2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

More than just an entry-level luxury sedan, the C-Class is attractive, well-built and classy.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

There was a time when you could call the Mercedes-Benz C-Class an entry-level luxury vehicle. But to do so for 2018 would be a bit of a disservice. First of all, the CLA-Class is technically Mercedes' entry-level sedan now. But more importantly, the C-Class is more impressive than the words "entry-level" would lead you to believe. It comes with an impeccably built interior, high-quality materials inside and out, upgrading and customizing options galore, and a variety of engine choices.

As for those engines, there's a lot to chose from if you want something other than the C300's turbocharged four-cylinder engine. For better fuel economy, check out the C350e. This plug-in hybrid version of the C-Class offers a modicum of all-electric driving range, an increase in power and the best fuel economy of the C-Class range. If autobahn-worthy speeds are more your thing, there's a turbocharged V6 in the AMG C43 and the turbocharged V8 in the AMG C63, both of which are bona fide sport sedans.

Of course, there are other entry-level luxury sedans, coupes and convertibles that may catch your eye. But it would be a glaring omission if the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class didn't end up on your short list.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG C 63 as one of Edmunds' Best Sports Sedans for this year.



what's new

There have been some changes to standard and optional equipment across the C-Class lineup, and Mercedes has simplified some options packages and stand-alone options. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available in the C-Class, too. A plug-in hybrid, the C350e, is essentially new, though it technically debuted very late in the 2017 model year. Finally, the base C300 now has a nine-speed automatic transmission instead of last year's seven-speed auto.

we recommend

While we certainly lust after the AMG C63 S with its righteously powerful 4.0-liter turbo V8, it's nearly double the price of the base C-Class. (And, really, how often do you get to use 503 horsepower?) As such, going with a standard C300 is a fine choice. It has decent power, a simple yet elegant interior, and lots of available options via packages or stand-alone items. Not sold? OK, for a good middle ground with more power and equipment, but without the C63's high entry cost, check out the AMG C43.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in three body styles: sedan, coupe and convertible (Cabriolet). The C-Class sedan, coupe and convertible are available in five trim levels: base C300, C300 4Matic (all-wheel drive), AMG C43, AMG C63 and AMG C63 S. The sedan also gets a plug-in hybrid variant called the C350e. With the exception of the high-horsepower engines and sport-tuned components in the AMG models, most C-Classes get the same standard equipment and are available with a plethora of packaged and stand-alone options.

The C300 sedan (and C300 4Matic) comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (241 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque), a nine-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch wheels, automatic wipers, a rearview camera, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), driver-seat memory settings, simulated leather upholstery (the rather good MB-Tex) and 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks.

Standard tech includes the COMAND infotainment system (with a 7-inch central display screen and a console-mounted dial controller), Bluetooth and an audio system with a CD player, dual USB ports, an SD card reader and HD radio.

For the most part, the C300 coupe gets the same equipment plus 18-inch wheels. The C300 convertible gets a power-folding fabric top, Mercedes' Airscarf system — which delivers warmed air to the neck and shoulders of front passengers — and a removable wind blocker.

On top of the 18-inch wheels, the C350e (sedan only) gets a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor (275 hp combined), a seven-speed automatic transmission, an air-spring suspension with multiple tuning modes, and LED headlights.

Primary options packages for all C300s are essentially the same. The Premium package adds an electronic trunk closer, blind-spot monitoring, keyless entry and push-button start, and satellite radio. In the coupe and convertible, the Premium package also includes an upgraded Burmester sound system.

Several other options packages are available for the C300 and C350e as well as stand-alone options. We'll dispense with the packages first.

Options packages include the Multimedia package (an upgraded 8.4-inch screen with navigation, voice controls, touchpad infotainment controller); Advanced Lighting package (adaptive high-beam headlights, cornering headlamps, LED headlights, ambient interior lighting); Smartphone Integration package (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility); Parking Assist package (front and rear parking sensors, top-down parking camera system); the AMG Line package (upgraded brakes, sport suspension, a rear spoiler, unique bodywork); and the Driver Assistance package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert).

Stand-alone options for the C300/350e include a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, heated and ventilated seats, leather upholstery, a cabin air purification and fragrance system, a heated steering wheel, and a number of interior and exterior trim pieces.

For the most part, AMG C43 models get the Premium package equipment along with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (362 hp, 384 lb-ft), all-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic transmission, a sport tuned suspension, adaptive suspension dampers, heated front seats and unique interior trim.

The AMG C63 and C63 S are widely similar with the exception of the turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (469 hp, 479 lb-ft with the C63; 503 hp, 516 lb-ft with the C63 S) and a multiclutch, high-performance seven-speed automatic transmission. Options for the AMG models include carbon-ceramic brakes, exhaust and upgraded wheels and tires sport seats, carbon-fiber interior and exterior trim, and a special AMG head-up display.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Convertible (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Mercedes-Benz C-Class has received some minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling3.5 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort2.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.5 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0
Voice control4.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The C300 convertible drives just as you'd expect a luxury compact would, which is a very good thing. It places few demands on the driver yet still has plenty of power and decent handling when the mood hits. If performance is paramount, you may be better served by the AMG C43 variant.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
The run up to 60 mph takes 6.1 seconds, which is about average for an all-wheel-drive vehicle in this class. Transmission shifts are smooth and quick in the default mode and more aggressive and abrupt in Sport mode. It gets up to speed without drama, but power tends to taper off a bit on the top end.

