2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: First Drive Review

© Mercedes-Benz USA2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-Class is the best-selling model series in Mercedes-Benz history. Although consumers tend to prefer SUVs and crossovers, the German automaker continues to offer a full range of E-Class variants in the U.S., including a new All-Terrain version for 2021. Refreshed for the new model year, E-Class receives exterior design updates, next-generation driver-assist systems and a more refined interior.

© Mercedes-Benz USAModel Lineup
Mercedes-Benz backs its commitment to cars by offering the 2021 E-Class in five body styles: Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet, Wagon and All-Terrain. Trim levels vary across the body styles, with the E-Class Sedan offering the widest selection via the E 350, E 350 4MATIC, E 450 4MATIC, E 53 and E 63 S. Three variations are offered for E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet: E 450, E 450 4MATIC and E 53. The E-Class Wagon is offered only as the high-performance AMG E 63 S, and the new E-Class All-Terrain comes to the U.S. as the E 450 4MATIC.

© Mercedes-Benz USAPricing
The 2021 E 350 Sedan has a starting MSRP of $54,250, while the E 450 Coupe starts at $64,950 and the E 450 Cabriolet at $71,950. The new E 450 4MATIC All-Terrain starts at $67,600; the E 63 S Wagon at $112,450. All prices exclude a $1,050 delivery and destination charge. All E-Class trim levels are now available in the U.S. except for the E 63 S Sedan and Wagon — both are scheduled to arrive in late 2020.

© Mercedes-Benz USAExterior Design
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class receives updated exterior designs across the model lineup with updated grilles, front fascias and taillights for most trim levels. The E-Class Sedan receives the most significant changes including a new A-shaped grille with a single horizontal louver and diamond accents; a power dome hood; a new lower front fascia; new two-piece taillights that extend into the trunk lid; and standard AMG body cladding.

© Mercedes-Benz USAAll-Terrain
Based on the E-Class Wagon, the new All-Terrain adds matte-black body cladding, a redesigned grille, a power dome hood, a new headlight design and a new taillight design. Air suspension is standard and Offroad and Offroad+ get added to the Dynamic Select drive mode menu. All-season tires on 19-inch wheels are standard equipment, with optional 20-inch wheels offered.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMercedes-AMG
The E-Class Sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet are also offered as the AMG E 53 with an AMG-specific grille, front fascia, wheels and body kit. The Sedan also offers the AMG E 63 S, and the Wagon is offered exclusively as the AMG E 63 S. All AMG E 53 and 63 S versions include AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive optimized for high-performance applications.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2021 E 350 4MATIC Sedan
One of two test cars we drove is an E 350 4MATIC finished in Polar White with a black M-B Tex interior. It has a starting price of $56,750, and additional options on the car include a Premium Package, a Driver Assistance Package, an Acoustic Comfort Package and others for a total as-tested price of $64,800, which includes the delivery and destination charge.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2021 E 450 4MATIC Coupe
The second test car we drove is the E 450 4MATIC Coupe in Mojave Silver Metallic with a black Nappa leather interior. Starting base price is $67,450 and additional options include AMG Line cosmetic accents, AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension, Nappa leather, a Driver Assistance Package, an Exterior Lighting Package, a Night Package and a Warmth and Comfort Package for a total as-tested price of $81,589 including the delivery and destination charge.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
The standard engine for the E 350 Sedan is a turbocharged 2.0-liter producing 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, delivered to the rear wheels through a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission with available 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The E 450 in all body styles draws power from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder with EQ boost; the engine produces 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and the EQ boost can add up to 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque for a short period of time. Power gets delivered through a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic; 4MATIC is available.

© Mercedes-Benz USAAMG Performance
The AMG E 53 variants are powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder with EQ boost to produce 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque that gets paired with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission and AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive. The E 63 S Sedan and Wagon have a hand-built AMG 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 engine producing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, combined with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT CT 9-speed transmission and AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive.

