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2000 E430, 1990 300 SEL
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello to all. I currently own a W126 1990 300 SEL. I'm thinking of purchasing an E430 or an E320 from model years 1999 - 2002.

Does anyone have any ideas which models and years may be better. I'd prefer the 8 cylinder E430 over the 6 cylinder E320, assuming the gas mileage difference is negligible; and also assuming the price difference is not material.

One dealer told me that there were problems with the 2000 model year - electronics/ dashboard - is this true.

Also is the 4Matic a good choice. I live in NJ and we get some snow, but not huge amounts. I think the gas mileage may be significantly less on the all wheel drive.

I'd appreciate any comments or information that you have. Thank you in advance.

Joe
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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I would buy at least a 2000 in either car because those are the post-facelift ones. In my opinion, they are cosmetically better looking. I have never heard of any issues unique to the 2000 model year on either one. I think I would look for a 2002 whatever, and there a few later 2002 "Special Editions" that came with a few free goodies.

I had a 1998 E430 and now have a 2001 E320. I really miss the 8 cylinders but I have a much better car in all other regards. In my experience, the gas mileage between the two is neglibible and a small price to pay for a lot more low end torque.

Regarding the 4matics, you give up a little fuel economy and 0-60 times but I think these both are also negligible. However, I think you will experience slightly higher mauntenance costs with the 4WD.

Lastly, although the E320s probably outnumber the E430s by 5 to 1, for some reason the law of supply and demand does not seem to apply. In my casual searches, the E430s are not commanding the premium prices one might expect.

Good Luck in your quest!
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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4-Matic cost like 1 mpg drop, so this is negligible as well. Gives you 1" bigger clearance on the top of AWD.
I think that 320 is big step from you older 300, so unless you become some power freak why 8-cylinders? Are you planning to tow travel trailer with it?
 

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'01-E320 & 02-ST2
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Hey, Joe.

Let's start with the 4-matic. If this will be your primary vehicle in foul weather, then I'd recommend it. If not you have to weigh it out. Parts are more expensive and harder to find for lots of things. If you'd like to do some common mods like lowering, wheels, tires, etc., your options are much more limited. And as is noted there is a slight hit for fuel economy, if it's not your primary car otherwise it's not as big a deal. No spring perch issues in the 4matic, though. :)

I love my 320. The 430 is more power than most need, it's a bit more difficult to work on if you're a DIY (and if not you're paying more for labor as a result). I usually see right around 30 on the highway (70-75 mph steady cruise, have gotten better than 32 on occasion) and the small V8 boys see more like 26-27 it seems. If you really need the power for some reason then go E-55, you get all the tastier stuff and the used market is really soft price-wise, and the fuel penalty is not much more than the 430. (There's a guy in Tucson with a 99 E 55 in the $15 range.)

Whatever, if it's got more than 90,000 miles on it and you don't have proof of the transmission fluid and filter being changed, that's a big red flag. Too many people bought into the marketing hype that it was service free/sealed for life, and 90K seems to be in the area where most of the damage is already done. If you can get a warranty or bargain down the price for this and you're comfortable with it go ahead, but there are thousands of these out there, so for me this would be a deal-breaker.

Year. Go as new as you can afford. 2000 was a facelift and there were a few more little things than 01-02, but anything you buy at this point should have already been repaired (be sure to look hard at the pixels in the cluster, turn up the lights all the way and be sure everything is uniform). MB was heavily marketing these things for lease deals near the end of the model run (in particular 01 and 02) so there are lots and lots of them out there, which means better pricing for you. Shop hard and don't be scared to travel, prices do vary by market. I saved about 1/3 on the price of my car (much newer then) by flying 1,200 miles and driving it back.

There's a thread in the tips/tricks about common W210 issues, so read through that so you're a bit better informed.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 
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2007 E550, 2007 GL450
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480 Posts
My $0.02 -

1. Get a facelifted model. Less issues overall, nice improvements. I have a 1998 E430 and it uses some oil. See the lawsuit against Mercedes for 1998-2000 MY cars with FSS.

2. 4matic? I live in Canada where we get plenty of snow and I find the rear wheel drive to be fine in the snow, especially with ESP and snow tires. Is it worth is to get the 4-matic? I've heard of issues with leaks, etc. and it is more expensive to replace and service, so you need to ask how much you really need it. If you use proper tires and drive diligently for the weather, I'd argue it is not worth it.

