2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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MSRP: $40,250 - 81,500

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has one of the finest cabins at its price point, helping it achieve a top-half ranking in a very competitive segment. However, the C-Class' low predicted reliability rating and largely forgettable performance prevent it from rising any higher.

8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.3
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 8.5
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Elegant interior with high-grade materials
  • Refined, powerful engines
  • Complicated infotainment system and controls
  • Small rear seats
  • Poor predicted reliability rating

New for 2018

 

  • New standard nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Rearview camera included in base model
  • Proximity key and push-button start now standard
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now available

 

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

The Mercedes C-Class is a great luxury small car with a high-end interior and top-notch features. The car's performance eschews sportiness in favor of comfort and refinement. The C-Class' major flaw is its predicted reliability rating, which is among the lowest in the class.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

If you're looking for a sedan emblazoned with the three-pointed star, know that the lineup goes like this in terms of price and size: Mercedes-Benz CLA, C-Class, E-Class, CLS-Class, and S-Class. The C-Class is a great entry-level luxury car for those who want confident handling and easy maneuverability but don't necessarily need a lot of back-seat or trunk space. There are also many great alternatives outside of the Mercedes-Benz brand. The BMW 3 Series has energetic performance and a refined interior with lots of room. The Audi A4 is incredibly upscale inside with a ton of futuristic and intuitive features.

Compare the C-Class, 3 Series and A4 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

The 2018 C-Class gets a new nine-speed automatic transmission, but its performance and fuel economy don’t see much of a change. A rearview camera, proximity-key entry, and push-button start are now standard, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available for the first time. 

If you don't care about these improvements, you may want to consider a used model from the same generation, which stretches back to 2015. You'll likely get a similar car for a lower price. To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. If you decide an older model is right for you, visit our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class »
We Did the Research for You: 47 Reviews Analyzed

This overview combines our analysis of more than 47 professional Mercedes-Benz C-Class reviews with details such as standard features, available safety technology, and performance specs. This 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars, a division of U.S. News & World Report, has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. We also publish car news and present annual awards such as the Best Cars for Families. To prevent bias in our recommendations, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

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

Prices for a new Mercedes C-Class start at just over $40,000, which is on the high end for the luxury small car segment. Depending on the body style and drivetrain, prices for the C300 range from $40,250 to $53,200. There are three AMG-tuned variants, with the AMG C43 kicking off the high-performance editions at $53,400. Retail prices for the AMG C63 start at $66,100 and reach as high as $81,500 for the AMG C63 S cabriolet. If you're eligible for the federal tax credit, you can slim down the $47,900 price tag on the plug-in hybrid C350e by $4,043.

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

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz C-Class or BMW 3 Series?

The Mercedes C-Class outshines the BMW 3 Series when it comes to interior accommodations, partly because it comes with a ton of standard features. You'll pay a lot more to add amenities in the BMW, and its base engine isn't as powerful as the C-Class'. The 3 Series has more dynamic handling, while the C-Class has a more comfortable ride. Overall, these are two great cars and you really can't go wrong with either of them. One swaying factor may be the 3 Series’ predicted reliability rating, which is above average compared to the C-Class' low score.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4?

The Audi A4 is a better buy than the C-Class. The A4 comes standard with leather seats and a high-tech, user-friendly infotainment system. Meanwhile, the C-Class has standard synthetic leather and a confounding infotainment system. The base A4 delivers sharper handling than the C-Class, as well as a better predicted reliability rating. Both cars have performance-tuned versions (the Audi S4 is comparable in power to the Mercedes-AMG C43), but the V8-powered AMG C63 S is unequaled in the A4 lineup.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Jaguar XE?

The Jaguar XE is one of the sportiest luxury small cars. It's a good pick if you crave more engine power and better handling than what the C-Class offers, and the XE also undercuts the Benz's base price by several thousand dollars. Drivers seeking a more luxurious experience or those who prefer loads of driver assistance features should stick with the C-Class.

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

C-Class Interior

How Many People Does the C-Class Seat?

While the sedan can carry five people, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and cabriolet (convertible) models seat four, with two sculpted rear seats instead of a bench. Convertible models are equipped with the Airscarf feature, which blows warm air around your neck to keep you feeling insulated from the wind.

The front seats have ample adjustments to find a relaxing position with good visibility. Rear-seat passengers will want to climb into the back of an Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class instead; both offer more acreage to stretch out.

C-Class and Car Seats

Caregivers will have few problems clipping car seats into the back of the C-Class. Its LATCH hardware – which includes three tether anchors and two sets of lower anchors – is user-friendly.

C-Class Interior Quality

Natural grain ash, a sleek freestanding infotainment display, and high-grade synthetic leather that feels like the real thing come standard in the C-Class. The interior feels top-notch, combining elegant styling with modern controls. Note that only range-topping editions come standard with leather seats.

C-Class Cargo Space

The C-Class sedan's 12.6-cubic-foot trunk is about average for a luxury small car, providing enough space for several carry-on suitcases or a couple golf bags. Cargo space drops with other body styles to as little as 8.8 cubic feet.

C-Class Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 7-inch infotainment screen in the C-Class looks sleek and modern, but its menus are confounding. In addition, the rotary knob and available touchpad create a confusing set of infotainment controls, and redundant controls for common functions like skipping to the next song are nonexistent. Luckily, Mercedes now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the C-Class. We recommend adding them to gain a familiar, user-friendly interface when you connect your smartphone. Other options include a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.

