Home » Why Mercedes Is Telling Owners Of Nearly 300,000 Cars To Stop Driving Immediately

Why Mercedes Is Telling Owners Of Nearly 300,000 Cars To Stop Driving Immediately

Morning Dump Mercedes Ml

Stop driving most 2006 to 2012 Mercedes SUVs, gawk at the 2023 Subaru Legacy’s new and disproportionate grille, vocalize an indignant harrumph towards the Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Mercedes SUVs Are Braking Badly

Mercedes Gl
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Any good car should be able to go, turn, and stop. Those are the absolute basics. Well, if you own a 2006-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class midsize SUV, 2007-2012 GL-Class three-row SUV, or 2006-2012 R-Class minivan, there’s a chance you’ll lose the last of those basics. See, Mercedes-Benz has recalled 292,287 units of the aforementioned vehicles for poorly-designed brake boosters that could fail altogether. Oh dear.

Hold on a second. Won’t a bad brake booster just increase braking effort required? In most cases, yes. We’re dealing with German shenanigans though. According recall documents, a particularly strong braking event on an affected brake booster in an advanced state of corrosion could sever the connection between the brake pedal and the hydraulic braking system. “In such a very rare case, it would not be possible to decelerate the vehicle via the brake pedal,” Mercedes says in its press release. That, uh, doesn’t sound so good. More likely, though, is a soft pedal and increased braking efforts due to corrosion of the brake booster resulting in a vacuum leak.

Why are these brake boosters corroding so heavily? Apparently moisture can wick under a rubber sleeve on the brake booster. This would be some pretty serious stuff were it to happen on your car, so this recall comes with an advisory to stop driving affected Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, GL-Class and R-Class models. Nearly 300,000 cars. Here’s what the company says about how this will all work:

MBUSA is advising affected customers to stop driving their vehicles. MBUSA will also offer complimentary towing to owners of affected vehicles to attend the workshop. The workshop will remove the rubber brake booster sleeve, inspect the brake booster housing and replace parts as required. In the event a repair would be necessary and cannot be carried out immediately, an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer will help coordinate an individual solution for the customer, including alternate mobility.

Yeah, this recall is going to really suck for a lot of people. A stop-drive warning during a car shortage where loaners and rentals are scarce is going to screw over anyone who uses their affected Mercedes-Benz as their only vehicle. I know that Merc’s tagline is The Best or Nothing, but I didn’t expect the nothing part of that equation to be so literal. On a positive note, this recall gives us a concrete production number of U.S.-spec Mercedes-Benz R 63 AMG super minivans, a reported 72. Sweet!

The 2023 Subaru Legacy Gets Ugly

23my Legacy Sport
Photo credit: Subaru

Giving a handsome car a mid-cycle refresh is hard. If the design is really good, it may be tempting to change very little. For the mid-cycle refresh of the James Bond-era E38 BMW 7-Series, the stylists changed the headlights, the tail lights, and nothing else under the principle of not messing with a good thing. If the design is sound but a bit stodgy, more dramatic efforts are often required. The only panel carried over from a 2014 Toyota Camry onto a 2015 model was the roof. That level of thoroughness works because it’s cohesive. Whatever Subaru has going on with the 2023 Legacy? That definitely does not work.

See, the 2022 Legacy is a good-looking car. Conservative, sure, but handsome and not overwrought. For 2023, someone must’ve pinned a baleen whale up on the mood board in the design studio because the new front fascia is gopping. The new headlights look great but that new front grille is simply massive and obviously largely blanked-off, a rather incohesive blight on what’s otherwise a very handsome car. It’s like the designers scaled up the grille silhouette of the new WRX to 200 percent, sketched out some basic louvers and then went down to the pub. Oh, and that’s before we get to the Sport model with its red-trimmed grille inlay. While the Sport model does feature Subaru’s turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four engine, it’s still a big, heavy, CVT-only family sedan.

On the bright side, an updated infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto sounds nice and the available heated steering wheel now heats the entire circumference of the wheel. Sometimes little things can really make a difference. The updated Legacy also gets the Eyesight driver assist suite upgrades from the new Outback, which have a chance of making Subaru’s nannies less prone to false-positives and more adept at detecting obstacles. Expect the new Legacy to arrive in dealerships this fall. We’d be surprised if the needle moves significantly for pricing, but we’ll likely know for sure closer to the new Legacy’s on-sale date.

