Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs BMW 5 Series

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$43,550MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 BMW 5 Series
2021 BMW 5 Series
$54,200MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$43,550MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 BMW 5 Series
$54,200MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

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According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 BMW 5 Series is 8.0 out of 10, while the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class scores 7.8 out of 10. Given these ratings, the 2021 BMW 5 Series emerges as the superior choice, offering a balanced blend of performance, luxury, and advanced technology that makes it a better-rounded vehicle in comparison.

Overview

MSRP

$43,550

MSRP

$54,200

Average price

$26,676

Average price

$27,063

Listings

9323

Listings

9338
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

7.8 out of 10

Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Great ride quality
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Irritating transmission
  • Sluggish performance
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great ride quality
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Advanced safety features are not standard

Reviews Summary

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was the automaker’s entry-level model, but it needed a new role. Mercedes now has a line of compact cars serving as lower-priced entryways to the brand, so it’s moving the C-Class upmarket. The redesigned 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan borrows design elements from the automaker’s flagship S-Class to entice new car buyers on a budget who still want the most Mercedes for their money.

The C-Class competes against a formidable array of small sports sedans. Like the Mercedes, the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, and Volvo S60 are fixtures in this segment, with nameplates that date back at least two decades. The Acura TLX, Cadillac CT4, and Infiniti Q50 are newer names that build on their respective brands’ experience in the segment. The Genesis G70 is a relative newcomer from a recently launched brand that’s already managed to impress.

The all-new C-Class launches in C300 sedan form with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD), optional 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD), and Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle trim levels. Our test car was a C300 4Matic in the top Pinnacle trim. An AMG C43 performance model is also on the way, but it’s not expected to hit showrooms until after the C300, which arrives at dealerships later this spring.

Reviews Summary

BMW was once known for sports sedans, and the 5 Series was one of the most prolific of those sedans. Sitting between the 3 Series and 7 Series in size and price, previous generations of 5 Series were known for a balance of performance and luxury, with impeccable engineering throughout.

Today, the BMW 5 Series is largely irrelevant. The 3 Series is now so big that there is less reason to upgrade, and most buyers are more interested in SUVs anyway. The competition—including the Audi A6, Jaguar XF, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Volvo S90—has also gotten better.

That doesn’t mean BMW has given up on the 5 Series. The current generation (codename G30) arrived for the 2017 model year, but it gets a midcycle refresh (or LCI, short for “Life Cycle Impulse,” in BMW speak) for 2021. Major updates include a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a bigger infotainment touchscreen, and subtle styling changes.

The 2021 BMW 5 Series is not like the 5 Series models of old. That may drive away hardcore car fans, but the 2021 model makes a strong case to new-car buyers, maintaining sportier-than-average driving dynamics, along with the tech and luxury features expected of a car in this segment.

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Popular Features & Specs

Engine

Engine

2.0L 248 hp I4

Drive Train

Drive Train

RWD

Seating Capacity

5

Seating Capacity

5

Horsepower

Horsepower

248 hp @ 5200 rpm

MPG City

MPG City

25

MPG Highway

MPG Highway

33
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$43,550MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 BMW 5 Series
2021 BMW 5 Series
$54,200MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$43,550MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 BMW 5 Series
$54,200MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

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According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 BMW 5 Series is 8.0 out of 10, while the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class scores 7.8 out of 10. Given these ratings, the 2021 BMW 5 Series emerges as the superior choice, offering a balanced blend of performance, luxury, and advanced technology that makes it a better-rounded vehicle in comparison.

Overview
MSRP
$43,550
$54,200
Average price
$26,676
$27,063
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.5
4.5
Expert reviews

7.8 out of 10

Read full review

8.0 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Great ride quality
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Irritating transmission
  • Sluggish performance
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great ride quality
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Advanced safety features are not standard
Summary

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was the automaker’s entry-level model, but it needed a new role. Mercedes now has a line of compact cars serving as lower-priced entryways to the brand, so it’s moving the C-Class upmarket. The redesigned 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan borrows design elements from the automaker’s flagship S-Class to entice new car buyers on a budget who still want the most Mercedes for their money.

The C-Class competes against a formidable array of small sports sedans. Like the Mercedes, the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, and Volvo S60 are fixtures in this segment, with nameplates that date back at least two decades. The Acura TLX, Cadillac CT4, and Infiniti Q50 are newer names that build on their respective brands’ experience in the segment. The Genesis G70 is a relative newcomer from a recently launched brand that’s already managed to impress.

The all-new C-Class launches in C300 sedan form with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD), optional 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD), and Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle trim levels. Our test car was a C300 4Matic in the top Pinnacle trim. An AMG C43 performance model is also on the way, but it’s not expected to hit showrooms until after the C300, which arrives at dealerships later this spring.

