...but would you really want a C240 instead of a 400E? I know Larry Bible really likes his (w/5 speed). I drove one and didn't really like it, when compared to my 300E, and I think with the new C-class you'd be compromising yourself with respect to the size and cargo capacity of the E class that can be attractive. Your Golden wouldn't be as comfortable in the back of a C-class and I don't think there's as much room in the trunk for kibble. I would ask a C240 owner (Larry?) to correct me, but I also don't think that the C240 would be as quick as a 400E. [BTW, John, if you find your 400E before June and I can go, I'll fly down to SoCal and pay for much of the gas for the drive to Georgia (remember your offer about the 500E) to get to know the car....]
Doug: I think that the 300E as sold out of the box was a nearly perfect compromise/composite of: agility, interior size and comfort, cargo capacity, fuel economy, looks, build quality and reliability. Mine continues to grow on me to the point that, as John knows, I want a 500E. If I didn't have 2 kids, 2 dogs, 3 road bicycles, a spouse and clients who expect me to drive when I host them for golf, I would (heresy for this forum, I know), prefer a 6-cylinder BMW Z3 or an M3 coupe. The spouse problem would be that she'd always be out the door first with the Bimmer keys... But real life intrudes. If I were given $13K to buy a car, with patience and diligence, I think here in NorCal I'd be able to find a very, very satisfying example of a 300E or even a 400E. For some idea of what people are offering and asking in your area, hang out at cars.com or autotrader.com for awhile. You might be surprised.
2003 Dodge Durango SLT
2002 BMW E39 530i Sport
1988 Mercedes 300TE
2003 Chevrolet Suburban