Which Car to Choose?

My wife is trying to decide on which car brand to buy: Mercedes or a Lexus?She does not plan to drive it on a daily basis–perhaps once a week. Please advise.

Have Her Buy The One She Prefers. Has She Tried Them Out, Yet ? We Can’t Select A Car For Her, But She Can. When I Need A Car, I Check Them Out And Select The One That Best Suits Me.


There are so many considerations when one buys a car that it is virtually impossible for anyone to tell you definitively which car to buy–especially since you did not list the specific model of each of these brands that you are considering.

You and your wife really need to do their homework by doing the following things:

Research the reliability ratings for each model and compare

Research the relative repair and maintenance costs for each model

Actually sit in each model and take each model for an extended test drive.
A seat that is comfortable for me may not be comfortable for another person. Just because I can see properly from the driver’s seat of a particular vehicle, that does not mean that another person (with a different height) would see out of the vehicle equally well.

Compare the controls of each model. Some models (particularly those from Germany) have non-intuitive controls that require paying closer attention to the controls than to the roadway.

Since we don’t know what your priorities in a car might be, there are undoubtedly other factors to consider, but the above items are just a few things for you to consider.

You only mentioned brands, but no models. Both are luxury brands. The Lexus might be a bit less exciting than MB but will likely last longer with lower repair and maintenance costs. If your wife plans to drive the cars for 2 to 4 years then trade them in on a new car then either is fine. If she wants to drive the same car for the next 10 years then the nod goes to the Lexus.

If she trades cars every 2, 3, or 4 years consider a lease. With low miles and weekly driving you won’t incur the over miles penalties and trading the car in every few years is easier.

Marcy and I keep our cars for a long time–she currently drives a 2001 Saturn SC and I drive a 2004 Saturn Ion. We know she is considering the Mercedes model that is the smaller in sleeker of the series (I forget – (number C series?)). We also know they have a history of being reliable but wanted to check for the most updated information. As I stated before, she will not drive it much–using the Saturn for all the major work throughout the week. She is leaning more toward the Mercedes due to our observation that the many of the Lexus models appear not to stand out and therefore look like “any other car”. Our mechanic also told her that the parts would be harder to find than that of a Lexus but if she is buying it new and is not going to drive it much, I would lean more toward the Mercedes too. Are there any Mercedes that could care to comment? We value your opinions.

If you plan on driving it on a daily basis and reliability is important, I’d recommend a Lexus. Both will be expensive to repair, one may need it more often if you keep it long enough. If that’s not important, I personally like the Caddy emblem the best. Lexus emblem looks too much like a Mazda. Or, buy a Camry and put a Lexus emblem on it.

Here are reviews of the two cars you are likely considering (Lexus IS250 and Mercedes Benz C300):

You might also consider the BMW 328i and the Infiniti G25:

If your wife only drives once a week, and money is no object, it does not matter what you buy; they are all better than the Saturn.

A new Lexus will last her the rest of her driving days without major breakdowns.

A new C300 Mercedes will also last a longtime based on her driving habits, but will be more tempermental if not driven vigorously every now and then. It will also be less reliable, and cost much more to keep running.

My wife has a friend who is retired and drives a 12 year old Acura, Honda’s luxury model. The car is completely reliable and has had no major breakdowns. Her husband had a 12 cylinder Jaguar which kept him busy, and mercifully got totalled recently. His “backup” car is also an Acura.

The most luxury for the money is a Hyundai Genesis; you owe it to yourself to test drive one. It makes the C300 look spartan by comparison and is a more reliable car.

The “long history of Mercedes reliability” ended a long time ago in the 80s. The difference between perception and reality can be as much as 40 years!

“history of being reliable” is a comparative thing. I believe Consumer’s owner survey would show the Lexus as being much more reliable. Also, repairs on older MB’s have been reported here as rather expensive.

I say this knowing only you can decide if the extra repair costs are important.

People do buy cars for other reasons than reliability and cost of repair. That is valid. And, some down the road scream their heads off when they get high repair costs.

I have a colleague who won’t drive anything but a Mercedes Benz. Why? His wife was in a bad accident in the Mercedes that they owned. She survived the accident. He attributes the fact that she is alive with the construction of the Mercedes. Now, each of them drive a Mercedes.

I don’t know if the Mercedes is a safer vehicle than mosgt other cars. To me,they are impressive looking vehicles.

Got it you are leaning to the MB. The first few years will be fine, you have a warranty. After the warranty expires then the MB will be pricey to maintain, more so than the Lexus. Parts are more. The MB has more complicated “systems” and electronics. When something goes haywire, the repair bill will likely be above $1,000 on most occasions. Driving your current Saturn’s are you prepared for those kinds of bills?

Even the tires on the MB could cost several hundred dollars each to replace. If you damage a wheel hitting a curb, figure on $1,000 for a new wheel. Stuff like that is what you are looking at with a MB. A Lexus won’t be cheap either, but on many items less than the MB.

I would choose a Lexus ES350 before the Mercedes C300/C350. The ES is roomier, smoother riding, more reliable, and less expensive to repair (it is based on the Camry). The C is fairly average in reliability according to CR (and the 2010 is rated ‘much worse than average’).

Also, unless your wife likes a firm/borderline rough ride, I would not recommend the Lexus IS250/IS350. A friend actually bought one, then traded it for an ES because of the ride. It is also quite tight inside.

I have a good friend who bought a Mercedes Benz 220 D back in 1977. He traded a 1971 Buick for the Mercedes. At that time, the price of the MB he bought was about $10,000. His wife confessed that the reason they bought the MB was that the credit union would finance the entire amount. The depreciation on the MB was so low that they would not be upside down for the term of the loan. I don’t know if a Mercedes Benz today holds its value that that well.