Originally posted by T5 Dave:
The Avalon is based on a Lexus model, indeed, it's the same model as the Lexus with a few less features. Typically both are built on the SAME production line and the worker slaps on one marque or the other, but the sheet metal is the same for both. Don't know if Toy does that, but it would make sense to get the economies of production to the minimum.
What I'm saying is Volvo hasn't quite gotten into the minds of their customers yet-- I'm not seeing evidence that they really know how the customers think.
In my case, my wife and I bought the S80 (base 2.9, no leather, no sunroof) because she wanted to replace her 'crush-mobile', a '93 Mitsubishi Eclipse. She was getting surrounded by SUVs and big semis on the freeway to work. The first thing we thought of was the SUV. Good in safety (we thought) in multiple-car crash scenarios, but once I did the data search at www.hwysafety.org we discovered SUVs were lousy (high death rates) in single car accidents between the rollover problem (later verified with the Firestone fiasco) and the side-slide-into-a-pole scenario.
So we picked the S80 because it had the head curtains and had a lower cg so it wouldn't roll over. We din't buy it because it was a 'luxury' model. The BMW only had the head curtain for the front seaters, and she didn't want the BMW logo on the hood that screamed "rob me, I'm a single woman in an expensive car" to every potential carjacker in the state. She also liked the S80 for the rear seat legroom, so she wound up taking everyone to lunch at work.
You need to understand that we both don't like leather seats or the sunroof: 1) the leather is too hot when we go to the desert (her parents live there, it's 118 in the shade and there is no shade) so the cloth seats are WAY more comfy in those conditions and 2) we keep a car for a long time (over 10 years) so sunroofs leak over time and drip. We don't have a garage, so the cars are 'outside pets' so once the sunroof starts leaking, with our luck chances are it will drip and form a puddle on the driver's seat (natch). So we said "No sunroof." Besides, it cuts out my headroom.
So, if we had to make that buying decision today, chances are we wouldn't pick the S80 because it's gotten too expensive and comes standard with the leather seats and sunroof. There are other cheaper cars available now with the headcurtains that have the same mushy-numb steering and a soft ride. Yeah, they look boring, but they're $8000 cheaper.
Remember--rich people don't get rich by wasting their money on depreciating assets. $8000 is a big chunk of change, especially when financed over time.
When the Volvo was the only car available with the head curtains, it was worth the extra money because saving my head was worth the extra price (then only $5000 more than the Avalon.) Now that cheaper models are available elsewhere, the cost differential isn't justifiable to me anymore.
FYI. Just a piece of the way my purchasing mind works. Be careful, if Volvo concentrates on getting a new cutomer base with the push to the 'lux' segment, they run the risk of losing their loyal customer base (the folks that think things through carefully)
Also, having watched some very rich folks, they'd die before buying a Volvo. The guy that's got the mansion in Palm Springs with the air-conditioned dog house and 40 restored WWII warbirds at the airport does NOT drive a Volvo, most likely because if the stigma of the last 40 years of the mobile-brick. Trust me, I've seen him. No matter how hard Volvo pushes to the luxury segment, they won't convince this guy to buy one, sadly because it's got the Volvo name on it.
I could be wrong, but that's my take on it.