- Any body you want
- Fab cabin
- ...with lots of room
- All-wheel drive, even on coupe
- Hybrid or diesel, your choice
- Busy angularity works on coupe, less so on sedan
- COMAND's futzy interface
- Some button clutter on the console
- Base sedan wears vinyl upholstery
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.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The E-Class doesn't look so worried anymore, with the tension taken out of its front end and rear fenders.
With so many variations among the different body styles, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class still manages to assemble a family look for all its citizens. It's a look that works more effectively on the dramatically styled two-doors than it does on the traditional four-door sedan.
In the two-doors--the Coupe and Cabriolet--the refresh essentially takes the existing profile and carves out quite a bit more personality, with some bolder, fresher details. Most notable is how the dual headlamps have been merged together to one unit, with bright LED lightbars now visually separating them and functioning as running lamps. Sharper, more creased lower bodywork looks both sportier overall and better with the bodyside creases. And in back there's a fresh LED taillamp design.
For the first time, the E-Class adopts the Sport and Luxury themes the C-Class has had for years--you can opt for the Luxury's three-bar grille, or the Sport's plate-sized star logo embedded in a twin-louver grille, and its AMG-style trim. Bigger air intakes are faired in below on either version, but almost all the worry lines have been abraded from the front end. It's pretty and elegant, the way all E-Class cars used to be, before the detour into goggle-eye lamps.Further back, the E-Class sedan also unloads its flared, Ponton-like rear fenders, going for a sleeker look with lower side trim that elongates the car--the preferred shortcut to "elegant." The treatment applies nicely to Coupe models, which have a graceful roofline that visually lowers the car, but it doesn't work nearly as well in Cabriolet models, where we tended to think that with the roof up the more pert roofline stretches the proportions oddly upward. Power the top down and the E Cabrio fits gracefully back in, though.
The high-performance E63 AMG is easy to pick out from a distance, thanks to its unique wheels and special lower-body aerodynamic treatment (plus an upgraded interior).
Compared to the previous generation of the E-Class, the interior of the current car feels a little more conservative, yet also modernist and less curvaceous than some of the automaker's other efforts. Sharp corners and well-pressed creases inside give the Mercedes-Benz E-Class a more traditionally luxurious look that meshes well with the new exterior.
About the only thing that isn't so welcoming is the sea of matte-plastic buttons for audio and climate controls--in addition to the COMAND interface that covers infotainment through a big roller knob and a large LCD screen.
All models include wood, metal, and refined plastic trims, which you can further dress up through a long list of customization options aside from the stock choices of burl walnut or black ash. The final bit of jewelry: a tank-style analog clock on the dash.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has amazing range: AMG models are ferocious sledgehammers, while base models are relaxed cruisers.
The E-Class family of cars includes a four body styles and five distinct engine choices, all of them new since the 2012 model year. That makes for an amazing range of personalities in the lineup, most of which we're on a first-name basis with.
Going with gas
We'll start with the gentler manners of the standard E350. At times, it can feel distantly related to the hot E63 AMG, but it's the E-Class most drivers will order and own. It's powered by a combination of the Mercedes 3.5-liter V-6 and seven-speed automatic with paddle controls. The direct-injected V-6 spins out 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, with smooth power delivery and a relatively wide powerband. Zero to 60 mph times are well under 7 seconds, and top speed's 130 mph.
These models come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls. They're not the most responsive automatics we've driven, better than some of the six-speeds in the luxury world, but not quite to the smooth par set by the eight-speed automatic in many other luxury models.
All E-Class cars now have electric power steering, too. The "Direct Steer" system adapts both the quickness and the weight of the steering across its dynamic range. In practice, it's given engineers a way to beef up the E-Class, and to make it feel more sporty, by adding some heft to the steering feel. There's more razor-sharp quickness with, say, the Lexus GS F-Sport's available rear-steer system, but the E-Class' system feels better than most.This E-Class comes in Luxury or Sport trim. Softly tuned, the Luxury model has ample body lean and scrubs its 17-inch wheels and tires easily. As a Sport, the E350 is more controlled, thanks to a suspension lowered 15 mm and to bigger 18-inch wheels. Neither removes an iota of polish from the E-Class' demeanor.
All-wheel drive is an option on the E350 sedan, standard on the wagon, and it's only a slight acceleration and fuel-economy penalty. It's now standard on the E550 sedan.
On the E550 sedan, a 4.6-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers and direct injection makes 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The carryover V-8 is a much more evocative performer than the basic six, with top speed rising to 155 mph and with 0-60 mph times falling to 5.2 seconds.
The E550 also comes standard with an air-spring adaptive suspension and lower-profile tires, and now comes with electric power steering just like the other E-Class models. In practice, the suspension shaves off the peaks and fills in the valleys of the suspension's stroke graph, evening out its mood almost all the time without giving up the supple ride. (The E350 wagon also gets rear air springs.) Enjoy it while you can: it's still offered in the sedan this model year, but next year the E550 sedan bows out in favor of a new twin-turbocharged V-6 E400, in the name of fuel economy.