3. E320 or E430? Well, I've driven both a fair bit and I have to say - I love the V8. Plenty of power when you need it and a very similar gas mileage, especially on the highway. The E430's also tend to come with more options standard and that is a nice bonus. Couple that with the fact that they don't really cost much more and it was a no-brainer for me. However, I will admit I love speed and occasionally have been known to drive hard. So I really think this comes down to individual driving habits and needs.

Bottom line is both are fabulous cars and a pleasure to drive. Post pics when you get the new ride and good luck!
 

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1999 E430
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My suggestion is buy the most car you can afford, lest you don't regret about it later.

I have a 99 E430, V8. More power than I need, but it comes in handy when passing on the crazy CA highways. I don't have 4-matic, but when I went up to the mountains occasionally the car will slide/engage in ESP in snow/ice. I now drive an AWD up there.
 

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1966 250SE Cab, 1989 500SEL euro
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The E320 will be cheaper to run and maintain while provided 80% of the power that the V8 has - my E320 wagon hauls ass when needed. That said, many people want and are willing to pay for the that extra 20% in power. Which one are you?
 

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96 and 08 911 turbos
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2,988 Posts
few thoughts:
1. a 220bhp E320 wagon does not haul ass. It may feel like it hauls ass coming from a 75bhp geo metro, but it doesn't. It is not a quick car. The 430 is not exactly a quick car either. Either will get its ass handed to it by a newish honda accord. But thats now why you buy it. Id get the 430.

2. 4matic is a tough one. Mechanically, the system is pretty simple and pretty bulletproof. You will probably have a weeping transfer case, but with the fill hole, its a non issue. The part that sucks is the rough ride. The 4matic front suspension is pretty stiff over the crappy roads in this area. Its nice and smooth on a smooth highway, but start hitting expansion joints, and you wonder how mercedes let the car out with such a harsh ride. However, it works nicely in snow, I have not had any issues getting around. I would have probably gone with a RWD model given the lack of snow lately.

3. 2000+, no question
 

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2012 C300 Sport 4Matic and 2003 CLK430 Cabrio
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I would get a 2000 to 2002 E430. The gas mileage is not that much worse than the 320. I would also not get a 4matic unless you get a lot of snow. Here in MD we only get a few inches a few times per year, not wort the 4matic. My wife drives a C320 wagon and both engines perform just fine in every way. I just like the sound of the V8 when i open her up.

0 to 60 is

E320 7.1
E430 6.4
E55 5.4

Not a huge difference
 

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2000 E430 4Matic
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Jrock 0210:

Allow me to throw some gasoline on the fire of your query regarding buying an E320/E430/4Matic.

To let you know where I’m coming from, I’m new to the Merc ownership experience. I acquired my 2000 E430 4Matic just before Christmas, and I’ve never driven an E320.

3.2l V6 vs. 4.3l V8: With all due respect to previous posters’ opinions, a 221 hp six-cylinder E320 weighing in at 3525 lb. can hardly be described as a ‘performance’ vehicle. “Adequate” power is more likely a better description, unless you’re used to driving a diesel. The 275 hp V8 in the 3702 lb. E430 was a ‘performance’ vehicle in its day, but technology marches on and I’m sure the ‘bread and butter’ mid-size sedans, such as an ’08 Accord with V6, are likely to accelerate more quickly than the V8 Merc. For 95-percent of owners 95-percent of the time, the 221 hp E320 will be absolutely perfect, but the question is, do you fall within that 5-percent of owners who want something more?

A previous poster said the E430 is not a particularly quick car. I beg to differ. Taken from “Road Report 2000 – The Motorist’s Bible”, (a phone book-thick new car buyer’s guide) by Daniel Heraud:

0-60 mph: E430 6.5 sec; E320 7.5 sec; BMW 540iA 7.0 sec.
¼ mile: E430 14.5 sec; E320 15.6; BMW 540iA 15.2 sec.

I’d guess the 4Matic would add a couple of tenths to these figures. You can jugde for yourself what level of performance satisfies your needs/wants.

4Matic: I had similar concerns about the reliability of the 4Matic system when I bought my car. My indy Merc mechanic, who has 46 years’ MB experience, says the first generation of 4Matic were problematic, not this new generation. There is the chance of seal leakage on the new gen, but my 2000 E430 car has 87,000 km (54,000 miles), and no signs of seal leakage. The 4Matic drives like a RWD vehicle with 65-percent of the power being directed to the rear wheels; if you like the feel of being able to ‘kick’ the rear end around on the snow, you’ll love the 4Matic.

