Essentially my question is, in general is it better to have a lower drag or a larger lift. I know lift to drag ratios are used as an indicator but I think these don't give the best picture. For example, I'm running a 2D airfoil analysis and for 2 cases the CL/CD changes varies between 80 and 160 (obviously doesn't account for 3D drag). So you'd expect the best option as CL/CD as 160.
However the CL/CD only looks at the % change. So if the % increase in drag is say 70% and for lift it's 10% CL/CD will be larger for the increased drag but the amount of increase in lift force greatly outweights that of the drag (an increase of 175N of lift vs reduction of 14N of drag).
I guess it would depend on the application as well.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!