2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2016 Mercedes‑Benz C‑Class. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    20-28 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    241-hp, 2.0-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

  • Excellent cabin materials
  • Strong acceleration
  • Intuitive multimedia system
  • Generous standard safety features
  • Well-executed folding backseat
  • Improved brake-pedal feel

The Bad

  • Somewhat numb steering
  • Backseat still low to the floor
  • Backup camera should be standard
  • Air suspension brings little difference in ride quality

Notable Features of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

  • Turbocharged four- or six-cylinder gas engines
  • New plug-in hybrid, diesel and AMG Sport models
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Air suspension available
  • Redesigned coupe due in early 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The verdict: Stung by poor reliability in the first year since its redesign, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan is nonetheless an appealing option for sport-sedan shoppers.

Versus the competition: Stunning cabin quality, good performance and elegant styling make the C-Class a solid choice among its rivals. It's more Mercedes-Benz luxury than sport, but it continues to justify having earned Cars.com's Best of 2015 award.

The C-Class comes in myriad variants with all sorts of drivetrains. The C-Class coupe, which skipped 2016, will arrive at dealerships soon as a 2017 model with a redesign along the lines of the sedan. A C-Class convertible also will join the fray. This review covers the sedan.

For 2016, the C400 sedan is replaced by the quicker C450 AMG, which slots between the base C300 and performance-topping Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S. There's also a new C350e plug-in hybrid. See all the changes from 2015 to 2016 here, or compare the 2016 trim levels here.

4-Matic, which is what Mercedes-Benz calls their all-wheel system, is optional on the C300 and standard on the C450 AMG. It's unavailable on the C63 and plug-in hybrid models. We evaluated the C450 AMG, to which I'll devote most of this review, but our review of the 2015 C300 gives a broader overview of the current-generation C-Class.
Exterior & Styling
The C450 AMG Sport's bodywork looks similar to the C300's Sport Package, save a unique lower bumper finish, split dual tailpipe frames (t...

The verdict: Stung by poor reliability in the first year since its redesign, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan is nonetheless an appealing option for sport-sedan shoppers.

Versus the competition: Stunning cabin quality, good performance and elegant styling make the C-Class a solid choice among its rivals. It's more Mercedes-Benz luxury than sport, but it continues to justify having earned Cars.com's Best of 2015 award.

The C-Class comes in myriad variants with all sorts of drivetrains. The C-Class coupe, which skipped 2016, will arrive at dealerships soon as a 2017 model with a redesign along the lines of the sedan. A C-Class convertible also will join the fray. This review covers the sedan.

For 2016, the C400 sedan is replaced by the quicker C450 AMG, which slots between the base C300 and performance-topping Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S. There's also a new C350e plug-in hybrid. See all the changes from 2015 to 2016 here, or compare the 2016 trim levels here.

4-Matic, which is what Mercedes-Benz calls their all-wheel system, is optional on the C300 and standard on the C450 AMG. It's unavailable on the C63 and plug-in hybrid models. We evaluated the C450 AMG, to which I'll devote most of this review, but our review of the 2015 C300 gives a broader overview of the current-generation C-Class.
Exterior & Styling
The C450 AMG Sport's bodywork looks similar to the C300's Sport Package, save a unique lower bumper finish, split dual tailpipe frames (though there's still a single pipe behind each) and a single-blade grille that recalls the C63's single-split-blade design. The C450 also gets black trim around the windows and side mirrors – cosmetic touches you also can get on the C300 as options.

It's a good look overall, but then again, so is any C-Class, which Mercedes-Benz redesigned to tasteful, mini-S-Class effect.
How It Drives
The C300 is surprisingly capable, with a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic and potent torque from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine. We clocked our long-term, all-wheel-drive C300 hitting 60 mph in just 5.95 seconds.

The C450 AMG, by contrast, is not some tarted-up C400. Its twin-turbo V-6 is an adaptation of last year's C400, and the output — 362 horsepower and 384 pounds-feet of torque — is up a modest 33 hp and 30 pounds-feet. But the numbers are misleading. I've driven the C300 and C400 back-to-back, and I never found a strong case in terms of raw performance to recommend the latter. The C450 changes that. Takeoffs are quick, with a surge around 2,500 rpm, where the C450 enters a smooth, flat torque plateau that heaves you to higher speeds with seamless vigor. Switch its driving modes to their sportiest settings, and the exhaust pops and hisses when you lift off the accelerator. Keeping with Mercedes' tradition of quietness, the exhaust never gets noisy. But it adds a degree of visceral excitement that the C400 lacked.

The C450 AMG's seven-speed automatic transmission can kick down multiple gears at once even in its least-responsive mode, Comfort. In sportier settings, it blips the gas on downshifts for a smoother, sportier transition – as a good stick-shift driver might do.

The 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 has modest handling, but the C450 AMG version elevates the car to legitimate sport-tuned sedan. The steering delivers good feedback, and, if you dial the adaptive suspension into its sportiest modes, the C450 exhibits minimal body roll.


One editor noticed some squirminess from our test car's oddly sized Pirelli winter tires – P225/40R19s all around, rather than the wider P235/40R19 front and P255/35R19 rear tires that Mercedes normally pairs with the C450's 19-inch wheels. Properly sized all-seasons or high-performance summer rubber likely would fix that, but even these winter tires had good dry-weather grip. On switchbacks, sudden steering inputs can bring some initial push, but the nose stays put otherwise. The tail refuses to play around much, despite Mercedes' claim that the C450's all-wheel drive defaults two-thirds of its power to the rear. The car just never wants to slide around, even as you feed more gas through a corner. I was able to coax the tail into tentative drifts by lifting off the gas here and there through long sweepers, but the C450 never seems like a natural drifter – especially compared with rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS.

