- Four body styles, three engines--your choice
- Plenty of interior room
- Much richer interior treatment
- All-wheel-drive option
- Busy styling cues
- Techno features' steep learning curve
- Vinyl seats standard?
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan swings to the masculine side of the pendulum and sharpens its driving appeal in the process.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers a two new models in addition to last year's Coupe and Sedan with a Wagon and Cabriolet now available, plus the tire-shredding power and capable handling of the E63 AMG.
All E-Class models share similarly aggressive styling cues, adapting them to their varying shapes with equal success. The many angles, curves, and chrome accents may prove busy for some eyes, but the overall impact is unmistakably German. The AMG model gets unique treatment to mark it out as the performance superstar.
Three engines are available across the lineup, from a peppy V-6 to a powerful V-8 to a fuel-efficient and high-torque diesel. Not all engines are available in all body styles, however; if you want a diesel, you'll have to get a Sedan; if you want a V-8, you won't find one in the Wagon. Regardless of the model or engine chosen, however, the E-Class range rewards the driver with adjustable suspension settings, a responsive seven-speed automatic, and improved, yet still comfortable, driving dynamics. The E63 AMG kicks the whole show up a notch, with 518 horsepower from its 6.3-liter V-8 engine, and reworked AMG-tuned suspension.
The latest E-Class also offers more space and luxury than previous generations of the car, with a wider and longer body and more standard and available features. Build quality is tight, materials selection is mostly excellent, and quietness is a strength.
Standard and optional safety equipment are a highlight of the E-Class range, with two models earning Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS. Computer driving aids from drowsiness detection to adaptive cruise control that can brake to avoid an accident are available extras.
Though the 2011 E-Class offers plenty of standard features, including the COMAND infotainment system, vinyl seats are curiously included in the base spec. Upgrading can take many paths, from more luxury to more sport, or both, with gadgets like rear-view cameras and luxury features like massaging and heated seats among the list.
Though it's no bargain value at a minimum starting price of $48,850, the E-Class range certainly justifies its premium price with an all-around premium product.