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Minivans Are Incredibly Practical, But Here’s Why I Just Bought a Mercedes-Benz GL450 Instead

Well, I’ve really done it this time. I literally just said that nothing can hold a candle to a new Chrysler Pacifica when it comes to family hauling. Then I followed that up with the best minivan bargains. And while all that was happening here on Oversteer, I went out and bought a used 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL 450 for my wife that we found here on Autotrader. Now I have to defend that decision.


I stated in that first article that a new GLS 450, at least one that included options comparable to the new Pacifica Limited Hybrid, will cost you around $87,215. I even put that number in bold, which means I was really trying to highlight a point. That is true, and that number is $38,635 more than the Pacifica’s sticker price of just $48,580. That’s a significant number. But you know another significant number?


That’s how much we paid for our new-to-us 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL 450. That’s definitely used-minivan territory — in fact, that number will get you over two and a half Mazda5s, so there’s that. Sure, the average used minivan will be a bit newer and a have less miles on the clock; for reference, our GL is a 72,000-mile example. But it’s a one-owner vehicle that was serviced at Mercedes dealers and traded in at Mercedes-Benz of Richmond on another Benz SUV. Inside and out, it’s immaculate. I buy a lot of cars, and I have a pretty high standard for used cars, and this could pass as a 2015-2017 for those who don’t follow Mercedes design cues or badge designations (we’re in a GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS world these days).

So it’s like new. “Got it,” you say, but what else pushed us towards the Mercedes-Benz GL 450? Well, it’s also freakin’ loaded. The base GL came with a ton of stuff, including a nice 4.6-liter V8 (you can’t get a V8 in a minivan!), a 7-speed transmission, all-wheel drive, a height-adjustable air suspension, an off-road driving program (whatever that is), multiple sunroofs, a power-folding third row and a bunch of other stuff. The window sticker, which was still in the glove box, shows that the first owner took it home with options like the ParkTronic system ($800), blind spot monitoring ($600) and the P01 Package — which is mostly interior and technology upgrades ($4,280) — for a grand total of $69,125. Or almost $75,000 out the door with tax and tags. We were fortunate to pay one third of that for the same vehicle, just 6 years later.

Of course, I must address the elephant in the room: the cool factor. This is debatable and subjective, sure. However, I’ve had many a debate with people about whether or not they really care what others think of their vehicle. Many people claim that they don’t — and if someone doesn’t like their car, or if someone doesn’t think it’s cool, they don’t mind one bit, thank you very much! While some of those people legitimately believe that, you have to assume that behind closed doors, most do not. In the end, we do care what others think of us — whether it’s a coworker, your boss, some guy or girl you just started dating or a complete stranger. We derive pleasure from the approval of others. It’s genetic.

By and large, minivans are not cool — and they likely never will be. Perhaps I’ll come back and cite this article years from now and acknowledge that I was wrong, but I doubt it. The minivan was popularized here in the states by Chrysler way back in the 1984 model year. And ever since then, they have not been cool. Toyota’s attempts to make the “swagger wagon” out of the Sienna were noble, but they failed to give the minivan any status in the car community, or with the average person. It’s the equivalent of an electric toothbrush: It may do the job a bit better, but you don’t brag about owning one to your friends.

Plus, in the end, my wife hates minivans. And it’s her car, so there really wasn’t much chance we would be bringing one home as her daily driver. And given the respective cool factor difference between a minivan and an SUV, it’s easy to see why.

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  1. I bought a 2008 GL450 with only 42K miles around 14 months ago from Carmax. It was $19,500 and the $50 deductible up to 100K MaxCare was another $5K. 

    It’s absolutely been my favorite vehicle that I have ever purchased and has been (knock on wood) incredibly reliable. A window switch came loose, and the motor on the third row has gone out – but given it has over 65K miles now (two cross country trips + daily duty) I can’t complain one bit. The window switch can be had for ~$55 on Amazon with Prime and the third row was maybe $650 to fix. 
    FWIW we also had a Maxcare covered 2012 BMW 750i that was an absolute turd. I bought it in 2015, had it for 3 years from 42K miles to around 78K and it was in the shop TWENTY SEVEN TIMES totalling over $30K in work billed to Maxcare. We just ditched it and I’m shopping for a ML550 or even another GL to replace it. 

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