Even the Best Small Luxury Car Didn’t Blow Critics Away
Because of their elevated price tags and longstanding reputation for reliability, auto critics hold luxury cars to sky-high standards. Even so, experienced test drivers at Edmunds gave impressive overall scores to most of the luxury midsize sedan options for 2023.
In the smaller categories, we have more finalists with below-average scores. The Mercedes Benz C-Class may have had the highest overall rating in its class, but Edmunds still had some complaints about it.
What the Mercedes-Benz C-Class does right
Edmunds appreciated the C-Class’s refined powertrain and handling dynamics. The C-Class 300 is available in sedan, coupe, and cabriolet body styles that are all powered by a 255-hp turbo-four. That engine is paired with a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission.
The C-Class 300 only needs 5.8 seconds to reach 60 mph and it can handle precise turns with no noticeable body roll. The engine is enhanced with mild-hybrid technology, allowing it to earn up to 29 mpg combined city/highway. Edmunds also recommends getting the AMG Line package because it has better brakes and a sport suspension.
Those athletic enhancements, as well as a performance steering wheel, are standard on the all-new C-Class AMG C 43. Its powertrain varies depending on the body style. The sedan offers a 402-hp turbo-four, while the coupe and cabriolet models are powered by a 385-hp twin-turbo V6.
The two-seater models are just a hair faster, reaching 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. These vehicles also have a standard all-wheel drive system that consistently sends the majority of traction to the rear wheels. The AMG C 43 showcases some more aggressive exterior elements, such as a quad tailpipe-exhaust that emits Performance Sound.
Every Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with an ample amount of advanced technology. It has wireless smartphone integration, voice recognition, and eportedly one of the best navigation systems available.
Blind-spot monitors and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are standard across the lineup. You can get several more safety features through the Driver Assistance package, optional for the Exclusive and Pinnacle models.
Watch out for some tech issues in this luxury sedan
The audio and climate controls can only be configured through the touchscreen, which may prove frustrating and distracting while driving. The interface showcases big text and icons, but there’s also a slight delay as you navigate between each of the C-Class sedan’s infotainment functions. Edmunds doesn’t recommend leaving the A/C on Auto because it doesn’t provide enough cooling.
The adaptive cruise control system’s adjustments are slightly more abrupt than test drivers would have liked. Additionally, Edmunds warns that the C-Class sedan’s suspension is definitely more tuned toward performance than comfort. This is especially true for C 43 models with their 4S summer tires.
Owner satisfaction is also hindered by this sedan’s awkward driving position and low ride height. While the C-Class is a decent value overall, you can find other rivals with free scheduled maintenance for up to three years.
Is the Mercedes Benz C-Class worth owning?
7.9/10 is far from the worst rating, but it’s lower than what you’d expect from a segment leader. If you’re set on getting a new luxury sedan, we recommend spending a little extra on one that offers the highest satisfaction potential. The C-Class model’s larger sibling, the E-Class, earned an overall score of 8.5 from Edmunds.
The adaptive cruise control system inside this car is much smoother to operate, and it has more physical control buttons. Test drivers also appreciated the plush ride quality from the E-Class sedan’s optional air suspension. While it falls short on cargo and passenger space, it’s just as enjoyable to drive (if not more so) than the C-Class.