The E-Class is Mercedes-Benz’s mainstream midsize offering, a luxurious model available as a 4-door sedan, a station wagon, a 2-door coupe and an open-top cabriolet. For 2021, each of these models has been majorly updated.
In addition to revised styling and a new inline-6 engine in the various E 450 models, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is now available as the E 350e, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version that will likely travel in excess of 20 miles on electricity alone.
What’s more, the former E-Class station wagon is now called the All-Terrain. It’s a new all-wheel-drive wagon designed to look a bit like an SUV. Rounding out the E-Class offerings for 2021 are the potent AMG E53 models (sedan, coupe, cabrio), which are powered by an upgraded version of the inline-6 with 429 horsepower.
While cars such as the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series are obvious E-Class competitors, they don’t offer as many body styles or the prestige of this midsize Benz, which is packed with safety and driver-assistance technologies.
What’s New for 2021?
It’s a big year for the E, with refreshed styling, improved powerplants and fresh new models. Last year’s V6 has been replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 362 horsepower in the various E 450 models, aided by an integral 48-volt mild hybrid system that improves efficiency and power.
The All-Terrain model – essentially an all-wheel-drive (AWD) E-Class wagon with some SUV styling elements – is new for 2021. It’s the only E-Class wagon available in the U.S. for 2021, and it’s powered exclusively by the smooth inline-6. In addition to air suspension, the All-Terrain has a pair of offroad-specific driving modes.
Also new is the Mercedes-Benz E 350e, a PHEV version of the E-Class sedan. Powered by a hybrid powertrain featuring a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor, the E 350e PHEV sedan has 315 combined horsepower and a massive 516 lb-ft of combined torque. Specifics about its EV range and fuel efficiency are expected soon.
About the AMG E-Class offerings: Last year’s twin-turbo V8-powered E63 sedan and wagon are discontinued. What remains are the fresh new E53 models (sedan, coupe cabrio) that pack a potent 429-horsepower punch. Their 3.0-liter inline-6 engine, interestingly, has an electric water pump and an auxiliary electric compressor (a supercharger) to provide an immediate boost while the turbo spools to provide boost later. The integrated 48-volt mild hybrid system, for the record, adds 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.
In other E-Class news for 2021, Mercedes has continued to improve its “Hey, Mercedes” vehicle user interface, and three new metallic colors have been added: Graphite Gray, Mojave Silver, and Cirrus Silver. See the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models for sale near you
What We Like
- Silky smooth inline-6 (E 450)
- Improved styling
- Excellent quality
- The new All-Terrain model
- Abundant safety and driver-assist technologies
What We Don’t
- The V8-powered E 63 is history
- Only 2021 E wagon available is the All-Terrain
- Options add up quickly
- Trunk space is only average
Because the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine as last year, and because it still uses the same 9-speed automatic transmission, we expect its fuel economy to be identical to last year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the rear-wheel-drive version of the 2020 E 350 was rated at 23 miles per gallon city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined. With 4Matic all-wheel drive, that drops just a bit, to 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Similarly, the 2020 AMG E53s, with the same engines and transmissions as this year, give us a good idea of expected 2021 E53 fuel economy. The 2020 AMG E53s were rated this way: E53 sedan: 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined; E53 coupe: 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined; E53 cabriolet: 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.
We’ll post EPA figures for the 2021 Mercedes E-Class lineup as soon as they’re available.
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class range is broad and it ranges from the sedan and All-Terrain wagon to coupe and convertible, along with three hot AMG models: the E53 sedan, E53 coupe, and E5 cabriolet.
All E-Class models, as you might expect, are well-equipped. The MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Interface) infotainment system, a wide-screen digital dash, and a power sunroof are all standard on the new E, which also is equipped with a navigation system, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and heated power-adjustable front seats. Other standard fare includes a new multi-function steering wheel with touch-control buttons, galvanized shift paddles, AMG body styling, and 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires.
The new 2021 Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain, available only as E450 with the 6-cylinder engine, adds air suspension and 19-inch wheels (with run-flat tires), plus two extra driver-selectable driving modes: Offroad and Offroad+. The E-Class cabriolet is distinguished by its power-folding soft top and AirCap and AirScarf systems, which make top-down driving a warmer and less breezy affair.
Notable options on the 2021 E-Class include a head-up display, air suspension, massaging seats, a surround-view camera, a heated steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof. Wireless smartphone charging also is available, as are augmented-video instructions for the navigation system. Additionally, the handsome new E-Class can be ordered with a blacked-out Night Package and a Burmester surround-sound audio system.
We suspect a popular option on the new Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain will be 20-inch AMG wheels. And, speaking of AMG, one of the E53’s most interesting options is called AMG Track Pace.
When you’re driving on a race circuit (such as at a track day on the weekend), Track Pace monitors more than 80 vehicle-specific sets of data (speed, acceleration) to help you improve your driving. Additionally, the E53’s MBUX Augmented Reality feature allows the ideal line of a stored racetrack to be displayed on the dash as a sort of virtual onboard instructor.
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the E-Class sedan and wagon a top 5-star Overall Safety Rating, the 2021 E has not been tested. There is no reason, however, to expect that the 2021 model won’t perform similarly well. Also notable: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the E-Class a Top Safety Pick+, its highest accolade.
