Every country that builds cars has certain specialties – certain types of cars they build better than others. American carmakers build the world’s most popular muscle cars and pickup trucks. Japanese and Korean manufacturers tend to excel with high-quality small cars. German manufacturers have luxury sedans down to a science.
Even among German carmakers, there are different strong points. BMW is known for their sporty sedans, whereas Audi excels with all-weather all-wheel-drive luxury. Mercedes-Benz, however, is known worldwide for high quality and uncompromising luxury. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans (as well as the coupe, convertible, and wagon variants) have set the standard for luxury midsize vehicles for decades, although in recent years Toyota’s Lexus division has given them a run for their money, and a resurgent Cadillac is snagging some traditional Mercedes buyers.
While Mercedes-Benz has offered midsize sedans for many years, the first cars to be sold as the E-Class were the 1993 300E, 400E, and 500E models. These long-lasting sedans – often used in Germany and other countries as taxicabs and police cars due to their ruggedness – have provided the heritage upon which today’s E-Class is built.
The 2017 E-Class
For 2017, the E-Class has gone through a thorough redesign. It will initially be available as a sedan with just one engine option, but the lineup will expand over the next couple of years to include a wide variety of engine choices and body styles. The powertrain currently available is a 2.0-liter turbo that delivers 241 horsepower to the rear wheels, or all four wheels, through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive models earn EPA fuel efficiency estimates of 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Opt for the all-wheel-drive E300 4Matic and you’ll just lose 1 mpg on the highway.
Like any self-respecting modern luxury car, the 2017 E-Class is dripping with high-tech features. The 2017 E-Class features a pair of available, customizable 12.3-inch displays that merge visually to create the look of a massive control panel. The infotainment system – called COMAND – can controlled by a touch-sensitive control knob immediately in front of the central arm rest and by voice commands.
There are new ways to control the infotainment system, as well. The controls on the 2017 E-Class’ steering wheel aren’t simple buttons anymore; they feature touch and swipe functionality like a smartphone. The center console contains a touchpad where you can enter information with single- or multi-finger gestures or by using your fingertips to spell out words.
Mercedes-Benz has long been at the forefront of high-tech safety – the company was one of the first to offer airbags and anti-lock braking. Today, the focus is on preventing accidents, and the 2017 E-Class is equipped with an adjustable Attention Assist system that keeps tabs on the driver's’ alertness levels and encourages him or her to take a break if drowsiness is suspected. A standard Active Brake Assist system detects a potential collision and will automatically apply the brakes to minimize or prevent an accident, whether it is with another vehicle or with a pedestrian in the E-Class’ path.
If an accident does occur, the E-Class will literally move the passenger that is nearest to the impact toward the center of the car in an attempt to minimize injury. Besides the usual airbags to protect the occupants, the seats will inflate the outer bolster to push the occupant away from danger. The seatbelts will tighten, and the windows will automatically close, to help ensure the occupants are kept tight inside the car.
Mercedes takes the E-Class closer to autonomous driving than any other Mercedes automobile with a slate of advanced driver assistance technologies. While the systems are not meant to replace the driver, they can reduce some of the workload. In order to keep the systems engaged, a driver must keep their hands on the steering wheel.
They call the system Drive Pilot and it includes an advanced adaptive cruise control that maintains spacing between the E-Class and the car ahead, a lane-centering system that will actively steer the car so that it stays in its lane at up to 130 mph, and a lane change assist system that steers the car into an open adjacent lane when the driver commands it to do so.
Other available safety tech for the 2017 E-Class includes Evasive Steering Assist, which helps a driver steer around obstacle while still maintaining control of the vehicle. The Active Brake Assist technology now detects conflicts with cross traffic or pedestrians and can swiftly bring the E-Class to a halt to prevent or mitigate the severity of injuries or damages from an accident.
The E-Class will be one of the first cars on the road with Car-to-X technology to communicate road conditions to and from other vehicles. Cars traveling ahead of yours can warn your car of upcoming traffic or road conditions, so that both you and your E-Class are prepared for the situation, whether it be a traffic jam just around the corner or a patch of black ice on the roadway.
Mercedes-Benz vehicles have long employed technologies to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for an impending collision. In the 2017 E-Class, they take it even further, with a tone sounding before a collision to prepare your ears for the raucous noise of an impact. Naturally, the E-Class is also available with current safety technology such as blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, ultrasonic parking sensors, and lane keep assist.
Many of the same sensors used for the safety tech also allow the E-Class to park itself. Soon you won’t even need to be in the car – you’ll be able to park the E-Class using your smartphone.
Of course, long drives can be stressful. Thankfully, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers a host of driver comfort features. The E-Class can be equipped with heated, cooled, and massaging seats for the driver and front passenger, to ensure the driver is as relaxed as possible. Somewhat surprisingly for a vehicle at this price, the standard seat material isn’t leather; it's MB-Tex, a high-quality vinyl that has proven to be a sturdy, convincing alternative to traditional hides. Genuine leather and Nappa leather are extra-cost options.
In an effort to make sure every part of you is comfortable, Mercedes offers a Warmth and Comfort package that includes rapidly heating front seats, heated front armrests and door panels, and a heated steering wheel.
In line with traditional expectations of luxury, the interior in every E-Class is trimmed in real wood, leather, and metal, with very few plastic pieces evident. This gives the interior a classic feel of elegance and reminds the driver at every touch why they sprung for a Mercedes-Benz. Owners can also be reassured by some of the best resale values in the industry, so the investment in an E-Class will likely be a wise one.
The 2016 E-Class
The rollout of the full 2017 E-Class lineup will take a while, so many of the 2016-era cars will be on the lot for quite some time. Though they won’t have the advanced safety features of the 2017, there will be more engine and body style options available.
2016 E-Class sedan buyers can choose from either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Engine choices include a 195-horsepower twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel on the 2016 E250, a gasoline-fueled V6 giving 302-horsepower in the E350, a turbocharged V6 in the E400 with 329-horsepower, and a whopping 577-horsepower V8 in the 2016 Mercedes-AMG E63 S.
2016 coupe and cabriolet shoppers are limited a bit, as the soft top is only available with rear-wheel drive and two engines – the E400 with 329 horsepower and the E550 with a 402-horsepower turbocharged V8. The 2016 E-Class wagon has standard all-wheel drive and its own pair of engines – a 302-horsepower V6 in the E350 and the 577-horsepower turbo V8 in the 2016 Mercedes-AMG E63 S.
If the 2016 E-Class shopper chooses the base engine, known as the E250 BlueTEC, they might be pleasantly surprised with the excellent fuel economy. Using a twin-turbocharged four cylinder diesel engine, the E250 BlueTEC can achieve 28 mpg in city driving and a whopping 42 mpg on the highway. Car shoppers who need to cover great distances frequently – like travelling salespeople – would be well-served by the nearly 800-mile range afforded by the E250 BlueTEC’s stellar fuel economy.
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