- Any body you want
- Fab cabin
- ...with lots of room
- Busy angularity works on coupe, less so on sedan
- COMAND's futzy interface
- Some button clutter on the console
What, me worry? The Mercedes-Benz E-Class reasserts its alpha status with a tighter forehead, a greener turbodiesel, and a pair of all-wheel-drive AMGs.
If you're shopping for a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, you'll have to be a little more specific. The luxury-car benchmark comes in many different forms--sedan or wagon, coupe or convertible, or in thundering E63 AMG trim. The good news is that all of them live up to its decades-long heritage, while offering a bit more focused driving experience than before.Since its last full redesign in 2010, the E-Class has improved in several graduated steps. This year's round of changes is the most dramatic yet, bringing in better fuel economy and better performance, more safety technology, and a cleaner look that drops some of the furrowed brows of the past three years. Altogether, it's right up against the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series as well as the Infiniti Q70 and Cadillac CTS.
See our Mercedes-Benz E-Class page for information on the history of this model line
For the 2014 model year the E-Class is offered as a E250 BlueTEC sedan; an E350 sedan, wagon, coupe or cabriolet; an E550 sedan, coupe, or cabriolet; and an E63 AMG sedan and wagon.
A huge range in drivetrain offerings almost guarantees there's an E-Class for any point on the economy/performance curve. Each of the drivetrains is new in the past three model years. The basic E350 gasoline engine now has direct injection and makes 302 horsepower, while the 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the E550 throbs with 402 horsepower. At the top of the gas-powered lineup, a spooled-up E63 AMG performance edition now churns out 550 hp from a 5.5-liter biturbo V-8--or in "S" trim, 577 hp. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive is also optional on much of the sedan range (and standard on U.S.-market E550 sedans), and it's also standard on the AMG versions this year. Any of these versions accelerates to 60 mph in 7 seconds or less--with the AMG versions throttling the pavement into submission into as few as 4 seconds.
Two green versions make the E-Class one of the few vehicles sold anywhere in the world to have gas, gas-electric, and diesel drivetrains. The new E250 BlueTEC gives up some torque and likely, a bit of acceleration to the outgoing six-cylinder E350 BlueTEC turbodiesel--but since it's a four-cylinder, highway fuel economy could rise from 32 mpg to 35 mpg (we've already seen higher than that in real-world driving conditions on a drive). There's also an E400 Hybrid that shares lithium-ion batteries and motors with the S400 Hybrid, and earns a 30-mpg highway rating. The choice between the two should factor mostly on whether you post more city or highway miles, respectively.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 a reworked AMG-tuned suspension.
Interior space was improved with the latest E-Class redesign, a couple of years ago, with excellent head and leg room for both the front and back seats, which can seat up to five adults comfortably. Wagon models have even more versatility, with fold-down seats, an open cargo space, and two temporary-duty, rear-facing third-row seats. Wagons also get a new power tailgate. Across the line, build quality is tight, materials selection is mostly excellent, and quietness is a strength.
The E Class family offers an impressive number of above-and-beyond active-safety features--many of them optional--to detect driver drowsiness, monitor blind spots, control high beams automatically, maintain a set following distance, and help keep you in your lane. And two of the body styles have earned Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS. Key updates to the 2014 E-Class come on the electronics side, enhancing safety through an array of sensors and algorithms. A new front-mounted stereo camera system enables three-dimensional imaging of road obstacles and traffic at distances up to 55 yards, with overall system effectiveness stretching out to 550 yards. Together with driver drowsiness detection systems, forward-collision mitigation systems, braking assistance, and several flavors of lane-keeping assist, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class can even steer itself in limited circumstances, under low-speed conditions--a first step to autonomous driving.
Standard equipment no longer includes satellite radio, and a rearview camera is optional on the base models, but Bluetooth and a power sunroof are standard. Other luxury upgrades include voice-controlled navigation; Sirius and HD Radio; a surround-view camera; heated seats; numerous electronic safety assists; and adaptive sport seats. The most coveted feature is sure to be a new 1200-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with exquisite rendering of sound.