Braking

edmunds rating
The C300 has an easy and light pedal in casual driving, yet it is composed and controllable under moderately hard braking.

Steering

edmunds rating
The steering effort is appropriately light in parking lots and firms up on the highway for greater stability. It's very precise and predictable with a decent amount of feedback for a luxury-focused car.

Handling

edmunds rating
Thanks to the all-wheel-drive system and summer tires, this C300 test vehicle has more traction than the typical driver will ever need in dry weather driving. There's still a moderate amount of body roll, and the tires howl loudly when pushed, but overall it's still very agreeable.

Drivability

edmunds rating
The C300 performs with luxury-car smoothness and is a joy to drive because it's easy to maneuver in tight spaces and requires little effort from the driver in typical conditions. The auto stop-start system is not as transparent as we'd like it to be.

Comfort

edmunds rating
We deem it critical to spring for the optional Airmatic suspension since ride quality is the only objection we have with the C300 Cabriolet. We've evaluated the Airmatic add-on, and it's a night-and-day difference in regard to comfort. Otherwise, the C300 gets high marks in this category.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
The standard front seats offer enough adjustment to allow drivers of any size and shape to find their optimal setting. Padding is firm, but the well-contoured surfaces make them comfortable for hours on end. Lateral support is more than adequate for the cornering limits of this car.

Ride comfort

edmunds rating
The ride quality is too firm for a tourer such as the C300. We drove other C-Class models with the optional Airmatic suspension and the comfort setting is far more compliant and the sport setting feels comparable to the standard suspension. It's worth the extra cost, and we consider it necessary.

Noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The convertible top does an excellent job of reducing wind and road noise to just noticeable levels. With the top down, buffeting is moderate, but the available Aircap system, which directs air over the cabin, greatly reduces wind noise and turbulence. The solid construction is devoid of squeaks.

Climate control

edmunds rating
Once set, the automatic climate control doesn't need adjustment whether the top is up or down. With the windows and top down, there was enough coverage to keep us cool on a warm day. The Airscarf blows warm air on the back of your neck, which may seem frivolous right up until you try it yourself.

Interior

edmunds rating
The C-Class' interior impresses with a graceful center stack and simple layout afforded by minimal buttons, but it also complicates the interface some. Most other interior aspects are typical for a convertible coupe, but we found the driving position and convertible top to be especially well done.

Ease of use

edmunds rating
The number of buttons has been limited to essential functions, giving the cockpit a simple and elegant layout in which controls are logically placed. Secondary controls require some digging, though, and the menu structure can take some time to become familiar with.

Getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The long doors allow easy access to the front seats, and the seat-belt presenter eliminates the need to twist and reach for it. Rear-seat access is impeded with the top up, and the front seats take a while to move forward.

Driving position

edmunds rating
There are enough adjustments and range within those adjustments to ensure drivers of any size and shape will find their optimal position in this drop-top.

Roominess

edmunds rating
The front seats are spacious enough for taller adults as the cockpit wraps around them without feeling confined. The rear seats have barely enough legroom for the average adult, and headroom is limited with the top up. The space feels claustrophobic in back.

Visibility

edmunds rating
Forward visibility is decent thanks to well-shaped roof pillars. With the top up, the small glass rear window limits what you can see and the rear blind spots grow. As far as convertibles go, it's not bad.

Quality

edmunds rating
Even though we consider the C-Class an entry-level luxury vehicle, the materials used and sturdy construction exceed expectations. The same applies to its chief rivals, but the C-Class' overall interior design gives off more of an old-school luxury impression.

Utility

edmunds rating
It should come as no surprise that you make sacrifices with the convertible when it comes to utility. It's the price you pay for open-air motoring, and the C300 Cabriolet comes in about average on all fronts in this category.

Small-item storage

edmunds rating
There aren't a lot of bins and pockets in the cabin, but the ones that exist are adequately sized for your personal items. The cupholder bin can also hold a smartphone, but the USB ports are in the center armrest bin.

Cargo space

edmunds rating
The C-Class convertible's trunk is a bit small. Carry-on luggage will fit with some jostling, but anything bigger will need to occupy the rear seats.

Child safety seat accommodation

edmunds rating
As is typical with most convertibles in this class, a rear-facing child seat will simply not fit if the front passenger seat is occupied. Thankfully, the anchors are clearly marked and easy to tether to.

Technology

edmunds rating
Mercedes' COMAND infotainment scores points for feature content but comes up short when it comes to usability. Competing systems have improved at a slightly quicker pace. The trace pad interface that hovers over the main rotary controller is especially challenging to get accustomed to.

Audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The COMAND system has most of the features we expect, but the interface isn't as easy to use as those of rivals. The trace pad takes a lot of time to get used to and isn't as intuitive or consistently responsive as the rotary controller.

Driver aids

edmunds rating
The handful of advanced safety features are appropriately sensitive, not triggering false alarms. The rearview camera view is about average for the class in a variety of lighting conditions.

Voice control

edmunds rating
Voice recognition is accurate, even with the top down at highway speeds. It understands more natural language as opposed to the robotic chunks that systems usually prompt you with.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.