European brands like Mercedes-Benzes have long been fairly expensive to maintain but what has changed is that they've become more mainstream, at least as far as luxury vehicles, in their selling prices especially in the last 20-25 or so years.
It used to be that even entry level Mercedes were expensive (with base prices $55K or more inflation adjusted) but now there are many Mercedes models available for under $50K and as low as $32,500, or even under $27K if you count the Metris vans. They're much cheaper to buy/lease than they used to be which has helped to allow Mercedes to sell at record levels in the U.S. More and more people can afford Mercedes these days and it has opened the door for more or more comparisons against cars that wouldn't have been compared to Mercedes decades ago. The lower prices, however, have unfortunately had an impact on quality.
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