2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Mercedes‑Benz C‑Class. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    15-26 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    201-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    7-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Ride comfort
  • Large trunk opening
  • Quiet interior
  • Visibility
  • Clear instruments

The Bad

  • Lackluster acceleration (except AMG model)
  • Standard braking
  • Many features optional
  • Cramped interior
  • Handling (non-AMG)

Notable Features of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

  • Coupe or sedan
  • High-performance C63 AMG model with 451 horsepower
  • More power for C300
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Standard mbrace2 in-vehicle connectivity
  • Available start/stop fuel-saving technology

2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Road Test

Kelsey Mays

Despite some dental work last year, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is getting long in the tooth, with performance and space concerns that will need a full redesign to address.

Mercedes' rear-drive sport sedan has a slew of competitors, including the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. (Compare the group here.) Following a range of 2012 updates that included the addition of a four-seat C-Class coupe, the C-Class gets a more powerful V-6 in the midlevel Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 300 sedan for 2013. Compare the 2013 and 2012 C-Class here.

The coupe and sedan both offer rear- or all-wheel drive, and variations range from the turbo four-cylinder C250 to the V-8 C63 AMG. We put a rear-drive C250 sedan through its paces on public roads and a racetrack. (See the window sticker here). We also drove a rear-drive C350.

Snug Interior
Sport sedans usually have snug interiors, but the C-Class sedan feels downright miniscule. I needed the driver's seat all the way back for my 5-foot-11 frame; the center console encroaches on legroom, and headroom runs out if you elevate the seat. In back, adults' legs touch the front seatbacks, and the low seat cushions elevate passengers' knees in an uncomfortable way.

Competitors offer more room up front and better confines in back, and the numbers show it. Passenger volume in the C-Class sedan totals a cramped 88.2 cubic feet. Every major competitor exceeds 90 cubic feet, and the Acura TL and 3 Series top 96 cubic feet. The increas...

Despite some dental work last year, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is getting long in the tooth, with performance and space concerns that will need a full redesign to address.

Mercedes' rear-drive sport sedan has a slew of competitors, including the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. (Compare the group here.) Following a range of 2012 updates that included the addition of a four-seat C-Class coupe, the C-Class gets a more powerful V-6 in the midlevel Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 300 sedan for 2013. Compare the 2013 and 2012 C-Class here.

The coupe and sedan both offer rear- or all-wheel drive, and variations range from the turbo four-cylinder C250 to the V-8 C63 AMG. We put a rear-drive C250 sedan through its paces on public roads and a racetrack. (See the window sticker here). We also drove a rear-drive C350.

Snug Interior
Sport sedans usually have snug interiors, but the C-Class sedan feels downright miniscule. I needed the driver's seat all the way back for my 5-foot-11 frame; the center console encroaches on legroom, and headroom runs out if you elevate the seat. In back, adults' legs touch the front seatbacks, and the low seat cushions elevate passengers' knees in an uncomfortable way.

Competitors offer more room up front and better confines in back, and the numbers show it. Passenger volume in the C-Class sedan totals a cramped 88.2 cubic feet. Every major competitor exceeds 90 cubic feet, and the Acura TL and 3 Series top 96 cubic feet. The increase may sound modest, but taller drivers — and their backseat passengers — will appreciate it.

A dashboard redesign for 2012 scuttled some of the C-Class' dowdiest pieces, but the overall tone is still solemn — even in our test car, whose Dynamic Sport Package added red seat belts and accent stitching on the imitation leather seats. Real leather is optional, but Mercedes' MB-Tex faux cowhide has a taut, believable quality. Still, the fact that you have to pay extra for real leather in higher trims — even the $60,000-plus C63 — is absurd.

Cabin materials are competitive overall, but other details are hit and miss. The gated gearshift still snakes from Park to Drive with satisfying heft, but the chintzy door locks feel cheap. So do the flimsy climate dials and crude sun visors.

Driving Disappointments
Characteristic of Mercedes-Benz, the C250's accelerator has plodding, gradual progression. The C250's modest output — 201 horsepower from a small turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder — makes matters worse. Takeoffs around town are sluggish even in the automatic transmission's Sport mode. Hammer the gas and the C250's 229 pounds-feet of torque lend some midrange oomph, but the drivetrain runs out of steam as the tachometer needle swings to the right. Indeed, our C250 needed 8.2 seconds to hit 60 mph — slowest among the five competitors we tested in a recent Sport Sedan Challenge. An A4, TL and ATS hit the mark in less than 8 seconds; a 328i and Volvo S60 needed less than 7 seconds. (The cars, all automatics, were timed with two adults onboard.)

Step up to the C300 for a 248-hp V-6. For 2013, it added 20 hp and 30 pounds-feet of torque. Saddled with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive, however, the car weighs some 300 pounds more than the C250. Mercedes-Benz quotes similar acceleration times as the C250, but given our own results, I'm skeptical of any additional acceleration.

