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Discussion Starter #1
Where did all the space go in the 164? It is larger on the outside than a 163 and smaller on the inside. I would have expected a unit body to have more interior space for the same exterior size. By MB’s own numbers it has less cargo space. I have amazed more than a few folk by putting 7 adults in a ML and not having any knees or heads brushing anything (didn’t say it wasn’t snug). This is in a vehicle the same length as a Cavalier (and weighs twice as much). The 164 looks good, the interior a big improvement but what happened to the Tardis factor? (if you are clueless watch Doctor Who). Did they screw it up on purpose so that we would pay even more for a larger SUV that would have the same capacity as the 163?
 

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ccweems - 2/24/2005 12:50 PM

Where did all the space go in the 164? It is larger on the outside than a 163 and smaller on the inside. I would have expected a unit body to have more interior space for the same exterior size. By MB’s own numbers it has less cargo space. I have amazed more than a few folk by putting 7 adults in a ML and not having any knees or heads brushing anything (didn’t say it wasn’t snug). This is in a vehicle the same length as a Cavalier (and weighs twice as much). The 164 looks good, the interior a big improvement but what happened to the Tardis factor? (if you are clueless watch Doctor Who). Did they screw it up on purpose so that we would pay even more for a larger SUV that would have the same capacity as the 163?
Per M-B, the W164 has +2.0" front shoulder room, +2.9" front leg room, +1.1" front head room, +1.7" rear shoulder room and +0.5" rear head room. What they don't mention is the aparent decrease in rear cargo capacity (7-8 cu. ft?), though it looks spacious in the photos and has a nice perfectly level load floor.

Actually, it looks like a Time-And-Relative-Dimension-In-Space machine to me, because I think the outside looks smaller than it actually is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
GregW / Oregon - 2/24/2005 4:16 PM
Per M-B, the W164 has +2.0" front shoulder room, +2.9" front leg room, +1.1" front head room, +1.7" rear shoulder room and +0.5" rear head room. What they don't mention is the aparent decrease in rear cargo capacity (7-8 cu. ft?), though it looks spacious in the photos and has a nice perfectly level load floor.

Actually, it looks like a Time-And-Relative-Dimension-In-Space machine to me, because I think the outside looks smaller than it actually is.[/QUOTE]

Ok, it’s a little wider. Big whoop. What difference does that make anyway, especially for four passengers? I expect the loss of cargo space is important. My girl friend thought I was lying when I told her I could move a full sized freezer (which is smaller than a full sized fridge) in my ML, and close the hatch. I don't think the 164 would come close. I just can't figure out why they couldn't take the 163 packaging and make it bigger.
 

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Hi,

I quite agree, even though my dealer (who saw the W164 at a FYO preview Monday) claims that it looks quite different "in the flesh" as on photos. In developing the W164 further in the direction of "classic" MB's, it's lost some quite practical everyday features. Like luggage space, and also the rear seat folding machanism is IMHO a HUGE step backwards. Take a look at this (from Curt Rich's excellent website):

From having a back seat with which you could modulate the luggage space/rear legroom ratio, create a fully flat load area stretching from the tailgate to the front seatbacks and even (by moving the seat forward and down without lowering the seatbacks) create an ideal place for easy-to-reach luggage, pets or maybe even kids while at the same time having lots of room for other luggage, you go back to a pre-historic system where you first raise the seat cushion, then fold down the seatback, resulting in a "near-flat" load floor, considerably shorter than before. And those raised seat cushions virtually eleminates any possibility of adjusting the front seat back angle. Oh, yes, you can order the removable seat cushion option to get a flat load area, but in the ML there's nowhere (not like the A- and B-Class) to put the seat cushion.

Sorry, guys, but this isn't up to standard! The W164 may be a great step forward in vehicle dynamics and comfort, but for practical purposes the rear seat in a humble Hyundai Tucson (or its clone, the Kia Sportage [:0]!) is better thought out and easier to operate - hell, even my old, old Ford Explorer twelve years ago had an easier-folding rear seat than this.

And in comparable, current vehicles, take a look at the rear seat and cargo area in the Lexus RX: OK, it's also only "near-flat", but at the rear of the cargo area you have a place to store the luggage cover when it's not in use - in both W163 and W164 there's nowhere to put it.....

Cheers from Luxembourg (where W164 prices are due on 3/3),
Birger
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Right on Birger!

What the hell is under the rear seats? It looks like a carpeted lump. In the 163 the space under the seats was open, a feature which allowed the third row seat patrons a place to comfortably put their feet. It also made space for the seat to "collapse" into the floor which created a flat floor yet allowed the front seats to recline as desired. I wonder if the 164 front seats have to go forward to allow the rear bottom cushion to tumble forward?

Admittedly the 163 rear seats are heavy and was not particularly intuitive in their motion but the end result was the best of all worlds. On trips I could have Granny comfortably ensconced in the single rear seat, had luggage on top of the remaining rear seat which was folded down and had two warring juveniles in the third seat largely out of hearing and out of mind. The rest of their clobber was stored behind them.

