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1997 C230 5k mile road trip report (long)

2835 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  3d-designs
1997 C230 5000 mile road trip report (long)

Just got home from a long road trip and I thought I'd write up my experience with the car. As it says in the title my car is a 97 C230 with the naturally aspirated engine. I actually bought the car for this trip because of the following (in no specific order):

- decent highway gas mileage
- comfortable
- spacious (for its size)
- great deal for the money
- well built
- still looks current

Our trip took us all the way up on the I-15 from one end to the other and a few hundred extra miles in Canada, for the total of 2,000 miles each way. Add some local cruising to this and by the time we got back we completed more than 5,000 miles in total in a couple of weeks.

On the entire trip our gas mileage was averaging about 30mpg. I found the car was really comfortable. I do have some lower back issues, but I had absolutely no pain sitting for hours at a time and considering we could go 500 miles between fill ups it meant we didn't really have to worry about running out of gas either. Before we left I was wondering if the little 2.3 will have enough power on some of the steeper mountain roads, and it did have to shift back a gear at a few places, but over all I was pleasantly surprised how torque this engine is. On most hills we could just cruise right up in top gear.

I loved to have the seat controls on the door panel as I like to lay back on the freeway, turn on the cruise control and just enjoy the ride, but when I wanted to sit up more I could just push the little knob forward a bit. I found the cruise control lever is very easy to use on long trips. The climate control worked like charm but as much as I would have like to have it in economy mode to save gas I had to have the AC running most of the time. To be honest I don't think it would have really made a big difference. I felt no power loss and again, we still got 30mpg.

At night the stock lights provided excellent lighting even in low beam mode, and when the traffic allowed with the high beams on I could really see far.

My car has the stock radio, with an Alpine CD changer in the back, which is nice on long trips unless you enjoy listening to Christian stations or Country for long periods at a time. Before we left I replaced the mast of the power antenna with a small rubber piece, which will never brake and it worked really well. I was actually surprised how good the reception was.

In terms of speed, I did not try to push the car. We cruised at about 10 miles or so over speed limit which is still within the range for not to get pulled over, but I did step on it once or twice just to pass. One of those occasions we quickly got up to 100mph and with my luck just passed an unmarked highway patrol car who pulled us right over. Luckily we got away with a warning.

Before we left I did have the car prepared as much as I could. This included, servicing the transmission, changing the oil and filter, and putting on new tires. I also added a new MAF filter, and had the car checked out for additional possible issues, brakes, bearings, leaks, fluids etc.

Over all it was a very pleasant experience. I got a few rock chips on the windshield and the left headlight lens, but I was planning to replace those anyway. Other than the above there is nothing much to report. The little four banger is great. It did not burn a drop of oil and it has plenty of power and torque for long distance cruising.

Since I only bought the car for this trip, I will clean it up and put it up for sale. Those of you who might be interested it now has about 132k miles, has a clean title, and I have most of the service records.
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I took my 97 C280 on a 1600 mile road trip and agree with your comments. The C class is a compact car that looks like it would be good around town but it really shines at long distance cruising. I'm small so I find the car very comfortable from a space viewpoint. The only problem I had with the seat was needing a pad behind my lower back to add lumbar support. As soon as I added that I had no further issues.

At about 75mph the C280 gets roughly the same gas mileage (30+mpg) and it is dead silent on the inside. Even at 75 the air conditioning vents are louder than the road noise if you have good tires. Plus it feels really well "planted" on the road and feels very stable at high speed. You can tell they were built for the autobahn!

If only it could get more than 1000 miles without breaking down and requiring $1000 to repair it would be the perfect road trip car...
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