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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Until a few weeks ago, I was resolved to keep my ML for at least 3 more years, and maybe even 5.

But of late, I found myself more and more worrying about it, not only when driving it but at other times as well. At first this was ok, then it got tiring, then downright oppressive. I had owned it since new and the first four years (warranty years of course) it was as troublesome as its legend has it. So just before the W ran out I purchased a RepairMaster extended for $2300.

As luck and irony has it, I used that EW only once in five years, and that for a $300 repair. Then when that ran out, I joined this forum and learned a lot and some stuff started breaking or making stupid noises (blower fan motor, anyone?). Then I read some more, caused some problems of my own (see my other threads if you're curious) and read some more... the sheer quantity and variety of problems started making me lose my hair (well, not literally).

So when AC_ML posted about buying his MDX a few weeks ago I read this with much interest and went and drove one. I was pretty impressed by it although it felt a bit big for my taste (read: van-like) and somehow didn't convince me it was a suitable substitute for my ML, although it of course has tons more goodies and warranty. I was particularly impressed by how it cornered but not so much with how it wallowed a bit on start/stop. Also the looks... ah, the looks. (No offense AC_ML, really, I almost bought one).

My expanded search took me in both price directions from that MDX, from Kia Sorento to Porsche Cayenne. I eventually ended up with a 2011 BMW X5 Diesel and like it very much. The scoot this thing has leaves me gaping each time I drive it. When my daughter followed me in the ML to complete the deal she lost touch with me (in the X5) in the first five minutes or so, unable to keep up. In the meantime I wasn't even aware I was driving fast. It is also a sublime driving experience and I honestly feel a twinge of regret when I spy my driveway at the end of my day's journey. (In contrast, the ML engendered a sigh of relief).

The BMW sales experience was also quite unlike what I recall from my MB experience over 12 years ago. The most awful bunch of stuffed shirts I've ever seen or can imagine (although in fairness BMW also had that rep before and it's possible MB could have changed), and I was treated with nose-in-the-air attitude, maybe 'cause I didn't fit the fur-coat and Rolex image.

So I deliberately dressed like a slob when I went car shopping. The Bimmer store guys treated me just fine. I went over to Parts after the sale and ended up chatting with the manager about nothing much for 20 minutes! Same with a service advisor who I cornered in his office with some questions. All of them acted like regular guys but respectful and knowledgeable to boot. I went and asked the used car manager some questions and he was nice as could be, despite being obviously busy as hell. When I went in to the dealership the day after the sale, the F&I guy who closed my paperwork saw me across the room and came over and shook my hand and inquired about my satisfaction. Those *&^$#@ M-B people otoh wouldn't give me the time of day back then.

We enjoyed our ML while we owned it, despite the ugly occasions such as when I ended up dealing with the regional quality manager (or some such thing) and he also treated me like a leper. This because they left me and family (very young kids, wife, grandma and me) at the side of a super-busy highway because some moron tech left a bolt loose (during an 'A' service!) and the car spilled trans fluid all over the road a few hours later. For over a year, they tried to conceal the fact that they had even touched the transmission until I chanced to see it on an SA's screen.

That car saw my kids growing up, took us all over the Southeast and even around Canada. It got us through bad weather and nice events. But it was time for it to go, and while we'll miss its good memories I am glad not to have to wake up thinking about what work it needs this day.

No eulogy is complete without gratitude, and same goes out to the many forum members here who helped me, both directly through PMs and replies to my questions, and indirectly through their contributions on other threads. 43, Noodles, FAR, keyhole, Gesundheit are some names that pop into my mind right away. Others too I am sure. I am leaving rudeney off this list because he began helping me long before I even knew of this forum! I have learned a lot about cars in general after being on this forum, and that's cool.
 

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'05 ML350SE
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1,395 Posts
Why do I feel like I am in a funeral service listening to a eulogy? Sorry about your departure but understand fullyand, hope the BMW treats you well as the M.
 

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2000 ML430
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209 Posts
Funny. I just put up the ML for sale yesterday for the same reason. Just getting sick of always being worried about what is going to break next. Chevrolet/Ford/Hyundai here I come!
 

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ML430 - sold
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929 Posts
kck7 - your experience mirrors mine more or less exactly with my ML / MBUSA experience with the exception that mine was a pain from day one and continually in the shop for something.

Like you I test drove quite a few ML replacements (except the W164 for obvious reasons) - then settled on a Lexus RX400h. The RX now has 37,000 miles on the clock, has never missed a beat and has returned over 29mpg over these 37,000 miles !

Boringly reliable, but in a good way.

