From A to AMG

The Complete Mercedes-Benz Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained


November 20, 2019 Buying Guides By Photo by Hunter D. Kelley

Mercedes-Benz produces a full and wide range of cars, from relatively affordable sub-compacts to opulent pleasure sedans for the uber-rich. The company names its vehicles efficiently – no faux-French flair required – with letters and numbers. That naming system, while sensible, can get a bit confusing for buyers.

There are GLA, GLB, GLC, GLE, and GLS SUVs, none of which should be mistaken for the G-Class. That’s before you get to the multiple variations of each with different engine sizes, drivetrains and body styles. Essentially, letters found later in the alphabet denote larger, more expensive vehicles and numbers denote engine size in liters (generally, larger means more costly).

For example, a GLA 250 is a smaller, lower-powered SUV than a GLS 550. It bears explanation, however, that while in the past Mercedes-Benz model ‘numbers’ corresponded roughly to their engine volumes (an E55 featured a 5.5-liter engine), that is no longer the case. Technology like turbocharging has advanced to the point that big horsepower can be had from much smaller engines. Many examples are below, like the E63, which features a turbocharged 4.0-liter engine.

And so it’s obvious: the Mercedes Benz lineup cries out for a helpful explainer, delineating all the different options and terms and what to expect. See below for a simplified guide.

Mercedes-Benz Terminology

4MATIC: The official name of Mercedes-Benz all-wheel-drive systems.
EQ Boost: Added to some Mercedes-Benz engines with turbochargers, this mild hybrid system – Mercedes calls it an “electric auxiliary compressor” – generates electric power as the turbocharger is “spooling up,” providing smooth, uninterrupted acceleration.
AMG: The Mercedes-Benz performance division; all AMG models are sportier and more powerful, and many AMG engines are handcrafted by a single builder. AMG stands for “Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach,” an homage to the sub-brand’s founders and original location.
Cabriolet: French for ‘convertible’.
Roadster: Also a convertible, but in terms of Mercedes-Benz cars, a two-door, two-seat sports car with a retractable roof.

Buying Guide

A-Class

The A-Class is the entry-level subcompact Mercedes. The fourth generation includes a sedan, which will be the first A-Class vehicle sold in the U.S. Americans can choose between FWD and AWD variants. A hatchback and an AMG-tuned hot hatchback A-Class will not be sold in the U.S. (not anytime soon, at least). The 2.0-liter engine will produce 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:
• A 220
• A 220 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $32,500

Read our review of the A-Class here.

C-Class

The C-Class is Mercedes’ “athletically elegant” mid-level entry into the compact segment. It’s available as a four-door sedan, a two-door coupe and a two-door soft-top convertible. Buyers can fit all three versions with a four, six or eight-cylinder engine (255, 362 and 469 horsepower, respectively). Mercedes sells a wagon option in Canada, but not the U.S. The AMG C 63 S is a small, mighty beast: it’ll run 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

Body Styles: Sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet

Sedan:
• C 300
• C 300 4MATIC
• AMG C 43
• AMG C 63
• AMG C 63 S

Coupe:
• C 300
• C 300 4MATIC
• AMG C 43
• AMG C 63
• AMG C 63 S

Cabriolet:
• C 300
• C 300 4MATIC
• AMG C 43
• AMG C 63
• AMG C 63 S

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• AMG Enhanced 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $41,400

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CLA

The CLA is Mercedes’ four-door, entry-level coupe priced at $33,100. Mercedes describes it as having “show car shape with seductive details.” All three versions use the base 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four. The AMG CLA 45 has an AMG version with 375 hp.

Body Style: Four-Door Coupe

Models:
• CLA 250
• CLA 250 4MATIC
• AMG CLA 45

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• Handcrafted AMG 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $36,650

CLS

The CLS is a sleek and sporty performance coupe. Mercedes describes it as having “lean, toned muscle.” The CLS employs 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine delivering 362hp and 369lb-ft of torque. It is available in RWD and AWD versions. The AMG CLS 53 ups the same engine to 429-hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, and also features EQ Boost.

Body Style: Four-door coupe

Models:
• CLS 450
• CLS 450 4MATIC
• AMG CLS 53

Engines:
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost

Base MSRP: $69,950

Read our review of the CLS 450 here.

E-Class

The E-Class is Mercedes’ midsize segment, a step up in both size and price from the C-Class. It’s sold in the U.S. as a sedan, a wagon, a coupe or convertible. E-Class vehicles tend toward comfort and sophistication with a design aesthetic Mercedes describes as “sensual purity.” However, 600 hp AMG versions of the sedan and wagon can shred some tires if called upon.

Body Styles: Sedan, Wagon, Coupe, Cabriolet

Sedan:
• E 300
• E 300 4MATIC
• E 450 4MATIC
• AMG E 53
• AMG E 63 S

Wagon:
• E 450 4MATIC
• AMG E 63 S

Coupe:
• E 450
• E 450 4MATIC

Cabriolet:
• E 450
• E 450 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbocharged, AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter V6
• Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $54,050

Read our review of the AMG E 63 S Wagon here.

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S-Class

The S-Class is Mercedes’ top of the line full-sized luxury sedan. Per Mercedes, the S-Class is “more than motivated. It is motivational.” Also available in coupe and cabriolet versions, the S-Class is the vehicle for when you self-actualize as a Mercedes owner. The S-Class can be had with a 362-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 or a 4.0-liter, 463-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8. AMG versions feature the same V8, only with 603 horsepower, or, for now, the inimitable Mercedes-Benz twin-turbocharged V12 that makes 621 horsepower and an astounding 738 lb-ft of torque.

