2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2020 Nissan Maxima

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

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 Nissan Maxima doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

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 Maxima 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 Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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, blind spot warning systems, 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 Nissan Maxima:

C-Class Sedan

Maxima

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

24%

38%

Neck Stress

203 lbs.

328 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.7 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

311/161 lbs.

840/589 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 Nissan Maxima:

C-Class Sedan

Maxima

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

76

295

Abdominal Force

147 G’s

188 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

HIC

248

300

Spine Acceleration

43 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

769 lbs.

997 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 front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the C-Class Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 83 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Maxima is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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The C-Class Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

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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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Engine

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The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 261) than the Maxima’s 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 Maxima CVT (24 city/35 hwy vs. 20 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 Maxima 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 Nissan Maxima (3). This means the C-Class Sedan produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Maxima 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 Maxima:

C-Class Sedan

Maxima

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

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

C-Class Sedan

Maxima

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The C-Class Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Maxima SR/Platinum’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 Maxima 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 Maxima 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 Maxima (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 Maxima’s (60.7% to 39.3%). This gives the C-Class Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 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 Maxima Platinum (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the C-Class Sedan’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36.8 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

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The C-Class Sedan is 8.3 inches shorter than the Maxima, 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 Maxima doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The C-Class Sedan has .4 inches more rear headroom and 1 inch more rear legroom than the Maxima.

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 Maxima 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 Maxima. 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 Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 38% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Maxima SR/Platinum, 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 Maxima 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 Maxima’s parking brake has to released manually.

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

The C-Class Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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 Maxima’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 Maxima’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 Maxima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The C-Class Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes C-Class offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Maxima doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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 Maxima 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 Nissan Maxima 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 $1185 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the C-Class Sedan than the Maxima, including $174 less for fuel injection and $490 less for a timing belt/chain.

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 Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Nissan Maxima by 40% during 2019.

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

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