By KBB.com Editors
For many, the Mercedes-Benz name represents the pinnacle of automotive design and good taste. While they may not have the means to climb into a new S-Class, the upwardly mobile still have a shot at joining the exclusive MB club without breaking the bank. Mercedes-Benz' most affordable offering, the 2009 C-Class, comes loaded with style and content. Starting in the mid-$30,000 range, the C-Class must contend with the likes of the Audi A4, Infiniti G37 and Cadillac CTS. And while some will note the C-Class lacks such technological gadgets as adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights, it is still a lot of car for the money. More importantly, it is a lot of Mercedes-Benz for the money.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
If bang for the buck is more important than the Mercedes-Benz name, makes from Audi, Infiniti and Acura provide more features for about the same or less money.What's New for 2009
The 2009 C-Class gains front pelvic airbags, bringing its total number of supplemental restraints to eight. The C300 gets a comfort suspension, while a 10-way driver's memory seat and power adjustable steering wheel are made standard on the C350. New options include a 40 gigabyte hard drive with six gigabytes of music storage and a Zagat restaurant guide.Driving It Driving Impressions
In the Luxury trim, the C300 delivers an enjoyable ride, responsive handling and a quiet cabin. Acceleration with the 3.0-liter V6 is brisk and passing power is ample, even at high speeds. In Sport trim a six-speed manual transmission brings out the C300's playful side, making us wish for more aggressively bolstered front seats. The high tech Agility Control, which selectively stiffens or softens the shocks in response to road conditions and steering input, performed as promised. Like the C300 Sport, the C350 rides on larger tires and sits about an inch closer to the ground. While handling is improved over the Luxury model, ride comfort is somewhat diminished and cabin noise levels see a slight increase. The 3.5-liter V6 packs a bit more punch than the base engine, but does not offer a manual transmission, saddled instead with a seven-speed automatic with manual shift feature. Unfortunately, the sometimes slow-to-come shift points often make it more enjoyable to just leave the lever in the "D" position.Favorite Features
Panoramic Glass Sunroof
When open, the roof exposes half the cabin to the open air and, when closed, delivers equal quantities of sunlight to front and rear passengers.
With 450-watts, 12-speakers and surround sound LOGIC7 technology, the system is good enough on its own. Add in a six-gigabyte storage unit for uploading songs, voice control and PCMCIA slot, and the C-Class delivers one of the most advanced audio systems in its class.