How can MB turn their backs on a feature which was a competitive advantage? I expect for one thing most MB salesmen first didn't know how the seats worked, didn't know the utility it offered and certainly didn't know the competitive advantages it gave them.
 

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I can see that you just found yourself another "good" reason for buying a Lexus RX and that you know for a fact that the rear seat folding mechanism (which, buy the way is a of greatest importance) is a great step backward at a time when non of us have actually seen the new ML in real life and tried this out...

But of course, it might be possible that you have seen the light while all Mercedes-Benz engineers are left in the dark...
 

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Hello again, as always the "friendly" Norwegian [;)], eh?

ansan - 2/25/2005 3:48 PM

I can see that you just found yourself another "good" reason for buying a Lexus RX and that you know for a fact that the rear seat folding mechanism (which, buy the way is a of greatest importance) is a great step backward at a time when non of us have actually seen the new ML in real life and tried this out...

But of course, it might be possible that you have seen the light while all Mercedes-Benz engineers are left in the dark...
No, Ansan, it's not as much about "finding" reasons for getting the RX400h and not the ML320CDI, not at all, in fact.

I understand - seeing that apparently you run some kind of parallel MB dealership/customizing shop for a living - that the mere insinuation that someone might consider buying other than MB gives you allergy. Curt Rich also earns his living selling MB's, so I also understand his "allergy" towards other brands.

While we have not been unhappy with our past MB/DC products (a total of 8 vehicles, three still in service), we're not married to these car brands, and if a new model does not bring significant progress in most areas, we will consider to look elsewhere.

And yes - to us the ease and practicality of the rear seat folding mechanism IS of importance, and the traditional design on the W164 IS to us a big step backwards. We very rarely use the rear seat for transporting people, but lots of other things, and the rear seats of the '90 Explorer, the present Tucson/Sportage, and - yes - the Lexus RX are a lot more practical in everyday use. Funny as it may be, the RX can transport long, slim objects (say IKEA boxes) better than both W163 and W164 because the rear seat is split 40/20/40.

Of course, our final decision will depend on what the prices are, and - if the difference is acceptable - how the W164 looks "in the flesh".

And yes - we're still a bit skeptical about the increased fuel consumption of the new OM642 diesels: the official mixed consumption is 9,4 l/100 in both 280 and 320 CDI variants, whereas the "old" I-5 270 CDI uses 9,1 l/100 in standard 163 hp form with the 5-speed auto (and less when Carlsson-modified to 190 hp). You have a new-generation common rail injection, a significantly lighter, lower, more aerodynamic body, a new SEVEN!-speed auto, and yet the fuel consumption goes up. Slightly, yes, but it still increases.

And even though you're biased against anything non-MB, you must admit that the way the Lexus engineers have thought out the rear seat and cargo area on the RX is quite good. Have you ever tried to find a place for the luggage cover of the W163?? And also, the integrated shopping bag holder is something they MIGHT have thought of in Stuttgart (or Vance).

I wish you luck with your business - with the Norwegian price level being what it is, you're surely not taking the easy way [;)]

Kind regards,
Birger
 

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Well I knew that was coming!
But as you put it I have invested in selling Mercedes-Benz products, and when Mercedes have presented such a nice product (new ML) that looks, for most cutomers, as a big step in the right direction I think they must have done something right, when the folding mechanism of the back seat is the only thing to critize...

And then we have the fuel consumtion....
If you buy the new ML 280 CDI for about 45.000 EUR and drive it for 100.000 km this increase in fuel consumtion costs you 450 EUR (or 300 liter of diesel)!!! And then you have a car that is 28hp stronger and 302 ccm bigger displacement engine. So even if I am trying to be Dutch, I don't really get it (but know I do understand what "going Dutch" means...[:)]).

But as I see it you are really missing the whole point when buying a car, and that is resalevalue.
I am quite sure that if you buy a new 06 ML 280 CDI the valueloss will be one of the lowest in the carindustry for the next years.

As for Lexus, I did in fact have a Lexus last summer, a 00 LX 470 and it impressed me a lot. You really felt like you were driving in first class, except that the car did not have ESP and other things you would expect to find in such a car (navigation, Xenonlight, Parktronic etc, etc) and it was not possible to order these options in 2000!
But the engine was sweet and very quiet which was logical since in fact it was a Mercedes-Benz engine from the med 1970's that Toyota bought (the blueprint) from Mercedes when they found it to old fasioned.

So to sum it up. LEXUS does not impress me!
I would much rather buy a Skoda in Armani suit than a Toyota in Armani suit, but then again why not buy the real thing!

And yes, I am NOT objective!!!!

Best regards from Norway.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I know this is scary but…

For those in the US the Nissan Pathfinder is the closest replacement for the 163. Length and wheelbase within about an inch of the 163. Body on frame, third row seating (but no foot well like the ML for third row pasengers). Big bump in horsepower to 270 and has a transfer case standard on 4X4’s. Interior quality is probably on par with 2000my ML. Fully loaded with navigation about what a base ML cost (as in we would ever see one): $37.330, delivered.

