2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class Review

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2018
The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2008

If you appreciate luxury and complex engineering solutions, then you'll love the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

TheCarConnection.com editors have read multiple reviews of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com have also recently driven several different Mercedes-Benz E-Class models, including the high-performance AMG edition, to offer you definitive opinions on this German luxury car. This review also looks at competitors to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, to provide information you can use to make a smart shopping decision.

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.

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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.

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2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Styling

In the last year of its current model cycle, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class proves that good looks never go out of style.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class retains its distinguishing design inside and out: sleek and sophisticated to some, while stately and a little stuffy to others.

Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com have good opinions of Mercedes-Benz' 2008 E-Class design. The standard E-Class sports 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." The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a "sleek and dignified design," and specifically, the E550 has "a classy yet powerful presence," says Edmunds. "Changes for 2008 are minimal, with an AMG appearance package now available on the E350 and E550 models," reports Cars.com. That package equips 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 350 and 550 sedans with "front and rear aprons, 18-inch, five-spoke wheels, and dual chrome exhaust tips," they add. A lone dissenter of the Mercedes-Benz 2008 E-Class love-fest is Car and Driver, who snipes that "after five years on the market, [it] is showing some gray around the temples." A new E-Class is expected soon after the current model year.

Inside, Edmunds admires the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class' "sleek and dignified design" but dislikes its "antiquated and confusing control layout." The Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan provides "an airy two-tone cabin, where supple seats and coordinating soft-touch surfaces are complemented by elegant wood inlays," they add. Kelley Blue Book describes the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class interior design as "a tasteful mix of leather and wood" and notes "standard burl walnut wood trim and black gauges give way in Sport Package-equipped models to black bird's-eye maple trim." Cars.com appreciates the Mercedes-Benz E-Class placement of seat controls "on the doors where every manufacturer should put them." However, they note that the larger Mercedes S-Class' interior is "splendid" and even the "entry-level" C-Class is better in some respects than the E-Class. They feel "the next E should...leap forward."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Performance

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class pounds the pavement with a bevy of powerful engines; base versions are tuned for luxury, while the E63 is tuned for sharp handling.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class features one of the most diverse engine and transmission lineups in the luxury sedan market.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is unique in that it is the only luxury sedan available with a diesel engine. "Being a diesel," reports Edmunds, "it boasts superior fuel mileage and plentiful torque." The Mercedes-Benz 2008 E320 features a 3.2-liter V-6 diesel that produces 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Other engine choices include a 3.5-liter V-6 (E350) that produces 268 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque; a 5.5-liter V-8 (E550) that produces 382 hp and 391 pound-feet; and a massive 6.2-liter V-8 (E63 AMG) that produces 507 hp and 465 pound-feet.

The "manic" Mercedes-Benz 2008 E63 (as described by Edmunds) can hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. The E350 does it in the mid-6-second range, the E550 takes 5.2 seconds, and the E320 is no slouch either, taking just 6.8 seconds, all according to Edmunds. It's no wonder Kelley Blue Book claims "the E-Class' engine lineup is one of the most dynamic on the planet." In testing, ConsumerGuide finds the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers effortless acceleration and passing power, no matter the engine choice. The E350 is "stately from a stop but gathers speed quickly and has fine passing power"; while the E320 is "similar," it suffers from turbo lag when accelerating from a stop and passing. The E550 is "impressively gutsy from any speed," they conclude.

Buyers of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 or E550 may choose either rear- or all-wheel drive, known as 4Matic. Edmunds reports that "all rear-wheel-drive E-Class models come with a seven-speed automatic, while the 4Matic models feature a five-speed...the automatic offers three modes: Comfort, Sport and Manual." ConsumerGuide says "in all, the transmissions provide smooth, timely shifts."

Fueleconomy.gov ratings for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class are as follows: 23/32 mpg (E320 diesel); 17/24 mpg (E350 rear-drive), 16/22 mpg (4Matic); 15/22 mpg (E550 rear-drive), 13/19 mpg (4Matic); 12/19 mpg (E63). In their testing of a Mercedes-Benz 2008 E550 4Matic, ConsumerGuide achieves 17.5 mpg. They note "premium-grade gas is required in all non-diesel models."

In the handling department, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is no match for its archrival, the BMW 5-Series. Where the BMW is marketed as the ultimate driving machine and lives up to that, the E-Class is "certainly adequate...but isn't a willing partner like a 5 Series can be," writes Edmunds. They add, "although the Benz E550 is, without question, a track star during acceleration runs, super-athletic moves on a twisty road are not the car's forte." Kelley Blue Book notes that the "V8 models feature a sophisticated adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers to combine a smooth highway ride with firm handling." That air suspension, according to ConsumerGuide, "had an affect on ride quality: Comfort mode allowed slightly more wallow than Sport 1; tire thump was more noticed in Sport 2...Sport Package models are a shade more agile." Motor Trend notes the E63 models have the “dynamics of a sports car,” however. Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com laud the brakes as powerful and capable of delivering short stops.

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2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Comfort & Quality

There is little to fault in regard to the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class' comfort and quality; space is good, seats are comfortable, and quality is what’s expected of a Benz.

Though the design may be getting long in the tooth, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class still enjoys high-quality fit and finish and adequate room for four adults.

