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Discussion Starter #1
I had my car in for service again and got a C300 loaner. We've been thinking of getting another car to replace my SUV for commuter duty, at least when it's not snowing and had a lot of interest in taking an extended test drive. The C300 AWD Sport we received had about 700 miles on the odo, auto transmission and P1 package. I think it has an MSRP around $37,000.

After driving the C300 in NYC traffic and on highways to the NJ shore over the weekend, I can't say that it's much better than say a Toyota Prius for everyday normal driving. I also only managed about 23 mpg (US gallons), even though I was trying to drive very economically at the speed limit. On the highway we got a high of 26mpg, but our NYC trip killed that average. On a similar trip in the Prius we averaged around 45 mpg, with I'm sure far less carbon emissions.

I found the quality of the C300 interior materials to feel and look much cheaper than that of the SLK. There were some uneven panel gaps. I would also say that the interior quality of the rental Prius we have had in the past is the same quality or better. Some of the dashboard plastics in the C felt surprisingly hard and cheap. The C300 did have doors that felt very nice when you closed them, very solid feeling.

Maybe we're use to stiffly sprung cars, but the ride in the C300 felt floaty and we were starting to feel a bit carsick after a 1.5 hr ride to the beach. The soft suspension was nice in NYC though.

Overall this car costs about $6,000 more than a loaded Prius with all the features / options. With similar options the C would be $14,000 more than the loaded Prius. I'm not convinced, in this case that the MB badge is worth it, plus the added running costs. The Hybrid, Green, image that Prius has is also worth something around the people I know. Also around where I live it appears that the there are tons new of C300s running around. I do think though that the C is probably a safer car than the Prius when you are in an accident.

In our current environment, is the MB badge on their cheapest, entry level, car still more prestigious than the current popular "green" car?
 

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Founding Member #2
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Safety comes first. How about a regular Honda Civic (4-door sedan) just for daily use? This is probably more spacious than the Toyota Prius.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm only thinking out loud. I find the Civic pretty boring and anonymous. We haven't driven one in a long time though. My parents have had all the different generations of Civics except the latest ones. I'm the only one not brand loyal in the family.

With fuel prices up so sharply, my business travel costs about $10,000 more this year than last year, and will probably be even more if jet fuel keeps increasing. My airfares have gone up from $160 rt to nearly $400, sometimes more weekly. I'm thinking of driving home, at least on some weekends, instead of flying. It would be 450 miles each way though, so this is what is driving my curiosity for something more fuel efficient. I think it would pay for itself rather quickly, though depreciate equally fast with all the miles I would pile on.
 

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My choice would be the Prius. You save on the gas and it helps send signals to the car makers that we need better gas mileage.
 

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I have not seen the crash test of the Prius but it looks unsafe to me. The civic gets 30plus mpg and it's probably much funner to drive. The Mini Cooper gives over 30 mpg, fun to drive and is safe. I recently traded in my Murano for something more fuel efficient. I got the Nissan Rogue which gives 25mpg in city driving on regular unleaded.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I actually like driving the Prius. It doesn't make my heart rate go up, except when taking corners too fast. The interior feels much larger than the Civic because it's so upright. It also is the poster child for environmentalists. I have no doubt that the Mini and the Civic will easily beat it in the fun to drive factor though. The highway mileage is also not that much better in comparison to the other cars.

The Prius gets 4 stars on all the crash test, same as the Mini Cooper, the Civic gets 5 stars on most of them.

I've started to drive at the speed limit and have improved my MPG on my FX45 from a combined 15mpg (YIKES) to an average of around 19.4mpg. Huge 29% gain by just behavior change, but I have to drive it like a blind grandma to get that. Slow and steady.

I just wish they would bring more diesel engines to the US. The Mini diesel looks tempting with 58 mpg combined, or the 1 series diesel. It looks like if I hold out until 2009, we'll be seeing a lot of new hybrids or diesels.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Looking here in Cleveland, I'm paying about $4.20 for Premium and Diesel is $4.69. About 10% more than premium. I think most diesel cars get 30% more miles compared to similar gas ones?
 

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Premium Member 2006 SLK55 AMG
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In the end isn't it all about vanity? the luxury badge or the green image (which is unknown at this point because the life of the batteries and engine is still somewhat up in the air).

If you really want to save money and help the environment, get a toyota tercel or something of the like. Easily 45 mpg, and a used car helps prevent putting more garbage in the landfill.

And yes, the C class is still more prestigious than a Prius.
 
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