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Mercedes Expands All-Wheel Drive Availability

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author photo by Nick Palermo March 2012
  • All-wheel drive option added to two models
  • System increases traction and improves performance on slippery roads
  • No fuel economy penalty for all-wheel drive C350 and E350 coupes

Many drivers in colder climates are well aware of the benefits of all-wheel drive. Compared with front- or rear-drive vehicles, those that send power to all four wheels typically exhibit better performance in slippery conditions like rain and snow. Some sports cars even use all-wheel drive for better traction on dry surfaces.

Mercedes-Benz has long focused on both safety and performance, so the company's 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is a natural fit for their model lineup. Since last year, the full-size S350 BlueTEC sedan has been offered only in all-wheel drive. Mercedes also added a 4MATIC version of the CLS550 in 2011. Now, the company is expanding the 4MATIC option to two more vehicles - the C350 Coupe and E350 Coupe. Pricing for the all-wheel drive Benzes is a bit higher compared with equivalent rear-drive models, but all-wheel drive C-Class and E-Class coupes suffer no fuel economy penalty.

Higher prices and lower fuel economy are common drawbacks of all-wheel drive. On the mid-size C350 4MATIC luxury coupe, the price premium for the system is just $1125, a small price for buyers that need more grip. On the E-Class coupe, the premium is a more substantial $3000. For the extra money, the E350 Coupe also includes Mercedes' Agility Control suspension. Both vehicles are powered by a 302-horsepower V6 that delivers the same fuel economy in rear-drive and all-wheel drive E-Class and C-Class coupes - 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Pricing for the 4MATIC version of the CLS550, a sleek four-door coupe powered by a 402-horsepower V8, is $2500 higher than its rear-wheel drive counterpart. Unlike the C-Class and E-Class coupes, the all-wheel drive CLS takes a minor hit on fuel economy, delivering about 25 mpg highway versus the rear-drive CLS's 26 mpg.

With an economical and powerful diesel engine, the S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC delivers 31 mpg highway with the benefit of all-wheel drive. No two-wheel drive diesel S-Class is offered.

While Mercedes may see greater sales success with its 4MATIC vehicles in colder climates, all-wheel drive technology can be helpful even in milder parts of the country. All-wheel drive can provide enhanced control and greater peace of mind in everyday situations, too.

What it means to you: All-wheel drive can be an important safety feature in wet or snowy climates, but better traction can mean safer driving even on dry roads. With no difference in fuel economy and a relatively small price hike, 4MATIC is an appealing option on C350 and E350 coupes.

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Mercedes Expands All-Wheel Drive Availability - Autotrader