The Rent-A-Racer Returns

Shelby Gt500 H
Photo credit: Shelby

Come on, did you really think that Ford and Shelby could produce a new GT500 without Hertz getting its hands on some? Yes, Hertz has acquired 25 GT500-H Mustangs from Shelby for holidaymakers to create some memories in. So what makes the GT500-H special? Well, how about a bigger supercharger? The stock Eaton TVS R2650 gets ditched in favor of a properly big 3.8-liter Whipple twin-screw supercharger. Horsepower? Allegedly more than 900. Ooh yes, this should be very quick indeed.

Other touches include a Borla cat-back exhaust system, tinted windows, unique 20-inch wheels, a new hood with extra vents, illuminated door sills, and more Shelby emblems than a V6 muscle car meet. For $399 a day, the GT500-H comes with a 70-mile daily restriction. It’s a bit of a bummer until you realize that’s a restriction of 280 quarter-miles, at which point things could get fun. Find one at Hertz locations in three states: Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Fort Myers in Florida; Las Vegas in Nevada; and Phoenix in Arizona. Then, try not to get the cops called on you. Knowing Hertz, it might happen anyway even if you don’t do anything wrong.

Attention Rich People, A New Rolls-Royce Phantom Has Arrived

P90462831 Highres Rolls Royce Phantom
Photo credit: Rolls-Royce

It genuinely doesn’t feel like it’s been five years since the current Rolls-Royce Phantom debuted, but here we are. As such, the famed luxury brand had several years of customer feedback to pull from when updating the Phantom, and customers must’ve liked it because not much has changed. Hey, planned obsolescence was never really Rolls-Royce’s bag.

The biggest visual update to the Phantom Series II is the availability of these amazing dinner plate alloy wheels. They just have so much presence and don’t fall into the horrible cliché of black wheels with machined faces. Should you be incredibly wealthy and have no taste, don’t worry. Rolls-Royce has you covered with a brand new set of black wheels with machined faces. Ah. Anyway, the Phantom Series II’s grille is slightly redesigned to add a nice horizontal chrome strip between the daytime running lights and more prominently feature the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and Rolls-Royce “Badge of Honour” (seriously) from the front. Those changes may be imperceptible to the average person, but the new grille illumination should draw a stare or too. I’m not a huge fan of illuminated grilles, but it seems like Rolls-Royce and exercised its typical restraint and produced the only tasteful illuminated grille in the history of the world. Good job guys.

Finishing off the visual package is a starlight element in each headlight, adding an unusual dose of whimsy. Whimsy? In a Rolls-Royce? Stranger things have happened. Inside the Phantom Series II, the steering wheel is slightly thicker than on the old car and a new telematics system can send navigation directions from the owner’s smartphone to the car. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something hilarious about an Internet of Things-connected Rolls-Royce as IoT is the opposite of timeless. Oh well. Anyway, the Phantom Series II should serve the rich and famous well. Pricing and timing haven’t been released, but they’re largely irrelevant figures. The type of person buying a Phantom Series II doesn’t care about how much it costs and can most likely wait for delivery.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Between the questionably-styled facelifted Legacy, the rather frumpy new WRX and the Plastic Cladding R Us Wilderness lineup, I really wonder where Subaru’s going. It seems to be a brand with no clear vision, wandering in circles amped up on hallucinations of focus group feedback and aggressively mid vibes. While the electric revolution will likely serve Subaru well considering it never really could build a great engine, I wonder if the Japanese peddler of all-wheel-drive passenger cars will lose even more quirkiness in the process. So, let’s say you were in charge of Subaru and could do basically anything you want. What would you do?

Lead photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

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30 Responses

  1. Oh Subaru…why have you forsaken me? Remember when we were young, poor, and carefree? I loved you for your quirks and laughed at your jokes. You didn’t take yourself so seriously. My parents never approved, but you were underpowered and non threatening. You were my first turbo, my first all wheel drive, my first parking lot engine swap. What happened to you? Sure, you gained some weight, got a little dumpy, but it was when you started caring what other people thought that you broke my heart. What you are, what you have become, it’s not you. I know the real you, I accept the real you. I hope that someday you will too.

