Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Mercedes C Class: Star Car Makeover

The Benz is back,. and if you don't believe me, check out sales (up 4.8%), reliability ratings (top 5 in the latest J.D. Power Survey), and strength across the line-up (The S Class, GL Class, and C Class are all surging). In short, Mercedes has re-asserted itself as a leader in the luxury car market.

Mercedes C-Class

Now comes the new C Class. The company is showing it off for reporters this week outside of Portland, Oregon. The new C Class is slightly larger than the the model it's replacing. It's front end has been blunted and gives the model a more mature look. Throw in technology from other Benz models like the S Class, and you have a car that should keep Mercedes in a strong position for the entry level luxury car market.

It's not like the current C Class is a slouch. This year sales are up 23.1%. Not bad for a model that is on the verge of being replaced.

I attribute the Benz strength on the fact that Mercedes is STILL, for many people, the standard for luxury cars. That's not a knock on BMW, Lexus, or Cadillac. I simply believe that Mercedes stands for excellence, and in the eyes of many luxury buyers, image is still one of the main selling points. Yes, it is terribly important that the new Benz look is fresher and more distinctive and that reliability problems at the automaker have been corrected. But in the end, the Mercedes star still sells the Benz.

Most misleading story e-mail:

Sam sent this comment: "Most crossovers that we see going down the highway are carrying their luggage on top of the vehicle or on a carry-all rack attached to the bumper hitch. When these buyers pack all the kids, pets and what have you inside, there is hardly any more room for luggage. So, there goes your MPG down the drain which was there main reason for buying it in the first place."

Interesting point Sam but I don't think people buy CUV's thinking about carrying luggage. It's about utility when driving around town. Be it putting the soccer equipment and lawn chairs in the back or plants you picked up at the garden shop. CUV's are geared for running around the suburbs, and that's why most people buy them from driving around town, not for the big family vacation.

Questions?  Comments?