nc211

...and I'm Back..

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Looks like my original thread was ken that got lost with the reboot if the website today, so I'll try again (it's probably Blake's fault :-))

I finally got rid of that damn Volvo XC90 this week for a new Highlander Limited. At 70k miles, the Volvo was simply falling apart. In my 2 years of ownership, which covered 40k miles from a CPO purchase, it needed:

New leather seats, new front axles, new wheel bearings, 4 new window switches, new glass on a mirror that for no reason just fell off the car while sitting in the driveway, new brakes that were already starting to squeal again (not 6 weeks old), countless attempts to align it but never could get the steering wheel straight, and countless lightbulbs. When I traded it in, it was likely needing;

New stereo amp as the speakers would come and go for no real reason. New power lock actuators as it would sometimes unlock one door or all doors with no reason, the front end was making groaning noises again so I'm guessing the drive shafts weren't right again, the light bulb indicator light was on again, a plastic piece that houses the seat controls on the passenger side as the whole thing just broke off last weekend as my wife was exiting the car, probably a few suspension bushings up front as the likely culprit for the inability to align it correctly (even though the dealer swore it was fine, I always had the feeling they were just waiting for the CPO to expire before socking it to me for the real reason), the engine coolant was starting to disappear along with the power steering fluid, power steering pump was whining, and the tires were all scalped, even the two new ones put on last summer by the dealer due to taking nails in the sidewalls. End of the day, that car was the biggest disappointment of any I've owned. Really wanted to love it, as I think they're timeless classics in their looks. They used top shelf materials much like the older LS400's. It drove like my old 95' LS. When it was "right", it was a pleasure to cruise in. But that only lasted for the first 90 days of ownership before things started to happen and I began to notice the stabbing ride over bumps. I get the safety factor. I get the whole Volvo loyalty angle too from those who love them, as they truly are unique and quirky in their designs and executions. But I wasn't sold on them. My first and last Volvo.

Now the Highlander - that's a whole different story. Took us 7 hours in the pouring down rain to make it to NC yesterday (normally takes 4 hours). Not a single complaint from any of us, which includes a 5 and 3 year old, who napped and watched movies in the back. My wife fiddled with the electronics and at one point actually had live weather radar showing on the Nav screen. I enjoyed driving it. They've got the power band of the 3.5 V6 matched perfectly to the gearing ratios of the 5 speed automatic. It does take some attention to keep it straight though. The Volvo was old school power steering with all hydraulic. It would center and track with little input. The Highlander feels like its this new electric steering that has become popular and doesn't quite center as easily. Old and floaty vs new and nimble. I'm not complaining though. It makes the car actually fun to drive and makes the driver feel a lot more comfortable and confident in how the car is doing, especially when in the heavy rain that has been on the news this wek for the east coast. We were right in the thick of it last night. At 80mph, it's turning over 2,200 rpm, and mechanically dead silent. I can tell the wind noise will be eliminated with a good claybar detail and some rainx on the glass. I can feel the tape residue on the glass and paint from when they wrapped the car for shipping from the factory.

So - I'm back in the Toyota family again! This is my 4th one in 9 years - 95' LS400, 03' GS430, 05' 4Runner V8, and now a 13' Highlander! The garage just feels right again!

Still have my 4 door GTI too (2013) that I bought in August of 12' to replace the 07' I bought in Chitcago. Not a single problem to report other than one user-error. Day has yet to go by for either one of my GTI's that I don't love being behind the wheel of it. My new one has the APR performance chip in it. 260hp / 300lb torque - it's simply a friggin' riot to drive!

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Wow that's a lot if typing on an iPhone. Can you tell I'm at the in-laws?

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Okay let's try this again. NC my sister has a highlander and she loves it good luck with it

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Congrats buddy! We need pics!

You'll get used to the new electric power steering. I have it in the GS. I noticed the same issue with finding center more in the ES, the steering in the GS is a good bit heavier.

Kind of in the same place you were with the Volvo with the Jeep...

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Speaking of Jeep. What were they thinking? Just saw a new Grand Cherokee the front is aweful looking. The lights look so bad it just is about the only thing I could look at.

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Are you sure it was a Grand Cherokee and not a Cherokee? The new Cherokee is absolutely hideous:

2014-jeep-cherokee.jpg

They tweaked the front of the Grand Cherokee a little from mine, but its not too different:

2014-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee-Diesel-front.jp

I do prefer the front end of mine:

jeep-grand-cherokee-04.jpg

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Thanks fellas, really enjoying the new wheels. Drove it 700 miles since buying it last Monday to NC and back. It really is a nice cruising car, perfect fit for the family. Toyota really does have the smoothest mechanicals of any car I've driven. Really enjoyed the drive. Technically its my wife's car, but of the 700 miles so far, is say 675 are from me! She loves it too though. Says its much easier to drive than the Volvo was. Lighter on its feet and the electric steering makes it feel more responsive and less rubbery. The exterior styling is a tad bland, the sheet metal is a but tinny, and the plastics inside aren't exactly $40k quality - but it all comes together to deliver what it is perfectly - the SUV of minivans. Given Toyotas reputation, I'm not even remotely concerned about not liking any of it.

I hear ya' SW on the Jeep, and not really surprised to hear you say that. Not a knock at Jeep, but you're a Lexus veteran, you know lasting perfection all too well. This is what kept me out of the Buick dealership for the Enclave. Like that car, but too much doubt in my mind that it would be the same car in year 5 as it was in year 1. I don't have that feeling with Toyota's, even if the Higjlander isn't as luxurious in some of its materials as the competitors who offer the second row captain chair seating arrangement, the key feature for our decision.

