- Any body you want
- Fab cabin
- ...with lots of room
- All-wheel drive, even on coupe
- High performance 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
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers elegant comfort and luxury in several flavors, with a thrifty diesel and a high-performance V-8 for those at either end of the spectrum.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers many different options for a wide variety of buyers. There's a traditional sedan and wagon, as well as coupe and convertible models. Add to that a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, and five different engine options, including a diesel and an AMG variant that puts out 577 horsepower.
The E-Class is myriad things to many people, but at its core, the E-Class is a comfortable mid-size car that does luxury right and can even be a bit of fun to drive.
For the 2016 model year the E-Class is offered as the E250 BlueTec sedan; E350 sedan or wagon; E400 sedan, wagon, coupe, or cabriolet; E550 coupe or cabriolet; and the E63 AMG sedan or wagon. The E400 Hybrid has been dropped.
The E-Class' unmistakable German presence is sporty and elegant. Luxury models wear a three-bar grille and a star on the hood, while Sport models get the star integrated into the grille itself. The other major design elements include creased bodyside character lines, LED running lights, and LED taillights with a signature nighttime look. The overall appearance is conservative, but handsome.
The E-Class' cabin boasts fine materials and trims we've come to associate with Mercedes. Likewise for the solidly constructed feel of most of the controls. The standard vinyl and wood can be upgraded to supple leather, aluminum or carbon-look trim, or furniture-grade wood.
Interior space includes excellent head room and leg room for both the front and back seats. The E-Class sedan comfortably seats five adults. Coupes and convertibles can carry four, with relatively big back seats. Wagon models have even more versatility, with fold-down seats, an open cargo space, and two temporary-duty, rear-facing third-row seats available on non-AMG models. The cabins are comfortably quiet.
A huge range of drivetrain offerings almost guarantees there's an E-Class for any point on the economy/performance curve. The basic E350 gasoline engine has direct injection and makes 302 hp, while the 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the E550 throbs with 402 hp. A twin-turbo E400 makes 329 hp, replacing the E350 in some body styles and the E550 in others. At the top of the gas-powered lineup, a spooled-up E63 AMG performance edition now churns out 577 hp from a 5.5-liter biturbo V-8. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive is also optional on some coupes and much of the sedan range, standard on wagons, and standard on the AMG versions. Any of the gasoline-powered E-Classes accelerates to 60 mph in 7 seconds or less, with the AMG versions throttling the pavement into submission in as few as 4 seconds.
A diesel engine is the choice for those interested in fuel economy. The E250 BlueTec gives up some torque and a bit of acceleration to the base gasoline engine, but delivers 42 mpg on the highway.
Regardless of the model or engine chosen, the E-Class range rewards the driver with a choice of suspension settings, a responsive seven-speed automatic, and comfortable and controlled, though perhaps not always sporty, driving dynamics. The E63 AMG kicks the whole show up a notch, with an AMG-tuned suspension and lots of power.
Standard equipment includes power front seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, an AM/FM/CD/DVD player with an SD car slot, Bluetooth, a multi-function instrument display, and a sunroof. A rearview camera, satellite radio, and leather upholstery are all available but not standard on the base model. Other luxury upgrades include voice-controlled navigation, HD Radio, a surround-view camera, heated seats, air suspension, and adaptive sport seats. The most coveted feature is sure to be the 1,200-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with exquisite rendering of sound.
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. A front-mounted stereo camera system maps in 3-D road obstacles and traffic at distances up to 55 yards, with overall system effectiveness stretching out to 550 yards. Together with the driver drowsiness detection system, forward-collision mitigation system, braking assistance, and several flavors of lane-keeping assist, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class can even steer itself in limited circumstances while radar cruise handles speed regulation—a first step to autonomous driving. Finally, two of the body styles have earned Top Safety Pick+ status from the IIHS, but the E-Class gets only a four-star overall rating from NHTSA.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Four body styles and Sport or Luxury styling themes are offered, but all are imposing and handsome.
Although there are four body styles and numerous trim levels within the E-Class lineup, they all share a cohesive, familiar design. There are different wheels, trim packages, and even LED taillights that can dress up the shape, but even the basic cars are handsome.
All body styles look sleek, 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 think that with the roof up the more pert roofline stretches the proportions oddly upward. Power the top down and the E-Class cabrio once again looks graceful. The rooflines of the sedan and wagon give these cars a decidedly conservative look.