© Mercedes-Benz USAInner Space
Inside, the E-Class adds a new-generation steering wheel with touch control buttons and capacitive hands-off detection, with a SuperSport wheel available for the Coupe and Cabriolet with AMG Line accents that includes control surfaces on double horizontal spokes. The widescreen 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch Touchscreen Multimedia Display are standard for all trim levels. Below the widescreen, an elegant interior includes a horizontal lower dash with turbine-design air vents that flow into the door panels. Ambient lighting follows the lower edge of the dash into the door panels with a wide selection of color choices and animations.

© Mercedes-Benz USADriver-Assist Systems
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class receives the next generation of driver-assist systems including a new steering wheel with capacitive hands-off detection mentioned above, active distance assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adjustment, active stop-and-go assist, active steering assist, active brake assist, active blind-spot assist and a Parking Package in combination with a 360-degree camera.

© Mercedes-Benz USAOn the Road: E 350 4MATIC Sedan
With a new grille design and power dome hood, the 2021 E 350 Sedan has a dynamic look underscored by a sport sedan demeanor. Although the E Class Sedan has more powerful engine options, the standard 2.0-liter unit in the E 350 does a fine job working with the 9-speed automatic transmission, and new owners will quickly become comfortable with the car. With maximum torque available at 1800 rpm, the E 350 has plenty of power for everyday driving and the transmission keeps the engine in a power band that suits driving style.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive ConE 350 Interior
Even in the base E 350, the E-Class interior is beautiful — simultaneously elegant and sporty. Both instrumentation layout and touchscreen functions can be controlled from the new steering wheel as well as a touchpad in the center console. The touchscreen can be used for all infotainment functions by either the driver or front-seat passenger. The E 350 we drove features natural grain Grey Ash wood on the lower dash, door panels and center console. The interior wood grain has a silver cast to it, creating a warm feeling of upscale elegance.

© Mercedes-Benz USAOn the Road: E 450 4MATIC Coupe
The E 450 Coupe is a wonderful grand touring car possessing equal parts comfort and sport, with the turbo 3.0-liter inline six with EQ Boost providing more than enough power. The E 350 Sedan has enough power to make it a fun sport sedan, but the E 450 is a legit GT car. Mercedes-Benz specs list the zero-to-60 mph time for the E 450 4MATIC Coupe at 4.9 seconds. In everyday driving, the EQ Boost makes the launch from a stop (with the engine off) virtually seamless, and with maximum torque available at 1600 rpm power is always on tap.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceE 450 Coupe Interior
The E 450 Coupe is equally as beautiful as the E 350 Sedan thanks to natural grain Black Ash wood and black Nappa leather. The optional dual-spoke steering wheel feels a bit too thick with hands at the 3- and 9-o’clock positions. Another niggling item is the windshield wiper switch. Despite nearly every other luxury automaker using a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel for the wipers, Mercedes retains the twist-switch on the turn-signal stalk. Not only does this setup require removing a hand from the steering wheel to activate the wipers, drivers could also end up bumping the car into neutral by hitting the gear selector while attempting to access the wipers. Another downside of the twist-switch: no single-swipe function — a feature appreciated in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

© Mercedes-Benz USADriver-Assist Technology
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has the most advanced driver-assist technologies, and active distance assist DISTRONIC is one of the best adaptive cruise control systems available. While taking the E 450 4MATIC Coupe over a mountain pass, we discovered the active steering assist can be a bit too aggressive in certain situations. When conditions are optimal, the system is amazing; when the road surface becomes abrasive, if lane lines are distressed or the lanes themselves are wider for winter safety, a driver could be surprised by an aggressive adjustment — or two. Our advice: take over the driving in these situations.

© Mercedes-Benz USARight for You?
Offered in Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet, Wagon and even All-Terrain (with high-performance AMG versions as well), the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has drivers covered in the U.S. market. For those who need midsize room but prefer sports car performance, the E-Class lineup could possess a winning combination.

© Mercedes-Benz USARating: 9.0
Pros: Sporty, dynamic feeling; beautiful interiors; powerful engines; many body styles.
Cons: Wiper switch; lane keeping can be too aggressive in some conditions.
Bottom Line: Remaining committed to cars, Mercedes-Benz offers the E-Class in a wide variety of body styles with powerful engines and all-wheel drive to fit almost any criteria.

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