2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class


The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is as gorgeous inside as it is outside, and it has moves to match.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn’t the tiresome little brother to the E-Class and S-Class sedans that it once was. Updated last year, the 2020 C-Class has a personality of its own, married with gorgeous styling inside and out plus a range of exceptionally good engines. 

We rate the entire range at 7 out of 10, a figure based primarily on the C300 that’s most popular. AMG versions would rate higher for their performance and lower for their value, while coupes and convertibles spoil exactly as you might expect. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The C-Class line starts with the 255-horsepower C300, available in coupe, convertible, and sedan forms, with rear- or all-wheel drive. For most buyers, a C300 is plenty of car, with excellent acceleration, slick responses from its 9-speed automatic transmission, and wonderful chassis tuning. The C43 uses a 385-hp twin-turbo V-6, enough to convince most drivers and passengers that it’s a proper AMG. Better yet is the C63, with more than 500 hp hurtled to the ground in S trim. The C63 is for proper hooligans, and we love nearly everything about it. 

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Performance is a good reason to buy the C-Class, but styling is a close second. The sedans channel vintage Benz lines while tying in the larger E- and S-Class models. Coupes have their own rear ends, and convertibles look as good with their tops up as down. Inside, every version has a gorgeous dash with wide panels of wood trim and a big 10.3-inch screen teamed with a control knob in the center console. A digital instrument cluster is optional. 

Safety is a C-Class asset thanks to good scores and accessible advanced crash-avoidance tech that can also reduce driver fatigue on trips and in traffic by handling some duties on its own. That tech mostly makes up for an infotainment system that can be a bear to operate. 

Optional equipment can send prices through the roof, but every C-Class feels worth the money. Fuel economy isn’t bad, either, which helps lessen the blow. A C300 can easily hit 35 mpg on the highway in real-world driving. 

The 2020 C-Class ticks all the right boxes for us. If only Mercedes would see fit to offer American buyers the divinely practical C-Class wagon.

Available as a sedan, a coupe, or a convertible, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class delivers swoopy styling at its best.

Some might criticize the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class for looking an awful lot like its E-Class and S-Class stablemates. Not us. We think the 2020 C’s shrunken proportions are worn with poise and grace, no matter the shape. We conservatively rate the C-Class lineup at 8 out of 10.

Coupes, convertibles, and far more common sedans share a front end that makes the big three-pointed star the literal star of the show. Don’t look for a hood ornament as Mercedes is, sadly, moving away from its iconic shape. 

From the side, sedans and coupes share a high-greenhouse silhouette that works well. Subtle chrome details add bucks-up appeal. From the rear, the C-Class is at its best, though two-doors and four-doors have different taillight designs. 

Optional AMG styling kits for the C300 are included on the C43 and C63, and they run just the right side of ostentatious with gaping lower intakes, rear diffusers, and side skirts. A wide range of wheel choices helps ensure that no two Cs need look the same, though dealers are likely to stock nearly identical cars.

Inside, the C-Class again channels its big brothers with a curvy dash that can be draped in a variety of veneers. Don’t be afraid to venture out from glossy wood to open pore ash or aluminum, which are no-cost options depending on the features you’ve selected.

The wide 10.3-inch touchscreen that hovers above the dash doesn’t look like an afterthought here as it does in some cars, though it doesn’t integrate with the available digital instrument cluster as nicely in the C-Class as it does in other Benzes.

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AMG versions look largely the same inside, albeit with upgraded leather trim on the seats.

Fast in any configuration, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class can be configured as a docile mile-eater or a fire-breathing racer.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has so many personalities that it may take some time for buyers with a broad budget to settle on one. Our 7 out of 10 rating here applies to the C300, which is the most popular model. AMG-tuned versions would earn at least an extra point, but there’s not a bad way to order a 2020 C-Class.

The most popular car, and the one that’s the star of all those lease special ads you’ve heard on the radio, is the 255-hp C300. Its 2.0-liter turbo-4 shuttles power to the rear or all four wheels through a slick 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The 0-60 sprint takes just 5.7 seconds, which is blisteringly quick for what’s supposed to be the “base” model.

Handling is aided by responsive, if not especially quick steering and a supple ride with the base coil springs. The optional air suspension once offered is no longer available, unfortunately. 

The AMGs 

Opt for the C43 and a twin-turbo V-6 hustles 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque to all four corners. At 4.5 seconds to 60 mph, the C43 is plenty fast for nearly anyone, but we can’t blame you for thinking long and hard about the C63.

That version makes use of a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated in base configuration at 469 hp and in C63 S trim with 503 hp. The C63 is a bit absurd in the way it mashes through rubber on its way to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, according to Benz estimates.

AMG cars come with different suspension tuned for more bite and paired with taller wheels with grippier rubber. C43s skip the air springs in favor of adaptive dampers, while the C63 has a firmer version of the air suspension.

