Date registered: Nov 2002
Vehicle: '82 380SL+'02 ML320
Location: Portsmouth VA
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RE: $20K budget - what model/year/type should we buy?
Because you stated "sedan/suv" I will chime in that the ML really straightened out with the '02 and has the current feature set, but to get it for $20k would suggest being out of warranty. I would not buy an ML without one (trust me on this).
If coupe is up for consideration, the best MB buy in the world might be the c-coupe, and just a couple years old with a warranty. It would certainly be easier on the gas, and I think it is a great sunroof.
If sedan is the ticket, you could buy a brilliant previous generation e-class and afford to get it sorted-out and spiffed-up.
1974 280 (gone)
1982 380SL (schwarzekatz)
1984 300TDT (why did I get rid of the best one?)
1992 300E (gone and forgotten)
1993 190E (daughter drives)
1994 E320 Wagon (gone and forgotten)
2002 ML320 (thank goodness for extended warranty)