Much more so than other versions of the new E-class I’ve driven, this particular example has that old-school Mercedes vibe. The suspension (lowered, and retuned, part of the optional Sport Package) is firm but with relatively modest seventeen-inch wheels, the ride isn’t harsh. The steering effort is consistent and not overly light. You sit on large, firm, flat seats (the optional Drive Dynamic Multicontour seat, with all the bells and whistles turned off), which are upholstered in tough MB Tex. And then of course there’s the diesel engine gurgling away under the hood. The whole effect is very Germanic, although some might question why a $60,000 Mercedes, with the optional premium package, doesn’t have leather — and they would have a point.
– Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
You might question the $750 Palladium silver paint option, but on more than one occasion while driving the E350, someone commented on just how beautiful this particular shade of silver was. Strikingly luminous, I would say. And I’d have much rather paid for the paint than for the $5000-plus worth of optional nanny driver assists on the options list. Another worthy option: the Drive-Dynamic seat, which keeps you in your seat in turns and gives you a heated lumbar massage for five minutes or so.
– Jean Jennings, Editor-in-Chief
I love the power and fuel economy provided by Mercedes-Benz’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 — but I do wish the automaker were a little flexible in how you can order one. BlueTec engines are offered only in E-class sedans, and they can’t be mated with Mercedes-Benz’s all-wheel-drive system. I suppose there’s some logic to all this — much as the notion of an all-wheel-drive diesel winter wagon appeals to me, I doubt few, if any, Americans are pounding on Daimler’s door and demanding such a vehicle.
I’d certainly spring for the sport sedan package for a number of reasons, including the firmer suspension tuning and the aggressive look that Joe Lorio notes, not to mention the fact that it can be added to an E350 BlueTec for no extra charge.
– Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The best thing about the E-class is probably its available turbo-diesel engine, which adds a premium of only $1500 over the base 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 car and boosts EPA fuel economy from 17/24 mpg city/highway to 22/33 mpg. According to the trip computer, this test car had averaged 29 mpg over the previous 550 miles, which is pretty darn impressive for a mid-size luxury car — especially one that’d been driven by my heavy-footed colleagues.
Actually, I’m not quite sure why someone would opt for the gasoline-fueled E350, unless that person was allergic to diesel fumes. This diesel isn’t the world’s greatest, though; it seemed a bit louder than some other diesels that I’ve experienced recently, including Mercedes BlueTecs of the same displacement. It was quite cold outside when I drove this car, however, so perhaps that had something to do with it. It certainly takes a lot longer for the cabin to heat up when you’ve got an efficient diesel under the hood.
The E-class’s exterior styling is smart, and the car is very comfortable inside. Still, the numb steering dims my enthusiasm, and the E-class certainly doesn’t put a smile on my face like a Jaguar XF.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
As Joe Lorio notes, the E-class — and this diesel powered model in particular — oozes old world Mercedes. To be perfectly honest, it’s not my cup of tea. And that’s fine. Contrary to what us adrenaline-addled car reviewers would often have you believe, a car doesn’t need to autocross reflexes or drag strip muscle to exude personality. The diesel E-class doesn’t accelerate very fast, and the sportiest aspect of its handling are the seat bolsters, which inflate to hold the driver snug as the car calmly leans through corners.
What the E-class does manage, even with an oil-burner, is to carry off an air of bank-vault solidity that still eludes most imitators. And though it’s not a performer, the E-class nonetheless sets itself apart from the Lincolns, Lexuses, and Hyundais of the world with unmistakable Autobahn breeding. It rolls in turns but never wallows, it takes time accelerating but exhibits plenty of confidence at speed. Like many of my colleagues, I’d sooner buy a Jaguar XF for this price, but I’d tip my hat to anyone who chooses this instead.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec
Base price (with destination): $51,775
Price as tested: $59,720
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 engine
7-speed automatic transmission
Agility control suspension
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Electronic stability program
Tire pressure monitoring system
Comand system with 8-speaker sound system
In-dash 6-disc DVD/CD changer
In-dash memory card slot
Auxiliary audio input
Power tilt/sliding sunroof
Multifunction leather steering wheel
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Electronic cruise control
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Options on this vehicle:
Premium 2 package — $6450
Comand system with 40GB hard drive
HD radio with Sirius satellite
iPod/MP3 media interface
Heated front seats
Power rear sunshade
Rear view camera
Bi-Xenon headlamps with active curve illumination
LED daytime running lights
Palladium silver exterior paint — $720
Drive-dynamic driver seat — $660
Multicontour driver seat with massage
Power outlet — $115
Sport package – no charge
Key options not on vehicle:
Driver assistance package — $2950
Active blind spot assist
Active lane keeping assist
Night view assist — $1780
Panorama sunroof — $1090
Parktronic with parking guidance — $970
Fuel economy: 22/33/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.0L turbocharged diesel V-6
Horsepower: 210 hp @ 3400 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 1600-2400 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4059 lb
Wheels/tires: 17-inch aluminum wheels, 245/45R17 Bridgestone Turanza EL400 all-season tires