Strange iPod interface
But we didn't want to drive this car for long amounts of time, because the standard cabin electronics are fairly weak. We were initially intrigued that, in lieu of a large navigation LCD, Mercedes-Benz includes as standard in the C350 a smaller screen under a hatch in the dashboard, along with the familiar Mercedes-Benz COMAND controller on the console.
Our car also came with the optional iPod integration kit, with a pigtail connector in the glove box. But getting ready to road-test the car, we were baffled that we couldn't find out how to get music from an iPod playing over the stereo system. After some searching, we found the auxiliary setting, only accessible through the COMAND interface.
But while that did get music playing, there was no interface on the LCD, no capability at all to select music with the COMAND interface. Instead, the current track was shown in the speedometer, which holds displays for the trip computer and audio. It was immediately apparent that directional buttons on the steering wheel moved sequentially through the track list, but we had to consult the manual to figure out how to choose artists and albums, which involves first hitting the phone hang-up button. Bizarre.
This optional integration kit feels like a hack, especially when satellite radio and CD displays work perfectly well on the car's LCD. But we wouldn't write off the car because of this, as Mercedes-Benz offers a few ways to get a much better interface. First, you could opt for the navigation option, which gives you a bigger screen along with the Music Register, onboard storage for music. With this option, you do get to view both iPod and Music Register music libraries on the LCD. You can also opt for the less-expensive COMAND package, which includes the bigger screen and better interface, but no navigation system or Music Register.
Another worthwhile option, not included on our test car, is the Harmon Kardon Logic7 stereo system, comprised of a 450-watt amp and 10 speakers. Lacking this upgrade, our car was stuck with the standard eight-speaker system, producing uninspired audio.
Standard on the car is a hands-free Bluetooth phone system. This one is fairly average, with no real stand-out features. It does have an onboard phone book, but you will need to push entries from phone to car.
When equipped with the optional navigation system, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz C350 becomes a capable tech cruiser with some sport driving capability, and we give it a reasonable score in our ratings. Read our review of the C300 to get an idea of the tech package. Lacking cabin tech options, the C350 is a relatively boring semi-luxury sedan with a frustrating iPod interface. Running gear is good, with a reasonably powerful engine getting mileage close to that of a four cylinder. We like the option to switch between Comfort and Sport driving modes.
|Model||2010 Mercedes-Benz C-class|
|Power train||3.5-liter V-6|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20.1 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive (with navigation option), USB port, satellite radio|
|Audio system||8 speaker standard, 5.1 channel Harmon Kardon optional|
|Driver aids||Rear view camera|
|Price as tested||$42,020|
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