Tag Archives: Sears Imports Mercedes Benz

The Differences Between the 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 and the 2012 GLK350 In Pictures

2013 Mercedes GLK350

We’ve all read about the new facelifted 2013 GLK350 in the usual motoring press publications and online… I’ve read several synopsis of the new car, and they’re all the same, nobody ever really lays out the differences side by side, with both cars sitting next to each other, until Dave Knows Cars. This article will be laid out in a similar manner to my “Differences between the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury” article (one of the most visited and commented on posts on the Dave Knows Cars  Blog).

The goal here is to educate the reader about both vehicles… the 2013 model and those GLKs built during the 2010 – 2012 model years. This should help you decide which car might be right depending upon whether you’re looking at new cars, Certified Pre Owned examples or both… this should help you weigh the options.

The 2013 GLK350 get mechanical as well as cosmetic changes. Let’s start on the outside….

2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Palladium Silver
Our subject 2013 Mercedes GLK350 in Palladium Silver, this is a fairly standard car, with the new style standard wheel and NO appearance package. This is the standard GLK350 ‘look’ for MY 2013.
2012 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Arctic White
This is the standard equipment 2012 Mercedes Benz GLK350, NO appearance package, this car has the standard GLK wheels for 2012.

The most notable cosmetic differences start in the front of the vehicle. The 2013 model gets a new grille with chrome topped horizontal bars, the front bumper and lower front fascia are all new. ALL the metal panels on the two vehicles are the same, only the plastic wrap around bumper and lower front fascia have changed. The new 2013 model gets a sporty chrome front skid plate at the very bottom of the front fascia, as well as standard LED daytime running lamps (similar to the C and E classes). The other major front end difference is the new headlamp shape / style for the 2013 models.

2013 mercedes GLK350 changes
Have a close look at our 2013 GLK350 here: New grille, front bumper and lower front fascia, notice the new LED daytime running lamps which replace the standard round fog lamps on the 2012 model GLK350. Fancy new headlamp treatment too.
2012 Mercedes GLK350 head lamps
This is the 2012 model GLK350… different grille, lower front bumper and fascia are all white plastic… no chrome, round fog lamps instead of the LED daytime running lamps, different headlamp shape.
2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Wheel
This is the new, standard equipment, 19″ wheel for the 2013 model GLK350. A larger 20″ wheel is available if you opt for the “Appearance Package”.
2012 Mercedes GLK350 19" Wheel
This is the standard 19″ wheel for GLK vehicles built between the 2010 model year and 2012.

The rear ends of the vehicles have changed in a similar way… the 2013 gets some visual updates, but also some new technology. The rear plastic bumpers are all new on the 2013 model GLK class cars. You’ll notice that the 2013 GLK has chrome down low on the rear bumper, the red lights integrated into the rear bumpers are in a difference place and a different shape, the 2013 model also gets a new tail pipe treatment.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 LED tail lamps
The rear end of the new 2013 GLK350 reveals a new plastic bumper, the lower part of the bumper incorporates a chrome ‘skid plate’ and new tail pipe treatment. New rear tail lamp design boasts LEDs.
2012 Mercedes GLK350 rear styling
The rear end of the 2012 GLK appears a bit more simple and less stylized. The tail pipes don’t seem as integrated here, different tail lamp treatment.

In addition to the visual enhancements and a new tail lamp shape, the 2013 GLK350 gets LED rear tail lamps while the 2012 models still use regular incandescent bulbs. The rear license plate is also lit by LED lamps on the new 2013 models.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 LED tail lamps
The 2013 model GLK gets a new tail lamp, LED tail lamps in fact. They light up more quickly when the brake pedal is applied and LEDs last longer than traditional bulbs, while using less energy.
2012 Mercedes GLK tail lamp
The original 2010 – 2012 GLK350 tail lamp, uses regular incandescent bulbs.

Moving to the interior of the vehicle… the 2013 GLK gets many of the changes that we saw appear in the 2012 model C classes in terms of dash layout. The 2013 models get the new steering wheel we saw appear int eh 2012 model C class cars… but also, all the vents have been upgraded and their shape has been changed to emulate the SL and SLS round shaped air vents. Like the rest of the new Mercedes-Benz model line, the display within the instrument cluster is now full color, not just white pixels on a black back ground.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 new interior
Big changes on the inside of the new 2013 GLK… notice the vents, steering wheel and full color instrument display. If you look closely, you will see there is NO gear shift selector on the console… read on for more info about that!