  2. Oh come on. “Considering subaru could never build a great engine.” You kidding me? The EJ207 is legendary and the ej platform itself has existed for a long long time. Subaru motors are like any other oddball engine design, IE a poor man’s porsche. As long as you maintain them they last a long time.

  3. In charge of Subaru:

    1. Bring back the STI and offer the WRX/STI in hatchback form. Also get rid of the black cladding.
    2. Throw the WRX engine and transmission in every vehicle, and make a real STI version of everything (Especially the BRZ)
    3. Create 2 segments of advertising; standard family Subaru ads we see now, and then a secondary one for the new performance line up. They had an ad for the 2010 WRX doing a four wheel drift with the line “Buy stock in rubber.” Haven’t seen anything like that lately.
    4. Profit?

  4. I can’t say much about Subie. Never owned one or even been in one. I know the old WRX STI was pretty sweet, but that’s about it.

    The Hertz/Mustang thing is probably 99.99999% certain to lead to several bat-shit crazy stories specifically involving it (as opposed to the regular, run of the mill, bat-shit) in Florida somewhere. My gut says Tampa will take 1st place.

    Unless they are radically different looking in person, I think those dinner-plate wheels are hideous. Then again, I like my Pop-Tarts “raw” so my taste is clearly a bit off.

  5. Hooboy. That’s going to be one expensive recall for Mercedes.
    Those were pretty much their most popular cars around here, and there is a lot of them. In peak rust belt. Usually pretty well maintained, surprisingly. But to give you some idea: 25 GL’s, 17 ML’s in the recall group within 25 miles of me. Not counting the ones already pulled down as stop sales. (Why is it not illegal to sell cars with open recalls like this again? Oh. Right. Because laws are only for poor people.)

    Subaru’s well past having lost their way. They’ve just been middling along on momentum and cult status for a decade now. Even the new WRX is a testament to them just phoning it in. 271HP, 258ft/lbs of torque, that’s pretty much bottom rung, especially for a 2.4. There’s 1.5’s doing that. The styling is just offensive, even moreso with all the fake vents. Even WR Blue Pearl can’t save it from looking like a base model Mitsubishi Lancer with black unpainted plastic for the bumpers. And they don’t even compete in WRC any more!
    They need to go back to their roots. What? No, abso-fucking-loutely not the bug eye WRX! I’m talking their ROOTS. Quirky, affordable, useful cars like the Subaru 360 and 1000. Building engines correctly so that head gaskets (so many) and valve springs (FA20) aren’t considered ‘normal maintenance’ items. Finding markets for the weird, like the BRAT and the Baja and maybe NOT JUST GIVING UP THIS TIME.
    “Inexpensive, and built to stay that way” used to be their slogan. They need to get back to that instead of “we make the Forrester” and “here’s a coupon for 20% off your next head gasket change or engine rebuild.”

    1. I remember riding with some family friends to a high school basketball game in one of those classic early ’80s Subaru wagons, of course it was the yellow/tan color. That was their peak as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Subaru needs one kickass (new) engine in a WRX STI with detuned versions in everything else. Just one gas engine. Then, the planned solo EV. Mild hybrid + base/manual trims of every model to fill the gaps.

    And just kill the Legacy.

    1. This is exactly what Volvo has done. They have a base 2.0l that is in every vehicle that has some level of hybridization, supercharging, turbocharging or all of the above depending on the model and trim of the vehicle.

  7. The new Legacy looks like a Hyundai to me now.

    As for what to do with Subaru, that is a good question. I once bought two new Subarus in a row (Crosstrek then Legacy), but moved on to Volvo since. I have driven the new Outback, Legacy and Ascent when searching for a new vehicle and the problems I had with them were:

    No Innovation:
    The newer models did not seem like a significant improvement over what they replaced. In fact, they felt like they were the same car but uglier.

    Horrible Visual Design:
    The new Subaru vehicles look like someone took the previous generations design and hit them with an ugly stick.

    Questionable UX Choices:
    Not only did they move a bunch of controls to a touch screen that doesn’t work when wearing gloves, the UX of the system is horrible. Want to put the heated seat on? Got to press the button to bring up the menu, then press the button to access heated seats, then tap it however many times you want for the heat level. This is a place Volvo did really well with, their touch screen works with gloves and climate controls are always accessible.

