Monday, December 2, 2013

2014 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC

Xenon headlights with LED strips in the bumper.This has been a long time in the making, but last Wednesday we picked up our custom factory ordered car — 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC SUV. This is a lot of first for me — first non-american car, first SUV, first V6, first turbo engine, first diesel. All my previous cars were large American sedans with V8 motors in 5.7 and 5.8 litter sizes.

Big family car. No running boards.When Anyuta was about to arrive we decided to upgrade our family car. With a lot of SUVs out there we felt that our kids would be safer in a heavy SUV as well. When Arosha was our only child we put his car-seat into the middle spot of the rear seat — the safest place. But with two kids something had to change. So now they are sitting higher in a heavier car with a lot of state of the art safety features.

From the top. Just a standard roof.In addition to that we get all the utility of being able to transport a lot of kid gear with us, especially on long family trips. It already is nice to be able to load up Anyuta’s large stroller into the cargo area without having to take it apart. Then there is the utility of a diesel engine. The car has a driving range of over 700 miles on a single tank. The stated fuel economy is 20 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on highway. The engine also packs an amazing 455 pound of torque which makes this 5,000 pound truck feel much lighter than it really is.

Turbo diesel V6 engine with 455 pounds of torque.I’ve been keeping records of my expenses and MPG performance of our 300C since August. The car averaged out 21 MPG which is not bad at all for 5.7 V8. BlueTEC did 30 MPG on my drive to work today if the computer is to be trusted. Of course with mixed driving the number is going to be much lower, but I’m hoping it will not drop too low. For any kind of SUV those are impressive numbers. With my daily commute of 120 miles it really matters.

Diesel!After doing some initial research it was becoming clear that in order to get the car that we really wanted we needed to have it ordered from the factory. First of all BlueTEC (diesel) on its own was hard to find, but a car with options that we wanted and no options that we didn’t care about was not to be found. We found a place where we could do a test-drive of both version gasoline and diesel ones. Diesel definitely felt much more impressive and the MPG was really attractive to us, while the gas version fuel economy was lackluster to say the least.

Another side shot.I really wanted to do business with our local dealership for the convenience of being able to service the car near home and take advantage of loaners for the time that the car is in service. That was one of the most frustrating things for me with owning a Chrysler. Also having to do service every 10,000 miles was appealing as well.

The radar for Distronic is located in the star in the grill behind black glass. If a car has no Distronic the star is hollow.Initially we had a pretty bad experience with a sales rep. So bad that I didn’t want to go in there at all. However Alena insisted that we should try and to our surprise the rep that we talked before was no longer an employee — such good luck. Our new sales rep was great. She did everything we asked and gave us zero bullshit. That was a very pleasant yet somewhat unexpected experience.

From the rear.I did a LOT of research before placing an order. I knew what I could get price-wise realistically — a number that would make me happy. I was hoping to get the car for invoice which would be 7% under MSRP. I would’ve been really happy if it would be 7% and the registration fee of $388 included.

BlueTEC logo.I did not expect to get well under invoice without much bullshit, yet that’s exactly what happened. Not only that, but on the day when I was taking delivery of the car I managed to get another thousand knocked off the price, thus coming in at 10% under MSRP. That beat all my expectations. We also managed to get a pretty good finance APR of 2.29% after a little bit of negotiation. That also beat my expectations and almost half of what we had on our previous car. We are also planing to add a genuine MB extended warranty for about 30% under MSRP.

Interior. MB-Tex wrapped dash with Satin Ash wood.When we were placing our order we knew exactly what options we wanted. Our choice for exterior color was white — easy to keep clean and really makes the car look like a million bucks. We did not want any running boards — they made it actually harder for me and Alena to get in and out of the car. All the cars on dealer lots had those. I did not want Parktronic — I can park my own car without paying extra $1,200. I did want xenon lights and I did want Distronic and none of the cars had that.

Keyless-GO and MB-Tex wrapped dash stitching.For interior we were going to go for Almond Beige, but after seeing it in person we felt that black looked much richer. We were also planning to go with standard wood, but instead asked to see a satin non shiny finished wood and opted in for that special option. We also got a special order option of leather wrapped dash — really makes the interior high-end and one option that a lot of people are simply not aware of. The car came out looking great.

