by Deiondre van der Merwe
The S-Class has always been the premier luxury sedan for Mercedes-Benz, but for many, the more attainable E-Class Sedan is the true sweet spot of the range. Not only does the E-Class receive much of the tech and advancement pioneered in the S-Class, but its more affordable price tag and wieldier dimensions make it more practical on a daily basis. Rivals are many, with the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 chief among the competition. Power is sourced from one of two powerplants, either a 2.0T four-pot developing 255 horsepower in E350 guise, or a 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 in E450 form plating up 362 hp. With the choice between rear and all-wheel-drive, a sublime interior, and available safety features many rivals only dream of offering, the E-Class Sedan continues to prove why it might just be the best Mercedes-Benz sedan on sale.
For 2020, the E300 is replaced by the E350 that brings a slightly higher power output and better fuel economy from the same 2.0-liter engine. The E-Class sedan range also sees some extra features that are now standard across all models, including keyless entry and blind-spot monitoring. The available Premium Package now includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a premium Burmester sound system, SiriusXM functionality, and wireless charging.
See trim levels and configurations:
The 2020 E-Class sedan maintains its charming stature and shows no exterior changes from 2019. A set of LED headlights with LED daytime running lights grace the front end of the sedan and flank the classic Mercedes twin-blade grille, and the rear end sees a set of full LED taillights as well. A panoramic sunroof is standard and a set of 18-inch five-spoke wheels come standard, though 19-inch wheel options are available at an additional charge.
The E-Class has progressed in design over the last twenty years, but the midsize luxury sedan has managed to stay mostly on par with rivals including the BMW 5 Series in terms of measurements with a total length of 193.8 inches and a 115.7-inch wheelbase. The Merc is 57.8 inches tall with the Sport Styling, growing to 58.4 inches with the comfort-oriented suspension, and has a maximum width of 81.3 inches including the side mirrors. It is only very slightly wider and heavier than the BMW and has a curb weight of 3,814 lbs in rear-wheel-drive E350 guise, becoming a bit portlier when equipped with the V6 and 4MATIC of the E450, weighing in at 4,134 lbs.
Being one of the most prominent mid-level luxury sedans on the market, the E-Class is bound to an extensive nine-color palette, though only two hues are available as standard options. If you're not one for Black or Polar White, you'll need to locate your wallet for the other seven colors. Four metallic shades are available at an additional charge of $720, including Obsidian Black, Iridium Silver, Lunar Blue, and Selenite Gray. Adventurous metallic hues are available for an extra $1,080 and $1,515 for designo Cardinal Red and designo Diamond White, respectively. But the pièce de résistance of the lot has to be the matte-finish designo Selenite Gray Magno that comes with a hefty $3,950 price tag. The extra thousands will get you a remarkable velvet gray finish that is sure to turn heads.
The passenger-focused E-Class range brings enough liveliness for a luxury sedan whose primary objective is the comfort of its occupants. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine graces the E350, enabling a 5.8-second 0-60 mph run regardless of drivetrain choice. There's more performance on offer from the E450, with a twin-turbo V6 and standard AWD (the E350 offers both rear- and all-wheel-drive) enabling it to complete the same sprint in five seconds dead. Of course, if you desire more, the E53 and E63 sedans - AMG models that breath fire - are available, but these are reviewed separately.
Two engines are available for the non-AMG E-Class range, and both perform well for what they were intended for. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission dubbed 9G-TRONIC by Mercedes. The base-level model of the range, the E350, replaces the E300 of last year and brings an extra 33 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque more than its predecessor. This turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot produces 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft and is slightly more powerful at the base level than the BMW 5 Series but an Audi A6 offers slightly more torque. A bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 drives the E450 and brings a very healthy 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque to the table, and you're sure to feel a considerable power increase from the E350. Both powertrains are smooth, but the V6 is the pick of the lot, delivering swift responses, a satisfying exhaust note, and the ability to send the hefty E450 past any traffic on the road almost at a whim. Power figures only go so far, but the Merc's transmission performs flawlessly and delivers seamless shifts for both the E350 and the E450.
