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2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review

The E-Class is Mercedes-Benz’s well-established and highly regarded 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 this choice of four body styles, the E-Class offers a variety of engines that range from an efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder in E 350 models to a twin-turbo V8 that makes over 600 horsepower in the high-performance Mercedes-AMG E 63 S variants. In between are models with a lovely new inline-6 that now benefits from a 48-volt mild hybrid system.

Also noteworthy this year is the former E-Class station wagon is now called the All-Terrain. It’s a new all-wheel-drive wagon with a rugged design. 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 pedigree 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. More technology is standard with Mercedes’ slick dual 12.3-inch widescreen displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system.

Last year’s V6 has been replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 362 horsepower in the various E 450 models, aided by an integral 48-volt mild hybrid system that improves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. In addition to air suspension, the All-Terrain has a pair of offroad-specific driving modes. A more traditional looking E-Class wagon remains, but only as the high-performance, $112,000-plus Mercedes-AMG E 63 S variant.

The fresh new E 53 models (available as a sedan, coupe cabrio)  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

  • Options add up quickly
  • Trunk space is only average

How Much?

$54,250-$112,450 (plus $1,050 destination fee)

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350, powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine as last year and still using the same 9-speed automatic transmission, is rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 22 miles per gallon city/31 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. With 4Matic all-wheel drive, that drops just a bit, to 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.

Equipped with the 3.0-liter inline-6 and the EQ Boost mild hybrid system, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4Matic Sedan is rated at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.

Did you notice anything? The 6-cylinder E sedan gets better mpg on the highway than the 4-cylinder E sedan. The E 450 All-Terrain wagon, however, does not, returning EPA figures of 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/24 mpg combined.  As an E 450 Coupe, this Mercedes is rated at 23/30/25 by the EPA. As an E 450 Convertible, the fuel economy is almost the same: 23/29/25.

The 2021 AMG E 53 Sedan, with 429 horsepower, comes in at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined, while the AMG E 53 Coupe is rated at 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/24 mpg combined. The heavier E 53 Cabriolet isn’t quite as good, returning EPA figures of 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/23 mpg combined.

Fuel economy figures for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S sedan and E 63 S wagon are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/18 mpg combined.

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 numerous AMG high-performance models: the E 53 sedan, E 53 coupe, and E53 cabriolet and E 63 S sedan and E 63 S wagon.

All E-Class models, as you might expect, are well-equipped. The MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Interface) infotainment system, a wide-screen digital dash with dual 12.3-inch displays, 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 E 450 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.

In addition to a more powerful inline-6 engine and standard 4Matic all-wheel drive, the Mercedes-AMG E 53 include upgraded transmission, brakes and suspension components, not to mention their own bolder aesthetic touches. New for 2021, they now come with the AMG Drive Unit steering wheel-mounted button that lets you adjust driving characteristics on the fly. Also standard on AMG models is a surround-view camera.

The range-topping, high-performance Mercedes-AMG 63 S models get a handcrafted V8 engine that makes 603 horsepower and even more upgrades to harness all that power. One particularly cool feature is its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. It has a special “Drift” mode that turns these vehicles into rear-wheel-drive ones, thus enabling you to drift them. As one does in their 6-figure executive car. Also now included is the Warmth and Comfort Package that adds heated steering wheel, rapid heat front seats, heated arm rests and even a heated center console.

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.

Safety

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 includes standard safety equipment like forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and a driver-attention system that can detect signs of drowsiness. It also has Pre-Safe, another standard system that automatically tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof if a collision is imminent.

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.

The available adaptive cruise control system, which Mercedes calls Distronic, can now stop for up to a minute in traffic and automatically resume. The active blind-spot assist system now includes exit warning, which can alert you of approaching vehicles as you get out of the vehicle.

Behind the Wheel

The E-Class models coming to the U.S. for 2021 include the 4-cylinder E 350 Sedan with rear- or 4Matic all-wheel drive. In past tests, we’ve found this engine has acceptable power output and good fuel efficiency. We’ve also found the standard 9-speed transmission to be among the better such setups out there.

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.

We recently sampled an E 450 4Matic Sedan ($62,000) and came away impressed. Its new inline-6 makes excellent power (362 horsepower), and the 48-volt EQ Boost hybrid assist adds an extra 21 hp when needed. Just as impressive, the automatic restarts of the fuel-saving automatic start/stop system are so smooth that we don’t feel the need to shut the system off, as we do in most other cars.

Although the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 has 4Matic all-wheel drive, the drive torque to the front wheels has no adverse effect on the steering, which thankfully isn’t overboosted. Moreover, the ride quality of this midsize 4-door Mercedes sedan is excellent, and the driver’s seat has enough travel to accommodate drivers who are taller than 6-foot-4.

Two other 6-cylinder models are the 2021 E-Class coupe and E-Class cabriolet, a pair of 4-seaters with 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 E 53 Sedan, E 53 Coupe, and E 53 Cabriolet.  We sampled a 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet ($82,850), which like the other E 53 models is powered by an AMG-built turbocharged inline-6 engine with 429 horsepower. As in the E 450, the E 53 Cabrio also benefits from a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

In short, the E 53 Cabriolet is a delight to drive, aided by a solid structure and a well-lined fabric top that can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph. Airscarf, which keeps your head and neck warm, is standard, as is Aircap, a wind deflector that deploys up from the windshield header to direct air over the cabin. It’s effective, and it helps make top-down conversation easy on the highway, even though we did notice a slight whistle at speed.

Although the E 53 Cabriolet’s 2 + 2 cabin is a handsome and beautifully appointed place, we wish the rear seatbacks weren’t quite so upright. Also worth noting: The seats of the E-Class sedan are much more spacious than those of the cabriolet, thanks in part to its 2.6-in.-longer wheelbase.

At the top of the E-Class food chain is the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, available as a sedan or wagon. And what a predator it is. These models house a handcrafted 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 603 horsepower. All that power is sent to the ground via the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system (which can be made rear-drive only in Drift mode). These models are real sleepers, with the ability to do 0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds.

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 and class-leading warranty for several thousand less. .

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 the ruggedized 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 and AMG E 63 S 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 airflow. 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.

Autotrader’s Advice

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

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