Diesel and hybrid
That's the angle taken by the next two E-Class variants, too. Last year's 210-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 has been dropped from the E-Class lineup for 2014. In its place, Mercedes is downsizing to a new turbocharged four-cylinder diesel also coming to the GLK crossover.
With 195 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, as well as available 4Matic, the E250 Bluetec sedan is very satisfying and engaging, though, with a light, responsive feel at most speeds (because there's less weight at the nose than with the previous E350 Bluetec). Only from a standing start or when ordering up a quick pass after trundling along does the diesel hesitate for just a moment more than the gasoline version.
We'll have more on this model later, while we work on driving impressions of the new E400 Hybrid. That sedan pairs the current V-6 with a 27-hp electric motor, start/stop, and lithium-ion batteries, just as in the S400 Hybrid.
AMG, in a class by itself
Most E-Class models have controlled and agile road manners, but they're not tuned as tautly as the sportier end of BMW's or Audi's ranges. That changes when you step up to the factory-tuned AMG car.
The performance-oriented E63 AMG models aren't left untouched this year, but unlike the other models, gas mileage isn't their problem. They're up from 518 hp to 550 hp and 531 pound-feet of torque in base form, and if you spec up to the "S" model--a new sub-sub-model in the hierarchy--you'll net out at 577 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque. They're also shod with standard all-wheel drive, with a fixed torque split of 33:67.
The result: a scalding-hot 0-60 mph time of under 4 seconds, measured through the standard RACESTART launch control and on-screen telemetry. Top speed is 155 mph on the E63 AMG sedan, 186 mph on the E63 AMG S sedan and wagon.
It's impossible to mistake the E63's hellacious performance for a lesser E-Class. The big, ripe exhaust noise coming from the V-8 barks out sharp orders, and the firm thump of its Pirelli P-Zero tires never intrudes as you wind the steering through visceral heft. There's no such thing as halfway here.
Granted, the E63 AMG is a big car riding on a long wheelbase, and even the AWD system's power split and brake-torque vectoring can't turn it into a pint-sized flyweight. Hairpins can be hair-raisers, but sweeping turns are electric--the E63 AMG just unfurls massive power and sticks to the ground with an iron will.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Comfort & Quality
An enormous cabin suits the E-Class sedan and wagon--and if you can spend into the adaptive seats, you have our blessing.
The E-Class nameplate covers some very different vehicles. The sedan and wagon share most of their interior space and functionality, while coupes and convertibles are closer to each other, in having less of both.There's more interior room in any E-Class than in models from just a few years ago. The latest editions ride on a wider and longer platform than before, with particularly roomy layouts to be found in the sedan and wagon. They're on par with the BMW 5-Series by the spec sheet, visually a little more spacious, and much more open than, say, the Jaguar XF.
In front, passengers will get deep front foot wells, and a couple of fingers of headroom even with the standard sunroof. The base power-adjustable seats can seem pretty pedestrian in construction--and synthetic material remains the standard base-level upholstery, though in the U.S., the majority of cars are sold with leather. AMG versions have their own grippy, multi-adjustable seats, and on many versions, Mercedes offers adaptive seats that inflate and deflate air bladders in the bolsters as you push limits through corners. If it sounds gimmicky, it is, but it also works well.
As for the rear seat, three adults will truly fit, and leg and elbow room are very good for two passengers in either the E-Class sedan or wagon. The back seat itself is easy to access and flip forward for more space, thanks to a split-folding design.
Small-item storage is decent, with a two-tier glovebox sized just about right for an actual pair of gloves. Cup holders are hidden beneath a slide-forward console lid, and behind and below them is a somewhat shallow storage bin. In terms of cargo space, the latest E-Class sedans got a significant boost in trunk volume; wagons are of course the most versatile for cargo, and they include a couple of temporary-use, rear-facing third-row seats.
Coupe and Cabriolet models of the E-Class sacrifice some seating space and quite a lot of ease of access. Getting into the back seat can involve some stretching, and there isn't all that much legroom; but you'll find that the seats themselves are quite comfortable.
In all the members of the E-Class family of cars, the plush interior fittings and classy trim set a stylish baseline that can be fluffed up with designer touches. Wood trim, improved cup holders, a quieter cabin, and generally improved fit and finish add to the current generation E-Class's luxurious feel. In the richest designer trims, the E-Class carries off a much more elegant, expensive look than it does in its plainer, standard-issue form. It's also a subdued place to ride, no matter which non-AMG drivetrain you choose: cabin quietness is among the best in this class unless you do go for the most powerful models. Then it's all engine note, all the time, almost always for the better.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The E-Class' exceptional technology hasn't been put to the fullest test by the NHTSA, but it's a safe bet.
A full set of crash results for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class hasn't been published, but the automaker's fitted the latest edition of the sedan and wagon with some of the latest gadgets and technology it plans for the next S-Class--all in the name of keeping the E-Class at the forefront of safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the E-Class four stars overall for the four-door and wagon body styles, with four-star ratings for front- and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), meanwhile, has given the most recent two-door coupe and four-door sedan a score of "good" in all performed tests, but since the new small-overlap crash test isn't among them, the E-Class does not earn a Top Safety Pick award for 2014.