For a passenger-focused luxury sedan, the E-Class range performs well, albeit a little less exciting than certain rivals. Sufficient power is provided by the E350 and it isn't likely to run out of breath when you need it most, but it isn't particularly exciting. Both the E350 and the E450 provide lush ride comfort and the Merc soaks up undulations like a seasoned professional. The comfort levels are further improved when the air suspension is opted for, and the ride sees even easier sailing when you switch your E-Class to Comfort mode. That being said, with all the focus aimed at comfort, the handling isn't exactly sporty, though it will manage corners just fine.
Steering in Comfort mode is nicely weighted and responsive, and although you'd think switching to Sport mode would assist - all it actually does is add spurious weight to the steering and unnecessary stiffness to the suspension and not much else. The real fun comes into play with the E450, with the V6's extra power output and all-wheel drive, it's bound to provide a more engaging experience than its less powerful sibling. Perhaps the E450 is slightly more enjoyable when chucked around corners, thanks to its tempting extra power, but comfort is still a priority and it gives a stellar performance whether you're popping out for milk, or trying to flee the country.
For a weighty mid-size luxury sedan, the Merc does a good job of providing accommodating fuel economy figures. The most fuel-efficient of the lot would be the lighter RWD-equipped E350 with EPA estimates of 23/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined, lagging slightly behind the BMW 530i's 25/33/28 mpg estimate and the Audi A6's 24/32/27 mpg figures. These drop further when equipped with 4Matic AWD, with EPA estimates of 22/30/25 mpg, while a substantial drop is in store for the V6 all-wheel-drive E450, with EPA estimated figures sitting at 20/28/23 mpg. The fuel tank size increases from 17.4 gallons on the E350 and E350 4MATIC to 21.1 gallons on the E450. You can expect around 450 miles on a full tank in the E350 and 480 miles from the E450.
Mercedes has always excelled at giving its customers fantastic interiors, and the E-Class certainly carries on with the tradition. There's something about a timeless and streamlined interior that brings a car together perfectly, and Merc has done just that with the inside of its midsize luxury sedan. The inside ties together modern, digital elements and classic high-quality materials and the finished product is a near-faultless cabin. It's a spacious oasis of luxury, rivaling an S-Class for opulence while boasting a spacious cabin few will find fault with. The plethora of features available cater to all needs, but even the base offering is hard to fault.
Seating for five in a generously proportioned cabin is the standard for the E-Class sedan. Ome rivals may offer incrementally more space in some metrics, but the 37.3 and 38.2 inches of headroom, front and rear, is more than ample for even taller adults, while corresponding legroom of 41.7 and 36.2 inches is plentiful. The seats are comfortable and easy to climb into and out of, while standard power front seats with memory and lumbar adjustment make it a cinch for anyone to get comfortable. Visibility is generally clear, but the E-Class is a large machine, and rearward visibility is somewhat hampered by a relatively narrow rear windscreen aperture. The seats are plush yet supportive, however, and whether it's on a commute or going cross-country, their comfort is nearly unrivaled.
An abundance of customization awaits anyone kitting out the interior of an E-Class with no fewer than 15 combinations of color and fabric type for the upholstery and five choices of dash insert. MB-Tex simulated leather is standard at no additional cost, with colors including flat black and a range of combinations such as Black/Nut Brown, Black/Macchiato Beige, and Nut Brown/Espresso Brown. $1,620 gets you genuine leather, available in only three combinations of plain black, Nut Brown/Black, or Macchiato Beige/Black, while Nappa leather will cost $2,990. The most premium of offerings falls under the 'designo' umbrella, priced at $4,900, you can choose from Black/Titanium Grey Pearl Nappa leather or Macchiato Beige/Saddle Brown Nappa leather, but we'd rather save a few dollars and spend $2,990 on Macchiato Beige and Yacht Blue Nappa instead.
From there, five trim inserts can be selected from, including Natural Grain Brown Ash wood, Burl Walnut, Natural Grain Black Ash, Brown Ash, and the $1,200 option of designo Black Piano Lacquer "Flowing Lines" wood.
