 "least reliable"


BMW 5 Series

VW Passat all-wheel drive

Pontiac Grand Prix super-charged

Saab 9-3

Volvo S60

*Ranking of the old RL


Source: Consumer Reports



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A Bad Report Card
For European Cars
BMW, VW, Mercedes Fare
Poorly in Influential Listing,
But Japanese Models Shine

By NEAL E. BOUDETTE
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 9, 2004; Page D1

Once ranked among the auto industry's best in quality, European cars are becoming known for something else: unreliable performance.

In Consumer Reports' preview of 2005 cars, released yesterday, not a single European vehicle made it onto the magazine's influential "most reliable" list. Instead, the list of least-reliable vehicles reads like a roll call of what traditionally had been the industry's most prestigious and pricey names: the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series, the Mercedes S Class and E Class, the Jaguar X-Type and S-Type. The Saab 9-3 and the Volkswagen Jetta, Golf and New Beetle also rate far below average for reliability. Of the 38 cars rated least reliable, 20 were from European makers.

In contrast, Japanese makes dominated the reliability ratings. Twenty-nine of the 32 cars rated most reliable were Japanese. Vehicles made by Toyota fared particularly well, including the Avalon, the Camry, the Highlander and the RAV4. American brands were in the middle, faring slightly better than the Europeans. Eleven American cars -- including the Hummer H2, Chevrolet Astro van, Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicle and Chrysler Sebring convertible -- were among the least reliable. Two made the grade as most reliable: the Buick Regal, which has been discontinued for 2005, and the Pontiac Grand Prix. Both are made by General Motors Corp.

Long known for high quality, European brands have slumped badly in the past several years. In Consumer Reports' 2004 survey, Detroit car and truck brands ranked ahead of European brands on average -- for the first time in 25 years. Other quality studies, such as the J.D. Power & Associates customer-satisfaction surveys, have shown a similar slide by the European brands.

"The Europeans tend to engineer very complicated cars with lot of electronics that lead to problems," said David Champion, senior director for auto testing at Consumer Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

The BMW 7 Series, for example, has more than 120 electric motors, including 38 just for adjusting its seats, and dozens of microprocessors to control everything from the humidity inside the car to the angle at which the wipers rest on the windshield. "The Japanese in general tend to try to simplify as much as possible," Mr. Champion said.

Mr. Champion said the nagging quality problems European car makers are suffering will have an impact on their sales over time. Through October, U.S. sales of Mercedes-Benz cars have fallen 1.6%, while Volkswagen AG has seen U.S. sales for its VW brand slump 15%.
[The 2004 Saab 9-3 and the 2004 BMW 5 Series scored poorly on reliability.]
The 2004 Saab 9-3 (right) and the 2004 BMW 5 Series (below) scored poorly on reliability.



BMW's overall U.S. sales are up 8%, thanks to the arrival of a new SUV, the X3. But U.S. sales of the 5 Series are down 5%; 7 Series sales have dropped 19%. In contrast, sales at Lexus, which is owned by Toyota Motor Corp., are up 12%.

For Mercedes-Benz, quality problems are taking a bite out of the bottom line, too. In the third quarter, DaimlerChrysler AG said additional spending to take care of Mercedes quality glitches was part of the cause for a 62% drop in its Mercedes division's operating profit.

The cars included on the "least reliable" list are not eligible for inclusion in Consumer Report's list of recommended vehicles.
[2004 Volvo S60]
2004 Volvo S60



BMW AG's poor rating doesn't come as a surprise to Gerard Rabadeau, a 58-year-old financial adviser in Westfield, N.J. He bought a 2004 5 Series sedan earlier this year, and the trouble started the day he picked up the car. He ordered a 5 Series primarily because it was supposed to have "Bluetooth" wireless technology that would automatically connect his cellphone to the car's communications system. That would allow him to jump in the car and talk hands-free with clients while driving.

But when he picked up the vehicle, the salesman explained the Bluetooth technology wasn't working yet, and he didn't know if BMW would ever get it to work. Within a week or so, the "key in ignition" warning started going off -- even after he left the car with the key in his pocket. Later, the security alarm started blaring whenever he used his key-fob remote to pop the trunk.

He has taken the car back to the dealership several times, but the problems continue to occur, and he is resigned to only opening the trunk manually. "I haven't had problems with the traditional engine, the transmission, but the electronics are a real pain," Mr. Rabadeau said. "It's frustrating. It's a $60,000 car."

