Available in sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon form, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a throwback to a time when SUVs and crossovers didn't exist and automakers extended body styles offerings of a model to appeal to a wide range of shoppers. That's not to say the E-Class is dated in any way, as it was most recently refreshed for 2021. Offered with rear- or all-wheel drive (4Matic), the E-Class competes with other midsize luxury cars like the Audi A6, Cadillac CT5, BMW 5-Series, Genesis G80, Jaguar XF, Lexus ES, and Volvo S90.
The model lineup consists of E 350, E 450, and AMG E 53. Taking 2022 off is the hyper-performance AMG E 65. E 350 is offered only as a sedan. It comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 255 horsepower. E 450 is available with all four body styles and gets a turbocharged inline 6-cyloinder engine that makes 362 horsepower. The line-topping AMG E 53 can be had as a sedan, coupe or convertible and comes with a more-powerful version of that engine that makes 429 horsepower and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Other models come standard with rear-wheel drive, offering all-wheel drive as an option. All engines mate to a 9-speed automatic.
Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and wireless cell phone charger. Available features include Burmester audio system, adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and soft-close doors. Prices start at $56,000 and climb to more than $76,000.
E 350 models offer smooth and balanced acceleration. The 4-cylinder engine does feel a bit taxed with a full passenger load, but otherwise it's unobtrusive and efficient. E 450 models feel much more energetic. Mercedes' says it will go from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 5 seconds, which is as quick as step-up-engine competitors. It's also buttery smooth and mates perfectly with the slick-shifting 9-speed automatic. AMG models offer more performance, but that comes with a price and fuel economy penalty.
The available all-wheel-drive system (4Matic) does an excellent job of routing power to wheels with the most available traction. It's rear-drive biased, which gives the E-Class a more neutral dynamic in aggressive driving, but quicky works with the stability control system to help the driver stay on the road.
Speaking of fuel economy, the E-Class can be efficient with the 4-cylinder engine. That model nets EPA ratings as high as 23 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. Six-cylinder models drop of 21/28 MPG and the AMG gets a rating of 20/28 MPG. All in all, those numbers are class appropriate, but not outstanding in the grand scheme of things. As to be expected all vehicles in this classification require premium-grade fuel. In routine suburban commuting expect to average close to 23 MPG overall with either 350 or 450. The large 21-gallon fuel tank gives E-Class an impressive 500-mile highway range.
E 350 and E 450 models offer a near-perfect ride/handling balance. Stepping up to the AMG model or adding the performance tires on the 450 introduce a ride harshness that's unbecoming of a luxury sedan. Still, any E-Class buyer will appreciate how smoothly it rides on the highway and how neutral it feels going around corners.
The steering doesn't have much feel or give any feedback going over bumps. At least its precise. Brakes seem to have good stopping power, but overall stopping distances were longer than expected. Body lean is modest, but well within acceptable limits.
Interior noise levels are extremely low. There's only a hint of wind noise at extra-legal speeds and tire-rumble is kept nicely in check.
The E-Class interior is a model of modern elegance. Materials are top notch, and the design is fresh, without being too flashy. One flaw are capacitive touch buttons on the steering wheel that are somewhat hard to operate.
Finding a good driving position is easy thanks to the adjustability of the seat and steering wheel. Front-seat head and leg room are exceptional. All the controls and gauges are easy to see and reach. Forward visibility is fine, but the narrow rear window makes you appreciate the crisp backup camera. Getting in and out is fine up front. But the back seat isn't quite as spacious as you might expect, so taller occupants might find knee room lacking. It is worth noting that optional on wagon models is a rear-facing third-row seat. It's definitely child sized, but gives the E-Class a leg up on its competitors.
On the technology front, the MBUX infotainment system could clearly control a NASA space craft. The multitude of menus, submenus, gesture controls, and voice commands can be daunting for even the experienced technophile. To be fair, similar systems in Audi and BMW models are just as confounding. Still, once you get the hang of things, its not too bad. Thankfully all important vehicles controls like the wipers, windows switches, etc. are logically placed and easy to use.
From a cargo standpoint, the sedan offers a very usable 13.1 cubic feet of storage space, that's a little less than the BMW, but at least the rear seats fold to increase capacity. Wagon models offer a capricious 35 cubic feet of space. Coupes and convertible? Well let's just say you can pack a weekend's worth of duffle bags.
Bottom Line -- The E-Class has long been a favorite of luxury-car buyers. It truly offers a near-perfect blend of comfort, luxury, technology, safety, and elegance. Thankfully Mercedes still offers a range of body styles and engine offerings that are designed to appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Prices might seem daunting at first, but when you start cross shopping, you'll find that the E-Class is actually quite a bargain.