IIRC, the *older* (pre-80s) cars can be described as *rugged* and *tough*, I certainly never thought of MB tex as luxury or elegance ! My point is that each generation of vehicles has been an improvement (safety, strength, performance, fuel efficiency and luxury etc.). Heck, they offer more than just five colors now. The 1989 W124 I drive has had one power window motor, valve stem seals, timing cover reseal, trans reseal and new shocks(which it did not really need) and has clocked up 145,000 miles. It will still sustain 125mph and run to 134. Perhaps I got a *good one*.
The choice is yours, but I would still put my money on a Mercedes.
Unfortunately, many of the really ground breaking models will never make it to the US, the ML270CDI or the E220CDI for example.
I hate to rub it in, but Lexus is just a badge engineered Toyota, the RX300 is a Toyota Harrier and the LS430 is a Celsior.
BTW, my two year old ML has had no problems at all, apart from the fact that it demolished a GMC Silverado PU in an offset front crash last year (no frame damage to ML, GMC written off).