Harman Kardon sound system and dash stitching.So here is a full list of options that we picked:
  • Polar White exterior — clean and simple
  • Black MB-Tex (synthetic leather) interior — more durable than real leather, feels like real leather
  • MB-Tex wrapped dash — dash covered and stitched with leather
  • Satin Ash Wood trim — real not shiny wood, texture of which can be felt with the hand
  • Premium 1 Package — navigation, music controller — USB, SD, iPod, Bluetooth, hands-free phone, satellite radio, 14 way power driver seat with memory, auto-folding mirrors and many other goodies
  • Lighting Package — bi-xenon self leveling, self adjusting headlights
  • Driver Assistance Package — one of the rarer things — includes Distronic Plus (active cruise control among other things), active blind spot assist (will not let you change lanes into another car), active lane keeping assist (will not let your run off the road)
  • Harman Kardon Sound — 830 watts 13 speak system specifically designed for M-Class
  • Heated Steering Wheel — will be nice during those cold winter mornings
  • Keyless-GO — no need to take out the keys to open or close the doors, or start the car
  • Tons of standard features including 4 matic — all wheel drive

COMAND. Radio, navigation, iPod, hard-drive, SD, USB and everything else.The hardest part was the wait. We placed our order on September 14th with an expected delivery date of mid-December. However the car got built earlier than we expected and was delivered to the dealership in a week. I couldn’t resist coming over to take a look at it the next day after I found out and took the delivery a day after — November 27th. The car had 8 miles on the clock.

In-dash computer with some miles we put on it.I was initially thinking of selling 300C to CarMax, but in the ended just traded it in for $150 less than CarMax would’ve been. We decided that we didn’t want the hassle of a private sale. Somebody could’ve had a great deal on that car, but none of my friends needed a car. The last time I looked at odometer before handing over the keys it showed 95,003. That car has served me well with only one hiccup through all those miles and years.

Interior from the other side.Since we got our new car right before the long weekend of Thanksgiving we have put over 300 miles on it. I love it. COMAND — the system that controls the car computers — is great. After reading through many complains about it I thought it would be bad. I don’t know what all those people are talking about. Of course nothing is perfect, but compared to everything I had before it’s pretty awesome.

Fresh off the truck. 8 miles on the clock.At this point I think I’m getting used to the new car and I just hope it will serve us reliably and will keep us happy for the years to come. For the time being I have an uncontrollable urge to drive. We are going to plan a nice road trip for our little family for April all the way to Tennessee. At least that’s the plan.
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Car Trouble and Visiting Tanya

Arosha and Antosha. Arosha is 3 months older, but is taller than all kids of his age.A small update on recent events of our life — two pretty much separate stories. First one is the fact that Tanya — Alena’s friend from university days in Minsk — is in United States again. While the first time she was here for a tourist visit with us, this time she is here for work. We kept planning to visit her for several weeks now, but stuff kept getting in the way. This time around it was our car.

On Monday morning I got into our car to go to work. The car didn’t start from the first try, but did after a second try. When I got to work it did the same thing at a gas station near my office. In the evening I decided to leave earlier, in case it doesn’t start and it had no trouble at all. On Tuesday morning all was good as well. So thinking that it was some one time fluke I stayed late at work on that day and to my dismay the car would not start no matter what I tried at the end of the day.

Usually the most typical problem is a dead battery. But all the electronics seemed to work just fine. Lights were on, sound system played music well, but the engine would not even try to turn over. My dad had to come out and get me. We got home close to midnight. I spoke with Geoff and he very kindly suggested that I should leave my keys on his desk and he’ll try to sort things out in the morning, so I wouldn’t have to come out and not be able to get back again — I couldn’t ask my dad to make so many 140 miles long trips.

Antosha. He was much more willing to pose for me than Arosha was. I was unable to talk Arosha in standing still for 3 seconds.I was dreading having to deal with getting the car towed. But I guess luckily for me the car started in the morning when Geoff tried it, so he dropped it off at a local Chrysler dealership and it started having starting problems there, so at least they could start on troubleshooting the issue. Now here are two things — the car has 83,000 miles on the odometer. This was the very first time that it gave me any kind of trouble at all. When we bought the car we bought an extended warranty that runs out at 85,000 miles. I thought this extra warranty purchase was completely useless and kept thinking that warranty covering something was really a myth. I was glad to have been proven wrong.