Though many praises can be sung about the interior space available for passengers, the E-Class has limited trunk space and is outperformed in this category by both the A6 and the 5 Series. The E-Class offers 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space, which to be fair, can fit a set of golf clubs or a travel set of suitcases, but still falls slightly behind the A6's 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space and is obliterated by the BMW's 18.7 cubic feet of real estate on offer. It's not a totally unhappy ending for the Merc, though, with foldable rear seats able to come to the rescue in a pinch. In terms of general cargo space, the E-Class possesses an adequately-sized glovebox and deep door pockets for keys, phones and the like. A fairly large center console also adds some extra storage space to the inside of the sedan, while cupholders are available throughout the cabin.
The E-Class offers enough standard features to get by and this is emphasized by the long list of convenience and comfort-focused characteristics of the luxury sedan. That being said, rivals offer more standard-fit features than the Merc, and, if you want a full-house, you're going to pay for it. Keyless features are found in abundance here and include proximity entry, keyless entry, and push-button start. A leather multifunction steering wheel is a standard offering, as well as multi-way power-adjustable front seats with memory and lumbar support, optionally upgraded to include heating, ventilation, and massage functionality. Dual-zone climate control and 64-color ambient lighting add to a luxurious atmosphere that is rounded off nicely by a power tilt-and-slide sunroof. The optional Premium Package offers a host of additional features including wireless charging, a digital instrument cluster, and heated front seats. Driver assists are a strong point for the E-Class, with standard fare including driver attention warning, a rearview camera, and car-to-X communication, while the optional list includes semi-autonomous functionality in the way of the Distronic adaptive cruise control system and a number of collision avoidance measures.
As the world progresses into a more technological environment, manufacturers are expected to stay ahead of the curve. Mercedes has managed to hang on to the digital trend and the E-Class offers a 12.3-inch COMAND central display and can be controlled either by steering wheel buttons, the rotary dial, and the touchpad. A voice control system is also standard and navigation comes standard along with free updates for three years. The typical array of infotainment features can be found in the E-Class including two USB ports, Bluetooth and full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can enjoy your Frank Sinatra collection through a 13-speaker Burmester sound system as standard, or optionally via the 23-speaker Burmester sound system for extra clarity. It's not quite as fluid as the latest MBUX system found in other models, but as far as the COMAND interface goes, this is pretty good.
While the 2020 E-Class sedan is currently recall-free, previous years have seen the sedan being the subject of a large number of recalls ranging in severity. Mercedes-Benz tends to issue recalls pre-emptively, however, which bodes well, as does standard warranty coverage including a four year/50,000-mile basic warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance under the same time period. Various maintenance packages can be included via the options list.
The safety of the E-Class is formidable indeed, with the luxury sedan model scoring a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, the highest available honor in terms of safety. The NHTSA is also fond of the sedan and gave it a five out of five score overall for its superb performance in all crash tests.
The E-Class has been praised for its high levels of safety, and this is due to the ample number of features that come part and parcel with the luxury sedan. Full LED exterior lighting graces the E-Class as well as rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Merc employs a nine-way airbag system with seven airbags inclusive of front-impact, side-impact, side curtain, and a driver's knee airbag. Standard driver-assist features include a rearview camera, attention-assist, active brake-assist, crosswind assist, and blind-spot assist. Opting for the Driver Assistance Package will bolster the safety significantly and adds steering assist, lane-keep assist, lane-change assist, emergency stop assist, active distance assist and more.
The E-Class is a well-rounded midsize luxury sedan and deserves to be on your shortlist. An easy-on-the-eyes exterior and a superb interior drive the E-Class a step further and both engine options perform well, though our pick would definitely be the E450 4MATIC. For either powertrain, the nine-speed automatic transmission performs expertly with seamless navigation of the gears. An adequate number of standard features are present in the E-Class, but this is a category where rivals have the possibility of outshining the Merc - many of the prime features are locked behind pricey optional packages. A few additional negatives include a low-reliability rating, lower fuel-efficiency than rivals, a less generous warranty in comparison to competitors, as well as restricted trunk space. Other than those niggly bits, the luxury sedan is superb and comfortable, performs well in most categories, and is similarly priced to rivals. It is a great choice if you're in the market for a passenger-focused luxury vehicle and you're willing to overlook the small flaws.
