Will a raised ride height, AWD, and body cladding do the trick?
Although station wagons remain relatively popular in Europe, that's simply not the case in the US. It hasn't been for years. Despite this, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon has remained on sale but its time has finally run out. Sales were down and the German automaker knew it was time to rethink things. But instead of dropping its mid-size luxury wagon completely, Mercedes added some body cladding and raised its ride height. In other words, it's the Subaru Outback formula in relation to the long-gone Legacy wagon.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain officially replaces the E-Class Wagon in the US. Those who like wagons will surely appreciate what Mercedes has done here. The All-Terrain is mechanically identical to the regular wagon and it even comes standard with all-wheel-drive. But the big question remains whether or not it'll sell in greater numbers than the nearly identical vehicle it replaces.
The Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain is based on the refreshed 2021 E-Class lineup, meaning there are a few exterior design changes. But it's also easy to pick the All-Terrain out from the rest of the E-Class pack, wagon or not. It has body cladding in black matte, a redesigned grille, stylized skidplates, and its own headlight and taillight designs. Full-LED headlights are standard while Multibeam LEDs are optional.
Mercedes' goal was to give the All-Terrain a decidedly more SUV-like look. Take note of the chrome and high-gloss black trim on the front bumper. It also sports its own radiator grille design and rides on standard 19-inch alloy wheels wearing all-season run-flat tires. A set of 20-inch wheels are available.
The overall look is definitely more exciting than that of the E-Class Wagon it replaces, but only time will tell whether or not customers are won over with this more adventure-ready look.
Like the rest of the refreshed 2021 E-Class lineup, the new All-Terrain benefits from a host of improvements. Among them is the new MBUX infotainment system complete with dual 12.3-inch displays and 64-color ambient lighting. The automaker is also offering new colors and materials this year, such as new color combos like Magna Grey/Neva Grey and Magma Grey/Macchiato Beige. There's also wood trim available in Natural Grain Grey Ash which replaces Burl Walnut Wood.
Like all Mercedes, driver and passenger comfort is a must. The front seats offer strong lateral support thanks to pronounced side bolsters. Overall interior and cargo space remain the same as last year.
Mercedes has decided to give the All-Terrain just a single engine option, a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder complete with mild-hybrid EQ Boost technology. Total output comes to 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes claims the EQ Boost system alone provides up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft and will enable smooth and linear acceleration.
And because of its off-road focus, Mercedes has added an Air Body Control suspension and Offroad/Offroad+ driving modes to help maintain downhill speed.
As expected with a luxury vehicle, the All-Terrain comes standard with a number of advanced driver-assist features. Some include Active Distance Assist with Route-Based Speed Adaption, Active Steering Assist, Active Stop-and-Go Assist, and Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function. The Active Parking Assist incorporates a 360-degree camera system.
It's clear that the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain is directly aimed at the Audi A6 Allroad. Remember, the Mercedes E-Class sedan and Audi A6 sedan are direct competitors, so it makes total sense for their raised wagon counterparts to have the same relationship. Another competitor is the Volvo V90 Cross Country, itself a raised and more off-road focused version of the already impressive Volvo V90 wagon. However, unlike the All-Terrain and A6 Allroad, Volvo still sells the regular V90 wagon in the US.
Pricing for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain has yet to be announced, but last year's E-Wagon started from $66,100. The 2020 Audi A6 Allroad carries a base price of $66,895, for reference. Those looking for a less expensive alternative should look no further than the Subaru Outback.
Sales are due to get underway in Mercedes dealerships across the US by the end of 2020.