So the dealer called me and told me it was a starter and the car would be ready on Thursday morning. My dad drove me to work again and when we got to the dealership we saw a bunch of mechanics hovering over my car with manuals — never a good sign. They replaced the starter, the car didn’t start. The suggested they get me a rental car (also covered by warranty) which I had not choice, but to agree too. It’s never cool to give up your car for a car that’s worth less than half of yours — bare-bone Jeep Compas. You just get too used to little niceties. Anyhow, since I’m not in Norwalk until Monday they agreed to let me keep the car until then.

Long story short, they ended up replacing the starter, the fuse box and some transmission sensors which finally fixed the problem. All that got resolved only at the end of Monday, which caused me a lot of stress. But all in all, I did have a temporary car, the warranty covered it all and I have my car back in a working order. Hopefully it will stay this way.

This way the only way to photograph Arosha -- but capturing him. This didn't last long either.Back to Tanya now. This time we decided not to let this car issue stop us from visiting her. We installed our “Costa-Rica” child seat into our Jeep and using Google Maps on iPhone as navigation successfully arrived to the hotel where Tanya was staying with her mom and her 2 and a half (approximately) year old son.

It was a nice visit. We talked a lot about different topics — work, travel, kids, kids, kids. We went out to a local Outback restaurant for lunch, helped with some grocery shopping — Tanya doesn’t have a driver’s license which makes things very hard for them there, even though the company that hired her would cover a rental.

Aroshka played a lot with Antoshka. With went for a nice walk around a lake and they would run around and picked up all kinds of sticks, cones and other stuff. Arosha kept pulling Antosha by his hand in all different directions and Antosha on one hand wanted to play with Arosha, but on the other hand seemed to be kind of afraid of him. So when Arosha would run away on his own Antosha would say — let’s play together. When Arosha would come back Antosha would run back towards his mom and stick with her. All in all I think they had a good time as did we. We will definitely do this more. Tanya is in US until the end of the year I believe.

This would be me.We are planning to invite Tanya for a weekend to stay with us as they are very much bored in New Jersey with no car. While big cities have robust public transportation systems for the most part, in rural America you can not do anything without a car. So there you go. This concludes my update for the past week.

P.S. Sadly I somehow managed not to take a single sharp picture of Tanya. I was running around with my manual lens and I think I lost some fast focusing skill since I haven’t used it in a couple of months.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anniversary

Happy birthday, 300!I got an e-mail this morning.
Dear 300:

“Happy Anniversary” from your friends at Fullerton Chrysler Jeep Dodge!

I hope you and Daniel are getting along well and that Daniel is taking good care of you. If you have any bumps and scratches, aches or pains, just come in and see us.
Hard to believe it’s been a year already. Time really flies. I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s been really good to us with more than 20,000 miles on the odometer.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Car Sticker

The sticker from our 300C.When we took delivery of our car the sales guy folded down the sticker and gave it to me. This is my first new car and so is the sticker. I wanted to scan it in for a while now and here it is.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Hitch Installed

Mopar OEM hidden hitch for Chrysler 300C.The 2nd hardest thing after choosing all the components was actually installing the hitch. Not that it’s a complicated procedure — lower the exhaust, screw in 6 bolts, raise the exhaust back up. But it’s not possible to do without a lift, so a shop has to be involved.

Hitch mounted on the car and L-shaped adapter is attached.Either way, it’s done. Dealer has quoted me $135 for the job (are they insane?), and my regular guy took $50. The hitch is completely invisible on the car when not in use because of the hidden design. To attach anything to it I need to put on an L-shaped adapter (15 second ordeal) and we’re good to go.

Now we just need for the bike rack itself to get delivered (Monday) and we can travel. Questions is — where to? )
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Highway MPG

The other day I was coming home from work while trying to keep the MPG as high as possible. I was really babying the gas pedal trying to keep the engine in 4 cylinder mode all the way.

27.8 miles per gallon on highway.My record of the day was 28.4 miles per gallon. Sadly as soon as you start doing some stop and go driving it all goes to hell. But nobody is surprised on this side of the keyboard. mrgreen

First stop and a record of 28.4 MPG. It went downhill from here.Of course this all is highly unscientific. teeth
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tinted Windows

Tinted windows on our 300C.It took us a bit over a month to do the first car mode. Last Friday, right before our drive to Pennsylvania, we got the windows of our car tinted1. It’s not nearly as dark as the previous car — 35% on the doors and 20% in the back. It does make it more comfortable inside though.

  1. Used a shop in Brooklyn. Total cost was $250. They did a very good job. []
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

300C Interior

Dashboard of our car with California walnut inserts.Roomy rear seats with rear air conditioning and seat warmers.More then a week ago Alena and I took a couple of shots of interior of our car during the night with all the lights glowing. One of them is HDR, but the colors are slightly off on it from the true ones. The other one doesn’t show as much detail, but the colors are realistic.

I didn’t want to post them before I had a chance to take a couple of shots during the day time. And we did that today.

Mouse over the images for a detailed description.

300C dashboard with no zoom and no flash. The touchscreen of navigation and musical system with no glare.
Dashboard close-up. This is an HDR shot. Good details, but the glow color is slightly off.
Interior shot at dusk. True color of the dashboard lights.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

First Oil Change

0 to 60 timer on 300C.It hasn’t even been a month yet, but there is already over 2,000 miles on the odometer of our car. Chrysler recommends to have the first oil change done at 6,000, but it sounded just way too long to me. I figured it’s a good idea to get all the break-in particles out of the engine sooner. I used the opportunity to switch to a fully synthetic oil. The car took in 7 quarts of Mobil 1 oil and so far seems to be happy about it.

And yesterday I tested out the built in 0 to 60 timer. For whatever it’s worth it came out to 5.7 seconds, and I guess it’s not a bad result for a car that weights over 2 tons. Also I’m sure it can be improved if done on the track and not on the entrance ramp of I-95.
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Monday, October 6, 2008

Exterior Photos

HID headlight of 300C.300C.Yesterday Alena and I took a good number of photos of the car. I picked out several and decided to post them.

First shot above is obviously a headlight. The bigger (outer) ring is the part where HID bulb is. It is used for low beams. The smaller circle contains a normal bulb and it’s used for high beams.

The second photo is my favorite shot from these series. The car looks really mean and aggressive from this angle.

Chrysler emblem on the front grill.Chrysler emblem on the front grill.

300C HEMI badge on the trunk.300C HEMI badge on the trunk.

5.7L V8 emblem on the engine.5.7L V8 emblem on the engine.

V8 HEMI engine.V8 HEMI engine it all its glory. It still is pretty clean.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

300C Photos

Chrysler 300CYesterday we went hiking somewhere right off Palisades Parkway and took a couple of evening pictures of the car in the process. Photo above is HDR of our Chrysler with HID and fog lights on. The one below is just a shot of the side lines.

Chrysler 300C
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chrysler 300C

Our brand new Chrysler 300C.After hours upon hours of research on the options, multiple test drives and then more hours of research on the prices we have arrived at a final decision — Chrysler 300C. And not only that — we have a done deal on our hands.

Today we drove out to a dealership located in New Jersey. They had the cars with the exact options that we wanted. In the end we’ve got a car that was priced at $41,640 on the sticker for $32,987 after all the rebates, incentives and so on. We also got 3.9% financing rate. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Our brand new Chrysler 300C.The car is fully loaded with the exception of rear seat entertainment system and active cruise. It has HID lights, premium Boston Acoustics audio system, bluetooth, iPod integration and 5.7 litter American V8. It even has a non-free paint option on it.

I also want to give the props to the dealership for giving us 0 B.S. and not wasting a second of our time. Very professional, very courteous, very helpful.

We’re picking the car up next Saturday. Hopefully everything will go as planned and there will be no unpleasant surprises.

P. S. Huge thanks to Dima from 4aDrive for coming along and helping make this happen. What a great guy.
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Pontiac G8 GT.Как уже писал Даня мы хотим купить себе новую машину. Выбор — дело непростое, особенно когда он есть.

Если честно, в машинах я не очень-то “шарю”, и в своих меркантильных мечтаниях автомобили я как-то всегда обходила стороной (в отличие от Дани, который любит полистать сайты разных автомобилестроителей). Тем не менее процесс выбора четырёхколёсного друга меня до определённой степени увлёк.

