Off Topic Comment
OK, after listening to you all proclaim the negative attributes of owning a Japanese vehicle (which I have heard before), I keep wondering how they keep getting all these wonderful ratings by Consumer Reports, J D Powers and the like. It does not ring consistent with what I know is real world experience. We have all heard the phrase the F-O-R-D stands for Fix-Or-Repair-Daily but I have also heard the phrase T-O-Y-O-T-A stands for Take-Out-Your-Old-Tools-Again!
If any of you subscribe to AutoWeek magazine you will read that during their evaluation of the new Honda Element they have plastic interior pieces falling off.
Something is wrong here with these ratings. My wife recently purchased a new 2003 C230K coupe which has been a perfect car with the exception of a squeak in the panaromic sunroof that Mercedes bent over backwords to get fixed ASAP. After 6 months and 7,000 miles the car has had zero, I repeat zero, problems. Yet the C-Class does not score high on owner satisfaction ratings. I own a 2000 ML320 which, if you read the ratings, is nothing but trouble. My experience, in 4 years of ownership and 38,000 miles I have only replaced two headlamp bulbs and two dash bulbs outside of normal maintainence. I also own a 1995 C280 with 78,000 miles and the only thing that I have replaced that I would consider something that was abnormal was the engine wiring harness (which we all know about). Other than that the car rides and drives like new and is in pristine condition. People who do not know Mercedes or me all think this is still a new car!
I really get sick of hearing from all the these "Ricers" how much better and more reliable their Japanese cars are. As previously stated they are hard to work on (they are designed for ease of assembly instead of repair) and their parts prices are the highest in the industry. I personally find them boring to drive and do not see the attraction.
My bottom line.... If I only had $20,000 to spend on a car, I would rather buy a used Benz than a new something else.