Mercedes-Benz' E-Class lineup combines all of the virtues typically associated with the three-pointed star brand - luxury, performance and cutting-edge technology - in an appealing midsize package. Notable in the past for its understated visual presence, the E-Class was recently updated with sleeker styling, impressive new safety systems and more.
Along with the sedan discussed herein, the E-Class is available in wagon, coupe and convertible bodystyles, as well as a high-performance E63 AMG derivative. Not all models are based on the most recent iteration of the E-Class platform, which is new for this model year.
While it continues to feature a formal roofline and a traditional three-box sedan shape, the E-Class has been updated with a number of stylistic revisions that give it a more-eye catching appearance than before.
Two different front-end treatments are available - the old-school Luxury model wears an elegant three-slat grille with a small Mercedes emblem protruding from the hood, while the Sport variant receives a more aggressive two-slat unit with an oversized, grille-mounted badge. Sport models also use an AMG-designed body kit and sit on a stiffened and lowered suspension.
Inside, things are as plush and refined as ever, with generous amounts of wood and chrome trim creating a decadent environment. Notable new touches include a revised steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls and, on up-trim models, a 12.3-inch display cluster in place of traditional gauges.
Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system remains; controlled either by voice commands, a central knob or steering wheel-mounted controls, it integrates the sedan's audio, navigation and Bluetooth-based connectivity functions into a single unit - a second 12.3-inch display screen mounted on the dashboard.
An optional mbrace system adds a host of cloud-based goodies, including a concierge service, location-based traffic and weather updates, stolen vehicle location assistance, automatic collision notification and more. Available apps add internet browsing, Google local search with street view, Yelp reviews, Facebook access and news reports. Owners can even use an mbrance smartphone app to remotely lock, unlock or locate their E-Class.
A wide variety of optional extras can be spec'd to enhance the E-Class experience, including premium Nappa leather upholstery, heated, ventilated and massaging front seats, a 14-speaker Harman/kardon surround sound system and a rear seat video entertainment system.
Powertrains and Handling
The only engine currently available in the E-Class is the 2.0L, turbocharged four-cylinder. This unit replaces the old direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 as it has in many of Mercedes-Benz's other new models. The new engine makes 241 horsepower and, despite the apparent downsizing, the new four-pot actually makes more torque than the old V6--273lb-ft.
The E-Class is offered both in rear-wheel drive and 4Matic all-wheel drive configurations. Both are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Mercedes offers the E-Class with both Luxury and Sport packages - as one would expect, Luxury models feature comfort-focused suspension tuning, while a tauter setup is used for the Sport. Updates to both result in a slightly firmer ride with better body control, although the E-Class remains more of a coddling cruiser than a sport sedan.
Standard and Optional Features
Notable standard features include a power sunroof, real wood trim, MB Tex leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable front seats with lumbar adjust and memory, genuine wood trim and a COMMAND infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display screen and integrated navigation.
Despite the limited powertrain offerings at release, there is no lack of optional features available on the E-Class for those seeking an extra touch of luxury.
Mercedes-Benz offers two exterior upgrade packages for the E-Class Sedan. The first is the Sport Wheel package, which adds 18-inch AMG wheels, upgraded brakes and black headliner. The other is the Luxury package which includes a comfort suspension with selective dampers, 17-inch split-spoke wheels and topstitched dash trim.
Inside, the options become even more robust. The Warmth & Comfort package starts things off with heated front armrests and upper door panels, a heated steering wheel and a "rapid heating" feature to warm up the front seats quickly in colder temperatures.
From here, buyers can add on Mercedes-Benz's Premium package. They're tiered, with each adding options on to the previous bundle.
Premium I includes the Parking Pilot assist system, a rearview camera, blind spot assist rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, keyless entry/start, an electronic trunk closer, Hands-Free Access, the upgraded Burmester premium audio, and wireless device charging.
Premium II adds on LED headlamps, adaptive high beams, massaging front seats, Air Balance cabin-air purifying and fragrance systems, and a power rear sunshade.
Premium III brings the peak of Mercedes-Benz technology to the table. This package adds a HUD, Distronic adaptive cruise control with Speed Limit Pilot and steering assist, evasive steering assist, active lane keeping, active lane change assist, active blind spot assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic monitoring, congestion emergency braking, surround view cameras, pre-safe collision mitigation systems, and active emergency stop assist.
Many of the options available in these packages are available a la carte, but only in certain configurations. Adding more than a handful may force buyers to select packages instead.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the E-Class will only add to that reputation. In addition to traction and stability control systems, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with full-length side curtain and front side air bags (rear side units are optional) to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.
Competing against the E-Class for the checkbooks of mid-size luxury sedan buyers are the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS and the Infiniti Q70.