So you had to say goodbye to the Gulfstream, the corporate retreat in the Napa Valley, and your custom wastebasket—the decoupage job trimmed with pages from a Gutenberg Bible. Times are hard, and it just won’t do to be perceived as excessively self-indulgent—especially if you’re high up in the echelons of a publicly held corporation.
The new corporate Puritanism extends to automobiles, too, but in this area you have a little more latitude. Consider these two execucruisers. Yes, they’re flagship sedans with prestige brand names. But even in an age of austerity, top execs are still allowed some personal-transportation indulgence. You don’t want to be flaunting it with a Bentley, of course. But they don’t expect you to drive an econocube, either. We admit that greenies won’t approve. Both cars carry gas-guzzler taxes, and their mpg during our test—17 for the Mercedes, 16 for the BMW—is pickup-truck poor. And yes, pricing for both cars is a little high for public approval—more than $88,000 base, well over 100 large as tested—but who knows that?
See, that’s the good part. To casual observers—not you or us, of course—one BMW sedan looks pretty much like another. That goes for Mercedes sedans, too, with the added benefit of looking like a Hyundai—though we’re pretty sure no one in Stuttgart perceives any advantage in this.