Since 2010 the gear shift selector for the GLK has been in the console between the seats, so the cup holders were just in front of the arm rest. Well, the new 2013 GLK models have the same electronic transmission selector, on the steering column, to control the 7 speed transmission as the GL, M, S and E class vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. This makes room for more cup holders and storage under that little roll back wood piece where the gear shift selector used to be.

2013 Mercedes GLK interior
This is the interior of the 2013 GLK… no more gear shift selector in the console, now it’s on the steering column like most of the rest of the MB product line. This leaves more room for additional storage and cup holders under the wood roll back compartment in front of the climate control
2012 Mercedes GLK interior
This is the 2012 GLK dash and interior. Doesn’t seem quite as intricate or rich looking, still a great vehicle though, just a different look.
2012 Mercedes GLK350 interior
Transmission selector of the 2012 model, like the 2010 and 2011 models, are situated in the console, good cup holders are right behind the gear shifter.

Mechanical upgrades for the interior, beyond the transmission selector relocation includes the addition of the same Electro-Mechanical steering system that is found in the 2012 model ML350, it no longer uses a hydraulic power steering system. This makes the vehicle very easy to turn and maneuver at low speeds, say, in a parking lot, but the steering stiffens as speeds increase. The other big change on the inside for long time Mercedes-Benz owners is the change in position of the cruise control and turn signal stalks. For 20+ years the cruise control stalk has been the upper most stalk on the left side of the steering wheel while the lower stalk has always been the turn signals / wiper controls. Thanks to all the potential customers Mercedes Benz surveyed during the redesign of the 2012 model ML350 (mostly women, mostly Lexus owners) the positioning of these two controls were changed. Apparently, if you’re a driver of Japanese cars, you’re used to hitting the upper most stalk for teh turn signals and people were constantly turning on the cruise control when trying to signal a turn. Interestingly, this happens on almost EVERY SINGLE test drive I’ve ever been on with anyone who hasn’t owned a Mercedes-Benz before. I tell people as we’re getting int he car, they still hit the cruise control as they’re attempting to signal the first turn out of the lot.. no joke.. it happens almost every time.

2013 mercedes GLK turn signal placement
Changed after 25+ years, the turn signal stalk is the upper most stalk on the left of the 2013 GLK350, the cruise control is below. The little stalk in between the two is the power steering column adjustment.
2012 Mercedes GLK turn signals
This is a shot of the 2012 turn signal / cruise control placement. This has been the standard placement of cruise and turn signal stalks since at least the early 1980s as far as I can tell.
2013 Mercedes GLK350 gear shift placement
Notice the steering column mounted transmission selector… this new placement gives you new space for additional cup holders and more storage in the roll back console area.

So, we’ve covered all the enhancements you can SEE on the GLK.. but what lies under the hood. The new GLK350 get the newest Mercedes-Benz direct injection V6 engine that appeared inthe new ML350 in 2012 and now resides in the 2013 model E class cars. The new V6 ups its horsepower from 268HP in 2012 to 302HP for the 2013 model year… ft./lb of torque also increases…. and while we’re increasing numbers… let’s touch on the improved fuel efficiency. The new 2013 mode GLK gets a couple of more miles per gallon according to the EPA (who always have conservative estimates, far less economy that actual owners experience).

2013 Mercedes GLK gas mileage
A shot of the window sticker of the 2013 GLK350… according to the EPA the car gets 19mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway, about 3 miles per gallon more than the outgoing 2012 model.
2012 Mercedes GLK gas mileage
This is the window sticker of the 2012 model… 16mpg city, 21 mpg highway, combined fuel economy of 18MPG. Real owners always get better than these estimates.

My wife recently completed a 22 hour round trip drive in her 2012 GLK from Minneapolis to Toledo, OH… she averaged a little more than 26mpg on the highway with the cruise control set at 74mph. 5 miles per hour better than the EPA states on the window sticker, so it might not be too much of a stretch to think the new GLK is capable of about 30mpg on the highway. If I have a chance to take an extended road test in a new 2013 GLK, I will report back here and let you know what I find.

