Why is a Car Worth $70+K?
Although most of the North American adult population will drive, few will find themselves behind the wheel of a prestige vehicle.
As a young driver whose seat-time was limited to “bread and butter” automobiles, I often wondered what it must be like to drive an expensive automobile, and just what the owners of such vehicles received for their bucketloads of money that I wasn’t privy to in my “poor-man’s wheels.” After all, regardless of price, a typical car has four tires, a steering wheel, engine, gas pedal and brake—really what more is there?
Plenty is the answer
For the purposes of illustration, I’m going to focus us on a sedan from Mercedes-Benz that has undergone a complete revision for 2010. It’s far from the pinnacle of the German manufacturer’s lineup, making it a prestige car that’s not entirely out of reach—or is it?
The E 350 4MATIC is a premium-level 4-door sedan that is commonly found in upscale neighborhoods and golf club parking lots—yet not many can afford its sticker shock. I recently tested a 2010 E 350 4MATIC and was surprised to see that its MSRP chimed in a $70,225.
Although my tester was graced with a Premium Package and special leather upholstery, the base E 350 4MATIC is listed at $62,900. Add on the various taxes and charges that accompany purchasing new, and the $70K barrier will blow by like a signpost on the autobahn.
In the case of my tester, expect to see the backside of an $80K signpost—and how many of us can afford that for four tires and an engine? A fully-optioned E 350 4MATIC will surpass the $100K barrier by the time its driven off the MB dealer’s gilded lot—yikes.
Now that we’ve discovered just how expensive that mid-level Merc can be, let’s figure out what you get in addition to four tires and an engine for that kind of coin; and perhaps more importantly, is it worth it?
The feel of quality
It’s a bit difficult to put into words but there’s a definite ambience of quality intrinsic to cars such as the E 350. It’s a feeling of substance that accompanies the “whump” of doors and the smooth, precise operation of switches and controls.
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