BMW was once known for sports sedans, and the 5 Series was one of the most prolific of those sedans. Sitting between the 3 Series and 7 Series in size and price, previous generations of 5 Series were known for a balance of performance and luxury, with impeccable engineering throughout.

Today, the BMW 5 Series is largely irrelevant. The 3 Series is now so big that there is less reason to upgrade, and most buyers are more interested in SUVs anyway. The competition—including the Audi A6, Jaguar XF, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Volvo S90—has also gotten better.

That doesn’t mean BMW has given up on the 5 Series. The current generation (codename G30) arrived for the 2017 model year, but it gets a midcycle refresh (or LCI, short for “Life Cycle Impulse,” in BMW speak) for 2021. Major updates include a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a bigger infotainment touchscreen, and subtle styling changes.

The 2021 BMW 5 Series is not like the 5 Series models of old. That may drive away hardcore car fans, but the 2021 model makes a strong case to new-car buyers, maintaining sportier-than-average driving dynamics, along with the tech and luxury features expected of a car in this segment.

Video
No video found
No video found
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.0L 248 hp I4
Drive Train
RWD
Seating Capacity
5
5
Horsepower
248 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG City
25
MPG Highway
33
Look and feel
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
8/10
2021 BMW 5 Series
9/10
The 2021 BMW 5 Series was characterized by a restrained design that set it apart from other BMW sedans. Unlike the opulent 7 Series or the flashy 3 Series, the 5 Series managed to fly under the radar with a minimalist yet sophisticated look. A minor styling refresh for the 2021 model year resulted in a sleeker overall appearance, highlighted by streamlined LED headlights and a larger, yet proportionate, twin-kidney grille. The addition of trapezoidal tailpipes, L-shaped taillights, and new bumpers for the M Sport Package gave the vehicle a modern touch. BMW extended the length by 1.2 inches, which contributed to a lower drag coefficient of 0.27, enhancing its aerodynamics. Inside, the 5 Series maintained its familiar BMW layout. Key features like the distinctive placement of the touchscreen, the unique shifter, and specific typefaces and door chimes reiterated the car's unmistakable brand identity. However, luxury was not omnipresent across all trims—only higher trims received premium materials. The base models came with standard SensaTec upholstery, with Dakota and Nappa leather available as upgrades. The 540i xDrive test car featured Mocha-colored Nappa leather, a $2,500 extra that significantly enhanced the interior's plush feel. The aluminum trim added to the high-end ambiance, although the standard leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, with its considerable rim thickness and diameter, felt out of place within the otherwise luxurious cabin. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, by contrast, embraced a design that integrated elements from various other Mercedes models into a cohesive and stylish whole. The front end echoed the design of the CLA-Class, while the rear end and thin taillights were reminiscent of the S-Class. With its cab-rearward proportions, the C-Class prominently displayed its RWD platform, setting it apart from the FWD CLA-Class and A-Class. The facade prominently featured a large three-pointed star logo, surrounded by smaller versions, making the car instantly recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz. Standard design elements like LED headlights and taillights contributed to a modern and sophisticated appearance. An optional Digital Light system took this further, providing adaptable headlights that could follow curves and project warning icons. Inside, the C-Class aimed to emulate the luxury of the S-Class with its freestanding touchscreen, prominent air vents, and the intricate speaker grilles of the optional Burmester audio system. A key feature was the ambient lighting with 64 color options, creating an interior ambiance that felt luxurious and special. However, similar to BMW, the C-Class's luxury credentials were somewhat undermined by the standard MBTex synthetic leather upholstery, with Nappa leather available on higher trims.
Performance
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
8/10
2021 BMW 5 Series
7/10
BMW catered to a variety of performance preferences in the 2021 5 Series. The entry-level 530i was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This setup allowed the 530i to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, with a top speed of either 130 mph or 155 mph, depending on the tire choice. The 540i model stepped up the game with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine complemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. This configuration delivered 335 hp and 362 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds with RWD and 4.6 seconds with xDrive AWD. A notable feature was the eight-speed automatic transmission, which was standard across the range. The sportier M550i xDrive version, with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, churned out 532 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, bringing the zero to 60 mph time down to 3.6 seconds. More extreme still was the M5, with a potent V8 producing 617 hp in Competition spec, capable of hitting 60 mph in a mere 3.1 seconds with a top speed of 190 mph, courtesy of the optional M Driver’s Package. On the plug-in hybrid front, BMW offered the 530e, which combined a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor, delivering a total of 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This model could do zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and provided significant electric-only driving range, well-suited for eco-conscious drivers. In comparison, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 used a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The nine-speed automatic transmission worked in concert with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, contributing an additional 20 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque in short bursts. Mercedes claimed a zero to 60 mph