EXPERT REVIEW

chicagotribune.com's view

Do you have money to burn-literally?

Then take $82,015 and give the 400SE, one of five new Mercedes-Benzsedans for 1992, a look.

It is excessive, to be sure, but how many other cars come with a first-aid kit complete with insect ointment; dual mirrors in the roof, for use byrear-seat passengers; a trunk lid in which the handle pops out when opened to help you lift it and slips back into its recess out of sight when the trunk isclosed; dual glove boxes equipped with a cupholder and a pen or eyebrow-pencil holder; armrests that open to provide a storage compartment and ahandle to help close the door; a power tilt steering wheel; a 100,000-mileodometer; headlight washers and wipers; safety belts with an adjustment toprevent tight fit against the chin or neck; driver- and passenger-side airbags complete with lower-dash knee bolsters to prevent submarining under the dash in the event of a collision; anti-lock brakes; traction control; and asuspension tough enough to tow a boat but soft enough to lull rear-seatpassengers to sleep.

Base price is $77,900, but $1,200 for the CD player, $2,565 for tractioncontrol and $350 for freight bring the sticker to $82,015.

About the only other drawback is that the 4.2-liter, 32-valve, 282-horsepower V-8 is rated at 13 miles per gallon city/17 highway, which addsa $2,600 gas-guzzler tax to the $82,015. And unless a friendly dealerdiscounts the car dramatically, be prepared to pay a 10 percent luxury tax-about $5,000-on the amount the transaction exceeds $30,000. With sales tax,the price will be more than $90,000.

The 400SE obviously isn`t for everybody.

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