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I've had like 23 warranty failures on the Jeep LOL. 2 years. I love it though, its such a nice vehicle. We just drove it to NJ and back and I got it washed this afternoon...its a great looking truck. Aside from the LS, I would say the Jeep is probably the best highway car I've ever had, and thats really saying something seeing the great riding cars I've had, two LS's, two ES's and the GS. Its so smooth, stable and quiet, gobbles up the highway effortlessly. Seats are all day comfortable. Plenty of room for 4 adults. Really a nice truck, and mine isn't even a top model. When you get into the Overland with the upgraded leather, leather dash, real wood trim, and especially the quadra lift air suspension. They ride REALLY great...and value...I paid $32k for mine. I can buy a $49k Overland today for $41k. Its a TON of truck for $41k.

Too bad Chrysler can't get their !Removed! together with the reliability. This is one of my favorite cars I've ever had and it sucks to have to think about parting with it for something I like less because I'm afraid about reliability.

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You know SW it must have been the Cherokee. Didn't get past the front when I was like Man that is just terrible looking. I have had two jeeps and I hear you loud a clear. As much as the wife likes the grand Cherokee don't think I am willing to go that route with the relability issues.

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And its especially bad because Jeep doesn't do loaners. Doesn't matter if they have it for a week, no loaner. It goes in for service every 8k miles, every time it does it has to stay there for 2 or 3 days getting a list of little annoying things replaced, switches that don't work, the HVAC panel was replaced, cruise control switch replaced twice, door handles replaced multiple times, buttons for the lift glass in the hatch, the list goes on. So we're left for those 2 or 3 days with one car. None of the dealers here even have rental cars available.

My favorite was that none of the sunroof drains were hooked up at the factory, and water was draining into the pillars. We noticed it when the rear passenger side seatbelt pulled out of the pillar dripping wet with stagnant water and soaked my mothers blouse on the way to dinner. Guy calls me:

Rep: "Just wanted to give you an update on the Jeep, someone disconnected all of your sunroof drains, thats whats causing water to build up in that pillar"

Me: "Why would someone do that? Someone just walked up to my Jeep and for grins disconnected all the sunroof drains?"

Rep: "I can't speak to that sir"

Me: "Isn't it a lot more likely that the drains were just never connected at the factory"

Rep: "I suppose its possible"

Me: "Lets proceed on that assumption. Fix it and I want all the wet seatbelts replaced"

Rep: "I don't know if they will authorize the seat belts sir"

Me: "New seat belts or you can keep it

I got new seat belts.

This was posted on the Jeep board I post on, this guy already had one Grand Cherokee bought back by Chrysler and this was his replacement, this is at 300 miles. He was just driving along and it freaked out, he pulled over in his neighborhood. Guess what the problem was? Disconnected sunroof drain poured water right into the computer module:

Most people don't have these problems, but a LOT of them do when you read the forums. The 2014s seem to be worse with electrical problems, and now a few people are having total engine failures under 5k miles...

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I wonder what department Jeep puts in charge of their ugly stick.

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Reminds me of my brother's car in college, a 1986 Dodge Shadow. Every time it rained - it would shut itself off. Lucky it was a manual and he could coast out of harms way. Nothing like going down the freeway at night and your car just goes dark, in a rain storm. They never could fix the problem, even though they knew it was moisture getting into the ecu.

I'm like you SW with my VW. I know it'll have its issues, but love it too much to get rid of it. Although I've not had any major issues (knock on wood) that were related to VW directly.

When it comes to cars, the Italians are artists in design, and idiots in execution. Bold statement, until you think about the histories of FIAT, Alfa, and Lambo (pre-VW ownership). All three have some of the wildest and sexiest cars ever made. All three also have the distinction of having the worst maintenance and quality controls in the business. However, none of that really matters when you can buy a FIAT 500 and have Italian models rip their clothes off and throw themselves at you because of your car!

I think new cars over the past 4 years has become more of a gamble than before, with all of this change in ownership and global economic pressure. Honestly I don't think cutting corners had been avoidable for anyone in the production realm of quality control. Spend the money on design and hide the cost savings in the materials. Germany has weathered this storm better than anyone, and yet I can see this effect on my cars directly. Although my current VW is nice and well refined, I am comfortable with saying that my 07' that I replaced was better built in a few key areas. The Volvo was an 08', produced right at the tail end if the boom. My neighbor's is a 13'. Exact same car (minus the engine - 8 vs 6). We could both tell a difference in certain areas of the cabin. They looked identical in nearly every way, but the switchgear in the 13 felt cheaper in its operation. Flimsier plastics here and there, etc. Looked the same, but not the same. Even in Toyota I see some of this too. So considering the massive shakeup that happened in Detroit, especially for Chrystler, I'm not too surprised to see some of this stuff happening in the Jeep lineup. I'm sure FIAT quickly looked at the books and saw that Jeep was the healthiest of the group. Given how time is money, and the amount of pressure they were under to turn the company around to stay in the margins that Chrystler had been in when compared to GM and Ford, they probably pushed some materials through based on looks alone to keep up with the bigger guys across the street. I think the next wave of redesigns will show us how well each car company has weathered the storm. I think those who've done well will show it in increased material quality.

That Cherokee looks like something you'd catch fishing at the Springfield nuke power plant retention pond with Homer and Mr. Barns!

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PS: I like the front if your Jeep better too, SW. Looks clean and classy. Not like the pumpkin carving my 5 year old and I did for Halloween this year (a pirate face)!

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Oh I definitely see a difference in Toyotas from 10 years ago and today. They seem to be trying to reverse that though, advertising "soft touch plastics" and such...

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