The luxurious German 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class takes on the South Korean upstart 2021 Genesis G80 in a battle of midsize luxury sport sedans. Both offer comfort, performance, and quality, but which is better?
- Both can achieve 26 mpg combined.
- 2021 Mercedes E-Class is available as a sedan, coupe, cabriolet or wagon.
- 2021 Genesis G80 makes 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Base price: $55,300 / Read our 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review
What we like: Choice of engines; numerous body styles, including coupe, sedan, cabriolet and wagon; solid resale value
What we would change: Expensive; all-wheel drive not available on all models; tight rear seats
Overview: While the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is available in a range of body styles, for the purposes of this comparison we will talk only about the sedan. As expected from Mercedes, the 2021 E-Class is built with exceptional quality and attention to detail, and combines expected Benz elegance with performance. While the base E350 is powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder, there is also a turbocharged 6-cylinder and a rather bonkers twin-turbo V8 in the AMG models. To be fair, though, that base engine is still very smooth and sufficient to keep the E-Class moving, and those AMG variants are really in a class by themselves, starting in the $70,000 range and heading into the six figures. The cabin, as expected, is comfortable and luxurious, with such things as standard heated power-adjustable seats, a navigation system, and two 12.3-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for infotainment, including a navigation system and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. As one would expect, options are nearly endless, including air suspension, massaging seats, and a Burmester surround-sound audio system, but they cause the price to rise very quickly. Resale values are typically Mercedes solid.
What’s new for 2021: 2021 was a big year for the Mercedes E-Class, with all models undergoing a refresh, including revised styling inside and out. This included the addition of new metallic colors, including Graphite Gray, Mojave Silver, and Cirrus Silver. In the E450, the V6 engine has been replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder, and the all-wheel-drive wagon gets a new name, All-Terrain. On the inside, the dash gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as well as a 12.3-inch multimedia display, with enhanced “Hey Mercedes” voice control.
Features and technology: There are body styles and engines galore for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the features list is about as long. Starting with the base E350, standard equipment includes the MBUX infotainment system as well as the 12.3-inch digital readout, including a navigation system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Other features include a power sunroof, MB-Tex leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power-adjustable front seats, and push-button start, as well as AMG body styling, 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires, and 64 colors of ambient interior lighting.
The All-Terrain and cabrio variants add several model-specific features, but we will not cover those here. AMG models include a surround-view camera, sport suspension and brakes, and such things as a heated steering wheel, heated center console, and heated armrests. Moving up, the E450 comes standard with all-wheel drive, a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine assisted by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The AMG E 53 includes a more powerful version of that engine as well as a different steering wheel and a surround-view camera, and the E 63 gets a twin-turbo V8 and a special Drift mode added to its all-wheel drive. Options on all trims include everything from an air suspension to a panoramic sunroof, an upgrade Burmester audio system, and massaging seats.
What does the future hold: Mercedes tends to keep very current on technology, so we expect different tech and driver assist features as they become available. We also expect the mild hybrid to be used more in order to maintain fuel efficiency while still offering the kind of power Mercedes drivers expect. Find a 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class for sale
2021 Genesis G80
Base price: $47,700 / Read our 2021 Genesis G80 review
What we like: Unique looks; optional all-wheel drive; plenty of driver assists; powerful optional V6; optional adaptive suspension; great warranty
What we would change: Add a V8 option and a hybrid; increase the trunk size; console dial is challenging to use while driving
Overview: Completely redesigned with a bold new look and a choice of engines ranging from a turbocharged four-cylinder to a twin-turbo V6, the 2021 Genesis G80 is a distinctive-looking midsize sedan that provides luxury, comfort, and a load of standard features at a reasonable price. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, but all-wheel drive is also available, as well as a camera-based adaptive suspension, and various drive modes change the response of the steering and throttle. Visibility is solid and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. Despite the sloped roofline, rear seat comfort is also good, although if we do have one complaint, the trunk is a little small. The interior is clean and uncluttered, although a 14.5-inch infotainment screen takes up a big part of the dash. It’s operated by a console-mounted dial that also incorporates handwriting recognition, although that isn’t terribly practical while one is driving. The G80 also comes loaded with standard features, including plenty of driver-assist and safety functions, 12-way power heated front seats, keyless entry, and both navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. For an extra bit of confidence, Genesis includes a class-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
What’s new for 2021: A complete redesign means everything is new for 2021, with a new shape and a new interior. A new camera-based adaptive suspension reads the road and adjusts the ride for more comfort and precise handling. Most significantly, the base V6 has been replaced with a turbocharged four-cylinder, and the top V8 engine has been dropped.
Features and technology: As with the Lexus, the Genesis G80 comes well equipped right off the bat, although there are only five trims compared with the eight of the Lexus. Standard features include 12-way power and heated front seats, keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control, 18-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection. A 14.5-inch infotainment screen includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a navigation system.
Options include a camera-based adaptive suspension, surround-view monitor, both 19- and 20-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, Nappa leather upholstery, wireless device charging, remote smart-parking assist, and a panoramic sunroof, among other things.
What does the future hold: We expect Genesis to follow the lead of Lexus by staying the course and building its brand cachet against the Germans. Given that the 2021 redesign was significant, we don’t expect more than incremental changes in the years ahead, although we would like if there was a G80 hybrid. Find a 2021 Genesis G80 for sale
E-Class vs. G80: Strengths comparison
E-Class Benefits: Brand cachet; luxury touches; numerous body styles; high-performance AMG models.
G80 Benefits: Much lower starting price; base power; distinctive looks; longer warranty.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class vs. 2021 Genesis G80: Which is better?
There is no question that the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an exceptional sedan, offering levels of performance, luxury and elegance that only come from years of experience. But there’s no getting around that nearly $8,000 difference in starting price. The 2021 Genesis G80 is comfortable, luxurious, roomy, and great to drive, and even has a longer warranty. If what’s most important to you is having a top-notch midsize luxury sport sedan, you can’t go wrong picking the G80. Find a 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class for sale or Find a 2021 Genesis G80 for sale
|2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class||2021 Genesis G80|
|Engine||2.0-liter turbocharged I4||2.5-liter turbocharged I4|
|Horsepower||255 hp @ 5,800 rpm||300 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|Torque||273 lb-ft @ 1,800rpm||311 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm|
|Transmission||9-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Fuel Economy||26 mpg (22 city/31 highway)||26 mpg (23 city/32 highway)|
|Also Available||3.0-liter turbocharged I6; (two levels of tune); 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8||3.5-liter twin-turbo V6|
|Basic warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||n/a||5 Stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||115.7 inches||118.5 inches|
|Overall Length||194.3 inches||196.7 inches|
|Width||72.9 inches||75.8 inches|
|Height||57.8 inches||57.7 inches|
|Turning Diameter||38 feet||38 feet|
|Headroom, Front||37.3 inches||41.1 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||37.6 inches||38.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||41.7 inches||42.5 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||36.2 inches||38.7 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||57.8 inches||58.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||57.1 inches||57.1 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||n/a||103.8 cubic inches|
|EPA Cargo Volume||13.1 cubic inches||13.1 cubic inches|