I've become quite a big fan of the German cars the last couple of years. Most of them are built very well, don't get nearly the credit they deserve reputation-wise here (because Americans are convinced that European people are snobs and Japanese people aren't, most likely), and contrary to popular belief, they actually are at the forefront many of the safety trends in vehicles that Japanese and American vehicles then use in their cars later. Case in point: a Volkswagen we own (loaded up Passat wagon) was giving us some very quirky issues, to the point where we have no choice but to trade it in. (Sidebar: before you call me out for saying that German cars are reliable, then admitting I have a German lemon, we're talking luxury makes here). Anyway, we had the choice of a BMW 325i from 2001 with 67K miles, for $12,000, or a Lexus ES300 with 85K miles, for $11,000. The BMW by far had more safety features and just felt more solid - not just when you open and close the doors, but in driving feel and engine/transmission. The Lexus is a beautiful car, but one should remember that the ES300 is a V6 Camry with more noise padding, whereas BMW doesn't have a "budget" brand. Plus, BMW/Benz/Audi/Porsche are made for the Autobahn. And you'd be surprised at how cheap parts really are for these cars if you know where to look. I don't pay any more for my E320's parts than I would for Honda parts, it's just that the Mercedes has more electrical components.
We have to go with the Lexus because of the trade-in value we're getting on the VW - and yes, I'm complaining about a Lexus instead of a BMW; and yes, you have every right to shoot me on sight when you see me (um, not really though). But for all you out there thinking that any German car will give you nothing but trouble because you've been brainwashed by the media, know that a new Accord I had owned had a steering pump give out in 2K miles. Also know that one individual I know had a 2003 Civic engine blow up on him after 45K miles. They do have their quirks, but there are many more of them on the road so you don't hear about their problems as much (Toyota and Acura transmission recalls abound). Plus, people who buy a German car brand new are more likely to complain about issues, even though most admit the issues are covered under factory warranty, hence the lower ratings on Edmunds.com and MSN Autos. When you buy used and have a talented mechanic check the vehicle out first (which I failed to do with the Passat), you can't lose as long as you keep up with the scheduled maintenance.
Eventually I'll have a car show on Speed Channel where I spread the word...yeah, some day.
Anyway, here are pics of what we hope is the new ride if all goes well in the next couple hours or so: