Before the introduction of the CLA-Class in late 2013, the title of entry level luxury within the Mercedes lineup belonged to the C-Class.
Now the new generation C-Class is going upmarket and with the CLA is handling the entry level market for Mercedes. If the CLA 250 isn’t your cup of tea, but a Benz is the only brand for you, a used C-Class might be worth considering.
For starters, the 2008 to 2014 C-Class have an unmistakable Mercedes flair. With their long hood and short rear deck, they feature classic sport sedan styling not to mention the iconic three-pointed star in the grille.
Under the hood of C-Class you’ll find an assortment of engines depending on the model year. Cars available between 2008 and 2012 use either a 3.0-liter V6 in the C300 that makes 228 HP or a 3.5-liter V6 in the C350 that makes 268 HP. This generation of C-Class came with rear-wheel drive, but C300 models can be equipped with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive as well.
In 2011, a new two-door model went into production with a traditional looking body-style, instead of the sport-back hatch design from past generations. This body style came with two engine options: a C250 model that used the 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, or the 3.5-liter V6. In 2014, the C350 could be equipped with all-wheel drive.
In 2012, a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine was introduced to the U.S. market with 201 HP. The rear-wheel drive C300 was also dropped in that model year, making it all-wheel-drive only. In 2013, the C300 was given the same 3.5-liter V6 engine as the C350, but it was detuned for a lower output. All models used a seven-speed transmission, although a six-speed manual was available briefly with the C300 and C300 4Matic.
Trim levels of the car differed considerably, although even the base model is well-appointed with standard 17-inch wheels, power seats, sunroof, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. Before the mid-cycle refresh in 2012, many criticized the C-Class for having a decidedly low-grade interior. Afterwards, Mercedes made the C-Class more competitive with its rivals by offering more interior trim options, seating materials and convenience features. They include blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, a rear-view camera, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear sunshade, a push-button ignition system, keyless entry and the Parktronic advanced parking sensor system.
Top 3 Reasons to Buy
1. Handling The C-Class is considered an entry-level luxury car and it rides like one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s soft and floaty on the road. Instead the car is direct and drives smoothly, feeling like a premium, uncompromised vehicle. Solid steering feedback rounds out this engaging car. Though it’s not as sporty as a BMW 3-Series, the C-Class is still an enjoyable car to drive.
2. Ride Along with excellent handling, the C-Class featured excellent ride-quality, especially during highway driving. 3. Quality and Reliability If you’re looking for stereotypical German-quality luxury, the C-Class is a good bet because of its solid feeling controls and switchgear. Opening and closing the door gives you that “bank-vault” feeling. Furthermore, this generation of C-Class has favorable rankings in terms of reliability, with few glaring red-flags that affect every model.
Top 3 Problem Areas:
1. Interior Space This generation of C-Class suffers from small rear seats and below average trunk-space, making them a tough purchase for growing families. The rear-seats in the coupes are hardly useable at all.
2. Fuel Economy As the pre-facelift models were only available with V6 engines and fuel economy was a bit of a rough spot for the C-Classes. Despite seven speed automatics in most models, the C300 barely cracked 21 mpg combined. Fortunately those who like to save at the pump, the C250 was eventually offered, though that model has its own drawbacks.
3. Performance The C300 and C250 models were noticeably down on power compared to the C-Classes rivals and felt that way on the road. Those looking for more performance will find it in the C350.
Before You Buy:
First ensure the car you’re considering buying has detailed service records. German cars from luxury automakers tend to come with higher maintenance costs, so a quick glance through the service records will help you shorten a long list of potential purchases.
A few parts are noted to wear out relatively quick on the C-Class, like brake-pads, tires and steering rack bushings. See if these components have been replaced lately, or if they’re replaced often on the car you’re considering in order to see what kind of budget you should set aside for maintenance.
Electronics can be a temperamental in the C-Class, so ensure that the central locking system, remote trunk release and power windows all work properly. One particularly expensive repair is with the Signal Acquisition and Actuation module, which can cause lights (reverse lights, signals, and brake lights) to stay on or not activate, generally causing a headache for owners.
Most models have a few technical service bulletins (TSB) that deal with a variety of issues. Most common with the C-Class are problems related to electronics including exterior lights and small motors within the car that operate the seats, belts and other functions. Take a good look through the service records to see if any repairs have been carried out under a TSB.
The C-Class of this generation has also been affected by some recalls. Models from 2008 – 2011 have an issue with the tail-lights, which may not illuminate when you brake. Another recall for 2010 models involve the loss of power-steering, while 2011 and 2012 C300 models have a recall involving the fuel filter.
Check out the links below to see more about the complaints, recalls and service bulletins involved with the C-Class between 2008 and 2014.
Repairs not covered by a recall or TSB can be quite expensive. Have your car thoroughly inspected by a mechanic (preferably from Mercedes) to get a more thorough idea of what you’re dealing with.
Best Bang for Your Buck
Pre-facelift (before 2012) C300 rear-wheel drive models tend to have a solid reputation for repairs and reliability, while post facelift (2012 and newer) V6 models feature favorable ownership experience. The C350 model is affected by fewer recalls and TSBs, and is also the best performing model in the lineup, in contrast to the C250 model, which seems to have the worst reliability ratings, making it hard to recommend in addition to its poor performance.
Recall and Crash Test Database
2014 Mercedes-Benz C250 TSB and Recall Information 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 TSB and Recall Information 2013 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class TSB and Recall Information 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 TSB and Recall Information 2012 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2011 Mercedes-Benz C350 TSB and Recall Information 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class TSB and Recall Information 2010 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2010 Mercedes-Benz C350 TSB and Recall Information 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class TSB and Recall Information 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2009 Mercedes-Benz C350 TSB and Recall Information 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class TSB and Recall Information 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 TSB and Recall Information 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 TSB and Recall Information
2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class NHTSA Crash Test Ratings
2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class IIHS Crash Test Ratings