Bold details give the E-Class a lot of personality. Most notable is how the dual headlamps merge together into one unit, especially on the coupe and convertible, with bright LED light bars visually separating them and functioning as running lamps. Sharp, creased lower bodywork looks sporty and elegant, and works well with the creases higher on the body. The coupe and convertible have more pronounced wheel flares, especially in the rear.
The E-Class offers two themes for standard models. 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. It's pretty and elegant, the way all E-Class cars used to be, before the detour into goggle-eye lamps.
The high-performance E63 AMG is easy to pick out from a distance, thanks to its unique wheels and special lower-body aerodynamic treatment. It also gets an upgraded interior with sport seats, aluminum pedals, Alcantara trim, and a flat bottom steering wheel.
The interior feels a little 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 traditionally luxurious look that meshes well with the exterior. 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 is a tank-style analog clock on the dash.
About the only things that aren't so welcoming are the sea of matte-plastic buttons for audio and climate controls, and the COMAND interface that covers infotainment through a big roller knob and a large LCD screen.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Depending on the model you buy, the E-Class can specialize in luxury, fuel economy, or power and performance.
The E-Class family of cars includes four body styles and five distinct engine choices. That makes for an amazing range of personalities, most of which we know on a first-name basis.
With 195 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, as well as available 4Matic all-wheel drive, the E250 BlueTec sedan is very satisfying and engaging. It has a light, responsive feel at most speeds thanks to the 2.1-liter turbodiesel's relatively small size and strong torque. Only from a standing start or when ordering up a quick pass after trundling along does the diesel hesitate for just a moment. It boasts the best highway fuel economy of the whole group, at a very impressive 42 mpg.
Going with gas
The mainstream engine is the 3.5-liter V-6 in E350 models. It continues on in sedans and wagons, and spins out 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The powerband is relatively wide and the power is smooth. Zero to 60 mph times are well under 7 seconds, and the top speed is 130 mph.
The next step up is the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, which develops 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. E400 models are available in the coupe, convertible, and sedan body styles. Our experience with this engine is positive, and it feels considerably stronger than the base V-6, with only a faint hint of turbo lag.
Offered in the E550 coupe and convertible is a 4.6-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers and direct injection. It makes 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. The V-8 is a much more evocative performer than either V-6, with top speed rising to 155 mph and 0-60 mph times falling to 5.2 seconds.
The E550 also comes standard with an air-spring adaptive suspension and lower-profile tires. 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.)
All of these models come standard with a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift controls. They're not the most responsive automatics we've driven. They're better than some of the 6-speeds in the luxury world, but not quite to the smooth par set by the 8-speed automatics in many other luxury rivals.
All E-Class cars have electric power steering. 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 make the E-Class feel more sporty, by adding some heft and quickness to the steering. There's more razor-sharp quickness with, say, the Lexus GS F-Sport's available rear-steer system, but the E-Class' steering feels better than most.
The E-Class comes in Luxury or Sport trim. Softly tuned, the Luxury model has ample body lean and scrubs its standard 17-inch tires easily. As a Sport, the car 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 standard on the E350 wagon and available on the E350 and E400 sedans and the E400 coupe. It brings only a slight acceleration and fuel-economy penalty.
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 are only available in the higher performance S trim for 2016. They make 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. They're also equipped with standard all-wheel drive, with a fixed torque split of 33:67.
The result: a scalding-hot 0-60 mph time right around 4 seconds, measured through the standard Racestart launch control and on-screen telemetry. Top speed is 186 mph.
It's impossible to mistake the E63's stupendous performance for that of 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 wheel 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 as the E63 AMG unfurls its massive power and sticks to the ground with an iron will. And the adaptive suspension keeps the car extremely well planted in any situation, with a strong, solid feel that just encourages you to go faster.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Comfort & Quality
All E-Class models offer plush interiors with fantastic seats, and the wagons and sedans have lots of space.
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, a quiet cabin, and exemplary fit and finish contribute 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.
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.
In front, passengers get deep foot wells and a couple of fingers of head room—even with the standard sunroof. The base power-adjustable seats can seem pretty pedestrian in construction, and the synthetic material in base models seems out of place in a luxury car. However, in the U.S., the majority of cars are sold with leather. AMG versions have their own grippy, highly 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 in sedan and wagon models, and leg room and elbow room are very good for two passengers. The back seat is easy to access and flip forward for more space, thanks to a split-folding design.
Coupe and cabriolet models 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 leg room, but the seats themselves are quite comfortable. There are only two seats in the back of the coupe and cabriolet, with a nice amount of breathing room in between.
