Morning team. As I mentioned in my new member welcome post, we're looking at getting a used W211 E-Class estate in the near future. The "competition", which I think the wife prefers at the moment, is a Ford S-MAX. We've always driven Fords as I used to work for them, and she has two problems with the Merc: a) she's not yet sold on the idea of a massive estate; b) she grew up in Handsworth in the late 70s / early 80s, where you didn't want to mix with the people that were rollin' in Benzes... Anyway, that's my hurdle to get over. Here's what I think I'm looking for and why. Please feel free to comment on my assumptions, which are based on reading around rather than any real experience. If you think I'm wrong on any point, feel free to tell me! We have an aging (04) C-MAX and a more aging Mondeo (52-plate, approaching 150k miles). We have three kids (10/7/2); neither car is big enough for a family holiday, and we are looking to spend no more than £13-15k. I want to replace the Mondeo with: W211 estate: big enough for the kids and all our stuff. Eldest child no longer needs child seat, won't be long before middle child also doesn't need one. Lower than an MPV, makes roof box and bike carrier loading easier, and better aerodynamics. Standard self-levelling rear suspension is a bonus given the varying loads it'll be carrying. Facelift version: allegedly much improved versus the earlier W211. This means that for our budget, we'll be looking at fairly high-mileage early facelifts (56/07-ish, 50k miles +). E220 CDI: whilst my heart would like a V6 and the 7-speed auto, the car will be my 100-mile-per-day commuting wagon so fuel economy is very important. I don't need masses of power and torque: the 170PS of the facelift 220CDI should be ample, even if we end up getting a caravan. auto: I like good automatics in big cars like this, and understand the 5-speed auto is good, strong and reliable; and that the 6-speed manual is not a well-regarded 'box. COMAND sat-nav: we "need" an aux-in (iPod, DVD player), and understand this is the only way to get one (true?). Bit irritating, as we don't need the integrated sat-nav, and having this option will contribute to the price of the car. 7-seat: only a nice-to-have rather than a must. Presumably this is not easy/cheap to retro-fit due to the seatbelts and the related trim pieces. I prefer the trimming and stance of the Avantgarde and don't want the plastic steering wheel of the Classic. Are the AG standard xenons significantly better than the halogens of the Elegance? Any other comments or advice? Does this choice of car really make sense over an S-MAX, which for the same money could be newer and better specced? I'd appreciate any objective input.