The E-class range is so diverse that Mercedes-Benz could spin the vehicle line into its own car company. This mid-size car is available as a coupe, a convertible, a wagon, or a sedan with a choice of a V-6, a diesel V-6, two V-8s, and rear- or all-wheel drive. When it was introduced in 2010, the E-class’s styling signaled a new direction for Mercedes, but the traditional virtues are still there: this is an unusually well-built vehicle with excellent safety and technology features. Even as its chief competitor, the BMW 5-Series, has traded some of its dynamic prowess for isolating refinement, the E-class has gained respect from enthusiast drivers. The ninth-generation E is the sportiest yet, with quick responses and precise steering. The base engine is a hearty, direct-injected V-6 that moves the E-class quickly without feeling taxed. Mercedes has an exclusive hold on diesel powertrains in this segment. Its V-6 is big on torque and frugal with fuel. The V-8-powered E550 can only be had as an all-wheel-drive sedan; the two-door coupes send power only to the rear wheels. The convertible and the coupe are based on the smaller C-class but feature most of the E’s technology. To minimize turbulent airflow and allow for top-down driving in cooler temperatures, the convertible comes with a deflector that rises from the windshield header and neck-warming air vents in the seats. The wagon is only available in two trims: an all-wheel-drive, six-cylinder E350 4Matic or a tire-shredding E63 AMG.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: E350, E350 BlueTec, E550, E63 AMG
Body styles: Coupe, sedan, convertible, wagon, 4-, 5-, or 7-passenger
Engines: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6, 210 hp, 400 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 302 hp, 273 lb-ft
4.6L twin-turbo V-8, 402 hp, 443 lb-ft
5.5L twin-turbo V-8, 518/550 hp, 516/590 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 82.0-97.0 cu ft
Cargo space: (convertible/coupe/sedan/wagon) 11.5/13.3/15.9/29.0 cu ft
The E350, the E550, and the E63 AMG all have new powertrains for 2012. Mercedes has also reintroduced the E63 AMG as a wagon for 2012. All models receive a new steering wheel with standard shift paddles, and the iPod connector has been moved from the glove box to the center console.
ABS; front, side, front pelvis, driver’s knee, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard. Optional equipment includes swiveling headlights, night vision with pedestrian detection, parking sensors, and rear side air bags. Optional blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning are new for 2012.
All: 14-22 mpg city/21-33 mpg highway
- Great balance of sport/luxury
- Tame top-down experience
- Available diesel engine
- Coupe has humble roots
- High price of entry
- Gasoline V-6 is thirsty
Closing in on BMW.
- Audi A6
- BMW 5-series
- Infiniti M
- Lexus GS