So the first face lift of the GLK is out and about, available at dealers today. The new direct injection engine is certainly noteworthy, the new steering system is too, but in my eyes, not a huge deal. There will be a number of option packages for the new 2013 GLK… an Appearance Package to include 20″ wheels and stainless steel roof rails among other things. The next big thing in the GLK world will be the GLK350 BlueTEC diesel arriving in the U.S. in early 2013. There will be a lot of talk about it… it should be good for mid 30s MPG… but chances are we will sell few of them sue to the general distaste the American buyer has for diesel (unfounded of course, it’s really a pity). Those who want them are nuts about them.. those who don’t are just as nuts in their distaste for them.

My next article will focus on my thoughts about the used GLK market.. it’s been very strong since the GLKs were released…and chances are it will remain strong.

Sears Imported Autos to Enter Lucrative Mercedes-Benz Funeral Coach Market Segment

Mercedes-Benz-Hearse-Sears-Imports

As luxury auto sales hit record numbers during the first quarter of 2013, the sales race between Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus is heating up. Dealerships are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves and offer their customers something new and innovative. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van sales are brisk across the U.S. Mercedes-Benz trucks and commercial vehicles are the norm in Europe. Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz in Minnetonka, a family owned car dealership for more than 40 years, continues to innovate with their announcement of a business expansion in to the lucrative Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles market, specifically, the funeral coach market, hearses based on the Mercedes-Benz E class.

It’s this type of innovation that has kept Sears Imported Autos in Minnetonka, MN at the forefront of Mercedes-Benz sales and customer service over the years. To say Sears a full service dealership is an understatement, they take care of their customer’s vehicle needs throughout their lives, and now, beyond.

“Sears is a unique company in that we’re willing to take calculated risks to enter a new market if we think it can work” says Mike Roeder, General Sales Manager at Sears Imported Autos about their foray into the funeral coach market.

“The baby boomers aren’t getting any younger,” says Gary Emfield, new Mercedes-Benz manager at sears Imports, “after polling a number of local funeral homes regarding their transportation needs it became clear that a high end option for funeral coaches was grossly lacking, we’re simply offering an alternative to the typical Cadillac or Lincoln hearse.” Emfiled is optimistic about the new segment “Our first three units are already spoken for, due to be delivered to local funeral homes later this month.”
mercedes-hearses-sears-imports

It’s true, Europeans have been taking their ‘last rides’ in Mercedes-Benz hearses for more than 50 years. Sears Imports believes their clients who drove Mercedes-Benz vehicles throughout their lives, will appreciate taking their ‘last ride’ with dignity in a Mercedes-Benz.

Teaming up with the German firm Huiskamp Carrosserie, makers of specialty vehicles for over three decades in Germany, Sear Imports hopes to deliver between 100 and 125 units throughout the United States during 2013. “We are the exclusive Huiskamp representatives in the United States” reports Roeder, “We’re making the investment, we knew we wanted an exclusive deal with Huiskamp, it’s the only way we would have done it.”

For more information on these new Mercedes-Benz hearses, please feel free to contact me directly… Dave Tobin, 952-512-6685, you only go around once, right?
(See date on this post below… April Fools!)

Apple iPhone 5 Unable to Pair with Mercedes Benz Bluetooth After IOS Version 6.0.2 Upgrade

Mercedes-iPhone5 IOS 6.0.2 Upgrade

12/31/2012 – Breaking News – It’s come to my attention that there is an issue with the new iPhone 5 when trying to pair to Mercedes-Benz Blue tooth equipped vehicles (which means any new Mercedes Benz).

Quite simply, if you perform the automatic ‘upgrade’ from IOS 6.0.1 to the newer IOS 6.0.2, the iPhone 5 that you had previously paired for use in your Mercedes-Benz vehicle will no longer be paired… and worse, CANNOT be paired to your Mercedes-Benz vehicle for easy Bluetooth hands free usage. Bluetooth phone capabilities, GONE, Bluetooth streaming music capabilities… SORRY, that won’t work either.

