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I am looking at followings SUVs as my next vechicle (upstate NY): Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS Need to also decide whether to own or lease and cost of insurance for both options. Any pros or cons on the approach would be appreciated.

Priorities: Front seat support & comfort / Safety & braking / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 6 seats

Will consider new cars only

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Response from benck55

8:33 am April 9, 2019

I'm currently leasing 2017 MDX with Tech Package. For a 3 row SUV, it's actually fun to Drive. That Torque vectoring AWD helps in Handling. Try looking at the A-Spec or Sport Hybrid. The Hybrid is a bit faster than the Petrol V6 but you can't go wrong with either trims. Had one recall done and have a Prepaid maintenance package on it. When the maintenace minder comes into play, I schedule a visit to an Acura dealer. I test drove a Honda Pilot prior to getting an MDX, drives like a Minivan, it's like night and day between the twins. Toyota Highlander, it's okay. Audi Q7 very nice test drive, the 3.0 Supercharged engine is sweet and the Virtual Cockpit is awesome. The current MY 2019, virtual cockpit is now standard on the Premium Plus trim. GLS is a typical nice MB, drives likes a GLE but heavier. As for leasing vs buying, depends on your needs really, lower downpayment on a lease and you get to change vehicles every 36 months. If you want to own it longer term, Financing it would be the better route, after 5 yrs, the car is yours. After my Lease, will be getting a Cayenne. As for Insurance, under Geico, the German cars are lower in my case. The MDX is 80 dollars more per month. Did a quote between the Cayenne(2017) and the the Acura (2017). YMMV. If buying, would recommend an extended warranty especially for German cars. The engines are very good from ownership experience but it's the Electronics in today cars. It's much more complex. When leasing, no need, as you stay within the OEM warranty. It's 4yrs/50K for the premium brands.

My 2 cents...

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Acura MDX
Audi Q7
Mercedes-Benz GLS

Response from AcuraT

10:08 am April 9, 2019

I think it depends on how long you want to own a car. And if you can write the lease off with business expenses.

Generally speaking, a lease is the most expensive way to go. You can get a much more expensive car, but you are paying for all the depreciation as you drive it and at the end of the lease you either have to pay even more to own it or go get another car. So it almost never pays to lease the longer you keep the car.

I recently looked into the insurance costs as last April I had to buy a new car because a tree fell on my 12 year old car with nearly 190,000 on it. So my perspective is to buy the car you want and keep it until it does not make sense to fix it anymore. So I paid $28,000 back in 2006 and then paid less in repairs/mainteance than $1000 a year for the life of the car (I had a spreadsheet to track everything). So for me, buying makes far more sense as one car payment a year would keep my car running. When you add up the price of the car ($28K + $800 a year in maintenance/repairs) I paid over 12 years $38,000 or about $3166 a year which is cheaper than any car payment except an econocar annually as that works out to a payment of $263 a month for all costs except gas and insurance. You have to decide what you want. Then that simplifies this question drastically.

Front seat support and comfort - you will need to test drive each of these four cars to determine what is and is not comfortable. Generally speaking they are all comfortable, but two are luxury vehicles and two are not.

Cost of insurance is going to differ drastically on these four cars. It also depends on your driving record, age, and the other general factors. Essentially, expect to pay as much as $1000 more a year for the Mercedes or Audi than the Honda or Toyota.

Safety and braking won't differ much on the four heavy SUVs you are choosing between. They are all going to have the same general performance as their testing in magazines and Consumer Reports shows. That is not really a differentiation factor on these four.

Reliablity you are going to see big differences. Toyota of the four is the most reliable, followed by Honda which from time to time has transmission issues - especially around redesigns when a new transmission is offered.

BMW and Audi have improved, but once you get above 5 years their reliablity is not as good as the two Japanese cars and there are a number of problem areas including electronics and powertrain. It is also much more expensive to repair. An extended warranty is not worth it - I disagree here with benck55. It is very rare a company stands behind their extended warranty which is usually offered usually by a third party. Ones offered by the manufacturer are better, but they tend to not cover anything but absolute failure. Your engine burns oil? That is normal operation (although it is not). Your car burns coolent? Normal operation. You get the idea. Only absoute failure of a part is covered when there is no other option to the fix. Otherwise that maintenance plan won't do a thing.

If these were the only cars I could buy, I would clearly buy the Toyota for reliablity, good driveability, and enough luxury to make me happy. But the way you phrased your question you need to decide between the pluses and minuses of leasing vs. buying, and luxury vs. basic transportation. How much you want to pay and how long you want to keep the car will make your decision.

Best of luck.

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Response from benck55

8:21 am April 10, 2019

I Agree with the response from AcuraT on the majority indicated, but as for the Extended Warranty, I beg to differ. My Dad had 4 MB's and we also owned a couple of VW's. The extended warranty always worked for us. Most of the cars we owned are CPO's . For VW, We used Fidelity and depending on coverage plan bought. This Warranty is also used by Audi and Porsche. When it's time to sell the cars or trade it in, we were able to get a refund on what's left of the extended Warranty (Unused Pro-Rated). Again this is based on our ownership of these German brands. If Driving dynamics is high on your list as well as Reliability, Would Recommend the Acura Highly. This is based on current ownership. If not looking at a Cayenne next year, I would probably stick with Acura. That J35 series engine sounds good. Even Everyday Driver hosts like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7V2aZVTIJo

Again this an opinion, you need to test drive the SUV you are considering. Good Luck on the search.

Ben

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Response from AcuraT

9:54 am April 11, 2019

My extended warranty experiences have been mixed. Here is my report card to you on the different ones I have bought:

2001 Acura TL - did not buy an extended warranty. Transmission went out at 60,000 miles but fortunately Honda had extended the standard warranty to 100,000 on it. They paid for the transmission, but it took 6 weeks to replace and I paid for the rental car - adding up to about $3500 in rental costs. Sold car to someone warning them about transmission isssues at 90,000 in 2006, it failed on them again at 121,000 in 2009 and the car was junked.

2003 Honda Accord V6 - bought the extended warranty and this is the one case it worked out. It cost $800 for 5 years and I lost one transmission at 30,000 and another at 60,000. Both were replaced at no cost and the rental was mostly covered by them as well (they gave me a car for $10 a day, and repairs in this case took about one week so about $50 in cost). For $800 two transmissions was a good deal. Transmission failed a third time at 145,000 and that car was sold for scrap in 2013.

2006 Saab 9-3 - bought the extended warranty and never used it. No problems the first 100,000 miles so lost $1500 on that extended warranty. Sold the car at 188,000 miles in 2018 when a tree fell on it - mechanic bought it for $300, fixed it for $3500 and sold it to a college student with a new subframe, radiator, oil pan, and valve train. Now has 220,000 and still running today.

2013 Subaru Legacy H6 motor - started burning oil at 40,000 miles. Subaru of America and the dealership agreed that one quart every 4000 miles (I change it every 5000 miles, way under the 7500 limit) is normal operation. As a result, the extended warranty for $2000 was useless. Now at 5.5 years old the warranty has run out and it has nearly 100,000 miles on it and we never got anything out of this warranty either.

2018 Buick Envision - replaced the Saab last April when a tree fell on it. Bought it at a huge $18,000 discount under list because the 2019 came out the same time and they had 42 of them on their two lots. Did not buy the extended warranty as the last two cars were not worth it. Now will hit 17,000 today in a little less than a year of ownership with no problems. About 17% through the extended warranty in one year (most are 5 years or 7 years). So in five years I will probably be through it if I had bought it. Because I bought this car so cheaply, I decided against the extended warranty which would have cost me another $3000. Between the $18,000 off of list and the additional $3000 that was $24,000 saved. I could not make the financial numbers work as I could replace four transmissions for that price, and I even on my worst cars have never had to replace that much. So in this situation, an extended warranty made no sense.

My experience is quite diferent from benck55, but he seems to believe that the Germans do stand behind their warranties. If they do then it may make sense but be aware most problems even on German models don't start until after they end at 100,000 unless they have a fault (like the Honda transmissions). I would be curious to know what the extended warranties did for him on his cars as in what was repaired. He obviously won't keep his cars as long as I do since there was an extended warranty left on the cars he bought. For piece of mind they are worth it if you value that sort of thing.

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Response from LectroFuel

12:51 am April 12, 2019

I am way more experienced with giving car advice than with leasing and extended warranties. I have never leased a car because I drive a lot and keep my cars until they are not worth keeping (when they start to fall apart). For extended warranties, I have never had one. I'd say if the price is very good and you read the fine print, go for it. I would only get one for a car that is known to be unreliable or a luxury car that isn't a Lexus. My parents bought a warranty for their 2017 Avalon Hybrid because they didn't think Toyota's hybrid system was proven enough. This was despite me having a 262,000 mile Prius. They haven't had anything break yet.

Toyota will be the most reliable in pretty much any given vehicle segment. However, the gap between the most reliable and the pretty reliable brands are smaller than before. So, Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru have improved a lot. The 2020 Highlander is debuting next week. Either wait for that or get a great deal on the leftover 2019s at the end of this year. The 2019 Highlander is an old design, but very reliable. It wouldn't be my top pick, but if reliability is your top priority this is the best one.

My top pick would be the Kia Telluride. It feels more premium than the price suggests and should be reliable. It is the first model year however and that usually means Kia is working out the problems. It is possibly the most well-rounded SUV in the segment. The Hyundai Palisade is coming out soon. These two SUVs share a few parts

Honda Pilot is a good one. My only problem would be the longevity of the 9 speed transmission. It has a low failure rate and owners have not had an unusual amount of problems. It just shifts harshly sometimes and isn't everyone's cup of tea.

You may want to check out the Mazda CX-9 if you want to cross-shop mainstream SUVs with luxury SUVs. It feels premium compared to the other mainstream options, though the Telluride seems to be very nice. The CX-9 is the most fun-to-drive mainstream 3 row SUV.

The Subaru Ascent is another good option. Beware it is the first model year.

The luxury options are there if you feel like paying for a luxury experience. I personally like what BMW is doing with their SUVs. I used to like the Q7, but the other automakers have caught up. Check out the X5 or X7. Luxury cars are much more expensive to own. They don't necessarily break more often, though that is only sometimes the case. The GLS is a big comfy cruiser, but wouldn't be my choice. It feels older than the newer options.

So my top three in order are Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. There are too many options in this segment, but that is why we are helping. Please update us on what you get!

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Kia Telluride
Honda Pilot
Mazda CX-9
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