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Mar 2009 22

Mercedes-Benz CLK350

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Mercedes-Benz CLK350

So I have been in a the market for a new car for a while now.  I haven't really pushed for it with my wife because neither one of us really wanted a car payment and my truck, while almost 10 years old, worked just fine.

But I was sort of looking.   My wife owns a Mercedes-Benz SLK230 hard top convertible and I really do enjoy driving it.  Not so much the Mercedes-Benz part, but the convertible part.  So I was in the market for a new convertible and was sort of browsing around with no plans to buy.

I wanted to keep the price of the car around thirty thousand dollars give or take. That was the soft limit I had applied to myself -- Any more than that and I was spending too much.

Plus I had a pretty specific style of car I wanted.. The ones that were in the running where the Mitsubishi Eclipse, the Pontiac Solstice, the Saturn Sky, the Nissan 350z or anything else comparable..

I had decided I didn't want the Nissan because I didn't like the 350's interior.. it just seemed cheap to me, the dash just sucked. The body was good but if I don't like the interior (the part I would be looking at) I know I wouldn't be happy. (Addendum, the 370's look much much nicer..)

I didn't like the Solstice or the Sky for two different reasons, even though it's essentially the same car. Again the body looked great! But the interior of the Solstice looked kinda cheap again, and the Sky is a Saturn and everyone I know that has ever owned a Saturn said they weren't very good cars. Fair enough, other buyers reviews go a long way for me. The Sky was out by popular demand and the Solstice with it's cheap interior was a Pontiac which I'm kinda "Feh" about anyway. Scratch those two.

That left the Eclipse. I sorta liked the old Eclipse, but when they introduced the new body style I thought it looked great! I wanted to check it out more thoroughly..  I had done some pricing, read some reviews, built the car I wanted online and it really did fit the bill.. It was time to check one out in person..

So today we decided on a whim to go to the local Mitsubishi dealership and scope one of those out.. Just a fun way to spend a lazy Saturday, with no intention of buying anything.. Just window shopping..

Firstly it took us hours to find a Mitsubishi dealership.. There are quite a few of them listed as being in Austin, but we could only find one. Apparently they had a massive restructuring or something and are hurting.. That didn't bode well.. But we did find one and took a test drive.. Not a bad car but I wasn't super impressed..

I did like it, but it wasn't anything that I felt I needed, and it really didn't feel like a huge upgrade from my Toyota Tundra..  Not a bad car and while yes it fit the bill being as I wanted to go from a truck to a sports car, it sort of felt more like a lateral move.. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that kind of money on a car I was kind of "eh" about, especially since it would have been for 10 years.  (I assume all vehicle purchases are for 10 years.. )

Melissa suggested we check out some of the other dealerships in the area to see what they had on their used lot.. Just to sort of round out the day..  Plus one of her coworkers said she had seen some really good deals on the Mercedes lot.  (I thought this was a clever plan by Melissa to go look at the cars she likes and wants..heh.. Turns out I was sort of right.. she was browsing I noted.. Pretty sure she's gonna demand a new car soon.. But that's another story.. )

I was okay with that notion, but I'm not a huge fan of used cars.. I always feel like you're buying someone elses problem.. But Melissa's SLK was used when we got it and it's a great car with no problems.. I guess I'm used to thinking of people buying the cheap 15K car and then selling it used completely trashed.. So her experience with the SLK really kind of opened my eyes to the fact that people with nicer cars, most likely have taken care of them..

So with that in mind, we hit up an Infiniti dealer, a Lexus dealership and finally a Mercedes-Benz dealership all just browsing around.. No intention to buy. Most of them had nothing in the used car areas that was remotely interesting to me or completely outside the realm of affordable ( which was what I expected to begin with. )

While looking around at the Mercedes-Benz dealership though, we sat in a bunch of the cars which brought a sales man over.. Nice guy who was willing to just shoot the breeze with us while we tooled around pretending to be able to afford sixty and seventy thousand dollar cars..

Then we started looking at the thirty and forty thousand dollar cars and I realized that this used thirty thousand dollar car is FAR nicer than the brand new Eclipse could EVER be.. I told the guy what I really wanted and he said something to the effect of "Oh yeah I have a car just like that over here.. ".. No wait.. Really? A nice fully featured convertible v6 at around thirty thousand?

mb2And sure as hell.. He put me in a used 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK350 with only 14k miles on it, that had me at hello. It was inside their show room right next to a brand new CLK350 and you couldn't tell which one was used.

This car had previously been driven by a Mercedes-Benz executive up in New York and as such it had every possible option. Normally selling new for $63k, it had been incorrectly priced at $36k. I say incorrectly because the manager rushed out wanting to know if we were taking the car home because it was supposed to be priced at $40k like the other used ones on the lot. (Apparently this one was one of 3 similar cars they had)

I know you're thinking this was a dog & pony show by the dealer, but I didn't get that impression. The manager did it out of earshot of us taking the salesman aside to pass this information on.. heh.. Apparently the car was flagged in their system as being incorrectly priced and to revisit it the next business day.. (He told us this once it was all too late for them to up the price.)

And so, with no intention to buy anything.. I drove it home.

Melissa was as excited as I was.. I mean she loves Mercedes-Benz anyway, but this is an awesome vehicle for the price.. I really feel we got a steal.. We ran it through Kelly Blue Book and it says it's worth over $37k.. Most dealerships always ask more than what KBB.com says, so the fact that it was even less than that lends credit to the price mistake..

The Carfax report for the car confirms everything that they salesman was telling us and shows that it's never been wrecked or anything..

It's so nice.. I mean this is a class of car I have never owned.. it's so far beyond what the Eclipse is, it's not a fair comparison.. I never looked at any of the Mercedes as an option because they were all so expensive.. I had my mind set on a new car not a used one.. it really didn't occur to me to think of a used Mercedes. Plus with it's 4 year bumper to bumper warranty what the hell!

It really is an awesome car.. it drives so nicely I can't even describe it.. Plus sitting inside you'd never know it was a convertible.. It's so quiet!! You actually hear less road noise in this convertible than you did in my truck!

mb3The interior is incredible..  It's got an in-dash DVD navigation system, 6 disc CD changer in the glove box that does normal and MP3 cd's, a harman/kardon logic7 sound system, has Sirius satellite radio installed, heated seats, premium leather upholstery every where, automatic adjusting everything... etc.. I mean it's nutz..

Go to their website and check all the options.. that's this car.  The only thing it doesn't have is the phone.  It has all the hookups for it, but no phone installed.  The salesman told me for $400 I could get a bluetooth dongle that would hook into the car making it work with my iPhone.. FUN!

They took my truck as a trade in on the spot for more than KBB.com valued it at, which I have to admit was a bit of a shock! And started the paperwork in a flash.. I had to move a lot of junk from my truck to the trunk of the car because I really wasn't expecting to do this today..  I didn't even have time to say good bye to the chariot that had bore me for so long.. (It really was a good truck.. I would recommend the Tundra to anyone..)

But seriously this car is awesome.. It's hard for me to describe how nice it is..  I'm supremely happy with this purchase and I can easily see this being yet another car I have for 10 years..  With the Eclipse I walked a way feeling a tad underwhelmed by the experience.. here, I'm completely blown away..  This car is so much finer than anything else I have ever driven and I can tell it's going to be a joy to drive for a long while yet..

Funny how these things work out.. I really did have no plans to purchase today..

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