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- Highs Serene cabin, all the tech you could want, svelte design inside and out.
- Lows Infotainment system can be fussy, driver assistance systems are pricey, base engine is underpowered.
- Verdict All the virtues of an S-class in a smaller, less expensive package.
To the extent that the word "discount" can be used to describe any car costing more than $55,000, the E-class is a discount version of the Mercedes-Benz S-class—and that's a good thing. It delivers the same level of polish and panache as Benz's flagship sedan, with exceptional interior materials, a quiet cockpit, and a composed ride. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-class is one of our favorites among the mid-size luxury-sedan set that includes the BMW 5-series and the Audi A6. Its available twin-turbo V-6 doles out smooth, assertive thrust that's routed through a nine-speed automatic transmission that deftly changes gears. A full complement of tech features is on offer, including air springs, a surround-view camera system, a self-parking system, and lane centering that steers the car down the highway as long as the driver has a light grip on the steering wheel. Pack rats will appreciate that the E-class wagon offers the same luxuries as the E-class sedan but with more cargo room. Those seeking faster thrills, will want to check out the 429-hp Mercedes-AMG E53 and the bonkers 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E63 S.
What's New for 2020?
The E350 sedan replaces the E300, signifying a power bump from 241 to 255 horsepower that also brings a slight fuel-economy improvement. All models now come with blind-spot monitoring and passive entry as standard equipment. The Premium package, newly standard in E-class coupes and convertibles, includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, SiriusXM satellite radio, wireless phone charging, and a Burmester sound system.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
A Mercedes with this much presence deserves an engine to match. If you're buying an E-class sedan, we recommend skipping the entry-level four-cylinder E350 with its 255 horsepower in favor of the 362-hp E450. The E450's twin-turbo V-6 is always paired with all-wheel drive in sedans, but coupes and convertibles can be had with rear-wheel drive as well. Buyers of those two-doors who live in snowy climates will want to spend the extra $2500 for all-wheel drive (4Matic in Benz marketing lingo). The $1900 air springs, also known as Air Body Control, provide a cloudlike ride that makes the E-class even more graceful over uneven pavement.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Mercedes-Benz offers the E-class in two potencies—the E350 sedan is motivated by a turbo four-cylinder while E450 models come with a twin-turbo V-6. The V-6 is the one to get; it's smooth, quiet, powerful, and rocketed an E450 4Matic sedan from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. For comparison, the four-cylinder 2019 E300 required 6.5 seconds. The more powerful 2020 E350 might shave a tenth of a second from that time. We haven't tested the E450 coupe or convertible yet but expect them to perform similarly to the E450 sedan.
The E-class is a comfort-biased car; the handling is competent but not sporty. It leans in corners, but it rarely feels overwhelmed when pushed hard. With the air suspension in its Comfort setting, the ride is creamy, and the E-class is perfect for gobbling up lots of road. It glides over pavement imperfections with only slight notification of such unpleasantries communicated to the cabin. With the drive-mode selector set to either Comfort or Eco, the steering is nicely weighted—not too light, not too heavy—and feels accurate. The E-class tracks straight on the freeway with a solid and predictable nature, and feedback from the road is muted.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
EPA ratings place the E-class's fuel economy mid-pack among the rivals in the mid-size luxury sedan segment. The new 2020 E350 sedan is rated at 26 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 25 mpg with 4Matic all-wheel drive. Those are 1-mpg improvements over last year's E300 sedan. The V-6–powered E450 model isn't as efficient as the turbo four, but it's not far off, either. In our 200-mile highway test, the E450 managed 30 mpg compared with 32 mpg from the 2019 E300.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
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 capability.
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.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
View Crash Test Results
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:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-keeping assist
- Available semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
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.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
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