Kia vs. Mercedes

Statistics are tricky; politicians use them to confuse the public and sell their programs. When a significant number of problems occur on a car, say 15% of the time, that car gets a blackball rating in that category. Of course the other 85% of the population may not have that problem.

So, a car can have a poor rating, and a conscientious owner doing careful maintenance, may think it is a good car. Typical examples are Ford Taurus, Dodge Caravan, Ford Windstar. I have met some happy owners of all these, but have many unhappy ones who bought them used, and those had probably not seen any maintenance.

Cars that were universally bad were Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare, Chevy Vega, Chevette, early GM X cars (transmissions, steering gear), the Olds diesel conversion, 1958 Chevs with air suspension, and others.

The E Type Jaguar I almost bought was so poorly built, that ALL samples had the same multiple problems. One owner at 80,000 miles had “replaced everything twice”, as related in a Road & track survey at the time.

When recommending a used car one has to point out the weak points of that vehicle, i.e. those that have higher than average failure frequency. If your friend want to tow a trailer with a Ford Windstar you might warn him that the transmission in that vehicle is not very robust.

However, total car quality is much better now, and the chance of a totally bad design is very slim.

Typical British Sportscar. Need I say more?

Obviously the Mercedes is not a better car. The Kia should continue to be a reliable car for quite some time. Don’t they have a 100,000 mile warranty? Just say No thanks to the Mercedes if you can’t afford to have a plan B car parked in your driveway.

I agree, just pass on that one. I had a pretty low opinion of the Kia but a friend of my cousin’s always drove Audi’s. Then switched to Kia for the room and warrenty. Seems to be very satisfied. Of course just anecdotal.

The cooling you hint at was a well known head gasket issue. This was easily fixed with an updated gasket. The electrical issue was one of a “green” degrading wiring harness. Again this is well documented (well, maybe not in consumer reports)and readily fixed.
The Benz in question is an early 124 chassis wagon with the legendary inline six. In my opinion the early 124’s are some of the best cars Mercedes ever made. This car has a lot of quality life in it if it’s been cared for. But I don’t know exactly what “ok” condition is.
I know nothing of Kia’s, but I’ve been around a few Benz’s in my day. It would be impossible to say which car is better without more information. What I wouldn’t do is automaticly discount the Benz because of Consumer Reports or what I’ve heard a friend of a friend say. An early 124 chassis Benz with the inline six could well be on the road twenty years from now. It is pure speculation to imagine how many 2003 Kia’s will be on the road in twenty years. But,the OP never said how long he was going to keep the car he decided on either. So, short term (2-3 years) the Kia may very well be the choice. Long term, there really is no contest.


I would keep the Kia and ditch the Benz.
5 maintenance or job payments on that 17 year old pile of metal will surpass the worth of your Kia Rio.
In my opinion the Benz is a $ blackhole.

I don’t know I have had several Mercedes and have had high miles on them (some 350,000+ miles on them) and none of them rattled like a brand new Kia. Though I would think if you cannot do the work on your own cars then I would keep the Kia. Mercedes are easy and cheap to maintain as long as you do the work yourself and buy parts on line. If you go to a local mechanic they will call the local dealership and that is where it gets expensive and a local mechanic does not have time to chaise down good cheap parts. I have been quoted $295 for a 6 inch long piece of fuel line with a fitting, I bought the exact same part from for $20. So if you can do the repairs the Mercedes is going to last longer than a Kia would dream if lasting. But if you are going to be having some one else do the work then I would suggest the Kia as parts will kill you on a Mercedes.

Don’t bother, this is pretty much a ricer/domestic forum; mine have 219K and 419K miles at the moment and don’t have a rattle or squeak either. Most of the folks who ask for advice here are not about to work on their own cars, are not about to pay the required labor rates for a good shop, and don’t understand anything about maintenance other than what’s in the owners manual (if that). These are the folks who will bring their benz to the local general repair shop and complain when they spend $1000 and don’t get the problem fixed. You are doing them a favor by giving them the worst case scenario, if that scares them off they will probably be better off with the disposable car anyway.