If I were to pick any of those cars from that era I would only really go with the MB's. In terms of reliabilty and simplicity, they were much better than any Audi or BMW of that year. As you mention the LS, I'm assuming you are looking at one of the V8 flagships. The Non 4-Matic W220 S500 without Active Body Control (this also wipes out the AMG/600 series cars) is probably the lowest maintenance of the bunch. The E-class of these years (e500, or even the e55/63 are getting cheap) can also be a good buy, but don't buy anything with Sensotronic Brakes Control (brake-by-wire).
Thank you!. Actually 4Matic is tempting.
Any recommendations for a used Audi, BMW or Merc circa 2000-2006? Models to look for? No greater than mileage, issues to look for etc?
I've been mostly an American and Japanese driver for the majority of my life, but my VW Golf which was built on a shared platform with Audi has been stellar so far.
I realize its a very vague question, but I'm grateful for any and all opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant so far is that all three of those have issues after 100K miles that might be troublesome.
And yes, I've looked for a Lexus LS400 or 430 and they're either pricey because the owners know what they have or beat to hell.
That is a broad question, but I will do my best to answer.
Good luck and if you find a specific one, let us know.
Thank you! I appreciate the well thought out, detailed answer.
Noble covered pretty much everything on Merc and BMW so I'll just toss in a few thoughts about Audi. From the early 2000s, honestly, I would avoid them.
The A8 (if looking for a full size) would be an absolutely awesome choice, but, as is with most VW products from the time period they suffer from quite a few electronics issues. It'll be a situation where you may not have huge maintenance costs at once, but it will nickel and dime the shit out of you. They also had a propensity for some pretty costly suspension issues on the A8 in the early 2000s.
I don't know a ton about the A6, but the A4 is decent and the S4 would honestly be one of the better drivers cars made in the era if it wasn't for one small problem. They switched from a timing belt to a chain (yay VW, you tried catching up with everyone else!), but it is located at the back of the engine towards the firewall. This wouldn't be a huge problem, but the tensioners and a few other parts were absolute rubbish. Long story short, the engine is a ticking bomb. If you catch issues early, the timing chain fixes may only cost you 5-8k$ (woooo!), but more than likely, you'll be driving along and lunch an engine.
I think if I was making a choice in that range, I would look at a 210 E class, but as noble said, watch for rust. Some cars did quite well, others not.
I really like the S classes from that era, but I worry about electronics issues. Not that they were particularly unreliable actually, but there are more of them to go wrong than on the E class and when they do go wrong, they aren't cheap.
Thank you!. In Mercs, I'm looking at E Class 4Matics. I'll keep your suggestions in mind.
I'm going to be really Gentle about this: VW Products are Rubbish. it doesn't matter what the label says, or how much you paid for it. if you buy one new? you are a sucker - for the depreciation, and will later sell it to another sucker -for the repairs. which is sad, because i always thought the A6 was a handsome car.
BMW are perhaps the most "Mechanic Friendly" of the group, which will become important come service time, or repairs. but whether you see this as a plus or minus is up to you..
BMW are the German Toyota, solidly built, sharing parts between models, and very simple/functional design. the closest comparison i can think of is, a 5 series is like a Toyota Crown.
here they are just a regular car, as Bimmers are in Germany. best to take @Nobleprofessor 's advice on the year models. the Alpina's , and the 740/50 are super nice.
Merc's? skip the C-class completely, unless you can pay up for the V8 ones. but if you could afford one of those? - grab a sc400/LS400 and put a supra gearbox in it. (Trust me)
Always had a hard spot for the E-Class. specifically the E55. all i can say on Merc's is.... get the absolute best you can. the best condition, the best service history,the best engine,the lowest mileage. you can't make any exceptions.
- unless everything is perfect but it has a cracked window or some other easy fix/price dropper. saving 1k+ for a $400 windshield is a win. =Thrift.
Actually looked at one today, it was debadged on the rear, i'm guessing it was a E380. well optioned, low miles, beautiful green metallic. and lower priced than what really got my attention.....
but it was almost a contender as a daily for Mrs Vader. so no hate here.