Test Drive: 2010 Mercedes E350 4Matic

The Mercedes-Benz E class is their top of the line luxury passenger car. In prior years the E class did not always rise very far above the entry level (for Mercedes) C class cars, but the new E350 is a true premium Mercedes. What?s even better is that the price tag for this bundle of luxury and technology compares favorably to its competition.

The E350 uses Mercedes? 3.5-liter all-aluminum V6 engine, producing 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Benz runs that power through a 7-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission that adapts its automatic shifting to the driver?s style. Mine is ?foot to the floor? most of the time, so the E350 gave me a more sporting experience the longer I drove it.

The EPA says this Mercedes delivers 17 MPG in city driving, and 24 on the highway with an average of 19 MPG in combination driving. I think that even with my lead foot, I did a little better than that. I drove this car everywhere for a whole week, thoroughly enjoying the car?s handling and horsepower, and still didn?t drain the tank. Of course, it cost $50 to fill it with premium gas, but that?s just 17 gallons at today?s prices.

4Matic is Mercedes? all wheel drive system, and this car makes good use of the feature. Driving in the last days of a Northwest winter, verging on a damp Northwest spring, the 4Matic never put a foot out of place and never spun a wheel or gave any hint that the pavement underneath wasn?t clean, smooth and dry.

Inside, the 2010 E350 is what you expect from an E class Benz. The seats are heated and covered in leather, there?s a fantastic stereo with iPod and MP3 attachments in the glove box, and the car has every technological bell and whistle you could want. Navigation, hands-free phone support, backup camera, zone climate control, and full data capability are all there.

One feature to single out is the Distronic cruise control, which maintains distance to the car in front of you as you drive ? a great boon when you end up stuck in a line of traffic that modulates its speed at random. And in extremis, if traffic comes to a stop faster than you can respond, the E350 will even apply the brakes for you ? but only when a crash is imminent.

The bottom line on the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic is that the basic car costs $51,100, and as tested, loaded up with Distronic, the Premium package (nav, voice control, surround sound, satellite, et al), leather, massaging driver?s seat, and so on, $62,735. This is a hell of a car for the money, and if you?re shopping the upper end of European AWD sport sedans, you should definitely take a close look at the new E class.


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