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

How to tell your GLA, GLB, GLC, GLE, GLS and G-Class apart.

mercedes amg gt cars
Mercedes-Benz

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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

mercedes benz explained gear patrol a class
Mercedes-Benz

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 turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the A 220 models produces 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque; there's also a mild AMG model that makes 302 hp and 295 lb-ft torque from an AMG-tuned 2.0-liter turbo four.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:
• A 220
• A 220 4MATIC
• AMG A35

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $33,650

Read our review of the A-Class here.

Learn More

C-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol c class
Mercedes-Benz

The C-Class is Mercedes’s entry into the compact car segment. It’s available as a four-door sedan, a two-door coupe and a two-door softtop convertible. Buyers can fit all three versions with a four, six or eight-cylinder engine (255, 385 and 469–503 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 mph 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 turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter turbocharged V6
• 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $41,400

Learn More: C-Class Sedan Learn More: C-Class Coupe Learn More: C-Class Cabriolet

CLA-Class

mercedes benz cla45
Mercedes-Benz

The second-generation CLA is Mercedes’s four-door, entry-level "coupe." Mercedes describes it as having “show car shape with seductive details.” All three versions use the base 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four. Two AMGs are on tap now: a CLA 35 making 302 hp and a CLA45 making 382 hp. All AMG CLAs are all-wheel-drive, but the 45 can be equipped with "drift mode" that turns off the front axle's power.

Body Style: Four-door coupe

Models:
• CLA 250
• CLA 250 4MATIC
• AMG CLA 35
• AMG CLA 45

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $36,650

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CLS-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol cls class
Mercedes-Benz

The CLS is a sleek, sporty-looking four-door coupe. Mercedes describes it as having “lean, toned muscle.” The CLS employs 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine delivering 36 2hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It is available in RWD and AWD versions. The AMG CLS 53 ups the power of the engine to 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque.

Body Style: Four-door coupe

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

Engines:
• 3.0-liter turbocharged hybrid inline-six

Base MSRP: $69,950

Read our review of the CLS 450 here.

Learn More

E-Class

2021 mercedes amg e 63 s
Mercedes-Benz

The E-Class is Mercedes’s 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, 603-hp AMG versions of the sedan and wagon can shred some tires if called upon. The non-AMG E-Class station wagon has been replaced by the Audi A6 Allroad-like E-Class All Terrain for the 2021 model year, sadly.

Body Styles: Sedan, wagon, coupe, cabriolet

Sedan:
• E 350
• E 350 4MATIC
• E 450 4MATIC
• AMG E 53
• AMG E 63 S

Wagon:
• E-Class All Terrain
• AMG E 63 S

Coupe:
• E 450
• E 450 4MATIC

Cabriolet:
• E 450
• E 450 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged hybrid inline-six
• 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $54,250

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

Learn More: E-Class SedanLearn More: E-Class WagonLearn More: E-Class CoupeLearn More: E-Class Cabriolet

S-Class

mercedes benz s klasse, 2020, outdoor, fahraufnahme, exterieur hightechsilber  mercedes benz s class, 2020, outdoor, driving shot, exterior hightech silver
Mercedes-Benz

The S-Class sedan is all-new for the 2021 model year, and as usual with a new version of Mercedes's flagship, it's a technological tour de force. Power initially comes from a mild hybrid inline-six and a mild hybrid V8; a V8-powered AMG will soon follow, as well as plug-in hybrid S-Class, as well as plug-in hybrid V8 AMG range-topper; new Maybachs will arrive shortly, as well. The S-Class coupe and cabriolet soldier on for this year, but they won't stick around past that.

Body Styles: Sedan, coupe, cabriolet

Sedan:
• S 500
• S 500 4MATIC
• S 580 4MATIC

Coupe:
• S 560 4MATIC
• AMG S 63

Cabriolet:
• S 560
• AMG S 63

Engines:
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six
• 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $TBA

Learn More

SLC-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol slc class
Mercedes-Benz

Formerly known as the “SLK,” the SLC-Class is Mercedes’ compact retractable hardtop two-seat 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 turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter turbocharged V6

Base MSRP: $49,950

Read our review of the SLC here.

Learn More

SL-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol sl class
Mercedes-Benz

The SL-Class is Mercedes’s 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 turbocharged V6
• 4.7-liter turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $91,000

Read our review of the SL Roadster here.

Learn More

AMG GT

mercedes benz explained gear patrol amg gt class
Mercedes-Benz

The AMG GT cars are Mercedes’s 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 43 and GT 53 use an inline-six engine in common with the other 53 models. AMG GT 63 and 63 S editions get the V8.

Body Styles: Four-door coupe, coupe and roadster

4-Door Coupe:
• AMG GT 43
• AMG GT 53
• AMG GT 63
• AMG GT 63 S

Coupe:
• GT
• GT C
• GT R

Roadster:
• GT
• GT C

Engines:
• 3.0-liter turbocharged hybrid inline-six
• 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $99,000

Read our review of the Mercedes-AMG Roadster here.

Learn More: AMG GT CoupeLearn More: AMG GT Roadster

GLA-Class

mercedes benz gla class
Mercedes-Benz

The second-generation GLA — Mercedes’s entry-level compact SUV — is new for the 2021 model year. 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: SUV

Models:
• GLA 250
• GLA 250 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $36,230

Learn More

GLB-Class

mercedes glb gear patrol body
Mercedes-Benz

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

Body Style: SUV

Models:
• GLB 250
• GLB 250 4MATIC

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

Base MSRP: $36,600

Learn More: Here

GLC-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol glc class
Mercedes-Benz

The GLC is Mercedes’s compact mid-level SUV, equivalent to the C-Class on the sedan side. “Wind-tunnel honed and track toned,” it is Mercedes’s 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 turbocharged inline-four
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four + plug-in hybrid electric setup
• 3.0-liter turbocharged V6
• 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $42,500

Read our review of the AMG GLC 63 S here.

Learn More

EQ C

mercedes eqc gear patrol body
Mercedes-Benz

The EQC is Mercedes’s electric compact SUV, new for the 2021 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. It was originally supposed to go on sale as a 2020 model year vehicle.

Body Style: Electric Compact SUV

Models:
• EQC 400 4MATIC

Engines:
• Dual asynchronous electric motor, 80-kWh battery

Base MSRP: $TBA

Learn More

GLE-Class

mercedes amg gle 63
Mercedes-Benz

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 forms.

Body Styles: SUV and SUV coupe

SUV:
• GLE 350
• GLE 350 4MATIC
• GLE 450 4MATIC
• GLE 580 4MATIC
• AMG GLE 53
• AMG GLE 63 S

Coupe:
• AMG GLE 53
• AMG GLE 63 S

Engines:
• 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with hybrid assistance
• 4.0-liter turbocharged hybrid V8

Base MSRP: $54,250

Learn More: GLE SUVLearn More: GLE SUV Coupe

GLS-Class

mercedes benz
Mercedes-Benz

The GLS-Class is Mercedes’s 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,” whatever that's supposed to mean. (If everyone's a leader, how does that even work?) A Maybach version is new for 2021.

Body Style: SUV

Models:
• GLS 450 4MATIC
• GLS 580 4MATIC
• AMG GLS 63
• Maybach GLS 600

Engines:
• 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six
• 4.0-liter turbocharged hybrid V8

Base MSRP: $75,200

Read our review of the GLS here.

Learn More

G-Class

mercedes benz explained gear patrol g class
Mercedes-Benz

The G-Wagen is Mercedess’ boxy body-on-frame midsize 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 turbocharged V8

Base MSRP: $124,500

Read our review of the G-Class here.

Learn More

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