Within a single, good producer, the grand crus usually are a step up (in terms of depth of fruit, midpalate density, complexity, or some other measure) from the 1ers, and they’re usually a step up from the village wines, even if you try them blind. They were classified that way for a reason.
There are of course a lot of exceptions. With Jayer, for example, many people prefered his Cros Parantoux to his Echezeaux. Or Meo’s Cros over the Clos Vougeot. Or Arnoux Suchots over the Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux.
I’m a huge fan of Petits Monts, and at Drouhin I like it better than a few of the grand crus. Or at Bouchard, I’m not as much of a fan of the Clos Vougeot there, and like several of the 1ers more (e.g., Pommard Rugiens, Volnay Caillerets).
Note that in all of these examples, you have really outstanding 1ers (often listed as ones that should be upgraded) vs. large, less consistent grand crus, so we’re talking comparisons that are right on the line. And I don’t think we should take the lines that seriously. The great 1ers (e.g., Rugiens, Petits Monts, Gaudichots, Volnay Caillerets, to name just a few) in good hands are often really incredible wines that I’m always very happy to drink regardless of classification. I don’t need to compare them with Musigny or La Tache to appreciate them.
Jim does give sage advice, about critics being overrated and “better” being something that’s up to you, but given that the Burg vineyards/classifications were refined over hundreds and hundreds of years, I think they got a lot right. For example, that Bonnes Mares is a deeper wine that Chambolle Fuees, even though they’re adjacent vineyards. Go to Mugnier and taste them blind side by side. The Fuees will be wonderful, I love the stuff, but the Bonnes Mares will be even more impressive. I do love the Fuees though.