Argo1 Dork
Feb. 24, 2014 9:20 p.m.

As I discussed previously, I get to spend time with a wide variety of GRMish type cars. Fun cars that mere mortals can afford. I use the yardstick of what an equipped new Miata would cost. Using that as the price standard, what are the used options for something a bit higher up the food chain for the same money? How do they stack up?

If you are looking for 0-60 times, specs, etc. you will have to look on Google for one of the many road tests. I will just share what each car is like to live with, in daily use, for a month or so. The good stuff and the annoyances. I will stick with later model cars that should have the expectation of reliable daily use. Impressions of the cars will be posted here with the full archive at www.alsoranracing.com.

I promise not to review boring cars and nothing that gets above the $30s for fair market price. These are strictly my opinions, your mileage may vary. Here we go:

What's parked outside this month is a Mercedes E350 Sport. This particular car is a 2008 model with a bit over 40K miles. Nice examples are commonly available in the upper teens to low 20s. A good value for an upper level sedan. Let's see how it stacks up:

Mercedes has a long history of performance sedans. The E series is their mid size car, competing against the BMW 5 series and the Audi 6. Within that group, it's a bit bigger and a bit heavier. That extra size also means some extra room.

The styling is conservative but attractive. A lot better, in my opinion, than the Bangle designed 5 series or the well used bar of soap Audis. It has the usual MB "chiseled from a single block of granite" solidity. In fact, the doors have some extra resistance that makes them feel like you're closing a bank vault. That's Mercedes thing. It gives a safe and secure impression.

This extra heft drains a bit of the "sport" off. The car feels big and substantial. Acceleration is pretty decent. More than adequate for most situations. It's doubtful anyone would track this car. Handling is also very competent. Better than most. It just doesn't encourage sporting driving. It is happiest humming down the interstate taking you quickly to your destination. It is an excellent vehicle for a family trip. Seating is very comfortable and not fatiguing. Rear seat passengers commented that the seats were a bit low so entry and exit was not as easy as expected.

The car excels as a comfortable and convenient daily use family car. The controls are well balanced. The engine and transmission are well matched and unobtrusive. The ride is perfectly controlled and quiet. Mostly short trip driving netted a respectable 19.6 mpg.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be talking about the sporting aspects of the car. Well, there isn't much. It is nearly the match for the 5 series in performance; it just doesn't feel like it. Mercedes is a luxury car with some sporty added on. BMW is a sporty car with some luxury added on, if you get the difference. The two should meet in about the same place but they don't. That's not bad. It depends on what you want.

Mercedes has an enviable reputation for quality and reliability - right behind Lexus. Repairs, though not frequent, will still likely be expensive. Very few things about the car are annoying in daily use: The center armrest is uncomfortable on the elbow because of the pointless roll up console opening and I never got used to having two control stalks on the left side of the wheel. I would always reach for the cruise control stalk to signal a lane change instead of reaching for the stalk under it. Why Mercedes? There is no stalk on the right.

When I first picked up the car, the radio was on a particularly annoying station. With the dizzying array of buttons surrounding the infotainment screen, could I change the station? Not until I stopped and read the owner's manual. I miss knobs. Mercifully, the climate controls are simple knobs and buttons mounted high on the dash. The rest of the controls are easy and logically laid out. Overall the cabin is a very pleasant place to be.

I drove a BMW 528i for several years. It was one of the best cars that I have owned. I would put this Mercedes into that category as a solid and capable family car. There are many other cars with more "sport". If you want more sport in a Benz, AMG would be the ticket. So this is a fine car but (yawn) a bit boring for the car enthusiast. I will review something more interesting next time.

cdowd Reader
Feb. 25, 2014 8:33 a.m.

Thanks for the review. I have seen the 2010+ e350s are getting into the upper 20s, which seems like a relatively good value as well.

Aspen New Reader
Feb. 25, 2014 11:01 a.m.

There is a 2011 E350 4matic wagon for sale near me with 120k km on it. Should I dare buy it or will it take me to the poor house?

Argo1 Dork
Feb. 25, 2014 9:43 p.m.
Aspen wrote: There is a 2011 E350 4matic wagon for sale near me with 120k km on it. Should I dare buy it or will it take me to the poor house?

Many MBs run up many relatively trouble free miles. It is a risk that you will have some major repair expense. Does it have maintenance records? How many owners? Is the price cheap enough to hold some cash back just in case? Is there an independent MB repair shop that will inspect it for you?

Lancer007 Reader
Feb. 25, 2014 9:54 p.m.

A friend of mine got rid of his 03 EVO 8 and got a used 350 in that body style in 2007. Great car, he had no problems at all until he traded it in a year or two ago. The thing he said took the longest to get used to was the 12k mile oil change interval and no dipstick on the engine.

Sporty, quiet, comfy and good looking. Great daily driver.

Aspen Reader
Feb. 26, 2014 1:15 p.m.
Argo1 wrote:
Aspen wrote: There is a 2011 E350 4matic wagon for sale near me with 120k km on it. Should I dare buy it or will it take me to the poor house?

Many MBs run up many relatively trouble free miles. It is a risk that you will have some major repair expense. Does it have maintenance records? How many owners? Is the price cheap enough to hold some cash back just in case? Is there an independent MB repair shop that will inspect it for you?

All good questions. Its $34k asking or about $10k less than any other 2011, but the rest usually have 50k km less on them, so there is that. I guess the savings would fund repairs vs. a lower mileage car. I don't know about service records or condition of brakes/tires, suspension bushings. It's off lease so I am thinking there will be no records. The car is actually 120km away so I would have to get someone in Toronto to inspect it. Bunch of hassle. Then there is the trade-in factor.

DanielCut New Reader
Feb. 26, 2014 4:15 p.m.

I'm enjoying these write ups. Very interesting.

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