Body Styles: Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet

Sedan:
• S 450
• S 450 4MATIC
• S 560
• S 560 4MATIC
• AMG S 63
• AMG S 65

Coupe:
• S 560 4MATIC
• AMG S 63
• AMG S 65

Cabriolet:
• S 560
• AMG S 63
• AMG S 65

Engines:
• 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
• AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
• AMG 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12

Base MSRP: $94,250

Read our review of the S-Class here.

Mercedes-Maybach

The Maybach is a lengthened, super-luxe version of the S-Class sedan. It’s designed to be chauffeur-driven. Per Mercedes, it is “artfully and aerodynamically sculpted to command the eye as well as the road.” It comes with either the “standard” S-Class V8 or the monstrous AMG V12.

Body Style: Stretched Sedan

Sedan:
• S 560 4MATIC
• S 650

Engines:
• 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
• 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12

Base MSRP: $170,750

SLC-Class

Formerly known as the “SLK,” the SLC-Class is Mercedes’ compact, retractable hardtop, two-seater roadster. It is smaller than the SL roadster and significantly cheaper. It comes in both four-cylinder and AMG six-cylinder versions.

Body Style: Roadster

Models:
• SLC 300
• AMG SLC 43

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• AMG-Enhanced 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6

Base MSRP: $48,950

Read our review of the SLC here.

SL Roadster

The SL-Class is Mercedes’ large luxury roadster. It’s available with a six-cylinder or eight-cylinder engine. Its production line, dating back to 1954, includes some legendary Mercedes vehicles.

Body Style: Roadster

Roadster:
• SL 450
• SL 550

Engines:
• 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $91,000

Read our review of the SL Roadster here.

AMG GT

AMG GT cars are Mercedes’ luxury, high-performance models. Coupe and roadster versions use variations of AMG’s 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. For 2020, Mercedes-AMG added a four-door coupe version. The AMG GT 53 uses a 429 hp inline-six engine in common with the other 53 models. AMG GT 63 and 63 S editions get the V8.

Body Styles: 4-Door Coupe, Coupe and Roadster

4-Door Coupe:
• AMG GT 53
• AMG GT 63
• AMG GT 63 S

Coupe:
• GT
• GT S
• GT C
• GT R

Roadster:
• GT
• GT C

Engines:
• AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with EQ Boost
• AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $99,000

Read our review of the Mercedes-AMG Roadster here.

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GLA

The GLA is Mercedes’ entry-level compact SUV. It has a similar lineup and price point to the CLA coupe. The “taut, trim, and muscular” SUV has both FWD and AWD options available.

Body Style: Compact SUV

Models:
• GLA 250
• GLA 250 4MATIC
• AMG GLA 45

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• Handcrafted AMG 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $34,250

GLB

The GLB is new for the 2020 model year. It slots between the GLA and GLC in Mercedes’ SUV lineup. It’s more of a traditional SUV than either of those vehicles with a more spacious cabin and an optional third-row seat.

Body Style: Compact SUV

Models:
• GLB 250
• GLB 250 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $36,600

GLC

The GLC is Mercedes’ compact, mid-level SUV equivalent to the C-Class. “Wind-tunnel honed and track toned,” it is Mercedes’ best-selling vehicle in the U.S. The GLC is available in four, six, and eight-cylinder versions including a plug-in hybrid. Buyers can choose the traditional SUV or sportier “coupe” version.

Body Styles: SUV and SUV Coupe

SUV:
• GLC 300
• GLC 300 4MATIC
• GLC 350e 4MATIC
• AMG GLC 43
• AMG GLC 63

SUV Coupe:
• GLC 300 4MATIC
• AMG GLC 43
• AMG GLC 63
• AMG GLC 63 S

Engines:
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four
• 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four + Plug-in Hybrid Electric
• 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $42,500

Read our review of the AMG GLC 63 S here.

EQC

The EQC is Mercedes’s electric compact SUV, new for the 2020 model year. It’s based on the GLC. Its engine will put out 402 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque with an EPA range of about 220 miles.

Body Style: Electric Compact SUV

Models:
• EQC 400 4MATIC

Engines:
• Dual asynchronous electric motor, 80 kWh battery

Base MSRP: TBD

GLE

The GLE-Class is Mercedes’ mid-size luxury SUV. It’s the SUV equivalent of the E-Class. It was formerly known as the “M-Class.” The GLE offers a base six-cylinder version and both six and eight-cylinder AMG-tuned versions. It’s available in both traditional SUV and Coupe shapes.

Body Styles: SUV and SUV Coupe

SUV:
• GLE 350
• GLE 350 4MATIC
• GLE 450 4MATIC
• AMG GLE 63 S

Coupe:
• AMG GLE 43
• AMG GLE 63 S

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six
• AMG-Enhanced 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• Handcrafted AMG twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8

Base MSRP: $53,700

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GLS

The GLS-Class is Mercedes’ three-row luxury SUV. It’s the SUV equivalent of the S-Class but comes in at a lower price than the G-Class. Mercedes pledges the GLS will “take you to a place where leadership is omnipresent.”

Body Style: Full-Size SUV

Models:
• GLS 450 4MATIC
• GLS 550 4MATIC
• AMG GLS 63

Engines:
• 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
• 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8
• Handcrafted AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $75,200

Read our review of the GLS here.

G-Class

The G-Wagen is Mercedes’ boxy, body on frame, midsize, luxury SUV. The iconic truck makes a bold statement. What that statement is remains a polarizing question. The second generation, introduced in 2018, comes in a standard V8 and AMG-tuned V8 version. The V12 departs the lineup for 2020.

Body Style: SUV

Models:
• G 550
• AMG G 63

Engines:
• 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
• Handcrafted AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $124,500

Read our review of the G-Class here.

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Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Detroit-based Motoring Staff Writer. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He kindly requests that you not bring up Michigan football.

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