Across the four E-Class models there are just three engines: a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6; a 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8; and a 210-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6. The diesel is only available in the E350 BlueTec Sedan. Both the V-6 and V-8 gasoline engines are available in the Sedan, Coupe, and Convertible, while the Wagon only offers the 3.5-liter V-6, but adds standard 4Matic all-wheel drive. The special E63 AMG gets a 518-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-8 engine, and rear-wheel drive only.
All-wheel drive is optional on the regular gasoline-powered Sedans. The V-6, revised for the new model, offers better power and fuel economy than the previous V-6, and the upgrades are immediately apparent from behind the wheel. The V-8, on the other hand, offers plenty of power and torque for the rather laid-back tuning of the chassis. The diesel is the green choice of the bunch, rated at 24/34 mpg city/highway. V-6 models score around 17/24 mpg, and V-8s rate 15/23 mpg.
All standard E-Class variants come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission, and driver-adjustable suspensions. An air-shock system provides a range of comfort to sport ride quality for the V-8 models, while V-6s use a mechanical valve control to produce a similar range of adjustment. Driving dynamics are controlled and agile for the car's size, though tuning isn't as taut as the sportier end of BMW's or Audi's ranges until you step up to the factory-tuned AMG car, not covered here.
Regardless of the engine you choose, all versions of the E-Class lineup come with the same transmission, except for the E63 AMG, which gets a special version of the transmission that swaps in a wet-plate clutch for the torque converter, but keeps the usual planetary gear arrangement. The result is quicker shifts, more direct engagement with the engine, and higher performance.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class boasts a significant improvement in fuel economy compared to previous editions. The official EPA estimates for the new sedan are that the E350 will return 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the E550 gets a 16/24 mpg rating. Opting for the available 4MATIC AWD system drops the numbers to 16/24 mpg in the E350 and 15/23 mpg on the E550.
BMW has long held a handling edge in its battle with Benz, but Mercedes appears determined to catch up with the new Mercedes E-Class. Mercedes doesn't abandon its plush ride however.