Read more about interior »

C-Class Performance

C-Class Engine: From Plug-in to Potent

Mercedes offers a range of power options for the C-Class, from a plug-in hybrid to a 503-horsepower hand-built V8. For most, the standard engine is a suitable choice, offering decent acceleration and refined performance. With a 241-horsepower rating, this powertrain combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

C-Class Gas Mileage: Base Engine Is About Average

The base C300 gets 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which is a typical fuel economy rating for a luxury small car. The C350e Plug-in Hybrid has a 51 mpg-equivalent rating and can drive about 8 miles on electric power alone. Fuel economy in AMG models ranges from 17-20 mpg in the city to 22-27 mpg on the highway.

C-Class Ride and Handling: Smooth and Mildly Sporty

The C300 is stable and relaxed, with driving dynamics that lean toward comfort, while still permitting some athletic jaunts. It comes standard with four driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+) to adjust the steering, throttle, and shift points. Handling becomes more aggressive with AMG models, though these are still polished. Test drivers recommend the available Airmatic air suspension system if you want to adjust the ride quality.

Read more about performance »

C-Class Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Reliable?

The 2018 C-Class has a predicted reliability rating of two out of five from J.D. Power. That's a poor rating in general (three is considered average), and it's one of the lowest ratings in the class.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Warranty

The 2018 C-Class comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

C-Class Safety

C-Class Crash Test Results

The C-Class performs very well in most crash tests. It aces every side crash test conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it earns four stars for its front and rollover simulations. The NHTSA gives it an overall safety rating of five-out-of-five stars. At the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the C-Class receives the highest score of Good in five individual crash tests.

C-Class Safety Features

Mercedes has added more advanced safety technology to the 2018 C-Class, with the standard list comprising forward collision warning with brake assist, crosswind assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rearview camera, and Mercedes Pre-Safe (which prepares the car by closing windows and tightening seat belts when it senses an impending collision). Other available features include enhanced brake assist, blind spot assist, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive headlights, lane keep assist, active park assist, traffic sign recognition, a surround-view camera system, cross traffic alert, and a head-up display.

Read more about safety »

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

Between the C-Class models, there are five trims to pick from, each with a different engine: C300, C350e, AMG C43, AMG C63, and AMG C63 S. You also have the choice between a four-door sedan, a two-door coupe, and a convertible (called a cabriolet). Notable standard features in each edition are detailed below. The AMG C43 bridges the price and performance gap between the entry-level C300 and the top-shelf AMG C63 S. This 362-horsepower edition features all-wheel drive and Mercedes' new nine-speed automatic transmission, and it comes with added performance enhancements.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300

The base C300 sedan ($40,250) comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery (called MB-Tex), a 7-inch infotainment system, Bluetooth, dual USB ports, HD Radio, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, push-button start, forward collision warning with brake assist, crosswind assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rearview camera, and Pre-Safe (a system that prepares the car for an impending collision to protect occupants). Also available are the C300 coupe ($43,200) and C300 convertible ($51,200). Add all-wheel drive to any of the three body styles for $2,000.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350e

The plug-in hybrid C350e combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission and a single electric motor. Most features included in the C300 carry over to the Mercedes C350e, along with pre-entry climate control and a touchpad controller. Pricing for a C350e, which comes only as a rear-wheel-drive sedan, starts at $47,900. A $4,043 federal tax credit is available for eligible buyers.

Mercedes-AMG C43

A twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission power the Mercedes-AMG C43. Retail pricing for the sedan starts at $53,400, joined by the C43 coupe ($55,900) and C43 cabriolet ($60,800). All-wheel drive is standard, along with a sport-tuned suspension and exhaust and heated front sport seats.

Mercedes-AMG C63

The AMG C63 and AMG 63 S both come with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The C63 has a 469-horsepower rating, while the C63 S cranks out 503 horsepower. Both editions are available as a sedan, coupe, or convertible, with prices ranging from $66,100 to $73,500 for the AMG C63 and between $73,700 and $81,500 for the AMG C63 S.

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

See 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 C-Class is hardly the forgotten middle child of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Instead, it samples treats like an opulent interior and advanced safety technology from its pricier siblings, while keeping the price in a range that's more affordable. Power-hungry drivers have three AMG models to pick from, including the highly recommended AMG C43. Just make sure you add the newly available smartphone integration to your C-Class order, or you'll be stuck with complex infotainment menus and confusing controls for basic media operations. Finally, be aware that this car's predicted reliability rating is one of the lowest in the class.

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

  • "The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class compact luxury car is a prestigious chip off the old block. Its design, technology and very essence are derived from the S-Class, Mercedes' nearly 6-figure flagship. … Against its BMW 3 Series archrival, the C-Class tends to have slightly softer manners, but is still impressively athletic when pushed. Equally notable are the C-Class' roster of tech/safety features and amenities, right down to the interior fragrance system that broke ground in the latest S-Class." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "However, the C43 has a swagger and a presence that makes it feel special in a way the 4 Series can't touch. Nor can most any other car in the sub-$60,000 price bracket. Its combination of luxury coupe style and sports coupe performance isn't something you see very often these days. It both oozes class and excites your soul. In a sense, it's a lottery car you don't have to win the lottery to afford." -- Road and Track (2017)
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