$12,038 - $15,600

2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class was new.


Performance: 8.4

Reviewers note that the V6 engine in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 has adequate power for most drivers, while the E550’s V8 offers impressive performance. Handling is generally considered good, although reviewers say that the E-Class still isn’t as agile as competitors such as the BMW 5-Series. Shoppers on the lookout for a large luxury car with sportier handling may want to check out the BMW, as well as the Audi A6 and the Infiniti M.

  • "E350s have plenty of power but require large throttle inputs in order to extract the most performance. V8 models are appreciably stronger than their V6 counterparts regardless of body style." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Although it's not the most athletic pick, it nevertheless offers highly tactile steering, strong engines and a chassis that inspires confidence." -- Edmunds 
  • "There's a nice balance of comfortable ride and good handling response, even in the standard models, which put a bit more emphasis on the ride." -- New Car Test Drive 

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 E-Class sedan is available with three different engines: the E350, E350 BlueTEC diesel, and the E550. All use a conventional seven-speed automatic transmission. Power is routed to the rear wheels in all E-Class sedans, although the E350 and E550 can be equipped with Mercedes 4matic all-wheel drive system for about $2,500.

The E350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The EPA rates the E350 sedan with 17/24 mpg fuel economy in city/highway driving for both rear- and all-wheel drive configurations. Posing an interesting alternative to other luxury large cars is the E350 BlueTEC diesel. Checking the box for a diesel powertrain only adds about $1,500 to the base price, and the E350 BlueTEC offers an impressive 22/33 mpg city/highway fuel economy rating. While the BlueTEC offers 210 horsepower (58 less than the gas-powered E350), its ample 400 pound-feet of torque make up for the deficit.

Mercedes-Benz E550 sedans are powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that makes 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Opting for the big V8 adds a little less than $8,000 to the bottom line, and reviewers generally like the extra power of the V8, noting its smooth, powerful operation. Both two-wheel drive and 4matic-equipped E550’s get 15/23 mpg fuel economy in city/highway driving.

While the V8 E550 offers ample power, even more impressive sport sedan performance can be had in the E63 AMG, which is reviewed separately.

  • "Here again, the E550 aims for smoothness above all else. Its seven-speed has Comfort, Sport and Manual modes, but this transmission really just wants to be a good automatic. There's no rev-matching on downshifts, but the seven-speed always seems to be in the proper gear without calling attention to it." -- Edmunds
  • "Acceleration performance is impressive, regardless of the model, and none of the E-Class variants is a lightweight." -- New Car Test Drive

Handling and Braking

While the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lacks sport sedan handling, reviewers note that it’s fairly agile for a luxury large car that’s on the heavier side. E350 and E350 BlueTEC sedans feature Mercedes’s Agility Control suspension, which automatically adjusts shock absorbers based on road conditions and driving style.

Opt for the E550 and Mercedes outfits the E-Class with an Airmatic semi-active suspension system. In addition to road condition and driving style adjustments, the Airmatic suspension offers “Sport” and “Comfort” driving modes. The Airmatic system also lowers the ride height at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and uses its air springs to automatically level the vehicle when passengers and cargo add substantial weight.

  • "E-Class is pleasant and capable, but all fall well short of being outright sporty. We notice some body lean in fast turns. Steering feel seems sloppy to some testers, even on versions equipped with the Sport Package. Braking is highly responsive, easy to modulate, and impeccably secure." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The E-Class has light, accurate steering, but it doesn't say a whole lot and, really, there's not much to say." -- Edmunds 
  • "All E-Class variants have a variable damping system that changes the rebound rate of the shock absorbers according to conditions. This allows a softer, quieter ride on smoother roads, but retains full shock damping through dips, or for spirited driving on twisting two-lanes." -- New Car Test Drive 

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