Trouble stirs across the Atlantic. Two German kings of comfort face off against two British lieges of luxury.
The battle is to be fought on the grounds of performance, luxury and maintenance.
Introducing the contestants: the Jaguar XJ, the Mercedes M-Class, the Land Rover Range Rover, and the Audi Q5.
Performance: Analyzing the Road
Performance is a shibboleth. What thrills one driver scares another. Mercedes-Benz appeals to the middle ground. The M-Class comes with one of four engines, ranging from a 302-horsepower V6 to a fuel-efficient turbodiesel to a 518-horsepower V8. Yet no matter the model, the M-Class never transitions from fast to furious. Lower models are powerful but porky. Upper models offer stupendous straight line speed, as low as 4.7 seconds from 0-60 mph, but their adaptive suspensions prevent drifts and other devilish maneuvers.
With its pizza-sized disc brakes and dramatic wheels, the Jaguar XJ prefers a different road. A proper grand tourer, it mixes adrenaline with sophistication. Drift it can. Launch it will. Yet such features like an active rear differential and selectable suspension tuning allow drivers to customize the sedan’s cat-like responses.
The Range Rover likes the road less traveled. Available with either a V6 or a V8 engine, the stocky truck-based SUV can wade through creeks, clamber over boulders and still impress at the country club. It has an all-aluminum body to conserve fuel consumption, and full-time 4WD comes standard. Unfortunately, its prowess off-road translates to cumbersome on-road behavior.
The Audi Q5 offers the most practical performance of the quartet. AWD keeps the car firmly planted. Each Q5, though quick, is rated at minimum 26 highway mpg. The optional Audi Drive Select feature allows drivers to tailor transmission, throttle and suspension characteristics to their liking, and steering feel is flawless.
Maintenance: The Elephant in the Room
According to J.D. Power and Associates, the Jaguar XJ has overall average reliability. The sedan comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty. No recalls have been issued.
NHTSA has not issued any safety recalls for the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Overall quality is rated by J.D. Power as above average. Typical for Mercedes, repair costs are higher than U.S. domestic luxury brands.
Although the Audi Q5 ranks very highly in J.D. Power’s APPEAL execution and layout study, it scores average in mechanical quality. No safety recalls have been issued. The Q5 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.
Unfortunately, the Range Rover lives up to its notorious mechanical reputation. Overall initial mechanical quality is scored by J.D. Power and Associates as below average, and one NHTSA safety recall has been issued for the 2014 model vehicle. If you drive the 2014 model in Las Vegas and experienced these mechanical issues, bring it to Desert Oasis European Auto Service and Repair immediately.
Luxury: Playing the Trump Card
In the automobile luxury world, heated seats, leather upholstery, parking systems, touchscreen interfaces, Bluetooth, dramatic interior design and other decadent features are mere appetizers. Something besides decadence is signature. What is it? What makes each vehicle unique?
Ironically, the Range Rover’s claim to fame is comfort. Consider the Range Rover Autobiography with Rear Executive Class Seating package. Rear passengers have power-folding tables, footrests, refrigerators, dual 8-inch screens and massaging chairs. All occupants enjoy a 29-speaker Meridian sound system, a panoramic sunroof, four-zone automatic climate control and more leather than a Texas cattle run. It’s enough to shame King Solomon.
Many similar features are available on the Jaguar XJ, but what sets apart the sedan is its attention to craftsmanship and interior detail. Faux suede and leather cocoon the cabin. Dozens of wood, metallic and synthetic finishes can be unlocked. The exterior can be dyed any color in the artist’s palate. Sitting in an XJ is a visceral aesthetic experience.
Mercedes does what Mercedes does best: science. As the inventor of the four-wheel independent suspension, the airbag, and other automotive firsts, Mercedes pushes the boundaries of what cars can do. So it surprising that the M-Class can be had with an automated parallel parking system or adaptive cruise control? Does it not make sense that the M-Class offers curving headlights and the award-winning Airmatic adaptive suspension?
Audi, once again, walks the middle ground. It sells everything from surround-sound audio systems to the Sport Interior appearance package to the Driver Assist aid and safety package. It may be difficult to please all the people all the time – with apologies to Abraham Lincoln – but the Audi Q5 puts forth a valiant effort. Like its competitors, the Q5 sits up to five people in its spacious cabin.
Is it better to drive a wickedly fast British sedan or a practical, stylish German SUV? Better to have on-road performance or off-road chops? In the end, these four luxury titans are each unique, reputable and desirable. Continue the debate with us over which is the best luxury SUV the next time you bring yours in for repair at Desert Oasis European Auto Service and Repair in Las Vegas, specializing in repairing the finest European vehicles ever made. Contact us at 702-255-4090.