Once the IOS 6.0.2 upgrade is made to your iPhone 5, the phone cannot be paired to your Mercedes Benz vehicle.

I’ve got to believe that a fix will be made for the situation… whether it will come from Mercedes-Benz or from Apple, I don’t know. I would guess it will be an Apple upgrade or ‘fix’, as the way I understand it the same problem is cropping up in other vehicles from other manufacturers.

So, if you have an iPhone 5 and you want to talk hands free or stream music in your Mercedes-Benz, at least for now… you’ll have to hold off on the 6.0.2 upgrade or downgrade back to IOS 6.0.1 if you’ve already made the change. There is a third option… make the upgrade an go back to holding your phone up to your ear.

I’m sorry for the bad news… You’ve gotta love the accelerated speed of technology and how one compatible device jumps ahead of another.

I will try to provide an update to the situation once I learn more from either Mercedes-Benz or from Apple.

A Very Merry Christmas! Local Father / Son Duo Pick Up Their New Mercedes Benz C and E Classes in Time For Christmas!

Mercedes E350 and C300 Sedans

It was a good day for these guys on Thursday! This is a local father and son that I met very early this year on the show room floor here at Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz. Alan (the father) purchased this Palladium Silver E350 while his son, Austin, went with this black C300 4matic Sport (Mercedes-Benz demographic engineers are right again… dad gets an E, son gets a C!).

Austin had been looking at brand new cars recently to replace the car that got him through college… and he almost pulled the trigger on a new Volkswagen Passat with front wheel drive when he figured he could get an almost new, Certified Pre Owned C300 4matic all wheel drive car for about the same money.

He wanted a 2012, he wanted a lot of options… the stars aligned and this black car happened to come in to Sears Imports as a one owner lease return. It’s a P1 Package car with Keyless Go and the Multi media package. Austin is one guy who will actually use all the features and options in that Multi Media Package. Congratulations Austin, you weighed your options and made an informed decision. I would imagine this young man has a very bright future indeed!

Alan, Austin’s father, had been watching lightly pre owned E350 4matic inventories for months. A car came in a few months ago that checked every box on his wish list… but he couldn’t live with the interior color. Another potential contender showed up not too much later, but he was set on a silver car (Iridium, Palladium, maybe Steel Grey) so the search continued. He was looking for a highly optioned Certified Pre Owned E class with low miles with a clean history, plenty of warranty left at a fair price. What just about everybody wants, right? If I could have called the ‘Used Car Factory” I would have.

In the end Alan had the patience and diligence to find the right car. He knew it was what he wanted, and he was able to take advantage of aggressive 1.99% APR interest rates for up to 66 months on the purchase. His car is equipped with the P2 Package (Premium 2 Package), the wheel Package which give him those great looking AMG wheels, PARKTRONIC, and a Panorama sunroof among other options.

Alan’s wife Sherri and daughter Ariel (Austin’s mother and sister of course) came down with them to pick up the cars, it was a real family adventure, just in time for the holidays. Thank you gentlemen, it’s been great getting to know you, I hope the whole family enjoys the cars… and I hope we can do it again some time.
dave-tobin-mercedes-customers

Mercedes Benz Club Turns Out for Oktoberfest German Car Show at the Auto Motor Plex in Chanhassen

Despite cold temperatures and heavy fog and cloud cover a couple of hundred German cars showed up for the Oktoberfest German Car Show at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz were the marques with the most cars on display. Many members of the Mercedes Benz Club of America Twin Cities Section were in attendance. There were a couple of nice BMWs, including two 1980s vintage 6 series cars. Volkswagen fans turned out with a handful of beetles an early ’70s Westfalia camper and a handful of other models including a couple of square backs, I even saw a late 70s / early 80s Scirocco! Many Porsche 911s from all years were in attendance, along with a 944, 928 and 914 sprinkled around. Mercedes-Benz cars were very well represented. Click this LINK for 100 photos of the Oktoberfest show on my Dave Knows Cars Flickr page.
Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Quite a few members of “The Pagoda Pack” were in attendance with the W113 ‘Pagoda’ SLs, including “Pagoda Pack’ ring leader Ken Garelick. Club members were in attendance with a 190SL, a W111 chassis 280SE sedan, several R107 SLs a an R129 SL, a couple of R230s, David Steingas was there with his always pretty 1951 220S Cabriolet. Two of the rarest Mercedes in attendance were the 600 Limousine and the 1955 300SL Gullwing. It was a real treat to see both of those cars as they don’t make appearances very often.
Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show
Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz was one of the event sponsors and sponsored the 35 piece German Band, ‘The Bavarian Muzikmeisters’ to give the event just the right true German flavor. The Chanhassen American Legion made brats and kraut available along with some real German beer.

