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Mercedes Classes Explained

Updated July 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz has used a number-letter code to identify its products almost since its inception. Unlike some nameplates, Mercedes' numbers have a specific code, making them easier to decipher.

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Deciphering the Numbers

In the 2010 model year, there were 13 designated "classes" of Mercedes vehicles for sale in the U.S. An added, two- or three-digit numeral designates individual models, loosely denoting the engine displacement of each particular model. For instance, the GL 350 is a GL-Class with a 3.5-litre engine.

C-Class, E-Class, S-Class: The Four-Doors

The C, E and S-Class ranges are Mercedes' sedan lines. The C-Class is a compact sedan, the E-Class a full-size car and the S-Class is the luxury flagship model. The E-Class offers coupe, convertible and estate car models.

CLS-Class, R-Class: The Hybrids

The CLS-Class is Mercedes' "coupe-sedan," a four-door slightly larger than the E-Class but set apart by graceful, sports car-like styling. The six-passenger R-Class is a blend of sedan, minivan and SUV traits.

G-Class, GL-Class, GLK-Class, M-Class: The SUVs

"G" and "M" designate the sport-utility vehicles. The G-Class is the classic, boxy off-roader, originally designed for military use and sold in limited numbers as a go-anywhere luxury sport-ute. The GLK-Class, M-Class and GL-Class are compact, mid- and full-size SUVs, respectively.

CL-Class, SL-Class, SLK-Class, SLS-Class: The Two-Doors and Roadsters

The CL-Class and SLS-Class are two-door hardtops: the former is a high-luxury companion to the four-door S-Class, the latter, Mercedes' gullwing-door-equipped, high-performance exotic. The SL-Class and SLK-Class are two-seat retractable hardtops.

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About the Author

Christopher "Emmy" Jackson has been an automotive writer since 1999. His self-syndicated auto column appears weekly in print and online, and his work has appeared in "Grassroots Motorsports," "AutoWeek" and "African-Americans on Wheels." He is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with degrees in English and creative writing, and spends most of his free time reviewing new cars and working on new automotive projects.

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