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2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class finishes in the top half of our luxury small car rankings. It's powerful and upscale, but it has so-so handling and smallish rear seats in some body styles.

Pros & Cons

  • First-rate interior
  • Supple ride
  • Powerful engines in AMG models
  • Lengthy features list
  • Cramped rear seats in coupe and cabriolet models
  • Less nimble than some rivals

New for 2021

  • Heated front seats and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster now standard

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class's #6 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 48 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.6
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class a Good Car?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a good car. It's available in three body styles, and it has powerful engine choices, gets decent gas mileage, and provides a smooth ride. It features one of the best interiors in the class, with comfortable front seats and plenty of technology.

Not everything is perfect, though. Rivals are more agile and have more spacious rear seats than some C-Class models.

Why You Can Trust Us: 48 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 C-Class review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2015.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

You should give the C-Class a look if you want a luxury small car with a lot of strengths and few weaknesses. However, you're going to pay a little extra for the privilege. The C-Class has an above-average price tag for the class, though many would argue that it provides plenty of value.

Find a 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class doesn't see any major changes. Heated front seats and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster now come standard, but otherwise, the 2021 model is basically the same as the 2020 C-Class.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 C-Class »

Here are the key changes for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class over the last few years:

  • 2017: revamped trim lineup; three AMG models introduced
  • 2018: a nine-speed automatic transmission and a rearview camera became standard; gained available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 2019: refreshed exterior styling; updated standard turbocharged engine; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to standard features list
  • 2020: no notable changes
  • 2021: heated front seats and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster now standard

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 C-Class, 2019 C-Class, and 2020 C-Class reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cost?

The base C 300 sedan starts at $41,600. That's not the highest starting price in the class, but it's decidedly above average. The C 300 Coupe starts at $47,200, while the cabriolet starts at $54,700.

The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is the range-topping trim, and it's also more expensive than most other top trims in the class. The sedan costs $76,200, the coupe is $78,250, and the cabriolet starts at $85,600.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Versus the Competition

Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs. BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is neck and neck with the C-Class in our luxury small car rankings. The BMW, with its deft handling, is more fun to drive, while the Mercedes prioritizes ride comfort. Both cars have potent engines, though. The 3 Series has a much larger trunk, as well as a roomier second row, and it has a lower starting price than the Mercedes. The 3 Series looks great inside, but the C-Class has one of the nicest interiors in the class.

Compare the C-Class and 3 Series »

Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs. Audi A4                                                      

The Audi A4 is more fun to drive than the C-Class, and it's on the shortlist of classmates that can rival the Mercedes' interior quality. The Audi's infotainment features are more intuitive, though its touch-screen size is smaller than in the Mercedes. These are both good cars, but the Audi's lower starting price may give it a slight edge in this matchup.

Compare the C-Class and A4 »

Compare the C-Class, 3 Series, and A4 »

C-Class Performance: Powerful and Quick

C-Class Engine

The Mercedes-Benz C 300 comes standard with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It has plenty of power for taking off quickly from a stop or cruising at high speeds. The standard nine-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth and timely shifts.

C-Class AMG models are even more powerful. The AMG C 43 has a 385-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The AMG C 63 has a 469-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8. The AMG C 63 S has the same engine, but it’s rated at 503 horsepower. These AMG models can really get your blood pumping, and they're much more potent than the base turbo-four.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Powertrain/Performance Options:
  • Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; starts at $41,600 (C 300)
  • Available engines:
    • 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque; starts at $56,500 (AMG C 43)
    • 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque; starts at $68,600 (AMG C 63)
    • 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque; starts at $76,200 (AMG C 63 S)
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive (AWD is standard in the AMG C 43 and is unavailable in the C 63 and C 63 S)
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Appearance Packages:
  • AMG Night package (prices start at $750): gloss black exterior accents
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Performance Packages and Options:
  • AMG Line package (prices start at $2,000): AMG bumpers and side skirts, 18-inch AMG wheels, upgraded brakes, bolstered front seats, a sport steering wheel, and a lowered suspension
  • AMG Line with Night package (prices start at $2,400): AMG bumpers and side skirts, gloss black exterior accents, 18-inch AMG wheels, upgraded brakes, bolstered front seats, a sport steering wheel, and a lowered suspension
  • AMG Aerodynamics package (prices start at $1,750): a deeper front splitter, side sill inserts, an AMG rear lip spoiler, and an AMG rear diffuser
  • AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package 1 (prices start at $1,750): a carbon fiber rear spoiler and carbon fiber side mirrors
  • AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package 2 (prices start at $2,950): carbon fiber side sills and bumper accents
  • AMG performance exhaust (prices start at $1,250)
  • AMG carbon ceramic front brakes (prices start at $5,450)
C-Class Gas Mileage

This Mercedes gets typical fuel economy ratings for the luxury small car class. The C 300 sedan gets 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Ratings dip slightly in all-wheel-drive models or in coupe and convertible models. Ratings also fall in the AMG models, which get about 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

C-Class Ride and Handling

The C-Class has poised, balanced handling and well-weighted steering, but it isn't as athletic as some competitors. Ride quality is terrific, however. AMG models are sportier, but they offer a stiff ride.

How Fast is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

The Mercedes C 300 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. The AMG C 43 can dash from zero to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. The AMG C 63 and C 63 S models boast zero-to-60 times of 3.9 and 3.8 seconds, respectively. Those times are for the sedan body style. Convertible models are a hair slower, while the AMG coupes are slightly faster.

The top speed for each model is electronically limited, and it's the same regardless of body style. For the C 300 and AMG C 43, it's 130 mph. That jumps to 155 mph in the C 63 and 180 mph in the C 63 S.

Does the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Have All-Wheel Drive?

