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 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 larger numbers denote more powerful (and more costly) engines. For example, a GLA 250 is a smaller, lower-powered SUV than a GLS 550.

While in the past Mercedes-Benz model ‘numbers’ corresponded to their engine volumes (an E55 featured a 5.5-liter engine), that is no longer the case. Turbocharging and hybrid technology has advanced to the point where big horsepower can be derived from much smaller engines. An example below like the AMG E63 currently features a turbocharged 4.0-liter engine (and may get smaller in the future)

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: all-wheel-drive
  • Cabriolet: A four-seat convertible
  • Coupe: A car with a sloping arch-like roofline. For Mercedes, this can be a two-door car, a four-door car or an SUV.
  • EQ: Mercedes sub-brand for electric cars.
  • EQ Boost: Mild-hybrid system added to some turbocharged engines. An "electric auxiliary compressor" generates electric power as the turbocharger spools up to provide smooth acceleration
  • Mercedes-AMG: Mercedes' performance division. These cars are typically sportier, more aggressively styled and more expensive than standard models.
  • Mercedes-Maybach: Mercedes revived the Maybach brand as the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand. These are high-end luxury cars commanding a far higher price point than typical Mercedes models.
  • Roadster: A two-seat convertible

    Buying Guide

    Mercedes-Benz Sedans, Coupes, Convertibles and Station Wagons

    A-Class

    mercedes benz explained gear patrol a class
    Mercedes-Benz

    The A-Class is the entry-level subcompact Mercedes. The fourth generation debuted for the 2018 model year. It is only sold as a sedan in the United States, and offers both FWD and AWD versions. 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 A 35 4MATIC

            Engines:

            • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

                  Base MSRP: $33,650

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                  C-Class

                  mercedes benz explained gear patrol c class
                  Mercedes-Benz

                  The C-Class is Mercedes's compact car. 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. (Note: Mercedes launched the current W205 generation in 2014. The company just unveiled the all-new W206 generation, which will hit dealers in early 2022.)

                  Body Styles:

                  • Sedan
                  • Coupe
                  • Cabriolet

                    Models:

                    • 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: $41,600

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                                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.” The second-generation debuted for 2019. 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 4MATIC
                                  • AMG CLA 45 4MATIC

                                        Engines:

                                        • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

                                              Base MSRP: $37,850

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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 current third-gen model launched in 2018. The CLS employs 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine delivering 362 hp 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

                                                  Engines:

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

                                                    Base MSRP: $69,950

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                                                    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:

                                                    • Cabriolet
                                                    • Coupe
                                                    • Sedan
                                                    • Wagon

                                                      Models:

                                                      • E 350 (Sedan)
                                                      • E 350 4MATIC (Sedan)
                                                      • E 450 (Cabriolet, Coupe)
                                                      • E 450 4MATIC (Cabriolet, Coupe, Sedan)
                                                      • E 450 4MATIC All-Terrain (Wagon)
                                                      • AMG E 53 4MATIC (Cabriolet, Coupe, Sedan)
                                                      • AMG E 63 S 4MATIC (Sedan, Wagon)

                                                        Engines:

                                                        • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
                                                        • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost
                                                        • 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

                                                          Base MSRP: $54,250

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                                                          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:

                                                          • Cabriolet
                                                          • Coupe
                                                          • Sedan

                                                            Models:

                                                            • S 500 (Sedan)
                                                            • S 500 4MATIC (Sedan)
                                                            • S 560 4MATIC (Coupe, Cabriolet)
                                                            • S 580 4MATIC (Sedan)
                                                            • AMG S 63 (Coupe, Cabriolet)

                                                              Engines:

                                                              • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost
                                                              • 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 w/EQ Boost

                                                                Base MSRP: $TBA

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                                                                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
                                                                • Roadster

                                                                  4-Door Models:

                                                                  • AMG GT 43 4MATIC
                                                                  • AMG GT 53 4MATIC
                                                                  • AMG GT 63 4MATIC
                                                                  • AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC

                                                                    2-Door Models:

                                                                    • GT (Coupe, Roadster)
                                                                    • GT C (Coupe, Roadster)
                                                                    • GT R (Coupe)

                                                                          Engines:

                                                                          • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost
                                                                          • 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

                                                                            Base MSRP: $89,900

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                                                                            Mercedes-Benz SUVs and Crossovers:

                                                                            GLA-Class

                                                                            mercedes benz gla class
                                                                            Mercedes-Benz

                                                                            The GLA is Mercedes's entry-level compact SUV. It's new for the 2021 model year. The base level “taut, trim, and muscular” SUV has both FWD and AWD options available. Buyers can also opt for a pair of AMG models, topping out at the AMG GLA 45 which has 382 horsepower and starts at $54,500.