    Lack of decent PHEV or EV options:
    This one is changing slowly with their new Toyota EV, but at the moment if you want something more Eco friendly… well Subaru the “environmental” brand doesn’t offer anything.

    How to fix Subaru?
    Be the cheaper Japanese Volvo like you used to be. Make stylish, handsome vehicles and commit to electrification while keeping your cornerstones of the brand.

  8. I guess I’m the only one who thinks the Subaru looks aggressively…fine? I mean, it’s not a stunner, but when you’re comparing to something described as “Conservative, sure, but handsome and not overwrought” you’re already dealing with a damning with faint praise situation anyway (aside: Am I the only one who has noticed that “handsome” is almost exclusively used by journalists trying to compliment a boring car?).

    Also, criticizing Subaru for losing their quirkiness and then complaining about a more daringly styled car is pretty hypocritical. Subarus have never been pretty cars, they’ve always been about as attractive as an outdoor enthusiast just returned from a three day backpacking trip in the wilderness. 😛

    1. Quirky ≠ Ugly

      Quirky is offering a lifted sedan with 7.3 inches of ground clearance (Legacy Outback Sedan)

      Quirky is offering a wagon with as truck bed on the back (Baja)

      Quirky is offering a small car with a truck bed and booster seats in the bed (Brat)

      The only things still quirky about Subaru now is the boxer engine and they sell a wagon (kind-of).

  9. Subaru needs to bring back the non-Outback Legacy wagon and also bring back the turbo Forester XT

    You can drive the Hertz Mustang like you stole it because Hertz will accuse you of stealing it anyway

    1. The last Forester XT offered no manual transmission. I would have bought one if it had offered it, instead I ended up with whatever the best trim was with a stick.

      I would have been fine with something Crosstrek-sized, but the 2.0 in that and the Impreza felt a bit anemic. Subaru then added the 2.5 to the Crosstrek, but again tethered it to a CVT. Even the top-trim WRX is now CVT-only. That was fine when I assumed there would be an STi version with a stick, but Subaru has said that isn’t coming.

      I’m probably going to end up buying the WRX hatch I want from Toyota, since the GR Corolla offers the things I want without the silliness of a flat engine for no real benefit.

  10. I’ve got a 2017 Legacy, the front end on mine looks better than that new one, everything else looks exactly the same. I wouldn’t call either one a looker, but they’re fine. I bought mine because I needed a quiet, comfortable (slow, boring) ride for a long daily commute and I wanted AWD due to eight months of winter. I wanted a larger car, but not an Outback or SUV, so enter the Legacy! It does exactly what I wanted it to do at a really good price (back when that was a thing), and I think Subaru is good at that. They make solid, useful vehicles without much in the way of frills attached.

    Subaru is pretty stagnant these days though, their best idea of late seems to be putting plastic cladding all over everything. They should stop that right now! I’d love to see them take another shot at a ute or small truck type thing. Jump in there and compete with the Maverick and Santa Cruz! Also agree with previous commenters that the WRX motor should be optioned across more of the product line.

    1. I totally agree with your thoughts on the Legacy. I actually had a 2017 Limited trim, fully loaded in dark metallic blue with ivory leather.

      It was a great comfortable car and for it’s price was wonderful. Felt a lot more premium than other cars in it’s class like the Camry.

      Replaced it with a Volvo S60 T8.

  11. Wife has a ’22 Outback. It’s a comfortable tool that allows us to have & use other fun things. Our only gripe with it is the touchscreen & dash are far to cluttered and busy. Otherwise it’s fine. I’m not sure I’d want to change much, the world needs enabler vehicles to get us to work when the fun car is broken.

  12. As the owner of a ’21 Legacy, I’m just glad a small manufacturer like Subaru will continue to make their mid-sized sedan.

    The grill redesign? Ehh. Kinda’ in your face for Subaru, but still, easier on the eyes by a few orders of magnitude than the front end of a Tribeca or 2006-2007 Impreza.

  13. The Rolls does not have enough ground clearance. Most of those things are bought by oligarchs and kleptocrats in “developing” countries with crummy roads.

  14. Subaru should make a mild off-road capable BEV wagon that doesn’t get the range of the suppository smooth cars, but also doesn’t give up at the sight of a rock, rut, or eroded surface on a forrest road.

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