2019 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2018 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The C-Class Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The ES Series doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The C-Class Sedan offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ES Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The C-Class Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The ES Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear 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 lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

C-Class Sedan

ES Series

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

138

153

Neck Injury Risk

24%

39%

Neck Stress

203 lbs.

388 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

421/449 lbs.

446/567 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

246

304

Leg Forces (l/r)

311/161 lbs.

520/514 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

C-Class Sedan

ES Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

76

122

Chest Movement

1 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

147 G’s

245 G’s

Hip Force

452 lbs.

510 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

43 G’s

44 G’s

Hip Force

769 lbs.

879 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

There are over 59 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the C-Class Sedan’s warranty.

Engine

The C 300 Sedan’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 55 more horsepower (255 vs. 200) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 199) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The C 300 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 25 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6. The AMG C 43 Sedan’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 117 more horsepower (385 vs. 268) and 136 lbs.-ft. more torque (384 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the C 300 RWD Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (23 city/34 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

Regardless of its engine, the C-Class Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the ES Series Hybrid.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the C-Class Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:

 

C 300

AMG C 43

ES Series

Front Rotors

13 inches

14.2 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

11 inches

The C-Class Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the ES Series are solid, not vented.

The C-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the ES Series:

 

C-Class

ES Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the C-Class Sedan has larger standard tires than the ES Series (225/50R17 vs. 215/55R17).

The C-Class Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The C-Class Sedan’s optional 225/40R19 front and 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the ES Series’ optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the C-Class Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The ES Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the C-Class Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The ES Series doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The C-Class Sedan offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The ES Series’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The C-Class Sedan has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The C-Class Sedan’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The ES Series doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The C-Class Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the ES Series’ (59% to 41%). This gives the C-Class Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The AMG C 43 Sedan handles at .93 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.8 seconds quicker than the ES 350 (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (36.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis

The C-Class Sedan is 8.8 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the C-Class Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the C-Class Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The ES Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Cargo Capacity

The C-Class Sedan’s optional rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the C-Class Sedan’s trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The ES Series doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the C-Class Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the ES Series. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The C-Class Sedan’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the ES Series.

The C-Class Sedan offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the C-Class Sedan and the ES Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the C-Class Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The ES Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the C-Class Sedan offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The ES Series doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The C-Class Sedan’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The ES Series’ power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

The C-Class Sedan’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The ES Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Mercedes C-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Lexus ES Series isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because typical repairs cost much less on the C-Class Sedan than the ES Series, including $81 less for fuel injection, $35 less for front struts, $1098 less for a timing belt/chain and $358 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The C-Class Sedan was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The ES hasn’t been picked since 1991.

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Lexus ES Series by 30% during the 2018 model year.

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

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