Have owned a 1997 C280 for 10 years now, bought it used in 2005. In that time 3 engine coils have gone bad, had to replace CATS, spark plugs, brake pads, repair a dry rotted fuel line, the headliner is peeling off, but it drives like a dream! Crazy how much I love driving this car. To help save on inevitable repair costs I have started to do my own maintenance. Expect to spend 1K a year in maintenance costs (but heck... it's paid off and much cheaper than a car payment) and buy a OBD2 unit... you'll need it. This is the only money-pit I have ever loved... if it only drove like crap I would have junked it years ago.
Handling, safety features.
It seems the plastics on this car are cheaply made and love to break (oil cap broke, wiper fluid container cracked, oil dipstick handle broke, interior plastic piece broke off, and the headliner is coming off).
It also seems that the hoses are cheaply made (three fuel lines rotted and began leaking fuel).
Good Reliability but expensive maintenance.
Beyond 180,000 mileage expect to pay lots of money maintaining this car.
Between 185,000 miles and 200,000 mileage I spent nearly $3,500 in replacement parts such as tie rod assembly, oxygen sensors, Drive shaft flex joint, water pump, radiator, AC compressor, brakes, ball joints and etc..
Very smooth ride and handling.
Bought to drive for awhile, however the car was in a roll over, I could not even think it was rolled over, by the looks of it after. It was hardly messed up, with just a small crack in the windscreen. A few dents here and there, but in all it looked good for just being rolled over and slamming into a tree. No one was hurt at all in fact all the doors opened just fine. This really is a safe car. One thing I did not like when I had this car was the fact it leaked fuel. When you would put fuel in, I have read in other places on the net this is a problem with this model. I think MB should do a recall. Other than that I was a great car. Had to replace the water pump. Did it myself with a new part.
First off, I love this car. My mom owned it for ~7 years then gave it to me and it looks good, feels great to drive, and has a very luxurious interior with tons of wood trim and ruffled leather. In addition the engine powers the car effortlessly with very little noise until you get to the upper end of the tachometer. I've never broken the wheels loose in a turn like front wheel drive cars do all the time. The gas mileage is reasonable BUT I have had to replace the head gasket ($1000), the antenna doesn't go up and down, I had the AC fixed a few months ago for $500 and it's broken again. Also the camshaft sensor broke and cost $800. Not impressed with the reliability.
Interior quality and styling, exterior looks (with sunroof popped), power and torque, rear wheel drive!, some manual transmission control, REST, Bose sound system, completely silent inside, fast!
I purchased the car with 163000 at a dealer in Dallas. The car had a small oil leak and transmission leak. I repaired both for under $300.00 and I have enjoyed every minute. It never fails to start and I am getting 24city 34highway. The leather and dash are in excellent condition. Mercedes really knows how to make a car that last. This is a sedan although, with the sunroof and short body with great steering capabilities it feels like a sports car. I would rate the reliability a 10. I would not think twice about driving this car out of state anytime. I is really inexpensive to maintain because it has a 4cyl gasoline engine. You just have to use premium gas, although, the mpg's make it up.