Home2011 Detroit Auto Show
Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2011 North American Auto Show in Detroit.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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What is it? The 2012 C-Class will be sporting some updated sheetmetal and interior materials when it goes on sale this summer. It gains new front and rear bumpers, redesigned headlights, and other styling elements such as creases, folds, and character lines. The taillights are enhanced with LED indicators.

Inside the car, Mercedes-Benz addressed the interior, with more detailed surfaces on the controls and a new metallic finish. A revision to the instrument cluster does away with the pop-up display screen, which now is enclosed in an extension of the gauge binnacle. A new leather steering wheel is standard.

Changes under the hood include more efficiency from the engines, with fuel economy improved by up to 15 percent, as well as a new four-cylinder engine for the U.S. market and a 3.5-liter V6 in the C350 Sport. The four-cylinder direct-injected and turbocharged engine will be in the C250, put out 201 hp, and get an estimated 24 mpg overall. It represents a 15-percent improvement in fuel economy over the 2011 C300s V6. The 3.5-liter will put out 302 hp, up 34 from the old 3.0-liter engine. Estimated mileage is 21 mpg overall.

What is new or notable: The seven-speed automatic has revised ratios to improve fuel ecoomy.

CRs take: Mercedes-Benz is moving the C-Class a bit downmarket in an attempt to get better fuel-economy numbers. With a four-cylinder engine, it now competes with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from German rival Audi. The all-wheel-drive A4, which returned 22 mpg in our tests with the six-speed automatic, now has an eight-speed automatic, which we are in the process of testing.

When will it be available? Summer 2011.

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