1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Pros & Cons

  • Exceptional engineering, quick acceleration, and sumptuous interiors make the C-Class the benchmark in near-luxury sedans.
  • It is priced higher than most of its competition.
List Price Estimate
$479 - $1,154

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

The Baby Benz grew up three years ago when the C-Class replaced the 190E. The new car was substantially improved over the 190, offering better performance and more interior room. This year the four-cylinder model and C36 receive more power.

Performance-oriented buyers will want the C36, an AMG-prepared road warrior sporting fat tires, aero gimcrackery and a potent 3.6-liter engine. The C36 is priced about $10,000 higher than the BMW M3 and delivers 60 mph in just over six seconds. Mercedes will bring 400 examples of this hot sedan to the United States during 1997.

Mainstream models are the C230 and C280. Manually rowing the automatic shifter, a C230 can get to 60 mph in less than nine seconds. The six-cylinder C280 feels much quicker than the C230 getting to speed, and getting there quickly doesn't mean changing your own gears. Handling is sure-footed with either car, and braking ability is quite good, although the C230, at 200 fewer pounds than the C280, feels somewhat more agile.

These sedans ooze class, substance and style, unless they're adorned with faux-gold packages or other tacky add-ons. The look is quite contemporary, and the car seems larger than it really is. Traditional styling cues inside and out continue the Mercedes trend of evolutionary rather than revolutionary design themes.

Base prices start just over $30,000 for the C230. The stronger C280 can be had for another five grand and includes the 2.8-liter six, dual power front seats and an eight-speaker Bose stereo system. The C36 renders such cars as the Lexus GS300 and Cadillac Seville STS also-rans in the luxury-sport arena. You may want to consider BMW's 328i, the Lexus ES300, or the Mazda Millenia S before buying the Benz, but we can't help but think the C-Class is a relative bargain in this class, now that Mercedes has come down off its pedestal and is pricing its wares with some semblance of sanity.

1997 Highlights

The C220 is replaced by a more powerful C230. All C-Class models have redesigned headlamps.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Car +200,000 mileage - Seattle,WA
C280 4dr Sedan
Good Reliability but expensive maintenance. Beyond 180,000 mileage expect to pay lots of money maintaining this car. Between 185,000 miles and 200,000 mileage I spent nearly $3,500 in replacement parts such as tie rod assembly, oxygen sensors, Drive shaft flex joint, water pump, radiator, AC compressor, brakes, ball joints and etc.. Very smooth ride and handling.
Love my car, hate the maintenance.
C280 4dr Sedan
First off, I love this car. My mom owned it for ~7 years then gave it to me and it looks good, feels great to drive, and has a very luxurious interior with tons of wood trim and ruffled leather. In addition the engine powers the car effortlessly with very little noise until you get to the upper end of the tachometer. I've never broken the wheels loose in a turn like front wheel drive cars do all the time. The gas mileage is reasonable BUT I have had to replace the head gasket ($1000), the antenna doesn't go up and down, I had the AC fixed a few months ago for $500 and it's broken again. Also the camshaft sensor broke and cost $800. Not impressed with the reliability.
Mercedes is not worth the money
C230 4dr Sedan
I found the car to be three times as expensive to maintain. Brakes, shocks wore out prematurely. Transmission needed rebuilding at 125,000 miles. It was costing me $3,000 a year to keep the car on the road. Dealer service was at best, equal to other dealers.
Two Thumbs Way Up
C280 4dr Sedan
8 months ago I purchased my 1997 C280 with 138,000 miles on it and I love this car. Since then I've driven 10,000 miles and have enjoyed every one of them. Everyone who drives it says how fast it is at any speed, and even my wife enjoys driving it. Drives and handles like a dream.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Overview

The Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is offered in the following submodels: C-Class Sedan. Available styles include C280 4dr Sedan, and C230 4dr Sedan. The Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

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Which used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Classes are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Classs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz C-Class for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $14,382.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for sale - 4 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $23,224.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz C-Class lease specials