When the base-level E350 is equipped with standard RWD, the MSRP begins at $54,050 and increases to $56,550 when equipped with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive. Moving up to the E450 4MATIC hikes the price up quite substantially to $61,550, which is still more affordable than the 540i xDrive, but is more expensive than the top of the range Audi A6. All three trim levels can easily run the bill up high when loaded with additional extras.
The 2020 E-Class range comprises three trim levels, the E350 that has replaced the E300 from last year, the E350 4MATIC, and the more powerful E450 4MATIC. There are two different engine choices available throughout the trim levels, but the same nine-speed automatic transmission is found throughout the range.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers both the E350 and the E350 4MATIC, and the two trim levels share the same features barring the all-wheel-drive system found on the E350 4MATIC. A set of 18-inch wheels are standard throughout all trim levels and a set of full LED headlights and rear lights illuminate the road and a tilt-and-slide sunroof is included. Keyless access and push-button start await you on the inside as well as multi-way power-adjustable seats and dual-zone climate control. A 12.3-inch central display makes smartphone integration possible through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Notable safety features include driver-attention assist, blind-spot monitoring, brake assist, and crosswind assist.
The E450 shares the same features with the E350 4MATIC, the only difference being the addition of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and standard all-wheel-drive.
Mercedes has a host of additional packages available for the E-Class range, which quickly sends the price of an E-Class soaring if you're too generous with your selection. A must-have would be the $2,250 Driver Assistance Package that adds an additional 14 features to the luxury sedan, notably including blind-spot assist, lane-keep assist and lane change assist as well as cross-traffic alert and route-based speed adaptation. For the exterior, four packages are available to choose from and this includes the AMG-derived Night Package that adds gloss black exterior accents and black-accented AMG wheels. For added luxury, opt for the $2,000 Premium Package that adds a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, Sirius XM functionality, a premium surround-sound Burmester sound system, heated front seats, and wireless charging.
The E350 4MATIC is a great buy if you're trying to keep to a budget; it offers pretty much the same features that the E450 has, except for the bigger engine and higher power output. A higher price also comes with the E450, so if you aren't particularly fussy about how quickly you're getting from A to B and you just want to get there comfortably, the E350 4MATIC is the one for you.
If you are more concerned with power and performance, then the E450 4MATIC it shall be. The V6 brings a driving experience that is unmatched by the four-pot found in the lower trim levels, and if you're after a more driver-focused approach to a non-AMG E-Class, this is the one for you. It must be said, regardless of the trim choice, a must-spec is definitely the Driver Assistance Package as some may find the standard driver-assist features a bit scant.
The biggest difference between the two members of Mercedes' family is their size. The E-Class is considerably larger than the C-Class, and so is its price tag. But with $13,000 separating the two closely related sedans, choosing one must be about more than just size. Both cars share the exact same 2.0-liter four-pot and transmission at the base level, and put out the same amount of power, though the C300 will get from 0-60 about half a second quicker than the E350 due to its lighter weight. A far more luxurious interior is found in the E-Class and this is probably the most prominent factor behind the price hike, also, the E-Class is noticeably more spacious and passenger-focused than its cheaper cousin. If you're after a practical and comfortable drive that dons the three-pointed star, the C-Class is the better choice. But if luxury is a prerequisite and you have no problem reaching for your wallet, the E-Class is superlative. We'd pick the E-Class.
Arguably one of the biggest rivals of the E-Class, the BMW 5 Series is a well-respected luxury sedan and comes in at a slightly cheaper base-level price than the E350. While we're crunching numbers, both vehicles boast turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinders on higher trim levels, though the E450 produces more power than the 540i by just under 30 hp. This comes with a downside, however, and the BMW is more fuel efficient than its Merc-badged rival with EPA-estimated figures of 24/31/27 mpg for its 2.0-liter turbo in comparison to the Merc's 23/32/26 mpg. Both offer luxurious interiors, as the Germans do, but the BMW offers a larger amount of interior space including the trunk. That being said, Merc simply knows their stuff when it comes to setting up stellar interiors and we're going to have to side with them on this one. The competition is tight, but all things considered, the E-Class exudes a charm that the 5 Series just misses out on, but if you prioritize driver enjoyment, the keen chassis of the 5 Series might just win you over.
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