2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2020 Lexus IS 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 2020/09/29

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 IS Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. 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 IS Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the IS 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, available all wheel drive, lane departure 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 IS Series:

C-Class Sedan

IS Series

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

138

274

Neck Injury Risk

24%

36%

Neck Stress

203 lbs.

339 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

421/449 lbs.

271/602 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

246

264

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Stress

147 lbs.

197 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

311/161 lbs.

426/505 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 IS Series:

C-Class Sedan

IS Series

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

76

99

Abdominal Force

147 G’s

193 G’s

Hip Force

452 lbs.

474 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

HIC

248

295

Hip Force

769 lbs.

806 lbs.

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 IS Series has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

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There are over 58 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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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 IS Series’ camshafts. If the IS Series’ belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

Engine

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The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 14 more horsepower (255 vs. 241) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the IS 300’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 236) than the IS 300 AWD’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 IS 300 RWD (24 city/35 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the C-Class Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Lexus IS Series (5). This means the C-Class Sedan produces up to 6.9 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the IS Series every 15,000 miles.

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 IS Series.

Brakes and Stopping

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

C-Class Sedan

IS Series

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better ride, handling and brake cooling the C-Class Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The IS 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 IS 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 IS Series doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the C-Class Sedan’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the IS Series (111.8 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the C-Class Sedan is 1.1 inches wider in the front than the track on the IS Series.

The C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the IS 350 F Sport pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the IS Series (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.1 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

Chassis

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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 IS Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The C-Class Sedan has .2 inches more rear headroom, 3 inches more rear legroom and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity

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The C-Class Sedan has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (12.6 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).

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 IS Series doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Ergonomics

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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 IS 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 IS Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The C-Class Sedan’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The IS Series has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

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

The C-Class Sedan’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The IS Series’ cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 IS Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 IS Series’ headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the C-Class Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 IS 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 IS Series 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 Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the C-Class Sedan will cost $1550 less than the IS Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the IS Series because typical repairs cost much less on the C-Class Sedan than the IS Series, including $454 less for a starter, $309 less for fuel injection, $935 less for a timing belt/chain and $437 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 the Mercedes C-Class Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Lexus IS Series isn't recommended.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its June 2017 issue and they ranked the Mercedes C 300 Sedan higher than the Lexus IS 300 F Sport.

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 IS Series isn’t in the top three.

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

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Lexus IS Series by over three to one during 2019.

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

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