The C350's 302-hp V-6 revs smoothly, with punchy thrust at the high end. Still, it lacks the immediate torque of a BMW 335i or Lexus IS 350, and even its high-rev thrust falls short of Audi's screaming S4. In regular (Economy) or Sport mode, the transmission resists downshifting until too late. The car feels quick if you manhandle the gas pedal, but it's a constant game of wake-me-up.

With a standard seven-speed automatic, EPA fuel economy ranges from 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined in the C250 to 20/29/23 in either the all-wheel-drive C300 or the rear-wheel-drive C350. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 250 falls a bit short of the four-cylinder 3 Series and A4, but the C350 compares more favorably to the six-cylinder competition. Mercedes requires premium gas, however; some competitors merely recommend it.

We haven't tested the C63 AMG since Mercedes-Benz updated it for 2012. Its V-8 kicks out 451 hp, and an optional performance package raises that to 481 hp.

I can only hope the C63 AMG improves on the standard C-Class' brakes, which are miserable. In both C-Class sedans we tested, the brake pedal felt spongy and tentative before clamping down. The C250 finished midpack in our 60-mph-to-zero braking tests, but editors agreed pedal feel was as vague as a modern-art exhibit.

The car's lackluster handling diminishes things, too. Most C-Class sedans have Luxury or Sport layouts, the latter with a sport-tuned suspension. It does little to contain the C-Class' body roll, however; our C350 Sport pitched into corners, with vague, disconnected steering that threw too much guesswork into each corner.

Outfitted with the Dynamic Sport Package, which includes what Mercedes-Benz calls an Advanced Agility Suspension, the C250 fared better, but it's still no champ. Steering and cornering improve a great deal, but the standard electronic stability system cuts power early and often to control pervasive understeer as the nose pushes wide. Turn the electronics off and you can nudge the tail out more easily, but the C-Class never feels as drift-happy as the ATS or 3 Series.

The payoff comes in ride comfort, which scores in both ride and noise isolation. Even with the sport-tuned suspension — or our C250's advanced adaptive setup — the C-Class is a comfort-oriented car.

Safety, Reliability & Features
The C-Class sedan is a Top Safety Pick for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, having earned top marks in front, side and rear impacts, as well as roof-strength tests. The car fared poorly in IIHS' new small-overlap frontal test, however (read about it here) — a test the TL and S60 aced. The C-Class coupe has not been crash-tested.

Standard safety features on the C-Class include nine airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Optional side-impact torso airbags for the backseat bring the total airbag count to 11. Click here for a full list of safety features. Forward collision alert with automatic braking is optional, as are drowsy-driving detection, lane-keeping and departure warning and mitigation systems, night vision and adaptive headlights.

Overall reliability has been above average, but that isn't much of a differentiator; the TL, 3 Series and A4 have similar or better marks.

The C250 sedan starts just over $36,000; the coupe begins close to $39,000. Standard features include 17-inch alloy-wheels, a moonroof, Mercedes' MB-Tex imitation leather, power front seats, HD radio, USB/iPod compatibility, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, steering-wheel audio controls and a 5.8-inch dash display. As usual, Mercedes is stingy with standard features. Some competitors include a folding backseat, leather upholstery, heated seats and keyless access with push-button start as standard equipment; Mercedes-Benz charges extra for all four. Other options on the C-Class include xenon headlights, a 7-inch navigation system, a backup camera, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a panoramic moonroof and a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo. Check all the boxes and the C350 approaches $60,000. The C63 AMG, meanwhile, can go well into the six-figure range.

C-Class in the Market
Despite its age and relative price, the C-Class remains popular. Sales through the first two months of 2012 outpaced all competitors, including the vaunted 3 Series — the best-selling luxury car in eight of the past 10 years. What gives? I suspect two things: One, the C-Class has two body styles and a broad range of engines, which gives shoppers a wider lineup than is available with many C-Class competitors. Two, the car has topped its class in residual values for two years running. That drives down monthly rates for leases, which play a huge roll in luxury-car sales.

Those reasons — or others — may play into your consideration of this baby Benz. Just take a close look at competing sport sedans, too; you may find a lot to like elsewhere.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

I really love the style of the car

by Tiadear32 from Dublin, Ohio on September 13, 2018

This car had everything I was looking for, leather seats, moonroof, style, and comfort. And a great price for the car. I?m very happy and pleased. Read full review

(4.0)

It?s a great feeling car

by Trice from IN on August 27, 2018

This car is a perfectfit for your needs. It?s luxurious it?s sleek and it?s comfortable. It?s preset decent on gas. It catches people eyes when u drive by,and overall it?s just worth to look at. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sport

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small overlap front

Small overlap front
poor
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Mercedes-Benz

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services and Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    5 years / Unlimited Miles*

    Up to 5 years/Unlimited miles from original in-service date if purchased while under original warranty, or 1 year/Unlimited miles if purchased outside of new-vehicle warranty; no deductible, transferable to subsequent owners
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Rigorous inspection by factory-certified technicians.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The C-Class received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker