Elegantly styled inside and out, the E-class lineup pampers its occupants in the best Mercedes-Benz tradition and makes long-distance drives feel like jaunts across town. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is standard and provides adequate power, but the available twin-turbo V-6 is a silken, authoritative engine that we’d recommend wholeheartedly. Enthusiast drivers may find the standard E-class’s driving dynamics disappointing—it’s clearly tuned for comfort—but those seeking a pillow-soft ride should look no further. Technology takes center stage inside the E-class’s sumptuous cabin in the form of a standard 12.3-inch infotainment display and an optional semi-autonomous driving mode. Its purity of mission has earned it a our 10Best Cars list for 2019.
Highs: Easy-riding cruiser, tech-filled interior, graceful styling inside and out.
Lows: Infotainment system has some hard-to-find features, wimpy base four-cylinder engine.
Verdict: A scaled-down S-class in both size and price.
Sliding into the driver’s seat of the E-class, one would be forgiven for thinking it was an S-class. The cabin is beautifully detailed with brushed aluminum, lovely wood, and some of the most comfortable seats we’ve ever tested. An optional fragrance diffuser fills the air with the scent of your choice. The more smell-averse among our staff found it to be overpowering even at its lowest setting, but others preferred it versus the usual new-car smell.
The E-class comes standard with appealing infotainment features, and all of them are incorporated into a large and legible screen. The standard 12.3-inch infotainment display dominates the dashboard as the high-tech focal point of the cabin. The system can be controlled in three different ways: by using either touchpads on the steering wheel, a rotary knob combined with a touchpad mounted on the center console, or voice commands. Simple functions such as changing the radio station or placing a phone call are easy enough, but the navigation system requires a notable amount of effort to enter a destination. Fortunately, the system also runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Under the E-class’s shapely rear end is a trunk that offers less space than some rivals, but the Benz has them beat when it comes to interior cubby storage. Lowering the rear seatbacks opens up much more space for hauling cargo, but they don’t fold completely flat so loading heavy items may feel like a chore. We still managed to fit 18 of our carry-on suitcases inside the sedan with the rear seats stowed. Both the coupe and convertible models offer a 10-cubic-foot trunk; with the top down, though, the cabriolet model’s available space shrinks considerably. We could only fit two carry-on suitcases inside the trunk with the convertible’s top stowed, but the coupe managed to hold five.
With top marks from both of America’s leading safety agencies, the E-class is a great choice. Driver-assistance technology also plays a big role here, and the E-class offers plenty of features including automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and even a semi-autonomous driving mode. Unfortunately, some of these features are limited to expensive option packages. Key safety features include:
For your considerable investment in a Mercedes-Benz product, the warranty offerings could be more comprehensive than the standard four-year/50,000-mile coverage across the board. All of its rivals offer longer corrosion protection policies and the E-class offers no complimentary scheduled maintenance.
The E-Class does not feature Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX infotainment system. Instead it carries over the outgoing COMAND system. But even with its age, it’s far from the most outdated system available; COMAND remains easy to navigate, thanks in part to the centrally mounted dial, and well laid out. Apple CarPlay looks especially crisp on the 12.3-inch screen. Unfortunately it lacks touchscreen functionality, which makes certain settings more difficult to navigate.
Try as marketers might to sell us on performance, Mercedes’ E-Class wasn’t made for it – at least not this iteration. The hopped-up E63 sedan is probably better suited for high-speed runs and corner carving. Still, the E-Class coupe is wonderful to drive; its suspension is supremely soft, but tight, and it’s steering is also lightweight.
The biturbo 3.0-liter V6, paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, delivers power smoothly and efficiently. The E-Class coupe produces 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, but it never feels particularly quick; 60 miles per hour is managed in about 5.2 seconds with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. While others are taking a more aggressive approach, the E-Class Coupe is a fresh take on luxury.
Sure, some safety systems like automatic emergency braking and even crosswind stabilization, uniquely enough, do come standard. But if you want the whole enchilada in terms of safety, prepare to dish out some serious cash. Only when equipped with the optional R90,350 Premium 3 Package does the E-Class have all the safety features you’d want and expect at this price point – active parking assist, lane departure warning with active steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot assist, among others.
Four engine options are available: the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel E220d, the 3.0 V6 diesel E350d 4Matic, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol E300 and the turbocharged 3.0 V6 petrol E400 4MATIC (the latter getting four-wheel drive as standard). A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range, while just one trim level is on offer: AMG Line. A performance AMG version will follow at a later date.