Edmunds generally likes the seats in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, saying that "the seats in the Mercedes E550 are firm but ideally shaped to provide proper support," but they are somewhat miffed by the fact that "the lumbar support adjustment is manual, not power as one would rightly expect in a luxury sedan costing $60 grand." In their review of the Mercedes-Benz 2008 E-Class, ConsumerGuide finds that "six-footers get good headroom and plenty of legroom. The seats and tilt and telescopic steering wheel have ample power adjustments to tailor a good driving stance." However, if those same folks want to sit in the backseat of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it's a different story: "Headroom is limited for six-footers, legroom grows tight behind a tall front-seater, and foot space is only adequate."

Mercedes-Benz 2008 E-Class in-cabin storage of small items is "only average" according to ConsumerGuide. But a split folding rear seatback is available, an "unusual feature in the class," they note. Edmunds mentions that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class trunk lid "opens itself completely at the push of the key fob's button," but Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the '60s featured trunks that closed themselves. "The trunk isn't very tall and the lid hinges eat into space," adds ConsumerGuide.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class build quality is regarded as very good. Edmunds feels "materials and build quality fully befit the big-bucks price tag." ConsumerGuide thinks "cabin decor is modern and tasteful, with quality materials and top-notch assembly." "Structures seem impressively stout," they add, which may help to explain the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class' "well-muffled" wind noise. The diesel E320 is "little louder overall and nearly devoid of traditional diesel clatter."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Safety

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class leaves very little to want in terms of safety features or capabilities.

A full complement of standard safety features and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class' high marks in crash tests make it one of the safest luxury sedans available.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class fares well. The Mercedes-Benz 2008 E-Class sedan receives four stars for front impact protection, five stars for side impact protection, and four stars for rollover resistance. In tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class "good" for frontal offset, "acceptable" for side impact, and "good" for rear crash protection.

"All 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models come with stability control, antilock brakes, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and the TeleAid emergency system," according to Edmunds.

Also standard is what Mercedes-Benz 2008 reviews call PRE-SAFE. Cars.com explains: "If the radar sensor predicts an impending collision, Pre-Safe cinches the front seat belt pretensioners and can even change the position of the front passenger seat for optimal protection by the restraints." Furthermore, "In a serious skid, the [Mercedes-Benz E-Class' PRE-SAFE] system closes the moonroof and any open windows, a step to prevent occupant ejection, which can occur in a collision or, especially, a rollover."

Cars.com notes other unique safety features of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: "an adaptive brake light that flashes when the car is under rapid or panic braking." That's a safety feature meant for people following behind the Mercedes-Benz. They conclude, "If all else fails and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class does crash, the standard Tele-Aid -- which is similar to GM's OnStar -- will contact authorities and send them to your location."

Avoiding accidents is partly the result of being able to see well from the driver's seat. Explains Edmunds: "Long a Mercedes feature, the power drop-down of the rear headrests made parallel parking less of a hassle, although it would be nice if Mercedes included parking assist as standard equipment. (It's optional.)"

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2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Features

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes very well equipped, no matter which trim you choose.

Standard features of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class include items that normally cost extra on lesser vehicles, and options include items not available from competitors.

Mercedes-Benz 2008 E-Class trim levels include the E320 Bluetec (sedan only), E350 (sedan and wagon), E550 (sedan only), and the high-performance E63 AMG (sedan and wagon). The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 350 and 550 are available with 4Matic all-wheel drive. (E-Class wagons are covered in a separate review.)

"Standard equipment highlights [of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class] include a harman/kardon premium audio system, in-dash six-disc CD changer, memory front seats, sunroof and a full complement of safety features that includes eight airbags, electronic stability control and Mercedes' PRE-SAFE system," according to Kelley Blue Book. 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class "E320 Bluetec and E350 are equipped almost identically," Edmunds tells us, sharing not only the standard features listed above, but also "10-way power front seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt-telescoping steering column and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with a CD changer and auxiliary audio jack."

Moving up to the Mercedes-Benz 2008 E550, you may opt for the no-cost Sport package that, according to various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, adds "18-inch wheels, a lowered sport suspension, blue tinted glass, different wood trim and dual chrome tailpipes." "The Mercedes-Benz E-Class E63 AMG comes equipped similar to the E550, but adds split-folding rear seats, heated front seats, satellite radio and an array of AMG performance and styling features," concludes Edmunds.

Kelley Blue Book lists some of the popular options for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class: "two designo packages (Espresso and Graphite), a keyless entry and start system, heated and active-ventilated (cooling) front seats, front and rear parking sensors, panorama sunroof, navigation system, adaptive headlamps, AMG Sport Package, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connection, voice control and iPod integration."

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February 10, 2016
2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class 4-Door Sedan 3.0L BlueTec RWD 42 State

A really great vehicle in all respects.

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After eight years of flawless service, my Mercedes not only looks like new in all respects, it continues to performs as new in 2008 and eventhough 8 years old, delivers the kind of fuel economy that is the... + More »
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January 25, 2016
2008 Mercedes-Benz E Class 4-Door Sedan Sport 3.5L RWD

Very good car

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Very good car for everyday use.Prestigious, beautiful and elegance.
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