Either way, it should remarry the concept of fun and utility in a way that the SUV can’t.
The sad reality of today’s automotive world is that the wagon, a vehicle that has everything the public demands of a modern car, is all but dead on American shores. Instead it’s the SUV that reigns supreme, but this is a huge mistake on the part of the consumer and the automaker. While engineers were hard at work trying to get SUVs to sip fuel and handle like a car, the station wagon was silently doing both of these things in the background while simultaneously offering the storage capacity and utility of an SUV.
However, much like the friend-zoned individual who exhibits the characteristics of a perfect boyfriend or girlfriend and still goes through life single, none of these things mattered because the public kept on buying up marginally prettier CUVs. Although now Mercedes thinks that it can reverse this trend and ironically so since the Tri-Star’s SUV lineup is one of the most bloated in the industry. Launching the comeback of the wagon is the new E-Class Estate, and before you start to raise hell about Europe getting all the good cars, don’t worry, it will be making its way to the US. When introducing this cargo-hauling E-Class, Mercedes emphasized just how “intelligent” it is. This is in part because of how much cargo capacity that the sleek machine can boast.
This would be 23.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats raised and 64.3 with the seats lowered. A Honda Odyssey EX-L can’t even boast this kind of room. If it’s soccer practice-shuttling ability that you need, the E-Class Estate will come with an optional folding third row bench seat that will be best-suited for children. To help keep comfort high while fitting a closet in the back, the rear seats will come with the ability to inch forward 10 degrees to get an extra cubic foot of space while hauling five people around. The toys on the wagon also help it rival SUVs in terms of utility. An EASY-PACK tailgate lifts when owners make a kicking motion under the rear bumper while the self-leveling air suspension keeps things stable even with a full cargo hold.
Another technology talking point is the level of interior refinement. Typically, the hollow interiors of wagons provide an acoustic environment that magnifies every bump and vibration that echoes through the chassis. This is deadened by using strength-increasing under-floor struts and sound absorbers placed under the rear seats and in the wheel arches. There is even an optional Acoustic Comfort Package that adds sound-insulating film on the windshield to take care of the extra noise, making this one of the best automotive options for the active businessperson. At launch Europe will get a host of diesels and it isn’t clear if these will come to America, although its brand new diesel engine could win over ex-TDI owners.
When the E-Class Estate finally comes here in early 2017, it will debut as the E400. It will use a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 to pump 329 horsepower through a nine-speed automatic and out to all four wheels. Even with 4,246 pounds to lug around, the wagon will hit an autobahn speed of 150 mph. There's no promise the Europe-only E43 AMG will ship over, we hope AMG will eventually come ashore with a E63 S using Mercedes’ 4.0-liter twin-turbo and 503 horsepower. We also don't know what other engine options will be available in the US. Still, we think this car has the potential to do what Cadillac could not: Make the wagon cool again. [Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated that it was the E43 AMG coming stateside and not the E400.]