As I recently posted in the ML forum, I went to buy an ML (I am/was quite a die hard mercedes fanatic!), then went to Acura after that, and bought an MDX! The MDX was simply superior to the ML in every single respect, I just couldn't justify paying more for an inferior vehicle.
I have had a 190E for 11 years, and its been quite a trouble.
The mercedes brand is certainly going down. After all, how long can you keep making bad vehicles and expect people to pay more for them? Amongst my numerous friends, who have bought 30K-50K range cars in the last 5 years (and I can recall at least 15 of them rightaway), NONE of them bought a mercedes - most of them bought Audi, BMW, Acura, and lexus. Not one went for mercedes. What does that say - they can't all be wrong and stupid!!
Its just a matter of time, if they don't pull up their socks pretty darn soon!