time of 5.9 seconds for the C300, with a top speed electronically limited to 130 mph. For those seeking more performance, the Mercedes-AMG C43 was equipped with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 402 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The AMG model offered a zero to 60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph, or 165 mph when equipped with optional 19-inch or 20-inch wheels. Our test car, the C300 4Matic, offered sufficient power but lacked smooth power delivery. Turbo lag was noticeable despite the electric assist, and the transmission produced rough shifts and tended to hang onto gears too long in automatic mode. However, the C-Class excelled in ride quality, absorbing impacts from bumps and potholes effectively, although there was some minor juddering and vibration. Handling was decent, with good body control and precise steering, though it required a more deliberate approach in corners compared to the best sports sedans in the category.
Form and function
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
8/10
2021 BMW 5 Series
7/10
The 2021 BMW 5 Series in the U.S. was available exclusively as a four-door, five-seat sedan. It had a spacious interior, befitting its exterior dimensions. While front-seat space was competitive, rear-seat legroom, though slightly less roomy on paper than some rivals, still offered ample space for passengers. The trunk space was generous at 14.0 cubic feet, surpassing both the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The rear bench's 40/20/20 split fold configuration added versatility for carrying longer items. Our test car came equipped with 16-way power front seats, featuring four-way lumbar support, heating, and ventilation. The bolstering offered substantial support for the driver and passengers, although forward visibility over the hood was poor. By contrast, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, available only as a sedan for that model year, was longer and wider than its predecessor. The increase in dimensions translated to marginally improved interior space, with 0.1 inch more headroom in the front and 0.4 inch more in the back, along with an increase of 0.8 inch in rear-seat legroom. This gave the new C-Class a leading position in front-seat headroom and rear-seat legroom among its competitors. Front legroom, however, was slightly cramped compared to its rivals. The seats in the C-Class were comfortable and adequately bolstered for spirited driving. Forward visibility was excellent, although thick rear pillars created significant blind spots. Some design quirks, like dashboard glare in direct sunlight and a less accessible wireless charging pad when the cupholders were in use, were minor downsides. In terms of cargo space, the C-Class boasted a larger trunk than its competitors at 17.9 cubic feet, which, combined with a wide trunk opening, made loading and unloading easy. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench increased its versatility, allowing the accommodation of longer items, although a specific cargo space figure with the seat folded was not provided by Mercedes-Benz.
Technology
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
9/10
2021 BMW 5 Series
9/10
For the 2021 model year, the BMW 5 Series came equipped with a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring the latest iDrive 7 system, paired with a 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster. Standard features included Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio, and a built-in WiFi hotspot. The graphic quality of both the instrument cluster and infotainment screen was excellent, but the cluster's layout could have been more intuitive. BMW’s rotary knob controller offered a tactile alternative to touchscreen controls and was easier to use than Mercedes’ touchpad controller, though voice control and gesture controls were also available. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class mirrored the S-Class's infotainment setup, incorporating a freestanding 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an 11.9-inch touchscreen angled toward the driver. Standard tech included wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The C300 Premium model added a Burmester 3D surround-sound system, while the C300 Pinnacle included a head-up display and an augmented reality navigation system. The MBUX infotainment system, with its "Zero Layer" interface, allowed easy access to multiple functions, reducing the need to scroll through menus. Voice recognition was robust, and touch controls on the steering wheel simplified interaction with the driver aids and menu navigation. The optional augmented reality navigation system provided useful visual cues for navigation, enhancing the driving experience.
Safety
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
9/10
2021 BMW 5 Series
7/10
For the 2021 BMW 5 Series, crash-test ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA were not available. However, the 2020 version, which was virtually identical, received a “Top Safety Pick+” award from the IIHS. The vehicle earned top scores in all crash tests and front-crash prevention tests, although the standard headlights were rated “marginal.” Advanced safety features included lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. The optional Driving Assistance Plus Package added adaptive cruise control, traffic-jam assist, lane-keep assist, and emergency stop assist. At the time of publication, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class had not yet been rated by the IIHS or NHTSA. The 2021 model, however, earned a “Top Safety Pick+” from the IIHS. For 2022, the C-Class included a suite of advanced driver assistance systems as standard. Safety features included automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with safe exit assist, a driver-attention monitor, Pre-Safe, and Pre-Safe Sound. Optional features included lane-keep assist, evasive steering assist, a 360-degree camera system, park assist, and advanced versions of Distronic adaptive cruise control. The C-Class also featured Car-to-X communication, which allowed vehicles to share information about road conditions, enhancing overall safety.
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By: CarGurus + AI

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