Premium compact car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,300 – $2,500*

1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3

1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

1993 mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3

1993 Mercedes-Benz Limited Edition 190E 2.6

1993 Mercedes-Benz 190 interior

  • Acceleration (6-cylinder)
  • Antilock brakes
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Ride
  • Cargo room
  • Price
  • Rear-seat room

Price has been the biggest drawback of these compact sedans. Even so, except for interior space and high maintenance costs, you can hardly ask for more–though it’s worth trying out a BMW 3-Series and Lexus ES 300 before buying.


Offered in gasoline-engine and diesel form in the 1980s, Mercedes-Benz’s smallest, least-expensive sedan came only with a 6-cylinder gasoline engine in 1990. The 2.6-liter 6-cylinder engine, borrowed from the midsize 260E sedan, developed 158 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard; 4-speed automatic optional. This “Baby Benz” was the only model that offered such a choice in transmissions. Both a driver-side airbag and antilock braking were standard.

Yearly Updates

1991 190
Mercedes added a new model called the 190E 2.3. It was powered by a 130 horsepower, 2.3-liter 4-cylinder. Also, Mercedes’ traction control, called ASR, was newly optional on the 190E 2.6 with an automatic transmission.
1992 190
Nothing was new for 1992, apart from a newly available “Sportline” option package.
1993 190
Mercedes-Benz’s smallest, least-expensive sedan was unchanged for 1993, its final season on the market.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In 1990, only one engine was available under 190E hoods: a 2.6-liter, inline 6-cylinder that made 158 horsepower. A 4-cylinder model, dubbed 190E 2.3, arrived for ’91. Both models came with a standard 5-speed manual gearbox; a 4-speed automatic transmission was optional.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/140
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 146
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.6/156
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Considering how much they’ve cost, both new and secondhand, you’re getting quite a cramped rear seat and a rather small trunk. Two people fit comfortably up front, but two adults in the back seat aren’t likely to be pleased.

On the other hand, you get a good-sized list of Mercedes-Benz virtues, leading off with rock-solid construction, desirable safety features, and thoughtful engineering. Performance brings no complaints, either. The 4-cylinder engine in a 190 2.3 performs well once you’re underway, but acceleration is rather gentle from a standing start. The 6-cylinder engine in a 190E 2.6 feels more robust. The six returns only slightly less fuel economy than the 4-cylinder. With automatic transmissions, a 190E 2.6 averaged 19.2 mpg, compared to 20.1 mpg in a 190 2.3.

Handling and roadholding are extremely capable on both models. The taut Mercedes-Benz suspension, while allowing low-speed bumps to thump through to the seat, is quite absorbent in most situations. It also helps produce good high-speed control. Everything is aimed toward serious driving: brakes, steering, seating, outward visibility, control placement.


Model Tested: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 4

Total: 40


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.9 175.1 66.5 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.7 16.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 36.3 41.9 31.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 190E 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Front Passenger Injury - 3

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 146
Injury 83
Theft 305

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may slip or the shifts may be soft due to too much clearance in the modulator-valve assembly. (1991)
Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission shifts may be harsh or erratic due to a defective vacuum modulator. (1990-93)
Cruise control
Description: Vehicle may jerk when traveling on level roads or when coasting down hills with the cruise control engaged due to problem in fuel shutoff switch. (1990-91)
Engine misfire
Description: The idle speed-control motor may stick causing a high idle or surging idle. (1990-93)

Recall History

Description: Airbag intended for European models was installed on small number of cars, instead of correct U.S. version.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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