(2003 model shown)
Mercedes' elegant and capable mid-size sedan and wagon combo gets a new base engine for 2006, a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter twin-cam, four-valve per-cylinder V-6 that replaces the previous 3.2-liter version, precipitating a name change to the E350. It comes mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile the, E500 continues with its 302-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 and seven-speed automatic gearbox, while the top E55 AMG remains one of the quickest sedans available with its 469-horsepower supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 and specially modified five-speed automatic. A diesel-powered E320 CDI sedan was added last year that uses common-rail direct injection technology to generate 201 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque; it comes mated to a five-speed-automatic transmission. Standard safety items include four-wheel disc power anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, front- and rear-side and head-curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Automatic Slip Control, and - new for 2006 - active head restraints to help reduce whiplash injuries. Optional amenities include a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, heated seats and steering wheel, and a power trunk closer. Also to be added during 2006 is an optional Apple iPod operating interface that integrates the portable MP3 player with the car's audio system.