Originally Posted by Nicole Koon and Sam Gross
I thought I would start this thread to find out what people think about the current inferior reliability, quality and fit'n finish for the 2000- present Mercedes Benz models.
As an owner of one of the first model year 2000 S-Class sedans to roll off the boat here in America (production date 2/99) I have been nothing but completely satisfied with my purchase nearly 8 years and 110k miles later. I can count only one time my S430 has been in the shop for anything other than routine maintenance, and that was to replace a faulty instrument cluster (paid for by MB under warranty).
As for my 2007 SL550... Stunning looks, great performance, first class interior... what more could you ask for? Certainly no lack of quality here.
Fact (I am sure you already know this):
JD Power and Associated ranked Mercedes Benz at almost the bottom (next to VW) per initial quality and customer satisfaction.
JD Power and Associates ranked Mercedes-Benz near the top, in 5th place overall, per initial quality and customer satisfaction for 2007. The S class, E class and SL ranked highest in their respective segments.
"Mercedes-Benz shows dramatic improvement, particularly with its newly-redesigned S-Class, which improves 63 PP100,” said Oddes. “Overall, Mercedes-Benz improves its nameplate rank by 20 positions—the greatest rank increase of any nameplate in the study. All Mercedes-Benz models in the study improved substantially, and the breadth and speed of these improvements demonstrates the Mercedes-Benz commitment to quality."
"For the second consecutive year, Porsche tops the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 91 PP100. Following in the rankings are Lexus, Lincoln, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, respectively."
By the way, one reason why MB has ranked lower in past years in JD Power surveys is because of a little known fact regarding how scores are calculated. A car may have few defects, but can still be marked down for something ridiculous like control placement. In other words, an impeccable quality score can be marred by a "hard to use" navigation system which, as far as JD Power is concerned, counts somehow as a measure of quality. And by "hard to use" I mean confusing for computer illiterate geriatrics with no concept of how standard electronic interfaces operate. You know, cursors, menus, split screen layout, using the back button, highlighting what you want to select... stuff like that.
"Without considering both quality factors, onemight fail to recognize vehicles that are, in fact, excellent in certain ways,” said Ivers. “For example, BMW vehicles have among the fewest defects and malfunctions, along with Toyota. But BMW approaches controls and displays in a way that creates some problems for customers, leading to more design-related problems overall than Toyota incurs. Automakers differ significantly in how they define quality and what parts of the organization they hold accountable for it. Clearing both critical quality hurdles is an accomplishment experienced by only a limited number of brands."
Reminds me of the time I rented a BMW in Germany, complete with the dreaded, terribly complex i-drive interface. In under 60 seconds I had changed the system language from German to English and in under 2 minutes had entered in the address of my hotel in the GPS and scaled the map appropriately... so much for hard to use I guess. Same thing with the MB COMAND system that journalists like to bitch and moan about. Should Toyota really get more points for "quality" from JD Power because its "My First GPS" system was designed by FisherPrice with all sorts of big colorful touchscreen buttons? Please... are people really this stupid?
Consumer Reports does not recommend any Mercedes Benz models as they all (and I mean all of them) have reliability issues.
Consumer Reports is a hack. From a quantitative standpoint, Mercedes-Benz models rank among the highest in their road tests and comparisons. Unfortunately due to their deeply flawed "reliability" survey, CR rates Mercedes-Benz models "below average" in "reliability." I put reliability in quotes because the CR definition of reliability isn't exactly traditional. A car with a solid engine, transmission, etcetera can be ranked low because it has an "unreliable" radio or "unreliable" power window switches... relatively unimportant things. Annoying? Yes. Important? Not so much.
Not only are CR reliability rankings flawed, they are misleading to say the least. If you can even take CR car reviews seriously at all, keep in mind that they use a RELATIVE measure of reliability, NOT an ABSOLUTE measure
. This cannot be overstressed. In other words, CR measures reliability compared to a class average. A car that is relatively reliable can still have a huge black circle just because it falls slightly below the average in its ranking.
For example, lets say that there are 10 categories that CR uses to measure overall reliability in its flawed annual survey. Car A receives a score of "excellent" in each category. Car B receives a score of "excellent" in 9 categories but "very good" in 1 category. In absolute terms, car A and car B both rank high in reliability, but in relative terms, car B scores "below average/poor" in reliability.
Even more unfortunate than this deceptive survey is how people like yourself pick up the latest CR rag and make grandiose predictions about a Mercedes apocalypse without reading the fine print or critically analyzing what CR is actually saying.
I remember a few years ago when I was looking to purchase a BMW X5, I casually looked over the annual CR reliability report just for laughs. I saw the overall reliability rating for the X5 was "poor." I then turned to the detailed reliability rating of the BMW X5 and saw that in every category it had scored at least "average" and mostly "good" or "excellent." In other words, a reliable car made to look unreliable by the hacks at CR who accurately assume that most readers don't read the fine print or investigate the details of their rankings.
ROFL. Did you see the latest comparison where they gave the Toyota LS460 a higher ranking than the Mercedes S550? They blatantly admitted that the S500 was better at everything except gas mileage and "user friendliness". Better ride, better comfort, luxury, handling, brakes, engine... you name it. Even the fit and finish was deemed better on the S. Yet somehow the Lexus Celsior came out on top? Just goes to show you what kind of people CR cater to... old timers more interested in getting their senior citizen discount at the International House of Pancakes than how their car looks, drives or performs.
Give me a fucking break. CR should stick to toasters and dishwashers. Its all they've ever been good at anyway.
WHAT IS GOING ON DAIMLER?
Compare today's dismal reliability and inferior craftsmanship of the 21st century MB with the legendary MB of the 60's and 70's. Why has Daimler gone astray? And do not tell me it is due to the merger.
As far as reliability is concerned, MB may not have been among the best since about 2000 (so I keep hearing... though it hasn't been my experience at all). Due to the highly complex, cutting edge nature of their cars, especially one ahead of its time like the W220, this isn't exactly surprising. Certainly not excusable, but definitely not unexpected. Anyway, comparing the reliability of a 70s MB to a 2000+ MB is like comparing a toaster to a space shuttle... Point moot.
Despite these qualms, all indications point to MB steadily improving in this area. Even MB leadership has admitted to recently taking steps to improve reliability by holding third party suppliers and plant operations to higher standards. Just look at the latest JD Power IQS study for proof. Better yet, sit inside a new S class and tell me it doesn't reek of class and solid engineering.
As far as craftsmanship is concerned I'm not sure they have lost their edge at all. All the reviews I have read, certainly in the last 3 or 4 years, have had nothing but high praise for quality and fit and finish. Even CR rates MB highly in this area. Even Toyota's LS460 was said to have poor fitting panels compared to the well finished S550 in a recent review.
What are your thoughts?
As long as MB continues building on its long history of engineering innovation, and designs exceptionally safe, luxurious and good looking cars, I'll be happy. If the price to pay for this is a slightly less user friendly navigation system or less reliable power window motor... so be it.
In any event, most would agree that Mercedes heading back to the top in the quality and reliability department... so looks like its a win-win for everyone.