- Variety of models
- Range of engines
- Fuel economy of diesel engine
- Complex controls
- Placement of cruise control lever
- Handling not dynamic enough for enthusiasts
If you appreciate luxury and complex engineering solutions, then you'll love the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class debuted in its current form in 2003, but you'd never think that this mid-size luxury car was getting kind of old. Mercedes-Benz has kept improving the E-Class throughout its run. Currently, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class line includes sedan and wagon body styles (the wagon is reviewed on its own). Each is graced with a classic and tasteful interpretation of a formal Mercedes-Benz grille and roundish headlamps. Higher-performance models get a more aggressive front air dam and bigger wheels, but the car never looks "boy racerish."
Inside the cockpit, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is roomy for front and rear occupants. Materials and fit and finish are excellent, but in such an expensive vehicle, that's what one would expect. While the gauges are clear and easy to read, the control interface is completely mucked up. Mercedes-Benz calls it the COMAND system, and there are a few commands that experts from TheCarConnection.com would like to give it--like making the radio easier to use. (Hint: People know how to use tuning knobs.) Another long-term complaint with the E-Class (and other Benzes) is the placement of the speed control stalk. When using the turn signal, it's easy to knock the speed control into resume mode. When the set speed is faster than your traveling rate, this can cause a momentary shock that's easily remedied by a tap to the brake pedal, but Mercedes should know better.
Regarding performance, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers many different kinds: normal, super efficient, powerful, and super powerful. The engine lineup goes like this: a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces a satisfying 268 horsepower for the E350 sedan (rear- or all-wheel drive); a 3.2-liter clean diesel that produces exceptional economy along with 210 horsepower is available in the E320 Bluetec Sedan (rear-wheel drive); a 5.5-liter V-8 producing 382 horsepower in the E550 sedan (rear- or all-wheel drive); and the 6.2-liter high-performance V-8 that develops 507 horsepower in the E63 AMG sedan (rear-wheel drive).
The E350s utilize a five-speed automatic gearbox. The E320 and all V-8 models enjoy the increased acceleration and fuel economy provided by a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Within the above lineup of powertrains, you'll find at least one combination that fits your driving style. Editors from TheCarConnection.com have put thousands of miles on various Mercedes-Benz E-Class models and truly enjoy their performance.
Standard safety items on all E-Class cars include four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist, side-impact and head-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, automatic slip control, and active head restraints to help reduce whiplash injuries. The PRE-SAFE collision-anticipation system is also standard and prepares the car's safety systems when an imminent crash is anticipated. An iPod interface allows users to safely control their Apple audio player from the steering wheel controls.
As for features, all 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models are loaded and include a standard sunroof and an upgraded Harman Kardon stereo with six-disc CD changer. A new option for 2008 includes giving non-AMG models a more aggressive look with AMG front and rear aprons, 18-inch five-spoke wheels, dual chrome exhaust, and AMG steering wheel with shift paddles. Other options include a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a power trunk closer.
Frankly, we'd skip the nav system as it's not user-friendly, but the adaptive cruise control is a real joy to use and makes driving in some types of traffic much easier.
For example, the Audi A6 and more performance-oriented A6 4.2 are nimble mid-size sedans that provide less room but much more contemporary style than the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. As welcoming as the Benz is, Audi still leads in interior design.
The BMW 5 Series is the traditional archrival to the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and it tends to have a businesslike approach to driving that's usually more involving (and fun) for the driver--ditto for the underrated Infiniti M, perhaps the sleeper of this group.
Several years ago, the Cadillac STS would not have made it into any type of comparison to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but the car has improved so dramatically in performance and build quality that it now presents itself as a credible alternative to the Benz, especially if your pro-American sentiments are running high.
Of this group, the Lexus LS is by design the most conservative and least performance oriented. This big sedan delivers detached and serene luxury that some drivers will enjoy.