The survey is based on responses from Consumer Reports' approximately five million magazine and online subscribers. It compiled data on 810,000 vehicles and covered the 1997 to 2004 model years. CR averages the overall reliability scores for the most recent three years. For vehicles that have been significantly redesigned, the rankings used only data on the most recent version. That's the case with the BMW 5 Series, which was redesigned last year.

Write to Neal E. Boudette at neal.boudette@wsj.com

liuk3
11-09-2004, 03:36 PM
do you know whether they were referring to the E39 or the E60? or perhaps they were refering to both?

Rgol
11-09-2004, 04:27 PM
Same issues with 7-series...too much in computer controls. Constant software "patches" for fixes...It is like friggin Windows.

Robert

mrbmwrob
11-09-2004, 04:28 PM
I think they were refering to the new one ;)

BMW needs to improve on this :(

liuk3
11-09-2004, 04:37 PM
I think they were refering to the new one ;)

BMW needs to improve on this :(

Yeah, the reason I was asking was because in the article at the bottom they said

"The survey is based on responses from Consumer Reports' approximately five million magazine and online subscribers. It compiled data on 810,000 vehicles and covered the
1997 to 2004 model years."

yet, the article says that they were referring to 2005 models.

mwagner1
11-09-2004, 04:55 PM
This is both sad and interesting....

There are three cars on the list that I would not drive, no matter how reliable they are...the Avalon and the LS430 are frumpy cars, and all I ever see driving these cars are people that appear to be at death's door (age wise).....

I know many people in the local BMW club who admit that there are sometimes issues that can cause head aches....but those head aches are cured when they take their babies out and scream down some of the great roads in the Texas Hill Country. I recently got to drive an older 5 Series after driving a new 530i. Sorry, I will take the new 5 Series.

Yes, I do wish that there were not so many technical issues with the new BMWs. But then again, I know people who have driven Lamborghini's, Ferrari, etc and these people deal with problems all the time: do they stop driving them?? NOPE!!!! They deal with the nits and warts to experience the incredible thrill that those cars bring.

Can an LS430 be thrilling, besides floating down the highway at 95??? The Avalon????

Yes, Japanese car makers make reliable cars, but other than a few sweet cars (Acura NSX, etc), most of the cars are boring, boring, BORING!!!!!! : puke:

My $.02!!!!

Cheers,

Mark in Austin

dagoo98
11-10-2004, 07:47 AM
Yeah, the reason I was asking was because in the article at the bottom they said

"The survey is based on responses from Consumer Reports' approximately five million magazine and online subscribers. It compiled data on 810,000 vehicles and covered the
1997 to 2004 model years."

yet, the article says that they were referring to 2005 models.

Keep reading and it says that this study used the most recent one which is for the redesigned five series, E60

dagoo98
11-10-2004, 07:49 AM
This is both sad and interesting....

There are three cars on the list that I would not drive, no matter how reliable they are...the Avalon and the LS430 are frumpy cars, and all I ever see driving these cars are people that appear to be at death's door (age wise).....

I know many people in the local BMW club who admit that there are sometimes issues that can cause head aches....but those head aches are cured when they take their babies out and scream down some of the great roads in the Texas Hill Country. I recently got to drive an older 5 Series after driving a new 530i. Sorry, I will take the new 5 Series.

Yes, I do wish that there were not so many technical issues with the new BMWs. But then again, I know people who have driven Lamborghini's, Ferrari, etc and these people deal with problems all the time: do they stop driving them?? NOPE!!!! They deal with the nits and warts to experience the incredible thrill that those cars bring.

Can an LS430 be thrilling, besides floating down the highway at 95??? The Avalon????

Yes, Japanese car makers make reliable cars, but other than a few sweet cars (Acura NSX, etc), most of the cars are boring, boring, BORING!!!!!! : puke:

My $.02!!!!

Cheers,

Mark in Austin


What "older" 5 series did you ride in that you are comparing to the E60 530? The driving experience would be very different from a 528 to a 540. Also, What did you like about the E60 530?

AuthorJim
11-10-2004, 08:45 AM
I emailed a buddy who writes for WSJ and he looked into it and told me that the article is referencing the E60. For several years Consumer Reports has touted the E39 as the "best car we've ever tested." Consumer Reports has had a love affair with the E39, but apparently is not nearly as smitten with the E60.

liuk3
11-10-2004, 10:16 AM
Keep reading and it says that this study used the most recent one which is for the redesigned five series, E60

Sorry. My bad. :banghead:

yujini
11-18-2004, 12:40 AM
I'd say it's cause the 2004 model is it's first year production.
Unless if you want any problems, I'd say stay away from the first year production.