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show
The Mercedes-Benz Club board is talking about bringing back their annual show, held in June for the past 17 years in a row, except this year… hopefully the club can pull together a German Car Fest during the warmer Summer months as in years past to get German car fans out in greater numbers.

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

A big thanks needs to go to Bruno Silikowski at the Auto Motor Plex in Chanhassen for hosting the event, to Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz and BMW of Minnetonka for sponsoring the event and all the volunteers from the different German car clubs that helped out with the organization and parking cars.
Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show
600 Limo.

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show
Very rare, over the top, DP motorsport 911 slant nose turbo.

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

Minneapolis Mercedes Club Car show

David Tobin
The first show appearance for my newly acquired Porsche 911 and the first time I’ve taken anything but a Mercedes-Benz to a German car show!

 

Mercedes Benz to Release Apple iPhone 5 Connector Adapter for 8 Pin Lightning Connector to Replace 30 Pin Connector

Mercedes-iPhone-30-pin-connector

Currently, Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with iPod Integration Kits (option code 057) and the media interface in newer Mercedes-BEnz vehicles (option code 518) use the iPod / iPhone 30-Pin connector that Apple has been using for years now.

With the release of the new iPhone 5 it’s clear that a new charger / adapter plug will have to be installed in existing Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The Press Release below from Mercedes-Benz spells out the current plans for a solution to Apple’s change in plug size from the 30 pin connector to the new 8 pin ‘Lighting’ connector.

It seems like folks with newer cars, 2010 and newer for most models, with the media interface cables that plug in inside the glove box will have the easiest solution. Once Mercedes-Benz releases the new cables, they will be able to buy these new cables, unplug the old ones and plug in new 8 pin Lighting connectors.

Mercedes-ipod-kit-30-pin adapter
30 Pin Media Interface plug in a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet.

Those customers who have the older, 2008 and 2009 models in most cases, or older cars that were retrofitted with iPod Kits that are hard wired right into what had been the standard auxiliary jack may have a bigger challenge. I would guess there are already small adapters on the market to take a 30 pin connector to the new 8 pin… but I have yet to see one myself.

See the full memo from Mercedes-Benz below, including their timeline for release of the new 8 Pin Apple charger / connector cable for Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

FROM MERCEDES BENZ:
With the recent launch of the iPhone5®, Apple made some significant changes to the connector. Whereas the previous generations of iPhone® and iPod® models were equipped with a 30-PIN connector, the all new iPhone® and iPod® variants require an 8-PIN “Lightning” connector.

These changes will have a significant impact for customers with the Apple products, as all vehicles equipped with Media Interface (option code 518), iPod Integration Kits (option code 057), and vehicles with Nav + 4 / UMI (option code 001 or 079) only have the standard 30-PIN connector.

As soon as the 8-PIN “Lightning” connector is released by Apple, a careful investigation will commence. All features of Media Interface, iPod Integration Kits, and Nav + 4 / UMI will be tested in accordance with stringent Mercedes-Benz standards to provide our customers a detailed answer as to whether the adapter can be used and what features are compatible. Once testing has been concluded MBUSA will issue an official statement at the end of October / early November.

In the meantime we are working on developing new 8-PIN “Lightning” Media Interface cables, which will replace the existing 30-PIN connectors if the customer has ownership of the new Apple product. These cables are expected to be introduced in the first quarter of 2013 as a customer-pay option.

Dave’s 1973 Mercedes Benz 280C Coupe For Sale Now on eBay, Just Three Days Left!

