2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2020 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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 2020/02/17

The C-Class Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The ES Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems, around view monitors 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

ES Series

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

24%

24%

Neck Stress

203 lbs.

239 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

421/449 lbs.

524/628 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

246

319

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.8 inches

Neck Stress

147 lbs.

159 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

311/161 lbs.

473/518 lbs.

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

Warranty

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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.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the C-Class Sedan has a standard 800-amp battery. The ES Series’ 603-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

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The C 300 Sedan’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 40 more horsepower (255 vs. 215) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The C 300 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 267) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the C 300 Sedan RWD gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (24 city/35 hwy vs. 22 city/32 hwy).

The C-Class Sedan has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The C-Class Sedan has 1.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series’ standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 15.9 gallons).

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes C-Class Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the ES Series.

Brakes and Stopping

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

C-Class

ES Series

Front Rotors

13 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11.1 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

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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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 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series profile than the ES Series’ optional 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 ES Series 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 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 C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.7 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (36.8 feet vs. 38 feet). The C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ (36.8 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

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The C-Class Sedan is 11.4 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

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the C-Class Sedan’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the ES Series’ useful trunk space.

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

Servicing Ease

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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

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Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the ES Series, 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’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’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 ES Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 ES Series 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 Lexus ES Series isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

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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 $84 less for fuel injection, $35 less for front struts, $1119 less for a timing belt/chain and $362 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 2020/02/17

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mercedes C-Class Sedan and the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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 ES Series isn’t in the top three.

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

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Lexus ES Series by 8% during the 2019 model year.

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

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