Small-items storage is decent, with a two-tier glove box sized just about right for an actual pair of gloves. Cupholders are hidden beneath a slide-forward console lid, and behind and below them is a somewhat shallow storage compartment. In terms of cargo space, the E-Class sedan has a roomy trunk, wagons are of course the most versatile for cargo, and the non-AMG five-doors can be fitted with a couple of temporary-use, rear-facing third-row seats.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Crash-test scores are good, but not perfect, and the E-Class is available with a ton of active safety features.
The E-Class comes standard with up to 11 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. An available surround-view camera is a safety upgrade that can see obstacles near the car in any direction at parking lot speeds.
Beyond those now-conventional features, the E-Class offers a full suite of active safety technology—some of it more useful than others. Among the available safety features, depending on body style, are Attention Assist, which monitors steering-wheel activity and other inputs for attentiveness and suggests a coffee stop when it senses a drowsy driver; blind-spot monitors; adaptive cruise control; automatic headlamps; and night vision.
The E-Class also offers a front-mounted stereo camera system that maps in 3-D road obstacles and traffic at distances up to 55 yards, with overall system effectiveness stretching out to 550 yards. This enables the "Intelligent Drive" suite of technologies, which includes lane-keep 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, but by using adaptive cruise control with lane-keep 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—and to stay within the lines while cruising on the highway. Provided the road markings are good, it works surprisingly well.
The 2016 E-Class sedan is fairly well rated by both national testing agencies, while the rest of the body styles get good scores from the agencies that have tested them. Because there are so many body styles, not all of them have been examined by both groups.
The IIHS has given the most recent two-door coupe and four-door sedan "Good" scores in all performed tests. For the sedan, that means all five test categories, which gives it a Top Safety Pick+ ranking, while the coupe has been tested in all but the newer small-overlap crash test, which means it can't be considered for the award.
Federal safety authorities give the E-Class sedan and wagon four stars overall, with four-star ratings for front-impact tests and five stars for side crashes and rollover.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
Despite hefty prices, leather upholstery and a rearview camera aren't standard, but buyers can add just about every option imaginable.
With so many models to choose from, there's plenty of flexibility within the E-Class lineup, and you can make this luxury car just about as luxurious as you'd care to.
All E-Class models get the standard-issue package of features and equipment, including power front seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, an AM/FM/CD/DVD player with an SD car slot, Bluetooth, a multi-function instrument display, a sunroof, and rain-sensing wipers. Every E-Class also sports the mbrace2 smartphone connectivity suite, which integrates streaming audio via Pandora, and a host of other connected-car features. For 2016, mbrace adds three pay upgrade options called mbrace Secure, mbrace Concierge, and mbrace Entertain. All models also get five years of mbrace Connect services, up from three last year.
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 include 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 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 Keyless-Go package with proximity key and keyless ignition, a power trunklid closer, and a trunk opener that works by waving a foot under the bumper. The Driver Assistance package bundles brake assist, Pre-Safe functions, Distronic radar cruise with steering, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. A new Night Package is also offered.
A Bang & Olufsen sound system with 1,200 watts delivered through 14 speakers is an expensive, but appropriately high-end option as well.
Stepping up to the top-of-the-line E63 AMG S models gets you a high-performance transmission and the AMG-built 577-hp V-8. It also features upgraded materials throughout, including a flat-bottom steering wheel and Alcantara trim, plus AMG badges, performance-tuned stability and traction electronics, and a 200-mph speedometer. For 2016, all AMGs also get the "S" equipment, which used to be optional. These features include carbon-ceramic brakes and red brake calipers.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The E-Class covers the fuel economy spectrum, from thrifty diesels to thirsty AMGs.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers almost all of the most commonly available engine types. Available powertrains span naturally aspirated gas, turbocharged gas, and a very efficient diesel. Last year, Mercedes offered a hybrid as well, but it has been discontinued.
Starting with the mainstream models, the E350 sedan rates up to 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined. 4Matic all-wheel-drive versions bring mileage down to 20/28/23 mpg.
The twin-turbo V-6 E400 is rated at as high as 20/29/24 mpg for a coupe with rear drive and 20/28/23 mpg for a coupe with 4Matic.
The V-8 twin-turbocharged V-8 E550 coupe is rated at 18/26/21 mpg, while the E550 4Matic sedan rates 18/24/21 mpg, and the E550 convertible is rated at 17/26/20 mpg.
For those who want fuel efficiency, the diesel-powered E250 BlueTec sedan is rated at 28/42/33 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 27/38/31 mpg with 4Matic.
The high-performance E63 AMG models are rated at 15/22/18 mpg for the E63 AMG S sedan and 15/21/18 mpg for the E63 AMG S wagon.