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As I navigate my way through this decision, I have opted to avoid the first 3 years and decided to choose 2003 or later. Surprisingly, there is in pricing overlap from 2003-05. The prices are compressed so some 2005's are actually close to the prices of 2003's?

I live in the snow belt so I am focusing on 4matics now. Again, to my surprise, there is no premium for the 4 wheel feature? Do you suppose b/c of potential long term problems?

Here is the crux of my question: In 2004 they went to the DVD Navigation (no more cd's) and a new 7spd transmission. Do the new 04 changes warrant a meaningful reason to go with the 2004 and up? 4matic 2003's seem pretty reasonable but 04's quite a bit more.

One dealer, Nationwide in New Jersey seems consistently really cheap with all 220's. There cars look like they just came from the auction, no detailing etc...
Anyone have experience with them.

For that matter. Does anyone lurking here offer or know of someone that offers a fixed price for a locating a nice S430 or S500 4matic??
 

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I have an '05 S500 4-Matic and love it. However, the 4-Matic is not available with a 7-speed transmission. Not in any year. For my opinion on driving it, you might check post #20 at http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220-s-class/1314113-s500-vs-s430-4matic-2.html

I have had no problems with the 4-Matic system at all. Just be sure that no prior owner used staggered wheels (wheels having different front and rear diameters), which will cause premature wear throughout the drive system.

In the western U.S. there is always a premium for the 4-Matic in snow country. People tend to hold onto them. Not so much of a difference in Florida. The option wasn't horribly expensive in the first place (MB started following Audi's lead a bit; Audi believes AWD is such a safety plus that it provides its Quattro system at cost).

I find the convenience and improvements in the DVD based navigation system significant compared to the CD based system; plus, MB still offers update discs for them (not true for the '01 "C" nav; and no new CD set has been released for the "D" nav used through '03 since January '07, though that set is still available).

In addition, the '03 has the D2B data bus (fiber optics bus) - it was an MB proprietary system licensed to very few other manufacturers. Although 3rd party developers made products for it and still do, the '04 and newer use the MOST fiber optics bus that has become an industry standard, for which many 3rd party developers are making and developing products. For example, if you added a Dension Gateway 500 iPod integration kit to the '03, you could not get song title readout on the COMAND screen or the instrument cluster. D2B units are "non-text capable." However, the same unit developed for MOST bus provides song titles on the COMAND screen, and should soon supply it on the instrument cluster as well. That development is under way. However, Dension has not decided to implement song title readout on the instrument custer for the D2B units - they're considering it, but the D2B market is much smaller.

My comparison of an '05 to a '00 is at http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220-s-class/1227766-comparison-00-w220-05-a.html - the '03 is similar to the '00 except that its reliability had improved, it had updated headlights and tail lights, and a wide-screen (but CD-based) COMAND. The '04 is similar to the '05 except it had not yet implemented the MHI phone system, and it has an analog Tele-Aid system that is no longer supported (not important if you don't want it - but it reports your GPS location automatically on airbag deployment, a benefit in snow country). The '05 has a digital Tele-Aid, and (if so equipped) an MHI phone system that is far easier for integrating different cell phones.

My suggestion would be to get an '05 4-Matic if your budget can stand it. Also you might take a look at http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220-s-class/1349079-what-look-out.html for more background.

Just be sure you run a Carfax report and have an MB dealer or a good indie check out any car you consider. In addition, using the VIN, a dealer can run the car's maintenance history. If the seller won't permit that, run from it. It may be a Katrina car, or something worse.
 

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4Matics do not bring any premium in the south, at least at the auctions. Then again, not many options do command a premium at auction.

Mercedes CD navigation isn't worth owning and I doubt the DVD navigation is either. It's a database issue. MBUSA actually told me that their navigation systems are not intended for turn by turn directions or to replace paper maps. After having the misfortune of using one, I can tell you they are dead serious when they say that. Get a Garmin, if you want to navigate.
 

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I have had no problems with the 4-Matic system at all. Just be sure that no prior owner used staggered wheels (wheels having different front and rear diameters), which will cause premature wear throughout the drive system.
Hey Skylaw, I just joined this forum and came across your post. I assume your comment about staggered wheels pertains only to the 4-matic system, correct?
 

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4Matics do not bring any premium in the south, at least at the auctions. Then again, not many options do command a premium at auction.

Mercedes CD navigation isn't worth owning and I doubt the DVD navigation is either. It's a database issue. MBUSA actually told me that their navigation systems are not intended for turn by turn directions or to replace paper maps. After having the misfortune of using one, I can tell you they are dead serious when they say that. Get a Garmin, if you want to navigate.
i disagree. While my 2000 E-Class Command unit is not perfect, it gets the directions correct about 95% of the time, with the other 5% being times when I can figure it out from there. Yes, the CD stuff is a pain, but I don't take long trips that often.

Bottom line, id much rather get pretty good directions from a nav unit, then fiddle around with maps.
 

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i disagree. While my 2000 E-Class Command unit is not perfect, it gets the directions correct about 95% of the time, with the other 5% being times when I can figure it out from there. Yes, the CD stuff is a pain, but I don't take long trips that often.

Bottom line, id much rather get pretty good directions from a nav unit, then fiddle around with maps.
I'm glad to hear that the Mercedes database works for someone. With extensive experience using GPS in commercial airliners, large boats, cars and motorcycles, I can assure you it is the worst database on the market. It is probably pretty impressive, assuming you have never seen a comprehensive database.

Trust me, it doesn't get any worse. Less than 5% of the roads in my area are included. Is there anyone out there that can argue that that is acceptable under any circumstance?

It is an absolute disgrace for Mercedes for I can buy a complete, accurate database for my Lowrance for $74.95 when Mercedes charges $275 for the same year database from the same provider and Mercedes includes damn near no data. Anyone who thinks this is acceptable is the reason Mercedes gets away with it.
 
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