Certain cars fit certain environments. A smart fortwo makes perfect sense in Rome, but you’d struggle to not look like an idiot driving the pint-sized two-seater in Anchorage. Equally, a Chevrolet Suburban is a substantially better fit in the vastness of Dallas compared to the tight quarters of Times Square. On a recent family vacation in the Florida Keys, I found the 2015 Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec to be the ideal vehicle for a trip to the unique collection of islands in south Florida.
This latest diesel E-Class replaces the E350 Bluetec, trading a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel for a 2.1-liter, twin-turbo inline-four. Outright power is down slightly from 210 hp to 195 hp, but the EPA highway fuel economy rating has leaped from 32 mpg to a very impressive 42 mpg. You can also pair all-wheel drive with the smaller inline-four, which wasn’t a possibility with the old E350 oil burner in the U.S. market. Drivers who do want the $2,500 traction-enhancing 4Matic option will see the E250 lose 4 mpg on its EPA highway rating.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec made good first impressions as we left the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport. Although the car exhibits the lethargy off the line that is typical of diesels, the 369 lb-ft of torque does plenty to move the 4,200-pound E-Class at highway speed. I only missed the E350’s 302-hp gasoline V-6 when aggressively accelerating along a freeway on-ramp or while attempting a rapid pass on a two-lane road. Mercedes quotes a 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds for the E250 turbodiesel versus 6.5 seconds for the gas-powered E350.
Not that I was in a hurry. The local police aggressively patrol the congested, arrow-straight causeway that is U.S. Route 1 in the Florida Keys. The speed limit is usually in the 45-55 mph range, and I rarely ventured more than 5 mph above the legal threshold. This gave me plenty of time to fully take in the E250 BlueTec at a relaxed pace. The majority of Mercedes models have stayed true to the German company’s history of building cossetting, mile-munching luxury cars. Sure, our E-Class was equipped with the Sport Appearance Package, but don’t mistake it for a sports sedan. The midsize Mercedes is more about relaxing transportation in a hushed environment with excellent ride quality than high-performance driving.
Our particular E250 came pretty much perfectly equipped for this type of use. The $4,380 Premium 1 package adds a plethora of essentials like navigation, heated seats, satellite radio, and folding rear seats. For $1,290, the Parking Assist package includes parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and auto parking. The $845 Lane Tracking package brings along blind-spot warning as well as a setup that vibrates the steering wheel if you veer out of your lane; it’s all pretty handy on a busy two-lane road. Also helpful is the standard Collision Prevention Assist Plus. If you’re approaching a vehicle too quickly, the system will first warn you with a series of beeps and then auto brake to either stop the E250 before rear-ending the other car or mitigate the severity of the crash at least. With the stop-and-go nature of tourist traffic in the Keys, I’d be lying if I said I never heard the alert during my time with the E-Class diesel.
One option I’d consider adding to the E250 if I lived in an area with bad traffic is the $2,800 Driver Assistance package. Included are more advanced versions of the features contained within the Lane Tracking package plus Distronic Plus radar cruise control with pedestrian detection. Imagine setting the cruise at 55 mph on the famous Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon, Florida, and letting the electronics take over responsibility for centering the E-Class in its lane, steering the Mercedes through gentler curves and braking for slower traffic. On a road like U.S. Route 1, this isn’t taking away from the driving experience; it’s adding to the comfort level.
Perhaps the best thing about the 2015 Mercedes-Benz E250 was that during a week in the Keys, we didn’t visit a gas station once. After nearly 550 miles, the fuel gauge still showed more than a quarter of a tank of diesel remaining. We averaged a total of 41 mpg indicated, and on one 160-mile round-trip run from Islamorada to Key West, we managed an impressive 51 mpg. The car’s large trunk and passenger area were also perfect for our family of four and our luggage.
I really only have two complaints. The interior on the 6-year-old W212 E-Class is feeling slightly dated — yes, that’s a foot-operated parking brake you see. Also, the 2015 E250 lacks the rock-solid directional stability you usually get with a Mercedes. This may be down to the tune of the electric power steering combined with the standard 17-inch run-flat all-season tires, but I simply found myself making far too many small steering corrections on long, straight roads. That’s not something I have to do in my wife’s Mercedes E350 4Matic wagon. But our wagon can’t travel nearly 800 miles without stopping for fuel, and it was stuck back in our garage in cold, snowy Michigan. I’ll take the E250 diesel and the Florida Keys, thank you very much.
2015 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Base Price: $53,575
- Engines: 2.1L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/195 hp @ 3,800 rpm, 269 lb-ft @ 1,600-1,800 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
- Fuel Mileage: 28/42 mpg city/hwy
- L x W x H: 192.1 x 81.5 x 57.1 in
- Wheelbase: 113.2 in
- Weight: 4,200 lb
- Cargo Capacity: 12.9 cu ft