Enjoy your BMW and may it give you many years of trouble free service :)
 

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2000 ML430, 2000 C280
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920 Posts
Unfortunately, BMW may be no better. I still remember my neighbor abandoning his BMW because a replacement electronic chip was $2000. Likewise, a family member dumped his BMW because of repairs. Get the extended warranty.

The change in sales attitude is due with the change in the economy, and not the brand. I suspect that salespeople from either brand are now real nice to any potential buyer.

DelJ




....I eventually ended up with a 2011 BMW X5 Diesel and like it very much. ...

The BMW sales experience was also quite unlike what I recall from my MB experience over 12 years ago. The most awful bunch of stuffed shirts I've ever seen or can imagine...

...
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
kck,

That was a great write-up which I enjoyed reading immensely; though tinged with sadness.

Sadness that yet another member is leaving the forum (W163) and sadness too in the reality that lately I have also been thinking about the possibility of selling my ML.

It currently has a permanently stiff power steering as a result of a faulty traction control module costing $780 and an electrical problem with a small part in my steering rack. The part cannot be bought separately and I have to purchase the entire steering rack for $1395!!!!

The only thing stopping me from selling mine is the question of WHAT does one replace it with?

I wish you all the very best and do drop in and 'see' us often.

Enjoy the new X5 and post pictures if you can.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks FAR. Sorry to read of your issues as well. I think in general this truck is approaching that age when its upkeep is going to cost more than it's worth. For most owners I mean...

Regarding choices for replacement, I think just about every mainstream manufacturer now has a viable SUV. When I had the ML I thought that it was irreplaceable for its combination of values, such as 'truckiness' (full frame), off-roading (although I did this exactly zero times), spaciousness in a small package (ok this may be a little tricky and I don't really understand why), and prestige (no comment there). But when it started taking over my mind, my day and my wallet, I figured it had to go. I saw it in the dealer lot when I went there for some follow-on paperwork, and of course I felt more than a twinge. Like I said, it saw my kids grow up, and it was the first prestige brand we have owned.

Some other brands/cars I considered in addition to MDX, Cayenne and Sorento were the Touareg, Mazda duo (7&9), Murano, Subaru, Hyundai, Toyota. But I only drove the first three above. For one reason or other, I never got to the other dealerships (eg Subaru dealer is too far away). I don't like the Honda feel (and worried about this a bit with Acura) and didn't at all consider MB or Lexus, for different reasons. Didn't consider the domestic brands due to bad taste from a previous ownership (there have got to be millions who feel this way, which is one reason I wonder if the Big 3 will ever succeed), at least not for another generation (of customers, not cars). I did not consider Infiniti although I am very happy with the 2003 G35 in my garage, as their styling has become way too mushroom-influenced IMO.

I actually wasn't even considering BMW until a chance test drive of an older X5, and the fact that my daughter, who was helping me choose a car and has helped me a lot with repairs and maintenance, is an intern with BMW (no I did not get a price break for this), so she kept insisting I consider one. She actually works on fit-n-finish for X5s in SC, so the likelihood that she had touched my car before it was built was kinda cool, although obviously not a decision factor.

Finally, having owned a so-called 'prestige' brand before, I found it hard to step down (at least while I still have the means). So call me shallow. Now I don't want to go gushing all over the Bimmer in typical rebound fashion so I will hold my comments for later if necessary. But it's a nice car with nice performance and good appointments. Comparing its price to the ML and the extra stuff one gets nowadays (eg pano roof, all the electronics) it is not really any more expensive, after inflation, than the ML was in its day. If I were able to improve anything I'd probably make the interior a little more 'luxury-like' and that's about it. OTOH, I appreciate BMW's approach to this, in that they have a design philosophy and more or less stick to it. Hardly what one can say of some other brands.

On that thought, to me the Porsche Cayenne is the best SUV I can get. However, its repair/upkeep costs are likely to be even more than BMW/MB, and the new Cayenne is a first-year model, which I do my best to avoid now. But for a tasty combination of luxury, performance and overall cachet, the Cayenne is hard to beat. Yes the looks are polarizing and resale value doesn't match BMW or even Lexus.

Whatever is chosen, it's clear that cars nowadays are SO MUCH better than they used to be that almost anything will be fine. The market is so competitive, in no small part due to the knowledge made possible by the internet, that I wonder if THESE are the good old days. You can keep your Holley carbs, your 442s, your UltraGlides, your baroque tailfins... give me a modern car any day.
 