The 2021 E-Class is loaded with standard safety equipment like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active blind-spot assist. It also has Pre-Safe, another standard system that automatically tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof if a collision is imminent.
Not enough for you? The E also has Pre-Safe Sound, which emits a sound through the speakers just before a big impact. While this seems a little strange, the sound triggers a reflex in your ear canal to shut the ear for protection against the much louder noise of the upcoming impact.
The E also is available with Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic, a part of the optional Driver Assistance Package. Active Brake Assist applies the brakes automatically to prevent an impending collision with a vehicle ahead, and it will do the same if it senses a potential crash when the E-Class is making a turn across a lane of oncoming traffic.
By the way, the E’s available Driver Assistance Package also has Active Speed Limit Assist, which uses map data and information from Traffic Sign Assist to respond to changes in the speed limit. This includes route-based speed adjustment ahead of bends, roundabouts, three-way stops and even prior to exiting the highway
Behind the Wheel
Autotrader hasn’t tested the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class yet. Cars begin arriving in the U.S. late in 2020 as 2021 models.
The E-Class models coming to the U.S. include the 4-cylinder E350 sedan with rear- or 4Matic all-wheel drive, plus the new 4-cylinder PHEV model, the E 350e.
If you want an E-class with the silky smooth inline-6, order an E 450 sedan or the new All-Terrain wagon, both equipped with standard 4Matic.
Two other 6-cylinder models are the 2021 E-Class coupe and E-Class cabriolet, a pair of 4-seaters that have a 2.6-inch-shorter wheelbase than the E sedan. They are available only as E 450 models with the 362-horsepower inline-6 mild hybrid powertrain. The E 450 coupe and cabriolet may be ordered as a rear-driver or with 4Matic.
Dramatically upping the power quotient are the three AMG E-Class models, the E53 sedan, E53 coupe and E53 cabriolet. Like all other Es, these potent AMG E-Class offerings have exemplary fit and finish but their main reason for existence is their brutally powerful 429-horsepower inline-6 engine, which is both supercharged and turbocharged. Standard 4Matic helps put all that power to the ground.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Audi A6 — Sleek exterior, refined cabin and athletic driving character.
2020 Audi A6 Allroad — Considering the new Mercedes All-Terrain? See how Audi makes their original version.
2021 BMW 5 Series — Comes with its own impressive technology. No slouch to drive either.
2021 Genesis G80 — Offers plenty of features for a relatively bargain price.
2020 Jaguar XF — Supple, smooth, supercharged. And British.
2020 Lexus GS — Surprisingly rewarding to drive while maintaining Lexus smoothness.
Used Porsche Panamera — Luxurious and spacious. And do you really want self-driving features when you’re in a Porsche? Look for a certified pre-owned model with a warranty.
Questions You May Ask
What is the base engine in the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan?
The 2021 Mercedes E 350 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque at only 1,800 rpm.
What is the base engine in a 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and cabriolet?
The 2021 E-Class coupe and cabriolet are E 450 models powered exclusively by the 362-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, which is aided by a 48-volt mild hybrid system and an integrated starter/generator. Both models are available with rear- or 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Is the E-Class new for 2021?
The 2021 Mercedes-Bench E-Class has gone through a major update highlighted by fresh styling, an inline-6 engine (replacing last year’s V6), and the debut of two new models: a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sedan called the E350e, and an SUV-like E 450 4Matic E-Class wagon called the All-Terrain. The E coupe and cabriolet also are significantly updated for 2021, along with the AMG E 53 models.
What is AirCap? AirScarf?
The new E-Class cabriolet, which has a power-operated fabric top, has two helpful features that manage top-down air flow. AirCap consists of an electric wind deflector mounted into the roof frame, along with an electric wind blocker behind the rear seats. AirScarf is a bit different. By touching a button, warm air circulates around your neck area for comfortable top-down motoring on cold nights.
What’s the difference between a Mercedes E 350 and a Mercedes E 450?
Basically, the engine. The 2021 E 350 Sedan is powered by the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the E 450 sedan, All-Terrain, coupe and cabriolet are powered by turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 362 horsepower. The E 350 sedan can be ordered with rear- or all-wheel drive, while the E 450 Sedan is available only with 4Matic all-wheel drive. Coupe and cabriolet E 450 models are offered with rear- or all-wheel drive
What is the Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain?
The Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain is a new model for 2021. It’s an E 450 4Matic wagon with matte-black body cladding, a redesigned grille, and revised headlights and taillights. Air suspension is standard on this new Mercedes, which is part SUV, part station wagon.
A 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 sedan would suit us just fine. It’s comfortable, refined and capable, with enough tech to be interesting but not overwhelm you. Perhaps more significant, the inline-6 is a superb powerplant that feels much better matched to this midsize German chassis than the turbocharged 4-cylinder.
We’re also drawn to the new All-Terrain, an all-wheel-drive E-Class station wagon by any other name. If the All-Terrain offers Americans the look and utility of an SUV but with the expectedly good dynamic abilities of the E-Class chassis, Mercedes has another winner on its hands. Find a Mercedes-Benz E-Class for sale