Good morning, Autopians, and Happy Friday! Today’s choices hail from sunny Miami, Florida, and are absolute bargains compared to when they were new. Yesterday, we looked at a couple of nice sensible rides in the Chicagoland area. Let’s see which one you chose:
The Vibe wins it, but not by much, and I think it’s safe to say that either one is a safe choice, if they are as good as they seem. A couple of commenters pointed out that the Highlander has a transverse V6, which is its own special brand of Hell to service, making the Pontiac’s little four a point in its favor.
As has become custom on Fridays, today’s choices are just a little bit more expensive than our standard fare. But they are one hell of a lot less than they once were. Depreciation is a cruel mistress, and the pricier they are, the farther and faster they fall. These cars are eight and ten years old, and they’ve both lost roughly 80% of their value already. Does that make either of them a good deal now? Let’s look and see.
2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 – $7,500
Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 1.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, seven-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Odometer reading: 84,000 miles
I’m beginning to dislike looking up specs on newer German cars. Once upon a time, you knew exactly what was under the hood of a Mercedes (or BMW) just by the numbers on the back. 380SE? S-class with a 3.8 liter V8. 300D? Three-liter diesel five, turbocharged on 1982 and up. By that logic, I would have expected this car to have some sort of two and a half liter engine. But no; it’s a 1.8 liter turbocharged four, which you’d think would make it a C180. Well, it can be that too, but sometimes a C180 has only a 1.6 liter engine. It’s all very confusing.
Whatever they want to call it, it’s a nice sporty little sedan, with sharp looks and decent performance. From what I’ve heard, these cars aren’t as bank-vault solid as the older ones were, but they’re still well-engineered (if sometimes over-engineered) and well bolted together. The trouble, as some of us have found out, is that when things do go wrong, they can go very wrong, and the price tag to put them right again can be very high, hence the often low price of entry.
This C250 is in good shape, as you’d expect for only being ten years old. It’s also still low on miles, at only 84,000. So why so cheap? Well, it is small, basic, and low-powered, as Mercedes go. And since the price of repairs and service is similar across the board for any ten-year-old Benz, the value of a lower-end one, even in good shape, is going to reflect that reality.
Still, if you’re a patient do-it-yourselfer who isn’t afraid to learn new things, cars like this could be a good way to get something nicer than your basic Malibu or Camry.
2015 Hyundai Genesis coupe – $6,900
Engine/drivetrain: 3.8 liter dual overhead cam V6, eight-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Cutler Bay, FL
Odometer reading: 120,000 miles
Runs/drives? Sure does
If you took a photo of this car back in time and showed it to a car enthusiast in 1993 and told them, “this is a Hyundai; it’s rear-wheel-drive and it has over 300 horsepower,” they’d have laughed in your face. But if you sell enough Excels and Scoupes, apparently it pays for sufficient R&D to put out something like this: the Genesis Coupe.
Genesis had their last tour last year, but since Phil Collins wasn’t even with them anymore, I didn’t have much interest. I was lucky enough to see them in 1991, on the We Can’t Dance tour, and it remains one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Some will say they were never as good after Peter Gabriel left [Ed note: It’s taken a while, but I’m still on board with post-Gabriel Genesis, even if I’m a Gabriel stan. -MH] , and then Steve Hackett, but between Phil, Mike, and Tony, they put out some damn fine records, if you ask me. Duke is a personal favorite of mine still.
Oh wait; wrong Genesis.
This Genesis, unfortunately, comes with a rebuilt title for an undisclosed reason. That might have something to do with the low price. Whether or not it’s a problem depends on the state: here in Oregon, a branded title is mostly a matter between you and your insurance company, but from what I’ve heard Mercedes Streeter say, it’s almost impossible to register a salvage-title car in Illinois. I’m guessing Florida is more on the lax side of things.
Whatever happened to it, this car does look basically all right now. There are some funky panel gaps here and there which might indicate some repaired damage, but the seller says it runs “awesome” and that they’ve been driving it for three years, which tells me that it was repaired reasonably well.
So what say you? Would you take on a high-maintenance German? Or roll the dice on a rebuilt Korean upstart?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)
You know which one I’m choosing. Never had much luck with a Mercedes.
Great Showdown as always, Mark!
I was starting to be on board with the Genesis until the salvage title was pointed out. Considering how hard it is to insure/register a vehicle with that and, at the end of the day, it’s still a Hyundai with the resale value to go along with it, and I could likely pick up a used Lexus wirh a clean title for not -too- much more… Gimme the Mercedes. If I am gonna make a financial mistake, let’s make it glorious.
I saw a Genesis coupe of this vintage on the road the other day and remembered how much I liked them. It’s a pretty credible alternative to an S197 Mustang V6 or a lower-trim Camaro. But I get a strong whiff of “hoon” from that one, from the branded title to the panel gaps to the sticker behind the driver’s shoulder. We’ll go with the Benz.
I’m a sucker for old man brown leather and low maintenance white paint but that genesis looks like an altima with pep boys hood scoops. Add in panel gaps and rebuilt title means a hard pass. I guess I’ll take the benz. Badge delete so I don’t look as poor as I am…
“really hug the depreciation curve”
So funny.I’m absolutely going to remember that next time im at a party.There’s always someone talking up their disposable car brand
“I’m guessing Florida is more on the lax side of things.”
Doesn’t Florida now have a don’t say title law?
Still, that’s one ugly car. I wonder how many parts of other cars the committee faxed in and insisted were incorporated into the styling.
The crunchy titles don’t tend to scare me off as long as I can see the car up close in person. Posting pics of the Hyundai with the tow hook already installed comes across as a bit ominous though. At any rate, I prefer the looks of that bright little Benz, and this one is just the right shade of resale-red.
The MB was grandma’s car (hence the low mileage) and she died and no one wants it.
The Genesis has a salvage title from being hooned.
The C (aka hceap) Benz due to a non rebuilt title. If you know what you are buying and budget correctly, this can be a good car.
That exceptionally low price for the MB sort of scares me – like someone is trying to offload a problem. That being said, I’ve had the pleasure of driving one of these base-spec models as a rental when it was new. The RWD and turbo engine actually make this quite fun, perhaps more fun that newer AWD German cars that I’m into these days. I’d take it knowing that there’s probably $3,000+ repairs waiting to happen. At that price, it’s still worth it.
“Offload a problem” is what selling a Mercedes is all about.