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1998 ML320
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36 Posts
I hate to say that I look forward to the day I say good-bye to our 1998 ML. We've had it since late 1997 but I'm always waiting for some expensive thing to go wrong that I would not expect on another car. We had a 1993 300E and that was the same. Nice when it ran but out of the blue some expensive repair. The ml has never left us on the side of the road but it rides like a tank (too stiff), and rattles like a mass transit bus. It has too many cosmetic dings to sell for very much but is good in the snow. I don't know what we'll replace it with but it won't be mb. Out recent VW and Lexus have turned out to be better.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Pics

Taken just before and during a light snowfall, with yesterday's still on the ground.

Snow is rare in these parts so it's quite a nice setting that befits the X5. I drove it in packed ice today and tried to make it misbehave in a parking lot, and it held its ground as well as the ML.

First fillup gave me about 20 mpg, but that was just a quarter tank and lots of idling while figuring out the controls etc.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
More...

The color's name is Platinum Gray, but it has the quality of appearing different in different light and angles. As you can see it looks blue or blue-green in some pics. It can also take on a brownish look in fluorescent light.
 

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ML320 2002
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1,645 Posts
kck, did BMW changed the transmission to 8 speed in 2011?

Far, you should consider a X5 diesel or ML63.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
kck, did BMW changed the transmission to 8 speed in 2011?

Far, you should consider a X5 diesel or ML63.
The gasoline versions have a new 8-speed along with the turbo change to the 3.0L gas. My diesel has a 6-speed auto which is in its 3rd year and I like it that way. I've read where the 8-speed 'hunts' a little more than some people like, plus it's a first-year tranny.

Definitely a thumbs-up for the diesel. Once you get past the sound I see no disadvantages. It's got torque to waste and can bring on the juice at any speed upto about 80 mph. I smoked a pony car (late-model Mustang/Camaro/Charger, I can't recall as they all look the same to me :D) yesterday on a deserted two-lane because he was dawdling (probably on phone). He tried to speed up when he saw me on his left but by then he was already in my mirrors.
 

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ML320 2002
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The gasoline versions have a new 8-speed along with the turbo change to the 3.0L gas. My diesel has a 6-speed auto which is in its 3rd year and I like it that way. I've read where the 8-speed 'hunts' a little more than some people like, plus it's a first-year tranny.

Definitely a thumbs-up for the diesel. Once you get past the sound I see no disadvantages. It's got torque to waste and can bring on the juice at any speed upto about 80 mph. I smoked a pony car (late-model Mustang/Camaro/Charger, I can't recall as they all look the same to me :D) yesterday on a deserted two-lane because he was dawdling (probably on phone). He tried to speed up when he saw me on his left but by then he was already in my mirrors.
I test drove all X5 versions last year. X5 diesel was the best performer since it was the only one with turbo. I don't about the 3.0 turbo gas engines. But the 6 speed transmission shifts were harsh compared to silky smooth MLs. Besides, MPG would improve even more if they put 8 speed in diesels.
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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Very nice looking machine kck!:thumbsup:

I really like the look of it and that paint colour.

Thank you for posting those pictures.

ps.

Merzatt, an ML63 would be great; but they're still a bit out of my reach price-wise at the moment.:D

I've been looking at 2004+ E55 AMGs recently.

I'm hoping for a good 2011 and then we'll see. (Please God...:bowdown:)
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
I test drove all X5 versions last year. X5 diesel was the best performer since it was the only one with turbo. I don't about the 3.0 turbo gas engines. But the 6 speed transmission shifts were harsh compared to silky smooth MLs. Besides, MPG would improve even more if they put 8 speed in diesels.
I'm no expert on transmissions and not trying to justify anything (see my recent escapades with the ML :rolleyes:) but I read somewhere recently that "smooth and silky" is not really a good thing for transmissions, that it might imply slippage, and that a proper auto should shift precisely and firmly.

Again, not defending or anything. I personally like the smoother shifts also, but not if it means it is not mechanically optimal. Kinda like saying a "comfortable" suspension vs a "stiff" one, and we all know what that means.
 

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1990 190E 2.3
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178 Posts
I buy a quality car - not staff who shake my hand. But I suppose everyoen is different.
 

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2007 BMW X3
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472 Posts
I am glad you bought a German SUV, instead of an overpriced Japanese copy. Just curious, where is the BMW made?

Oddly enough my 2001 ML has no issues what so ever, which is nice because it's paid off. :)
 

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99 ML430, 00 ML320, 05 E500 4matic Wagon
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22,454 Posts
The X series sold in the US are made in South Carolina. You can see the plant on from the
freeway. There is a stretch near Charleston that the locals call the little Autobahn because
there are several German and European companies with facilities their. Charleston's
great natural harbor and SC's favorable tax and labor climate are very attractive for
the European companies.
 

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11,243 Posts
Congrats on the new X5. Definitely love the LCI updates on the X5; thought it was hard to improve on an already near perfect SUV, but they did.
 
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