2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2020 Acura TLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes C-Class Sedan have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision. The Acura TLX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

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 TLX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the TLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the TLX:

C-Class Sedan

TLX

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

ACCEPTABLE

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

161

250

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

21 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.2/1.3 kN

1.6/2.1 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.5/.43

1.15/.91

Tibia forces R/L

2.8/2.4 kN

4.4/5 kN

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 Acura TLX:

C-Class Sedan

TLX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

76

187

Abdominal Force

147 G’s

179 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

HIC

248

249

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

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 vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the C-Class Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The TLX is not even a standard “Top Pick.”

Warranty

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There are over 42 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the C-Class Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the C-Class Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the TLX’s camshafts. If the TLX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the C-Class Sedan has a standard 800-amp battery. The TLX’s 650-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 37 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 7 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

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The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 49 more horsepower (255 vs. 206) and 91 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder. The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 267) than the TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the C-Class Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the TLX:

C-Class Sedan

TLX

2WD

n/a

23 city/33 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl./9-spd. Auto

24 city/35 hwy

20 city/31 hwy

3.5 V6/auto

n/a

20 city/30 hwy

3.5 V6/auto

AWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl./9-spd. Auto

23 city/33 hwy

20 city/29 hwy

3.5 V6/auto

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes C-Class Sedan higher (6 out of 10) than the Acura TLX (3). This means the C-Class Sedan produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the TLX every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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

C-Class Sedan

TLX

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 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 TLX are solid, not vented.

The C-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the TLX:

C-Class Sedan

TLX

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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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 TLX’s standard 55 series tires. The C-Class Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series profile than the TLX A-Spec’s 40 series tires.

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 TLX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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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 TLX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the C-Class Sedan’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the TLX (111.8 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The C-Class Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the TLX’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the C-Class Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the TLX (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .74 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (36.8 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (36.8 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

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The C-Class Sedan is 6.2 inches shorter than the TLX, 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 TLX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The C-Class Sedan has .4 inches more rear headroom and .7 inches more rear legroom than the TLX.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the C-Class Sedan’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The TLX doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Acura. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 4% lower rating, Acura is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the TLX, the C-Class Sedan offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

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 TLX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the C-Class Sedan and the TLX 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 TLX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The C-Class Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The TLX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

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 C-Class Sedan’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the TLX’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

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 TLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the C-Class Sedan to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The TLX doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The C-Class Sedan’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, stopping and changing direction automatically. The TLX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the C-Class Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the C-Class Sedan with a number “3” insurance rate while the TLX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the TLX because typical repairs cost much less on the C-Class Sedan than the TLX, including $285 less for a starter, $303 less for fuel injection, $14 less for a timing belt/chain and $398 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/09/29

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mercedes C-Class Sedan and the Acura TLX, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2015 issue and they ranked the Mercedes C 300 Sedan 4MATIC higher than the Acura TLX.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the C-Class Sedan first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The TLX isn’t in the top three.

The C-Class Sedan was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The TLX has never been an “All Star.”

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Acura TLX by 85% during 2019.

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

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