                                                                            Body Style:

                                                                            • SUV

                                                                              Models:

                                                                              • GLA 250
                                                                              • GLA 250 4MATIC
                                                                              • AMG GLA 35 4MATIC
                                                                              • AMG GLA 45 4MATIC

                                                                                Engines:

                                                                                • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

                                                                                      Base MSRP: $36,230

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                                                                                      GLB-Class

                                                                                      mercedes glb gear patrol body
                                                                                      Mercedes-Benz

                                                                                      Mercedes debuted the GLB SUV in 2020 as a new model. It slots between the GLA and GLC with a more traditional, boxy SUV shape, a spacious cabin and an optional third-row seat. The base model has FWD and AWD versions with 221 hp. AN AMG GLB 35 model upgrades to 301 hp and starts at $49,500.

                                                                                      Body Style

                                                                                      • SUV

                                                                                        Models:

                                                                                        • GLB 250
                                                                                        • GLB 250 4MATIC
                                                                                        • AMG GLB 35 4MATIC

                                                                                          Engines:

                                                                                          • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

                                                                                            Base MSRP: $36,600

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                                                                                            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 and both FWD and AWD. In most trims, buyers can choose the traditional SUV or sportier “coupe” shaped version.

                                                                                            Body Styles:

                                                                                            • SUV
                                                                                            • SUV Coupe

                                                                                              SUV:

                                                                                              • GLC 300 (SUV only)
                                                                                              • GLC 300 4MATIC
                                                                                              • GLC 350e 4MATIC (SUV only)
                                                                                              • AMG GLC 43 4MATIC
                                                                                              • AMG GLC 63 4MATIC

                                                                                                Engines:

                                                                                                • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
                                                                                                • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four PHEV
                                                                                                • 3.0-liter turbocharged V6
                                                                                                • 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

                                                                                                          Base MSRP: $43,200

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                                                                                                          GLE-Class

                                                                                                          mercedes amg gle 63
                                                                                                          Mercedes-Benz

                                                                                                          The GLE-Class is Mercedes's mid-size luxury SUV, the SUV equivalent of the E-Class. Before 2015, it was known as the "M-Class." The fourth-generation debuted for 2019. The GLE is available with inline-four, inline-six and V8 engines. It has both SUV and SUV coupe body styles. It can also be fitted with either five or seven seats.

                                                                                                          Body Styles:

                                                                                                          • SUV
                                                                                                          • SUV Coupe

                                                                                                            Models:

                                                                                                            • GLE 350
                                                                                                            • GLE 350 4MATIC
                                                                                                            • GLE 450 4MATIC
                                                                                                            • GLE 580 4MATIC
                                                                                                            • AMG GLE 53 4MATIC+
                                                                                                            • AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC+

                                                                                                              Engines:

                                                                                                              • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
                                                                                                              • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost
                                                                                                              • 4.0-liter turbocharged hybrid V8 w/EQ Boost

                                                                                                                      Base MSRP: $54,750

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                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                        • GLS 580
                                                                                                                        • AMG GLS 63
                                                                                                                        • Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

                                                                                                                          Engines:

                                                                                                                          • 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six w/EQ Boost
                                                                                                                          • 4.0-liter turbocharged hybrid V8 w/EQ Boost

                                                                                                                                Base MSRP: $76,000

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                                                                                                                                G-Class

                                                                                                                                mercedes benz explained gear patrol g class
                                                                                                                                Mercedes-Benz

                                                                                                                                The G-Wagen is Mercedes's boxy, off-road-capable body-on-frame midsize SUV. The current second-generation debuted for 2018. There are two versions, the 416 hp G 550 and the 577 hp AMG G 63. The latter may be the most capable all-around vehicle on the market. It's great at everything except consuming fuel efficiently.

                                                                                                                                Body Style: SUV

                                                                                                                                Models:
                                                                                                                                • G 550
                                                                                                                                • AMG G 63

                                                                                                                                Engines:
                                                                                                                                • 4.0-liter turbocharged V8

                                                                                                                                Base MSRP: $124,500

                                                                                                                                READ OUR REVIEW

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