Other hardware impresses: The C450's brakes are good for strong, linear stopping power and confident pedal feel. The adaptive sport suspension, borrowed from the C63, exhibits firmer ride quality than the C300 but maintains good cabin isolation over minor bumps. It's noticeably firmer in the suspension's sportier modes, but the comfort-oriented settings give the C450 acceptable road-trip comfort. The car's optional semi-autonomous driving aids, which amount to full-speed adaptive cruise control with steering assist, keep you centered and spaced properly on the highway. (Even in these situations, you should pay attention to the road. Cars like this aren't fully autonomous, as the car will remind you if you leave your hands off the steering wheel for too long.)

The C300 has a fixed suspension with a choice of three firmness levels: standard or, optionally, comfort or sport calibrations. Mercedes-Benz's adaptive suspension is optional. We've driven the non-AMG C-Class with the adaptive setup, as well as the fixed suspension in standard and sport tuning. There isn't a huge difference between them: The adaptive suspension adds a degree of richness to overall ride quality, but it's a moderate shift; it does not turn the 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class into an S-Class.

Interior
Aside from some unique gauges, the C450's cabin is similar to a C300 Sport. Materials quality is outstanding for the entry-luxury class, with no cheapened-out plastics below eye level as some competitors employ. Still, some larger drivers may find the center console inhibits thigh room and legroom – areas where certain competitors, such as Audi's redesigned A4, are roomier.

Sport seats are standard in the C450, but one editor found them too confining. Power adjustments and vinyl upholstery also are standard; like on the C300, real leather, heated and ventilated seats, and a panoramic moonroof are optional. Options unique to the C450 include an AMG steering wheel and performance seats with even more bolstering.

The backseat is a little tight, with good headroom but a low seating position, short bottom cushions and a large center hump in the floor. That's par for the course in this class, but competitors such as the redesigned 2017 Audi A4 buck the trend, as do certain midsize sedans that run in this price range, such as the Lexus ES.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The C-Class' standard 7-inch multimedia screen employs Mercedes' Comand knob below a clickable touchpad that can be used to swipe between menus. HD radio, two USB ports, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming also are standard.

Optional multimedia features include a navigation system that swaps the 7-inch screen for an 8.4-inch display, as well as a head-up display and in-car Wi-Fi (subscription required after the trial period) that enables TuneIn internet radio. Burmester premium audio also is optional, but it's unexceptional, with muddy bass and little clarity throughout its range. It also has to fight considerable wind noise at highway speeds; as luxury cars go, the C-Class is not particularly quiet.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not offered.
Cargo & Storage
Trunk volume is a modest 12.6 cubic feet in most C-Class sedans, but the rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split to open up a large pass-through with no ledges or trailing seat belts in the way. The C350e has a slightly smaller trunk (11.8 cubic feet), and the C63 loses the backseat's middle pass-through for a simpler 60/40-split folding seat.
Safety
The 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class earned top marks in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side and moderate-overlap frontal crash tests, but it hasn't undergone IIHS' roof-strength, small-overlap frontal, or seating and head restraint tests. It earned five stars overall out of a possible five in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing.


Standard safety features for this body type include some nice driver assistance packages, likea forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking that scored five out of six possible points in IIHS' auto-braking tests – enough to earn the agency's top grade (superior) for auto-braking. (An optional auto-braking system called Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition applies even stronger brakes than the standard automatic emergency braking; it earned the full six out of six points in IIHS tests.) Other standard safety features include Mercedes-Benz's Attention Assist system, which senses driver drowsiness on dozens of parameters and alerts you to pull over.

See a full list of standard safety features here and Cars.com's Car Seat Check for the 2015 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class here.


Of note, a backup camera — widely standard in cheaper cars — is optional, not standard, in the C-Class. Other safety options include side-impact torso airbags for the rear seats (head-protecting curtain airbags are standard), active headlights, blind spot and lan departure warning systems with lane-keeping steering, and warning systems for frontal vehicular or pedestrian cross-traffic.
Value in Its Class
A number of crowd-pleaser luxury features — such as leather, a moonroof and heated seats — are optional rather than standard, and it's inexcusable that a sedan that starts at almost $40,000 doesn't have a standard backup camera. So the 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn't much of a value choice, at least among luxury cars, and the current generation's poor reliability in its first year on the market doesn't help the cause. It's less of a concern if you plan to lease the car, but things that break are inconvenient, even if they're under warranty.


Still, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class boasts cabin materials that would impress in a $60,000-plus luxury car, and its performance — from capable to fierce, depending on the drivetrain you choose — is impressive. Mercedes-Benz's 2016 addition, the C450 AMG, adds a credible sport-sedan alternative.


The good news, thanks to a lot of turbocharging, is that the smaller-engine versions of sport sedans — such as the C300 and rival Lexus IS 200t, BMW 328i and the A4 — all are quick in their own right. It's a good time to be a sport-sedan shopper, and the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class remains a must-test drive.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


2016 C-Class Video

Mercedes-Benz C-Class shoppers have a performance choice in the new C450 AMG. It replaces last year's C400, and if you're wondering if this is just a tarted-up version of that car: It isn't.

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.9)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

The best car ever

by Va orsi from San Rafael CA on October 18, 2018

Just purchased a certified pre-owned C300. Absolutely love it. So solid and feels so safe. Spunky and sporty! Tremendously classy and certainly eye-catching. Totally awesome! Read full review

(5.0)

Great car

by 2016mercedes from Hingham, ma on September 21, 2018

I like it enough to purchase the exact same vehicle 2019 model. Very reliable and most luxurious car I?ve ever owned. Very responsive engine and the perfect size. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class currently has 7 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Base

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

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

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

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

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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