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Dear Sirs: Help! I need your acerbic wit and astute insight to guide me. ... I need to replace the lumbering 1997 Yukon which my petite wife hates driving. After weeks of scouting, these are the choices: a new 2010 Subaru Legacy Limited ($34,000 plus taxes) with three-year warranty, or a used but spotless 2007 Mercedes-Benz E280 4Matic fully loaded with 35,000 km and a one-year manufacturer warranty ($31,000 plus taxes). The vehicle will be used mostly for daily commuting (40 km). Remember, I always drive my vehicles to the ground or until I am too embarrassed to be seen in them. - Bruce in Alberta

Vaughan: Brucie, you're my man. Keeping a "petite" wife in a battleship-sized Yukon since '97 to save a few bucks - wow! A penny saved is a penny earned, but you take the cake.

Cato: Bruce is a sensitive new-age guy - a SNAG - who fully embraces his feminine side. As such, he's thoughtfully provided his wife with a monster SUV that drives her nuts. Some guy.

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Vaughan: Cato, so judgmental.

Cato: I'm surprised she hasn't run Bruce over with that monster Yukon - or at least run over some of his prized possessions.

Vaughan: To the question. First, I wish to point out that Cato will choose the Subie over the Benz 10 times out of 10. I am more objective and will make a case for the latter.

Cato: When something is obvious, it's obvious. You might have trouble seeing what's in front of you, but not me. A new Subaru Legacy, loaded and with a three-year factory warranty, all-wheel drive and outstanding safety features - not to mention sterling crash-test scores - is a no-brainer over a used European taxi cab.

Vaughan: Cheap shot, Cato.

Cato: To be truthful, there are very good reasons why Germany is festooned with E-Class taxis. They're built like tanks and pretty durable.

Vaughan: Yes, we'll get to that. But the E-Class is the car that Merc built the brand around. Mind you, the 2007 is the previous generation; since then, the Benzers have completely reinvented the E and to great effect.

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Brucie, if it were the diesel you found at that price, I would have no hesitation recommending it. That would be a car with all-wheel-drive and all the comfort and safety features.

However - and Bruce, let's remember you're the guy who marooned his wife in a Yukon for a decade and a half, so I want to be sure that you, of all people, don't over-pay - I have some numbers to share. They come from Everybody should use this free site when buying or trading a car.

Anyway, based on all their data, the Black Bookers say the trade-in price of a spotless E280 AWD with 30,000 km is $25,490. You have to add a little dealer profit to that, but I'd say you could go in there with 30 grand and get your car. I'd certainly try. Tell him you really wanted the diesel, but you'll take the gas burner at your price.

Cato: The Canadian Black Book Web site is useful, and free, too. And I'd just add that in very short order the site will have something else of interest: the latest residual value award winners in Canada - the cars and brands with the best resale values for 2011.

Vaughan: I am thrilled to get your seal of approval, Cato. Someone will be interested in that little Black Book nugget, but not me.

I want to talk about Mercedes quality. Benz certainly had quality problems, but I think they were through the worst of it by '07. After rattling around in that Yukon for eons, Bruce and the little missus will think they're riding on a cloud in the solidly comfortable Merc.

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Besides I always find those Subie boxer engines a little rough. Thirty grand, AWD, three-pointed star. I say, "sold!"

Cato: Say it all you want; scream "sold" to the rafters. If Bruce is smart, he'll stuff cotton in his ears.

Read what I have to say here, Bruce: the Legacy is excellent, even if Subaru Canada insists on pricing its cars higher than they are listed for in Buffalo, N.Y., or Bellingham, Wash.

Bruce, we need to give you a third rig to compare and I'm going to throw in the 2011 Ford Edge. With all-wheel-drive it's about the same price as these other two. The climb into the cabin is not as tough as the Yukon and Ford's crossover is pretty well done at a good price.

Vaughan: As usual, you are confusing the issue. The Merc, Bruce.



2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD

2007 Mercedes-Benz E280 4Matic sedan

2010 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6R

Wheelbase (mm)




Length (mm)




Width (mm)




Height (mm)





3.5-litre V-6

3.0-litre V-6

3.0-litre H-6

Output (horsepower/torque)

285/253 lb-ft

228/221 lb-ft

256/247 lb-ft

Drive system

all-wheel drive

all-wheel drive

all-wheel drive


six-speed automatic

five-speed automatic

five-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

11.9 city/8.0 highway

13.0 city/9.1 highway

11.8 city/8.2 highway

Base price (MSRP)




Correction: The Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6 is available with a five-speed automatic transmission. Incorrect information appeared in the chart above, which has been changed.

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Why complicate your car? More bling for your thing and extra comfort means extra cash

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