David Tobin-Mercedes-280C

My 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280C Coupe is for sale on eBay! The auction has been active for about 4 days, there are a little less than three days left. I got the car in May of this year, it has had some mechanical work done, it is in excellent  running condition. It was my Summer event car for 2012.
There are 100 photos of the car and a full description in the eBay auction. Click here to visit the auction.
David Tobin Mercedes For Sale

It participated in the Inaugural Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally in early June and performed flawlessly, despite the almost 100 degree heat both days! The car ran like a top at sustained speeds of 55 – 70 mph, we traveled in comfort and 70s Mercedes style.

There are 100 photos of the car and a full description in the eBay auction. Click here to visit the auction.

It is for sale locally for $6,000, that is also the eBay reserve price… of course, I’m open to reasonable offers (and I’m extremely difficult to offend).

2008 Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster Listed on eBay – Original MSRP $514,690 – Reserve Price on eBay Just $288,777

Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster for sale

This low mile, one owner 2008 Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster in Crystal Galaxite Black with Silver Arrow 300SL Red Leather interior with black stitching and trim was just listed on eBay. Click this link to go right to the eBay auction.  My motivation behind listing the car on eBay… as usual, is an attempt to reach the widest audience possible. Over the past year or so I’ve shipped cars to Brazil, Peru, England, Germany, the Czech Republic not to mention countless cities across the United States. I’m secretly hoping this one gets shipped off to Dubai or the UAE where a 17 year old kid might enjoy street racing it against his friends in their Lamborghinis and Bugattis… I guess we’ll see

This example of the rare SLR Roadster has just 943 one owner miles on its odometer, originally from California, Sears Imports acquired this car from an online dealer auction, it had previously been in the car of Symbolic Motor Car Company in La Jolla, CA.

As you can see by this piece of the original window sticker, this is a highly optioned SLR Roadster, the special red leather interior is itself a $9,950 option. This SLR, like the others, has body panels constructed entirely of carbon fiber… it’s almost as much spy plane as it is super car. The 5.5 liter supercharged engine built by AMG pumps out 617 horsepower and more toque than most people will know what to do with… legally anyway.
Used SLR McLaren Roadster
The doors of the McLaren SLR might be the most recognizable feature of the car, while not ‘Gullwing’ doors like the 300SL cars of the 50s or the newer SLS AMG cars, the ‘scissor’ type doors on the SLR attract a lot of attention when you open them up, they aren’t like doors on a Lamborghini, they have a mechanism all their own, only found on the McLaren SLR.
McLaren SLR Roadster

Dave Knows Cars Road Trip Video! 2012 Mercedes Benz SL550 Trip to The Dells, WI – Driver Impressions – Ya Mon!

2012-Mercedes-SL550-video

On Wednesday of this week I drove 3 1/2 hours from Minneapolis to The Dells, WI… about the halfway point between Minneapolis and Chicago, to meet the new owner of this lightly used (just over 5,000 miles) 2012 model Mercedes Benz SL550. It’s the longest single stint I’ve put in behind the wheel of an R230 series Mercedes-Benz SL (2003 – 2012). The 2012 model is the last of that series, the most highly evolved of that series, and an absolute joy to drive. Click the YouTube screenshot above or think link to watch the Road Trip Video! (commentary begins at about second 20).

2012-Mercedes-SL550-road-test
The car in the Sears Imports photo booth a few days before my road trip. AMG 19″ wheel package, black exterior, Nappa Leather Interior.

Despite what some people say, what might be printed in the marketing material, these aren’t really ‘sports’ cars in the true sense of the word, not like a Porsche 911 is a sports car or a Ferrari 360 Modena is a ‘sports’ car… sports cars are brutal, uncomfortable things, impractical for every day use, but absolute perfection on a race track. The Mercedes-Benz SL is a grand touring car… it handles beautifully and has plenty of power, but it’s a much more civilized machine. You can get in this car and tool around town at 25 – 35 mph comfortably or you can get on the highway and cruise at 75 mph all day in complete comfort.

You can adjust the Active Body Control suspension to be extremely tight and responsive if you want to really take to the twisties, you can use the steering wheel mounted shifter paddles if you want to decide when to shift gears (even though you’ll never be as quick or smooth as the computer controlled automatic transmission in Sport mode). This is a car to throw an overnight bag in the back of and cruise to a vineyard, the lake house or wherever else you might want to go.. the further away, the better.

