Mercedes's best-selling model line gets new styling, new tech, and a new engine for 2021.
Denied the chance to unveil its new luxury mid-size sedan at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz has just pulled the wraps off of the 2021 E-Class - a heavily tweaked version of its current fifth-generation design, first launched for 2017. It's an important product to get exactly right, being the Mercedes' best-selling model series of all time, with more than 1.2 million global sedan and wagon sales just since the fifth-generation model launched in 2016.
For 2021, the SUV-like Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain wagon comes to America, and the entire lineup gains updated styling, improved active driver assistance features, a new high-tech steering wheel, and for the first time outside of the AMG model line, a sophisticated, turbocharged 3.0-liter gasoline inline-6 with a mild-hybrid system.
That M256 engine, which will trickle down from the Mercedes-AMG E53 to the E 450 for 2021, uses a 48-volt mild-hybrid system with an integrated starter-generator (ISG) and a small lithium-ion battery pack to boost performance and efficiency. The technology is dubbed "EQ Boost," and it helps mitigate turbo lag and bolster low-end torque using an electric compressor, as well as enabling efficient, engine-free coasting in some situations.
Strange as it may seem, the steering wheel of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is perhaps the next-most-important update to the luxury car. Available with either an all-leather or a combination wood-leather finish, the wheel now features capacitive Touch Control buttons rather than optical ones, and capacitive detection has also been implemented to verify that the driver is attentive and ready to take over while Mercedes' latest semi-autonomous driving system is engaged. Previously, the wheel ascertained whether the driver had control by monitoring for periodic small steering inputs.
The 2021 E-Class also ships with the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, which includes two standard 12.3-inch screens placed side-by-side on the dash, with one of those serving as a digital instrument panel. The latest MBUX system includes standard touchscreen control and an available augmented reality navigation system that superimposes pertinent nav info over a video image of the car's surroundings.
In addition, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers route-based speed adjustment for its Distronic distance-pacing cruise control, and the latest version of Mercedes's Active Brake Assist, capable of braking for stopped cars and crossing pedestrians at normal city speeds. The version included with the E-Class's Driving Assistance Package is even capable of braking to avoid a collision while turning across the oncoming lane.
The 2021 E-Class's Blind Spot Assist now comes with exit warning - a system that issues audible and visible warnings when a passenger attempts to exit the vehicle as a car or bike is approaching in the vehicle's blind spot.
As for design, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class's hallmarks are redesigned headlamps and taillights, with standard LED bulbs all around, and Multibeam LED headlamps available as an option. The front fascia is brand new, with a new, more frowny-looking downturned grille shape, and a sleeker bumper cover.
Pricing hasn't yet been announced for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class; look for that info closer to the refreshed car's late-2020 launch.