Safest car?

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When I was Group Sales Manager for one of the US's largest megadealerships we had dealerships up and down the east coast. One location sold, MB, Toyota, Ford, Lincoln/Mercury and Honda.
It occupied a several block area with separate sales facilities. One of blocks was a central service area. The same technicians worked on all the brands. The lowest shop rate was for FLM at $35 an hour, Toyota and Honda customers where charge $47 an hour, the MB customers were charge $65 an hour shop rate. That was in the late eighties and early nineties I don't know what the rate is today.
mike hunt
Dori Schmetterling wrote:

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That's interesting and surprising!
DAS --
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NB: To reply directly replace "nospam" with "schmetterling"
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William Hamilton wrote:

Go for a 1996 or earlier (previous generation) Mercedes. They were tanks, inside and out. Absolutely the best at the time, and they stopped making anything as reliable since then.
If that's too much - there is another Buick you should look at - the Roadmaster. They put $25K in raw materials and labor into each one and actually sold them at their cost. It was also incredibly overbuilt. They intended for it to compete with a Towncar.
Obviously, it never caught on and was not making them money, so they dropped it. Still, it was the best Buick made at the time, and is a fine used choice. It's about the same size as a Park Avenue, but has a great V8(260hp!) and tons of luxury features as well as rear wheel drive.
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The q45 is a tank. It has a nice v8 in it. My expedition feels safe, I have no idea if it is or not. KH

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Safety comes in 2 forms - active and passive. The crash tests results will give you an indication of how much a car can protect you when you get into an accident, but what you really want is to not get into an accident in the first place. From that perspective, I think (IMHO) the MB is a better choice, especially if you can get Electronic Stability Control with it (on top of the ABS, air bags, etc.).

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Before you get too worried about safety remember this, from the NHTSA. (Only) "Eight percent of all vehicles sold in the US will be involved in an accident sufficient to deploy the air bags," (in their lifetime!!) I'm 77 years old, been driving since I was 14, owned over seventy automobiles and I have yet to be in an accident, other then getting scraped by another driver in a parking lot on occasion.. ;)
mike hunt
C L wrote:

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Have a look at:
www.euro-ncap.com
They are they only proper crash testing facility that makes all of its results available to the public. Both the C and E class Mercs gained 5 out of 5.
Spending your money on a prestige car is not necessarily the same as spending it on a reliable car. German cars have traditionally been considered very reliable, but that is beginning to slip, especially Volkswagen, but less so with Merc, and BMW is being let down by the new Mini.
If you want a reliable car, buy a Honda or Toyota.
If you want reliability and prestige, Lexus. But OTOH I think that Lexus cars are deviod of any personality, a typical Japanese straight copy of Merc with a few improvements thrown in.
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Cement truck can't br beat for safety...

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stuart8181 wrote:

Yes, I was thinking Unimog myself.
Its a shame Mercedes got scared off when they announced that they were going to have an SUV version for the USA.
The typical Excursion, Suburban, Hummer just seems to lack the necessary throw weight.
.
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greek_philosophizer wrote:

Well, that retrofitted troop carrier is pretty close to a Unimog. Huge, overbuilt, and truly indestructable. Of course, $100K+ is a mite pricey.
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How about a 97 bmw 740 with 30,000 miles?
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You really need to do some more research in this area. What is the source of this information? How is "safety defined? What are the metrics used? A common misconception, and something that auto manufacturers use to deliberately lead consumers to the wrong conclusion while still being within the law, are the results of controlled crash tests, as reported by Consumer Reports.
These crash tests measure the type and severity of impacts sustained by human-like test "robots". The results fall into three classifications: unsatisfactory, satisfactory, and good. Within the "highest rating" category, that being "good", there is still a WIDE variety of injuries that can be sustained, ranging from fractures and lacerations to absolutely no injury at all. I kid you not! That is why it is 100% accurate, and 100% legal to report that "The new Shiatzu Galaxy received the highest crash test rating, same as the BMW X5." The details that are not mentioned, is in that test the test subjects in the "Shiatzu Galaxy" were "taken to the hospital" with fractures, lacerations, and head trauma that was considered "good" in a 45 mph offset impact, while the passengers of the BMW X5 walked away with little more than bruising from the restraint devices.
Yeah, I was surprised too when I learned how data can be presented in a less than fully disclosing manner in order to let the consumer walk away with an opinion that is swayed in the favor of the message bearer.