Yes, the Mercedes C 300 is available with Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The AMG C 43 model comes standard with AWD.

Read more about performance »

C-Class Interior: Well-Crafted and Comfortable

C-Class Cargo Space

Compared to the rest of the class, the C-Class sedan has an average amount of cargo space. It gives you 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space. The coupe has 10.5 cubic feet, and the convertible has 8.8 cubic feet.

How Many People Does the C-Class Seat?

Coupe and cabriolet C-Class models seat four people, and sedan models seat five. The seats in all models are comfortable and supportive, and riders in the front have plenty of room. Rear-seat space in the sedan is adequate for average-sized adults, unless the front-seat occupants slide their seats far back. The coupe and convertible models have cramped second rows.

C-Class and Child Car Seats

The C-Class has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats, and sedan models have a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. This LATCH system is easy to use.

C-Class Interior Quality

When you hear the name Mercedes, you think quality, and the interior of the C-Class fits the bill. It's stylish and uses plenty of top-notch materials.

C-Class Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The C-Class' infotainment system is generally solid. The large display is easy to see, and it's not too difficult to navigate through menus to find the settings you want.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 10.25-inch display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, and a five-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: satellite radio, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo, navigation, a touchpad controller, and wireless device charging
  • Additional standard features: a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Other available features: a panoramic roof and tri-zone automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

C-Class Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Reliable?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the C-Class with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.

Read more about reliability »

C-Class Safety

C-Class Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not fully crash tested the 2021 C-Class, but it did give this Mercedes four out of five stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 C-Class. However, the organization gave the similar 2020 C-Class excellent ratings across the board.

C-Class Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Parallel park assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane tracing assist
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic lane changing
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

C-Class Dimensions and Weight

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is 15.4 to 15.6 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,527 to 4,275 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2021 C-Class in Alabama.

When Did the Mercedes-Benz C-Class First Come Out?

Mercedes-Benz launched the current generation of the C-Class in 2015. However, the nameplate has a much longer history. The first-generation C-Class debuted in 1994 as a replacement for the Mercedes 190, which was the brand’s initial stab at the luxury compact car market. The 190 received praise for its roomy interior, sleek styling, and many standard safety features. Refined four- and six-cylinder engines were available from the onset, providing confident acceleration and respectable fuel efficiency. More powerful options were soon available.

Mercedes produced the C36 AMG beginning in 1995 with a 270-horsepower straight-six engine, and it became the first of many AMG models to reach U.S. shores. The C43 AMG followed in 1998 with a 302-horsepower V8.

Which Mercedes-Benz C-Class Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in four trims: C 300, AMG C 43, AMG C 63, and AMG C 63 S. Each model has a distinct powertrain. You can also choose between sedan, coupe, and convertible body styles for each trim.

The engine is the main thing that differentiates the trim levels. They have mostly similar features lists, though the AMG models do come with extra performance-oriented features. With that in mind, many buyers will do just fine sticking with the C 300, as its turbo-four engine never feels short of power, and there are plenty of add-ons if you want more comfort or convenience features.

Mercedes-Benz C 300

The C 300 sedan starts at $41,600. It comes with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional for $2,000.

Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a hands-free power trunk lid. The infotainment system features a 10.25-inch display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, and a five-speaker stereo.

Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, blind spot monitoring, and a rearview camera.

The C 300 Coupe ($47,200) also comes standard with ambient cabin lighting, satellite radio, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo, a panoramic roof, and a sport-tuned suspension. In addition to all of those features, the C 300 Cabriolet ($54,700) comes with Mercedes' Airscarf neck warmer.

Mercedes-AMG C 43

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 starts at $56,500 for the sedan body style. It features a 385-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, an AMG nine-speed automatic transmission, and standard all-wheel drive.

The AMG C 43 also comes standard with a performance steering wheel, an adaptive AMG sport-tuned suspension, and a 13-speaker Burmester stereo. Additional options for this AMG C-Class model include performance front seats ($2,500), steering wheel-mounted performance controls ($400), a performance data recorder ($250), and an AMG performance exhaust ($1,250).

The AMG C 43 Coupe starts at $59,000, and the convertible retails for $65,500.

Mercedes-AMG C 63

The Mercedes-AMG C 63 sedan starts at $68,600. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 comes standard with a hand-built 469-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 engine, as well as an AMG nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. An electronic limited-slip differential and an AMG sport exhaust are also standard.

Pricing starts at $70,650 for the coupe and $78,000 for the Cabriolet.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

The C 63 S sedan costs $76,200, the coupe is $78,250, and the Cabriolet costs $85,600. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S boasts a 503-horsepower version of the twin-turbo V8 engine, dynamic engine mounts, adjustable traction control, and an upgraded AMG drive unit. AMG ceramic composite front brakes are available for $5,450.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is sleek, elegant, and comfortable. In other words, it's exactly what you expect from Mercedes. It's also powerful and loaded with technology, and while it costs a bit more than most of its competitors, it's still a great pick. That's why it finishes in the top half of our luxury small car rankings, and that's why it deserves a look from shoppers.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "This relatively affordable Benz bears pleasing similarities to the storied S-class. … Its cabin is chic and opulent, and its handling is crisp and engaging." -- Car and Driver (2020)
  • "[The] C-Class is hugely impressive. Whether you get the luxurious C300 or the racy AMG C43, it delivers luxury, driving satisfaction and style in big doses. … Buy it for the technology, buy it for the comfort, or buy it for the way it drives: Whatever your reason, you'll be satisfied." -- CNET (2019)
  • "[The] Mercedes-Benz C 300 and Mercedes-AMG C 43 are set to remain benchmarks among entry-level luxury sedans, while the lineup's variety of powertrains and free-spirited coupe and cabriolet body styles will appeal to a wide range of luxury car shoppers." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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