2013 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan (3.5L V6 7-speed Automatic)
Driven On 1/22/2013
The C-Class may be the entry-level Mercedes in America, but it doesn't drive like it. Especially the C350 sedan. With its adjustable suspension, finely crafted interior and overall solidity, this car feels expensive. In fact it is, at $41,400 base and almost $50 grand as-tested.
PerformanceThe 3.5-liter V6 has power everywhere on the tach, hustles the car to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. The brakes proved fade-free at the track, linear around town. The handling is sporty, but below that of the class-leading BMW 3 Series.
This is a willing and smooth V6. Gets a bit loud at high revs. Automatic has subtle shifts, but slow to react in Normal mode. Sport clears that up, but brings stiffer suspension.
Panic brake numbers were aided by summer tires, but a good performance regardless. Brakes were linear around town, not touchy in the least, but plenty of power.
Very light in parking lots and around town. Builds effort nicely as speed increases. Wish Sport mode could be adjusted individually to have firmer steering with softer suspension.
The optional adjustable suspension sharpens the C350's manners. Even the Normal mode is stiff enough for back roads at a moderate clip. But it's still no BMW 3 Series or Audi A4.
The steering is light in normal driving, then builds effort nicely. Supple throttle calibration, smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission. Start/Stop feature reacts quickly.
ComfortThe C-Class is firm in a typical Germanic way, from the ride to the seats. Hey, it was designed with the Autobahn in mind. The rear seats in particular are surprisingly hard. But the car does a good job of keeping noises on the outside.
Front seats are firm but comfortable and have bolsters for cornering. The door-side armrests are too low and far way, center armrest is unpadded. Rear seatbacks are overly hard.
It's far from plush, but the ride in normal suspension mode is supple enough to cancel out all but the harshest bumps. Sport mode can get jiggly on any kind of rough surface.
This is a very quiet car, other than road noise from the optional summer tires. Near zero wind noise. The engine is very silent, except at full throttle when it gets a bit honky.
InteriorThe C-Class has tighter quarters inside than some competitors. But the interior controls are intelligently laid out and mostly easy to use, other than the congested three steering wheel stalks. Interior storage is lacking, though.
Controls work superbly well. Huge Comand knob for changing radio stations. But three stalks on left side of steering wheel is too much. Can configure IP to show digital speedo.
Easy in/out up front, don't have to duck to avoid roof. Rear doors don't open very wide, but are long, easing entry. Foot can get caught between front seat and door sill on exit.
Door-side elbow room is tight up front, but headroom is good and driver's right knee has room to move. Rear elbow room is decent, but poor foot and knee room, minimal headroom.
Nice natural driving position, plenty of window surface and smallish pillars all around. The windshield is more upright than most. The optional rearview camera is a bit on the small side.
Front door pockets are small but useful, but no cupholder slots. No front bin, smallish armrest bin. Rear door pockets are useless. Trunk has a wide opening, rear seats fold.
ValueWith its rather high base price, the C-Class may not seem like a great value. But when you factor in its superb build quality, stately interior, decent standard features and an overall feeling of luxury, you're getting what you pay for.
Build Quality (vs. $)
This is a well-made car, with that carved-from-billet Mercedes solidity. Mostly soft-touch materials, some Alcantara, quality controls. Doors close with a solid thunk.
At its $41,400 base price, the C350 sedan comes with a power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, the large and easy-to-use Comand central controller and heated seats.
German cars have become famous for killing you with options. This C350 cost $49,245 as-tested due to adjustable suspension, navigation, back-up camera and blind-spot assist.
The EPA rates the C350 at 20 city/29 highway/23 combined mpg with the standard Start/Stop techhnology. We averaged 21.8 mpg overall, including 27.1 mpg on our 116-mile test route.
Both the basic warranty and drivetrain are covered for 4 years/50,000 miles. This is average, and below the 6 years/70,000 miles the Lexus IS carries for its drivetrain.
Roadside assistance is standard but the C-Class does not come with free maintenance. BMW offers it for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe Mercedes' adjustable suspension, which is part of the $3,050 Dynamic Sport Package, really livens up the C-Class. The strong, burly-sounding V6 and paddle shifters make nearly any drive fun.
Even though the C-Class is the base Mercedes in the U.S., it's an aspirational car. It's a comfortable, luxurious and extremely well-made machine.
There's not as much personality in the C350 as, say, a BMW 3 Series. But this V6 is strong, it really scoots. And with this suspension package, it handles corners with ease.
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