I think the 164/RX comparison is probably on target.[}:)]
 

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RE: I know this is scary but…

Hi, ccweems

ccweems - 2/28/2005 6:16 PM

For those in the US the Nissan Pathfinder is the closest replacement for the 163. Length and wheelbase within about an inch of the 163. Body on frame, third row seating (but no foot well like the ML for third row pasengers). Big bump in horsepower to 270 and has a transfer case standard on 4X4’s. Interior quality is probably on par with 2000my ML. Fully loaded with navigation about what a base ML cost (as in we would ever see one): $37.330, delivered.

I think the 164/RX comparison is probably on target.[}:)]
We also have it here, the Nissan, though due to the fuel prices we get it with an I-4 common rail diesel of 2.5 litres, giving some 175 hp. You're right on spot with your argument, though the Pathfinder seems VERY big compared to the W163 - it's halfway between the W163 and the new Discovery IMHO. It's nice, very practical, and price-wise quite attractive. I would consider it if I were to do any serious off-roading.

Cheers,
Birger
 

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Hi again, Ansan [:)]

Of course you're right that the decrease in fuel economy is peanuts over a longer distance, but that's not the issue. I have difficulty to understand that a major car and engine builder like Mercedes bring out a new-generation engine with worse fuel economy than the preceding generation. And the fuel economy of the engine itself must be quite a lot worse on the new engines, because the vehicle in itself has gotten lighter, lower, has a more advanced transmission - and in standard form no transfer case. The 300 cc's extra displacement can't be the explanation - and as the particle filter isn't standard, the official fuel economy figures do not account for that.

You're of course partially right about the better resale value of the W164 vs the RX - that is, if you're selling it on the free market. If you trade it in at the dealer towards a new model, you might not be worse off with the RX than the ML. Furthermore, the market here in Luxyland is (unfortunately) particular, and nothing keeps its value, so resale value is of less importance here.

It's of course not only the rear seat folding mechanism that keeps me from falling instantly in love with the W164 - the fact that the luggage space is smaller while the car has grown has a certain relevance here, too. There's also a number of issues in the interior and exterior design - and most important: While it may be nice to be able to tailor-make your W164, it also means a long, long list of options that boost the price when buying, but are, as you know, only to a very limited degree taken into account when selling the car. The RX400h is easier in that respect: The only options seem to be the sunroof and maybe the big sound system - the rest is standard.

Another issue that could swing my decision towards the Lexus is mobility. I have another home in northern Italy, where recently driving bans have been imposed in various cities due to the weather and smog conditions. With the Lexus, I will be able to go where I want it when I want to - the W164, even with the additional particle filter may be excluded.

Kind regards to Norway from Luxyland,
Birger
 

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Has anyone compared the new ML with the BMW 5X 4.4
The way I see the prices being discussed maybe that is a strong competitor for the new W164. I would really like to here from you gentlemen from Europe on this as you have a lot more Beamers on the road.
 

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Birger - 2/28/2005 2:44 AM

and as the particle filter isn't standard, the official fuel economy figures do not account for that.
Hi Birger, the filter is standard and the fuel economy figures you quoted earlier of 9.4 liters per 100 kilometer apply to the ML 280 CDI or ML 320 CDI with the standard particle filter. The German price list you just posted should also confirm this. Cheers to Luxembourg,

Wolfgang
 

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Hi, Wolfgang

Yes, I just also found out that the filter is standard, at least in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In these countries it's a "mandatory option", as you can get the W164 without it for 600 EUR less - and I guess than in the rest of EU, it will be a 600 EUR option.... But due to my work statute, I'll order a German-spec vehicle even though I live in Luxembourg - so I get the filter.

After weighing the pros and cons over lunch with my wife, I'm right now putting together the option list for e-mailing to my salesman in order to have a more precise delivery date [:)][:)][:)] (and I can already see ansan going [:D][:D][:D]).

Best greetings to California,
Birger
 

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Jepp!

So, can I take credit?[:D][:D]
 

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As an ex car dealer from back in the day, when your salesmen finds reasons to negatively criticize his competition, it's really a good idea to go look at the competition. You're buying the car, you know what's important to you.

When customers came to me and asked for my opinion on the competition, I would say, "It's a tough game out there. My competitors offer an equally competent product but they're not going to be the ones driving your car. You are. I encourage you to get your hands dirty and go see whose product best suits your needs. If you like what I'm selling and you like me and the service I have to offer, then let us do business together."

I NEVER took away the buyer's right to choose the vehicle he wanted. I never tried to make them love something they didn't like. I learned to accept the fact that I didn't design or engineer the vehicle, so any problem with the vehicle is not a reflection of my character, it is a reflection of the automaker. And some automakers make bad engineering decisions (like the folding seats in the W164).
 
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