The E-Class now comes standard with up to eleven airbags on sedans and wagons, including a driver-side knee airbag. Side airbags for rear-seat passengers are an option, as are a rearview camera and parking sensors, while Bluetooth is standard. A new surround-view camera is similar to the one we've seen on new Infiniti models--and it's an ample upgrade in safety, in seeing obstacles in any direction at parking speeds.
Beyond those now-conventional features, the E-Class has been one of the first vehicles to offer some of the newest safety technology, some of it more useful than others. Among the available safety features, depending on body style, are Attention Assist, which keeps a camera eye on attentiveness and suggests a coffee stop when it senses a drowsy driver; blind-spot monitors; adaptive cruise control; automatic headlamps; and night vision. This year, it adds a new front-mounted stereo camera system that enables three-dimensional imaging of road obstacles and traffic at distances up to 55 yards, with overall system effectiveness stretching out to 550 yards.
The most impressive updates come in what Mercedes calls an "intelligent drive" package. Already offered with parking-assist and lane-departure warning, the E-Class now can be fitted with lane-keeping assist that can steer the car gently out of the way, if an oncoming vehicle veers into its path, between about 35 and 120 mph. Not only that, by using adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist, the E-Class has a limited ability to steer itself in the same path as a vehicle ahead--say, at stop-and-go speeds in highway traffic. With just a tap on the Resume function, the E-Class guides itself with a degree of autonomous driving.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Satellite radio and a rearview camera are options now, but the E-Class wins with surround-view cameras and 1200-watt audio options.
The latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class saw most of its infotainment features updated this past model year, so it's largely carried over, with the new 2014 E250 BlueTEC rear-drive sedan becoming the entry-level model.
All E-Class models get the standard-issue package of features and equipment, including cruise control; power windows, locks, and mirrors; power front seats; tilt/telescoping steering; dual-zone climate control; ambient lighting; a sunroof; rain-sensing wipers; an AM/FM/CD/DVD player with an SD car slot; Bluetooth; and a multi-function instrument display. Every E-Class also sports the mbrace2 smartphone connectivity suite, which integrates streaming audio via Pandora, and a host of other connected-car features.
The basic E-Class also comes with M-B Tex synthetic upholstery, while leather is an option, and burl walnut or ash trim are offered. Wagons all get a power tailgate and rear air suspension, along with a small fold-out third-row seat.
Most E-Class sedans and wagons are trimmed out as Sport models, which means sport exhaust tips, 18-inch wheels and tires, and distinct gauges, along with a trimmer grille with an outsized Mercedes logo at its center. A minority of E-Classes are Luxury models, with 17-inch wheels and tires and a three-slat grille with a discreet Benz badge at the top.
Major option packages include features like a rearview camera; the new surround-view camera; a navigation system; satellite radio; surround sound; and heated and ventilated front seats. Parking Assist and Lane Tracking are their own packages, as is a new Keyless-Go package with pushbutton start, a power trunklid closer, and a trunk opener that works by waving a foot under the bumper--a system like the one found on the Ford Escape.
Stepping up to the top-of-the-line E63 AMG gets you upgraded materials throughout, including a flat-bottom steering wheel and Alcantara trim, plus AMG badges and performance-tuned stability and traction electronics--in addition to a high-performance transmission and the AMG-built 550-hp or 577-hp V-8. A nice, round, 200-mph speedometer is also included. We'd definitely recommend the "S" upgrade, with carbon-ceramic brakes, red brake calipers, and the higher output--but we'd also save room for the $6,400 Bang & Olufsen sound system, with 1200 watts delivered through 14 speakers.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Both a diesel and a hybrid edition give a green lift to a lineup heavy with near-600-horsepower V-8s.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of the few vehicles that covers all of the most commonly available engine types. It's powered by gas, by a combination of gas and electricity, and by diesel, with the latter two drivetrain options delivering the top estimated fuel economy.
Mileage figures are close to those of last year's model--except in the case of the new turbodiesel four, which replaces the larger-displacement turbodiesel V-6. EPA fuel economy figures weren't yet out for that engine at our latest update.
The E350 sedan rates up to 21 mpg city, 31 highway. Stepping through the all-wheel-drive versions of the four-door and wagon, and the two-door coupe brought mileage down to 20/28 mpg, a bit lower for some of the other body styles.
The high-performance E63 AMG models were rated as low as 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway--or 15/21 for the new E63 AMG Wagon.
Given that last year's E350 BlueTEC earned 22/32-mpg fuel economy numbers, it's a good bet the new turbo four-cylinder diesel in the E250 Bluetec will hit 35 mpg on the highway cycle. In an early drive, we managed to see 38 mpg, including some aggressive, non-mindful driving; so we expect a real-world 40 mpg on the highway to be quite easily achievable.