Until the latest C-Class, the smallest Benzes have been left in the dust on a curvy road compared to BMW’s 3-Series. The latest version evens the score, and perhaps bests it in some versions. 

Most C-Classes are equipped with all-wheel drive, though warm-weather states will find plenty of rear-wheel-drive C300s for sale. The automaker’s all-wheel-drive system responds quickly to weather changes. Owners of AMG versions will want to swap winter tires on, however, as the summer rubber fitted to those models won’t last long on a snowy road.

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The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a top-tier luxury car, so long as you’re seated up front.

Mercedes leaves its A-Class and CLA-Class to woo entry-level luxury buyers, which has allowed the automaker to upgrade its C-Class’ inner trappings. Front-seat riders are treated to exceptional seats that can be heated, cooled, and equipped with a massaging feature, but rear-seat riders are left out in the cold with so-so leg room. We rate the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class at 7 out of 10 for its comfort and quality. 

Even a base C300 at around $41,000 feels worth every bit its price thanks to fine materials such as wood trim on the doors and dash, and aluminum-coated plastic elsewhere. Soft-touch plastics are common, though the standard upholstery is a hard-wearing synthetic leather that may convince some riders that they’re sitting on the real McCoy. The hushed cabin only reinforces that you’ve spent good money on a great car. 

The power-adjustable front seats offer excellent support in base C300s, while the more-bolstered thrones in AMG versions may be a little tight for wider bodies. Extendable thigh supports boost road-trip comfort, too.

Rear-seat space is adequate in sedans, but nearly intolerable for adults in coupes and convertibles. Cargo room isn’t great at 12.6 cubic feet on sedans, two cubes less on coupes, and just 8.8 cubic feet for convertibles. Mercedes sells a wagon in some markets, including Canada, but it figures Americans would rather buy the GLC crossover for quite a bit more cash. Write your congressperson, or at the very least your Mercedes dealer, in protest.

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The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is among the safest new cars on the road today.

Excellent crash-test scores and a bevy of standard and optional collision-avoidance tech combine to help the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class score 9 out of 10 for safety on our scale.

The IIHS calls the car a Top Safety Pick+, its highest award, although curiously only cars with automatic high-beam headlights earn the top “Good” score for their output. Other headlights are nearly as good at “Acceptable.”

Federal testers last looked at the C-Class in 2018, but the current car is fundamentally the same vehicle. We’ll update this space should they change their five-star overall rating for the 2018 model.

Automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors are standard, while adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and systems that allow the car to stop, restart, and hold its lane in traffic are part of a reasonably priced $1,700 package. Though we’d like to see adaptive cruise control as standard fare, the sheer amount of technology included for $1,700 is impressive.

Outward vision is generally good, though convertibles and coupes have tough over-the-shoulder visibility. 

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Massive customizability should encourage you to create the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class of your dreams.

Though Mercedes-Benz dealers generally stock “lease special” cars painted in various shades of white, silver, gray, and black, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers a wide array of individual and packaged options worth investigating.

We score the lineup at 7 out of 10 thanks to the good standard fare and the even better optional equipment. 

The range starts at around $42,500 for a C300, with all-wheel drive a $1,900 option. That money buys plenty of car: synthetic leather drapes its seats, which are power-adjustable up front, as well as a power moonroof, basic collision-avoidance tech, and a 10.3-inch screen with a central control knob and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility.

Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Burmester audio are optional and likely common. Advanced crash-avoidance tech and adaptive cruise control are bundled in a $1,700 option package, which unfortunately requires selecting $1,250 worth of navigation and voice controls many users may not even touch since Mercedes’ infotainment system can be on the cumbersome side to operate. 

The C43 builds on a well-equipped C300 for about $57,000, while the C63 costs about $70,000. Spend all the way to the C63 and the C63 S with its 34-horsepower advantage seems worth the extra $7,000. Hey that’s only 10 percent more, right?

All Mercedes-Benz models are backed by a four-year, 48,000-mile warranty.

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The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is frugal given the power underhood.

Popular versions of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class will easily top 30 mpg on the highway, though more-powerful AMGs are a lot thirstier.

Overall, we score the lineup at 4 out of 10. 

Fuel economy figures vary dramatically by body style and powertrain. Sedans are the thriftiest, especially in C300 guise. Rear-drive versions rate 24 mpg city, 35 highway, 28 combined, while all-wheel drive chops those figures by 1 to 2 mpg. 

Coupes aren’t quite as frugal: expect 25 mpg combined for a C300, and 1 mpg less for the convertible.

The C43 is rated at 19/27/22 mpg, while both versions of the C63 come in at a still-reasonable 18/27/21 mpg. 

Every version of the C-Class requires premium fuel. 

Mercedes has offered plug-in hybrid C-Classes in the past, though they’ve generally seemed like weak efforts. A version with a longer range is expected soon.

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