I'm in a similar boat as you in that I keep my vehicles a long time. I had a '88 Honda Prelude that lasted a decade. It was cheap to repair, required very few fixes, and my only real complaint was that it rusted like an old can. My current car, a '97 BMW 328 cabriolet has had some failures (horn quit, steering felt a little uneven), and it costs me a lot more to maintain it than the Honda ever did, but to me, it is an immensely more gratifying car.
I did my research for a few years before getting my first BMW (which I still have, but it has been joined by two more), and during my research, I discovered there is a world of difference between vehicles that are presented as having the "same safety rating." Caveat emptor.
FYI, I'm hanging around this Mercedes NG because I am now in the research phase for my next car, and BMW does not have an offering that attracts me from a styling perspective. The MB CLK55 AMG has won my heart.
I won't tell you which decision I came to in terms of which vehicle is a "safer" vehicle, but I suggest you do the following as a start: Go to your Buick dealer and ask for their literature that details their vehicle safety. Do the same for MB. Realize that the sales rep you talk to will likely not have a clue what you're talking about because it is not part of the standard marketing paper. They may just refer you to a paragraph in a regular product-marketing pamphlet. Be persistent.
When I did this for BMW, they have me a 1/4" thick 8.5"x 11" soft cover book that detailed BMW's research, progress, and success in the area of safety. It contained hundreds of safety items and dozens of real-life crash stories complete with pictures and summary of injuries. That influenced my purchase decision.
-Steve Makohin | Reply to snipped-for-privacy@interlog.com | (hotmail acct is spam catcher)
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In what weather, how often and carrying "what" over what distance does your prospective car intend to operate? BIG difference between snow country and sunbelt city for one. Fwd or awd may be needed to prevent you from getting into life-threatening situations. The IIHS safety ratings included many good cars. I would contend that driving conditions and driver ability (i.e. age, health, mental accuity etc.) should be considered in the mix. No car drives itself. The ability to keep a car out of harm's way is at least as important as the impact safety of the vehicle. If you're short and can't see down the hood .. . is the car really "safe?" If the car is "overpowered," will it get you into situations that could have been avoided had you had more time to react? No perfect solutions. IIHS, reliability ratings, personal recommendations from existing owners and test drives can't hurt. Your thinking's on the right track. Avoid the obvious unsafe clunkers and drive what you enjoy .. . and you'll be happier, more relaxed and more attentive.

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MB quality has slipped as many have pointed out, but don't let that at all make you think they are bad cars. They are still the best engineered cars money can buy, and the safest. MB has always been a industry leader in the luxury car market, they have made almost all of the advancements in saftey that we see in cars today. Take the Princess Di incident, driver survived a head on crash with a piller at more than 100 mph. They said the rest of the passeners would have lived had they been wearing seatbelts. The E-CLASS happens to be one of MB best selling cars, here in southern Cali I seem them on the road all the time. Never owned one but I did drive one for a day as a loaner while my 500SL was in the shop for some work. I was impressed, you can't get much more for your money than that car. Find a nice one with low miles and it will give you dependable service for the next 20+ years. As for the Buick, I don't think GM has ever been known for quality or reliable anything. In my personal experience America hasn't made a car worth a shit since 1972, and it shows. In 20 years a buick will be a pile of heap while your MB will still have changed little since you first bought it. German cars are just have a quality of build that few other cars can touch. Some people will tell you that there is nothing special about them and we are fools for believing in this "German superiority" but those of us who drive MB, BMW and Porsche know that we drive the best. I'm not a snob, I don't think i'm better than anyone because I drive German, I just know from 30 years of driving these cars that they are built to last in every sense of the word. They are more expnesive, but you get what you pay for, and theres no way around that.

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They'll last for 20+ years, alright, but you'll spend more than a brand new one costs to KEEP it running 20 years. THAT is the problem. Lexus ain't that way.

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Well, that has not been my experience with my Mercedes. My oldest car is 23 years old. But you're right, Lexus is not that way because nobody would even try to keep a Lexus on the road for 20 years. The parts prices for rice rockets are very high because the car companies own their parts suppliers. The cars are often sold at nearly zero profit and the dealers make their profit on service/parts. Mercedes parts prices can be bad but an old Toyota (aka Lexus) is even worse.
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VCopelan, what you say is just not true. And biased comments like "rice rockets" is just your attempt to personalize a scientific fact...Lexus vehicles have better quality than Mercedes with durability that is at least as good, perhaps better. The first Lexus was built only 14 years ago...but the "early" data seems to show that a huge percentage of those 1990 model year cars are still running well. You can bortch and moan all you want, but Lexus did not become the #1 luxury car seller in the USA in just 14 years by putting out junk.
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Lexus has become the number #1 luxury car seller in the USA because they are able to sell their cars at lower cost and Mercedes quality has dropped so they have lost market share. I would not own a new Mercedes because of the quality control and design issues with the new cars. I've owned Toyotas and I still own three Mercedes. By the way, in Japan Toyota doesn't even market their Lexus models as Lexus. They are all sold as Toyotas.
If you keep your Toyota long enough you will find that the replacement parts prices are several times higher than Mercedes. All the Japanese car makers have ownership interests in their parts suppliers. What I found with my Toyota, as the car gets older the manufacturer raises the parts prices to the point that you will not want to keep the car. Japanese cars have always had good quality control but their choice of materials is another matter. I don't think you will find many Lexus cars being driven to over 200,000 miles.
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Au contraire! Check the Lexus internet bulletin boards...considering they've only been on the market 14 years, there are MANY MANY MANY with 200,000 or more miles. And as to parts prices....I can't imagine any car parts being much more than the exorbitant Mercedes prices.
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You could not be more wrong. I thought Mercedes parts prices were high too until I owned a Toyota and a Honda. I can purchase most OEM Mercedes parts through greymarket sources outside the dealership. That's because Mercedes doesn't have an ownership interest in their parts suppliers. Toyota, Honda and Nissan are simply not that way. Many parts are available only from the dealership. And when the parts are only available from the dealership and the manufacturer only has a interest in supporting new cars, parts prices can go through the roof.
I gave my last Toyota to a charity because the parts prices were so high there was little market for the car. The car still ran fine but the manual transmission needed new syncros. Although, the interior had long since fallen apart and plastic engine parts were over $200. Little things like air inlet hoses from the air flow meter were $70. I've noticed in every Japanese car I've owned, the interior just falls apart. Exactly, how old is your Lexus and how many miles do you have on it? I would not be drawing any conclusions until you have tried to keep an old Toyota or Honda on the road at 200,000 miles or more. I've done that, I know what is involved. Internet bulletin boards aside, my real world experience has been quite different with two Japanese cars and three Mercedes.
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