New guy here, though I admit to having lurked a bit in the past. I've never owned an MB before, but I have seriously considered going for one as a daily driver, and am getting more serious about it. As my user name indicates, I am a mechanical engineer, so I like to research things (a lot, just ask my wife
). I have familiarized myself quite a bit with W210's and W211's. Those seem to suit me best, and W210's and early W211's are within my budget. So, a little bit about my situation.
I live out in the country in central MO, and have a ~45 mile (one way) commute to work in a town still well outside the metro St. Louis area. The drive is pretty much all 2 lane rural highways. Somewhat hilly and twisty in places, nice and straight in others. Not a lot of traffic at all, and that suits me fine.
For the past several years I have done well by finding a well-cared-for older vehicle that can by bought inexpensively, and taking good care of it for a few years. I do manage to put 17-19k miles on it per year. Current DD was bought for $2500 almost 4 years ago with 137k on it. I did $400 worth of front end work on it right away, and have spent another $800 or so on other PM and repairs over the years. Its still doing well at 214k miles, but I am starting to think about an E-class.
If it is to be a W210, I think an E430 would suit me well. It'd have just about the same HP and torque as my current DD, which I am happy with. The E430 would no doubt feel stronger. In a W211, I read that I really should avoid 2003-2004 MY's. That leaves really only high mileage 2005-2006 models within my budget. I have seen a couple of nice looking 2006 E350's in the $5k range, but with 170k+ miles. I am looking more at 4matic models, as we do get winter weather here, sometimes lots of it.
BTW, I do all my own maintenance, and a lot of repairs. I do have a good shop that I use for significant suspension work, or when I don't have the time to do a job. They are not experienced in MB, though. I'd have to go to the STL area to find an independent MB specialist.
What are your thoughts? Can a $5k (or less) E-class be a reliable daily driver at 18k miles/year? Is a W210 or W211 the better choice? I see no downside to a 4matic model, do you see them differently?