The tried-and-true E-Class platform receives new safety features for added peace of mind; sensual styling cues are a welcome relief from previous hard-edged design
Options packages quickly inflate MSRPs; revamped styling is polarizing for some; despite the facelift, bits of traditional Mercedes-Benz stodginess remain
The E-Class model's mid-cycle facelift adds softer and curvier bodywork, a slew of new safety-assistance features, a 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine and subtle improvements to its interior trim. The E63 AMG model enjoys a power boost and, for the first time in any AMG sedan, standard all-wheel drive. The E-Class also gains numerous safety features.
It may not be the most emotional choice in the segment (unless you opt for the AMG versions), but the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans, coupes and convertibles offer plenty of likable personality traits in a package that's designed for optimum comfort, luxury and safety. If you need to have all-out performance, your only options are the 4-door AMG versions, which do stellar jobs of feeling powerful yet planted, thanks to their monstrous V8s and confidence-inspiring all-wheel-drive systems. But if you can handle lazier acceleration and don't want to break the bank, we'd suggest opting for a V6-powered E-Class sedan or coupe with a Premium Package, which should deliver many miles of driving satisfaction and leave you with a decent residual value when it's time to trade up.
The E-Class sedan lineup starts with the E250 BlueTEC ($51,400), which can be ordered with a premium lighting package ($1,500). A no-cost sport styling package delivers a sportier suspension and trim as well as 17-inch wheels, while leather upholstery increases the price by $1,620. Interior options include a Premium 1 Package ($3,870), which includes a navigation system, Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound, heated front seats, a rear power sunshade and a rearview camera. Additional options include an electronic trunk closer ($560), Keyless Go ($650), split folding rear seats ($440) and active ventilated front seats ($450). Also available is a panorama roof ($1,090), an active multi-contour driver seat ($660), rear entertainment ($1,910) and an AC power outlet ($115). The 4Matic all-wheel drive can be ordered for $2,500, while blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist can be ordered together with the Lane Tracking Package ($875). Order the Driver Assistance Package ($2,800), and you'll get blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, along with adaptive cruise control, cross-traffic assist and pre-safe plus braking.
The E350 ($51,900) is incrementally more expensive but quite a bit quicker, with a 3.5-liter 302-hp V6 and essentially the same options packages as the E250 BlueTEC.
The E400 Hybrid ($56,700) is equipped with more aggressive bodywork and offers most of the same options as lower-priced models, but adds an available parking-assist package ($1,290) and Parktronic ($970) with active parking assist.
The E550 4Matic ($61,400) offers more standard items such as leather upholstery, while its Premium 1 Package comes at a steeper premium ($4,320) and includes ventilated seats. As indicated in the model name, all-wheel drive is standard, while an Airmatic air suspension can be added for $1,610.
The E63 AMG 4Matic ($93,695) comes with a Premium 1 Package and is available with pricey options such as an exterior carbon-fiber package ($5,500) or an AMG Night Styling Package ($750), while the leather inside is upgraded to a softer Napa selection. The only interior options are the panorama roof ($1,090) and the premium Bang & Olufsen sound system ($5,400). Lane-tracking ($875) and Driver Assistance ($2,800) options are augmented by Surround View ($800) and a carbon-fiber engine cover ($1,500).
The E63 AMG S-Model 4Matic ($99,770) boosts 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, and mimics the options package of the non-S-Model variant.
The E350 Coupe ($52,200) is available with a Sport Package ($1,490) which includes 18-in AMG wheels, a sport steering wheel and a lighting package ($1,500). A Premium 1 Package ($3,270), active ventilated seats ($450) and Keyless Go ($650) round out the interior convenience options. The 4Matic all-wheel drive can be added for $2,500, while a Driver Assistance Package ($2,800) is also available. The self-parking Parktronic system with surround view runs at $1,290, while Parktronic can be ordered by itself for $970.
The E350 Cabriolet ($60,200) offers essentially the same options as above, with added options such as a wind stop ($550).
The E550 Coupe ($59,000) offers a Sport Package ($870) with multi-contour seats, brushed aluminum pedals and a premium lighting system ($1,500). A Premium 1 Package ($3,270) is also available. The same Driver Assistance Package ($2,800) as on the E350 can be ordered, though blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist ($875) can be ordered separately.
The E550 Cabriolet ($67,300) features essentially the same options list as the coupe.
|Basic||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
Audi A6 -- The midsize luxury sedan from Ingolstadt offers serious competition for the E-Class and BMW 5 Series, with a more contemporary cabin treatment, though its exterior styling isn't quite as cutting-edge as we'd like. Looking for a coupe equivalent? Audi's A5/S5/RS5 versions offer more performance options, mostly because Mercedes-Benz doesn't lend its E-Class coupes the AMG treatment.
BMW 5 Series -- Once the paradigm of sedan driving dynamics, the BMW 5 Series has shifted its focus toward a cushier, Lexus-like ride. Nonetheless, at least the 5 Series still manages to feel like a BMW when you're not lead-footing it, though we wonder if the following generation might attempt to recapture the car's sporty soul.
Lexus GS -- The Japanese manufacturer has made strides toward redefining its midsize luxury offering, and the GS makes excellent headway in forging a compelling case for itself against the German establishment. Thanks to a stiffer body and more aggressive suspension tuning, the Lexus offers a surprisingly rewarding driver experience while maintaining much of its signature smooth ride.