2019 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the ES Series and the C-Class Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the ES Series its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The C-Class Sedan was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the ES Series 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the C-Class Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the C-Class Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The ES Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the C-Class Sedan’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the ES Series’ reliability 24 points higher than the C-Class Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 48 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 17th.

Engine

The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 47 more horsepower (302 vs. 255) than the C 300 Sedan’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the ES 300h gets better fuel mileage than the C 300 Sedan RWD (43 city/45 hwy vs. 23 city/34 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the ES Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Lexus ES Series uses regular unleaded gasoline. The C-Class Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The ES 300h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the ES Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the C-Class Sedan (235/45R18 vs. 225/40R19).

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the C-Class Sedan (113 inches vs. 111.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the ES Series is .9 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the C-Class Sedan.

Chassis

The design of the Lexus ES Series amounts to more than styling. The ES Series offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .26 to .29 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the C-Class Sedan (.3 to .32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the ES Series get better fuel mileage.

The ES Series F Sport uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the ES Series a Mid-size car, while the C-Class Sedan is rated a Compact.

The ES Series has 9.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the C-Class Sedan (99.9 vs. 90).

The ES Series has .4 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom and 4 inches more rear legroom than the C-Class Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the C-Class Sedan (16.7 vs. 12.6 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Lexus third in service department satisfaction. With a 3% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The ES Series’ headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the C-Class Sedan’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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