My dad got me this car as a graduation gift 3 years ago. The only major issue I had was a belt replacement so far. I just recently took it on a trip from south east GA to Orlando Florida, a nearly 5 hour drive and the comfort level was just amazing. I think this car was the perfect Suprise gift for me because of the fuel economy and the durability of the car itself. I'm a college student and I drive the hell out of my car but for the most part it takes a lickin and keeps on tickin.
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.
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 previously reviewed this car and gave it pretty good ratings. But, I finally had to get rid of it. I only drove about 5000 miles a year, but it was costing a fortune to keep it running. I was spending $1000 a year above and beyond routine maintenance to keep it running. This was a weekend driver and was babied. But I had several major repairs, none related to each other. I had all work done at the dealership which was expensive. Although I loved driving the car and liked it's fit and finish and it's look, I sold it and bought a new Infiniti. I've owned older Mercedes, but based on this experience, my 97 C280 will be my last.
Styling inside and out. Plenty of power. Nice fit and finish.