The W202 C-Class is one of the most reliable MB products sold in North America. Especially 1996- models, and the four cylinder C220 and C230 models and the C280 V-6 cars.
The M111 four cylinder engine is tough and seems to be pretty much bullet-proof in 2.2, 2.3, and 2.3 supercharged versions.
I would avoid 1994-1995 cars, as they have wiring harness issues (like W124's as well) and other difficulties. Except for 2.8L head gasket problems that persisted through 1997, the 1996+ cars are pretty much sorted out.
I have a 1998 C230, as does my dad. My cousin has a 1997 C230. All of the cars have been very reliable, and except for a few minor problems, have been completely reliable. (Blower motor and belt tensioner)
I know some folks with C220 models that have very high odo readings, and the cars are holding up very well.
I do all my own maintenance work on my C230, and love it. The engine bay has lots of room to work. Parts are reasonable (not like the AMG specific bits I bought on occasion for the C36) and most items are not too tough.
1998 C230 "Black Betty"