The 3 1/2 hours I had behind the wheel of this car were comfortable and fun. I tried to find excuses to get off the highway, just to have another chance to apply the gas, liberally, as I cruised up the on ramp to re-join traffic. I kept the cruise control set at 74mph the whole time, a brisk pace, but I certainly wasn’t the driving faster than everyone on the highway. As I would cruise up on someone going slower, in the fast lane, they would see this low slung, black car with huge the huge three pointed star in the grille, bi-xenon headlamps on and immediately get over in the right lane… even though I was only going a couple of miles per hour faster, I think the car is perceived by other drivers to be going a lot faster than it really is. It is certainly capable of a lot faster… it just looks fast when you see it, but it’s the smoothness of the car that’s so amazing. Heavy and steady as you cruise down the highway.

Starting with the 2009 model year, SL class cars got all the latest electronics from Mercedes-Benz along with a cosmetic refresh. Sitting in the driver’s seat of a 2009 and newer you can’t help but notice the bulges in the aluminum hood, they do add a mystique to the view out the front windshield, and, I suppose, do something for the airflow over the hood, as Mercedes-Benz engineers never do anything without a real functional purpose behind it.

Interior enhancements for 2009 and newer cars include the hard drive based system that runs the navigation, music register, iPod connector, voice control… all the latest stuff, so, I hooked up my iPod, put on some Bob Marley, activated the Harmon/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system and daydreamed about green little Caribbean islands, I just watched  a great documentary on PBS about the history of Reggae in Jamaica, so I have been on a bit of a Marley kick the past few weeks.

2012-Mercedes-SL550-road-test-tobin
Nappa leather interior… a great combination with the black exterior.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this SL road trip was that I was easily achieving just shy of 25mpg with the cruise control set at 74mph. The 382HP engine was much more fuel efficient than I expected in real life. The EPA window sticker says you’ll get considerably less than 25mpg on the highway in this car. While going through a couple of construction zones I reset the cruise control to 60mph… average fuel economy went to 26.2 mpg at that point… so decent gas mileage is certainly possible.

2012-Mercedes-SL550-gas-mileage
Notice the 74mph cruise control setting on the left side, 24.8mpg average on the right, 62mph average (due to some exits and on ramps).

So, I met my customer from Highland Park, IL at a McDonald’s restaurant in The Dells, WI where he bought me a cup of coffee and I laid out the paperwork for the transaction. He signed everything, gave me his check and the keys to the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL450 he was trading in… this was my ride back home to Minneapolis. The GL450 is certainly a comfortable ride, safe, great visibility… but it’s quite a change from teh fighter plane like handling and low seating position of the SL…. it took some getting used to on the return trip.

We have already seen the first of the R230 cars fall below the $30,000 mark on the used car market. Since the 2013 models have already been release, the new body style, we will soon see the R230s drop in price even further from where they are today. They are very modern cars, light years ahead of the R107 models and much more advanced than even the R129 series SLs from the 1990s and early 2000s. As my customer and new found friend from Highland Park left the McDonald’s parking lot with a wave and a smile I thought… everyone ought to own a Mercedes-Benz SL at some point in their lives… and if you’re going to get one… the R230 series are some of the best.

Mercedes Benz Competitor Conquest Program Continues into August, 2013 Models Now Eligible!

2013-Mercedes-Benz-GLK rebates

New August 2012 Sales Programs from Mercedes-Benz were released yesterday and I’m happy to announce that the Mercedes Benz Competitor Conquest Certificate Program incentives have been extended to new 2013 models arriving in dealer showrooms right now! I’ve included a photo of the new 2013 model GLK350 here… it is ELIGIBLE for the incentive

We just got our first shipment of 2013 models, we now have 2013 C class, E class, GLK class and CLS class vehicles in stock. There aren’t many of them.. but they’re beginning to arrive.
Mercedes-Competitor-Conquest-Program-August-2012

The chart above clearly illustrates which models are eligible for the Competitor Conquest Certificate Program discounts… an have a look, 2012 models remain on the list, with deep incentives for the last remaining 2012 E class cars in our inventory… $3,000 per E class! C and M class cars remain at $1,000. Most 2013 models are eligible for the discounts.