A previous poster said the 4Matic rides roughly. As indicated previously, I don’t have any E320 experience, but here in Alberta the roads are pot-holed like a war zone. I find the 4Matic’s suspension to be excellent and much more compliant and able to soak up the rough roads than my last vehicle, a 1998 Mazda Millenia S. I personally don't find the 4Matic's ride 'rough'.

2000 MY or newer: a couple of previous posters recommended buying the 2000 model year or newer because that’s the ‘face-lift’ year. I strongly agree. The nose of the 2000 has a slightly sleeker, more modern design than the previous gen. Also, various car magazines reported that MB claimed to have improved the quality of interior materials starting in 2000. When people sit in my 8-year old car, they typically ask if it’s new. The quality is outstanding.

E430 availability: E430s are harder to find than E320s. A previous poster said maybe one in four or five E-class cars are 430s. Where I live, MB sales people tell me in our local market they sold maybe one E430 for every ten or eleven E320s. Obviously an E320 is going to be easier to find.

Hope this extraordinarily long post helps your decision making.

Good luck.

Cheers.

Tim
 

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1966 250SE Cab, 1989 500SEL euro
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a 220bhp E320 wagon does not haul ass. It may feel like it hauls ass coming from a 75bhp geo metro, but it doesn't.
Allright, I'll rephrase it. I drive very fast everywhere, 80% of the time at highway speeds and 20% in the city - my 1998 wagon has never let me think "I wish I had more power", and I'm a registered car guy. If you mash the pedal, you go fast.
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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How many of each

E430 availability: E430s are harder to find than E320s. A previous poster said maybe one in four or five E-class cars are 430s. Where I live, MB sales people tell me in our local market they sold maybe one E430 for every ten or eleven E320s. Obviously an E320 is going to be easier to find.
That was me and I was going to say 10:1 but I didn't because I didn't have the North American figures at hand. In my shopping experience, which has been mostly checking what MB dealers have according to the Pre-Owned Search section on the MBUSA.com site, my rough guess is that there were at least 10 E320s sold for every 1 E430.
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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Allright, I'll rephrase it. I drive very fast everywhere, 80% of the time at highway speeds and 20% in the city - my 1998 wagon has never let me think "I wish I had more power", and I'm a registered car guy. If you mash the pedal, you go fast.
I think I know what you're saying here. My E320 was using, what I thought was too much oil, and I was talking with one of the MB techs at my dealer about that. He said if I wanted to use less oil, I should drive the car harder saying it couldn't possibly hurt anything. He was right that I had been driving like some little old lady.

I took his word for it and started regularly putting it into kickdown mode and I was shocked at how peppy those 221 horses are! Regretfully, I never tried a kickdown in my E430 but I suspect I'd like that punch a bit better.
 

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Allright, I'll rephrase it. I drive very fast everywhere, 80% of the time at highway speeds and 20% in the city - my 1998 wagon has never let me think "I wish I had more power", and I'm a registered car guy. If you mash the pedal, you go fast.
good revision and I agree. In this type of car, 221 bhp is enough.

As mentioned in a different post, I rarely give the car more than 3000rpm.
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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Hi acarter,

I remember discussing this with you on another thread. You mentioned kickdowns in your and your wife's cars and how much better the E430 felt and sounded. I'm glad you are able to feel the rush of that 275 hp/295 ft-lb bad boy!
 

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wagon-buyers don't have much of a choice... it's 4matic, or not 4matic. if i was shopping for a sedan, it'd be for SURE the E430. the mpg difference is minor but w/o the V8, the W210 just doesn't move as fast as current cars.

that said, i've driven a few 4matic vs. rwd wagons and one can definitely feel the additional 200 lb difference in the 4matics. no way i say. it's like having 2 kids permanently sitting in the 3rd row jump seats...
 

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2012 C300 Sport 4Matic and 2003 CLK430 Cabrio
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Hi acarter,

I remember discussing this with you on another thread. You mentioned kickdowns in your and your wife's cars and how much better the E430 felt and sounded. I'm glad you are able to feel the rush of that 275 hp/295 ft-lb bad boy!
:D <----Makes your face look like this
 
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