Исходя из уровня нашего дохода мы поставили себе довольно чёткую финансовую планку — $40,000. Конечно, мы надеемся найти что-то дешевле, но и с такой суммой готовы расстаться. Так же мы решили, что самым подходящим для нас способом оплаты будет финансирование на 3-х или 5-ти летний срок. Процент, под который нам согласятся дать ссуду, до сих пор неизвестен, но мы надеемся что цифра не превысит 6% годовых. Многие люди берут машину в долгосрочную аренду, но мы такой вариант отвергли из несколькох соображений. Во-первых, так как Даня много ездит, мы не укладываемся в стандартное ограничение на миляж, что делает такую аренду очень дорогой. Во-вторых, долгосрочная аренда всё же предполагает два дохода, тогда как полонстью выплаченная машина требует намного меньше затрат (конечно, финансирование является менее выгодным вариантом для тех, кто любит менять машины каждые 2-3 года).

Мы посмотрели машины нескольких компаний: Chrysler, Pontiac, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen и Hyundai. Даня хочет мощный мотор, ручную коробку передач, задний привод и множество luxury features. Лично для меня обьём двигателя не играет такой большой роли — наверное, потому что я сама не езжу и не очень чувствую разницу между 8 и 6 цилиндрами. Мне хочется чтобы машина была большой и прятной. )

BMW 328, который мы можем позволить себе купить, показался нам, как метко выразился Даня, просто консервной банкой — ну совсем маленький и не особо впечатляющий. Mercedes-Benz С300 оказался значительно приятнее, но и дороже (за $40К). Мы даже подумали о покупке подержанного мерса (модель Е350), но всё же отвергли эту идею. Конечно, машина была в оличном состоянии и с относительно маленьким миляжом, но гарантия на подержанные автомобили намного менее привлекательная чем на новые, да и цена была бы не ниже.

Дане очень понравился Pontiac G8 — как загорелись его глаза после test-drive! Мы бы купили эту машину если бы там было больше разных прибамбасов внутри (спутниковое радио, bluetooth технология, затемняющиеся зеркала и тому подобное). Но как-то не хотелось покупать машину, в которую сразу же надо ставить много “неродной” техники.

Volkswagen Passat мне понравился, на Даню же он навел скуку. Hyundai Genesis приятно удивила, но из-за не самой хорошей репутации компании мы этот вариант пока отвергли.

Больше всего нам понравился Chrysler 300С. Это большая американская машина с очень удачным, на мой взгляд, дизайном как интерьера так и экстерьера, по очень доступной цене. Сейчас на модели 2008 года есть скидка $4,500 — по-моему очень солидно. Мы хотим купить эту машину с определённым набором встроенных функций, но в местном диллершипе того, что нам надо нет. Даня поискал online — и нашел пару мест в пределах нашей досягаемости, которые должны иметь нужный нам вариант. Завтра мы поедем в Нью-Джерскийский диллершип — очень надеюсь, что там будет именно то, что мы хотим, и что мы сможем договорится о хорошей цене. Ну там видно будет! )

А вообще мне очень нравится как пахнут новые машины. Еще интересно их сравнивать между собой. Конечно, большинство подготовительной работы по выбору марки авто провёл Даня — я только делюсь впечатлениями от машины, но сама о них нигде не читатю.

Good luck to us! )
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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Car Search

Chrysler 300. Our rental on Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas trip.We’ve reached a point when we realize that we don’t want to have episodes with cars loosing brakes anymore. It’s sad, but we have to admit that our trusty Caprice is starting to show its age. It served well and we’ve got well our money’s worth at 220K on the odometer and going.

Went looking at cars today. Sadly didn’t get to GM dealership yet, because of heavy rain, but got to Dodge / Chrysler, BMW and Mercedes.

Buick Lucerne. Our rental car on our Utah road-trip.Dodge people didn’t have a single V8 (R/T) on the lot, even though they had SRT8s. I decided not to drive those in order to avoid being disappointed too much by R/T version.

Didn’t like Charger inside at all. Looks and feels cheap and very bland. Chrysler 300 on the other hand felt bigger and much nicer inside. I actually feel good sitting in that thing. Continue Reading
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