By Bob Nagy
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the blue-chip standard for luxury sedans and coupes. Solid, reliable and sophisticated, this platform has delivered decades of satisfaction to buyers seeking a stalwart answer to trendy, style conscious alternatives from Audi, BMW, and Lexus. The redesigned 2014 model steps up with a host of new safety features, sensually styled sheet metal, and a choice of two front-end treatments to appease different folks with different strokes. Body styles for 2014 include coupe, convertible, sedan and wagon, with a lineup of engines from a modest 4-cylinder turbodiesel to an outrageously powerful AMG version. But most importantly, the newest E-Class stays true to its Mercedes-Benz roots by focusing on the brand's core values of safety, comfort and – especially in the case of the top dog E63 AMG – performance.
The 2014 E-Class delivers discreet style that delicately straddles the line between status and functionality. If you're a fan of well-built, thoroughly engineered vehicles which deliver moderate flair but exceptional engineering, you'll find a lot to like in Mercedes-Benz's signature mid-size coupe, convertible, sedan, and wagon.
While the E-Class base pricing seems attractive, options packages inflate the MSRP stupendously easily. And while E-Class styling is certainly solid enough to stand the test of time, some buyers might find it a tad too conservative for their tastes – even though it's wrapped with livelier sheet metal for 2014.
The 2014 E-Class gains an exterior refresh and refinements to its interior, which lend it a more chic, contemporary feel compared to its somewhat stodgy predecessor. Sedan and wagon buyers now have a choice between two faces: a bold Sport version, with a more aggressively styled grille and aero package that is standard on coupe and convertible models, and a more conservative Luxury treatment with a traditional Mercedes-Benz 3-pointed star. For the first time, the E-Class also inherits safety features from the S-Class before the new flagship hits the market. Also new to the E-Class is a 2.1-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel which debuts in July 2013, and uprated power for the E63 AMG version, which is now equipped with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive and two trim levels: standard and S. An E63 S version is also offered in the wagon body style.
Driving Impressions For 2014, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan boasts no fewer than six engines spread across 10 configurations. Slip behind the wheel of the new E250 BlueTEC 4Matic, for...... instance, and you'll enjoy a torquey, surprisingly quiet powerplant that delivers most of its oomph in the lower registers of the powerband. Similarly understated is the E400 Hybrid, whose internal combustion V6 gains 27 horsepower of extra punch from an electric motor. Speed hungry drivers will find more to love with the E350 model, which is motivated by a higher revving 3.5-liter V6. Of course, ultimate bragging rights go to the E63 AMG version, whose newly incorporated all-wheel-drive system lays up to 577 horsepower down to all four wheels and delivers clean launches, absurdly strong acceleration, and reassuring mid-corner grip. Handling has also been improved across the board, with all E-Class models delivering more communicative steering feel and a slightly more intuitive grasp of the road below. Cabriolet variants offer comfortable top-down cruising, while the coupe model feels more athletic in corners and tauter overall.
SURROUND VIEW CAMERA
Mercedes-Benz wasn't the first to pioneer this bird's eye view of the vehicle's surroundings, but its seamless execution makes it one of our favorite options, which is part of the Parking Assist Package, which also features a self-parking feature.
THE S PACKAGE ON THE E63 AMG MODEL
This uber E-Class packs the most powerful engine ever into the iconic sedan, for a positively mental driving experience. Nobody needs 577 horsepower and a gut busting 590 lb-ft of torque, but after driving this stirring specimen, you'll wonder how you lived without it.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class interior offers profoundly comfortable seats, plenty of headroom and accommodating ergonomics all around. While wood trim is standard on most models, real leather isn't – a surprising omission. At least the synthetic MB-Tex material plays a convincing stand-in. Upgraded dash materials and subtly restyled interior curves make the cabin of the E-Class feel a noticeable step above its predecessor, though it's still a bit on the conservative side when compared to the flashier Cadillac and Lexus alternatives. A pair of small bucket seats in coupe and convertible models limits seating to four instead of the five in sedan models and seven in wagons utilizing the rear-facing third-row seat.Exterior
The E-Class has lost its sharp-edged creases for 2014. New 4-lamp LED headlights set off the nose, which takes on a particularly aggressive form in the Sport version with a large Mercedes-Benz emblem on the grille. Nobody accused the E-Class of taking any huge risks design-wise, but for buyers looking for an easily identifiable yet low-key member of the Mercedes family, this premium sedan delivers enough attractive styling cues to make up for its otherwise uncharismatic visual presence. Two-door coupe and convertible models are roughly seven inches shorter than E-Class sedans, and feature an athletic, airy design highlighted by the lack of a traditional B-pillar between the side windows.
While all E-Class models come standard with Mercedes-Benz's COMAND multimedia system with Bluetooth, you'll have to spring for navigation. The usual array of other standard items includes power-adjustable seats and dual-zone climate control, while the AMG models are graced with more luxurious bells and whistles like an active multicontour driver's seat, and a buttery soft Alcantara headliner.
While standalone items run the gamut from Keyless Go ($650) to rear side airbags ($420), option packages make it easier to combine additional features. For instance, the Driver Assist package adds adaptive cruise control with steering assist, active blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, and a more advanced version of Pre-Safe. A Premium package on certain models offers a rearview camera, navigation, satellite radio, heated and ventilated seats, and a harman/kardon Logic7 surround-sound system. Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is an option on all variants, except on the E63 (where it's standard), and the E400 Hybrid (where it's not available.) Cabriolet variants can be equipped with the wind-taming Aircap windshield-mounted system and Mercedes' innovative Airscarf neck heater.
Mercedes-Benz offers a wide swath of powerplants in its E-Class sedans and wagons, starting with the new 2.1-liter, 195-horsepower 4-cylinder turbodiesel found in the E250 BlueTEC model. The E400 Hybrid model carries over with its 3.5-liter V6 mated to an electric motor that's powered by a lithium-ion battery, which is good for a total of 329 horsepower and a gutsy 457 lb-ft of torque. The E550's 4.7-liter V8 yields 402 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, while the E63 AMG sits at the top of the E-Class food chain with its 550 horsepower and 531 lb-ft output, which leaps to 577 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque in the S-Model. All E-Class models are equipped with a 7-speed automatic gearbox, though the AMG models gain a multiclutch unit that's better equipped for quick, sporty shifts.
329 horsepower @ N/A rpm
457 lb-ft of torque @ N/A rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg
2.1-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
195 horsepower @ 3,800 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-1,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/42 mpg
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg
402 horsepower @ 5,000-5,750 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/26 mpg
E63 AMG 4Matic
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
550 horsepower @ 5,250-5,750 rpm
531 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
E63 AMG S 4Matic
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
577 horsepower @ 5,550 rpm
590 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg
The diesel-powered 2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC is currently the entry-level E-Class model, starting at about $52,300. Next in line is the E350 starting at $52,800, while the E400 Hybrid version will set you back $56,700, before features are added on. Pricing on the lineup is currently rounded out with the E550, which has been slapped with a $61,400 base MSRP. Naturally, the souped-up AMG versions will add a significant premium that lifts their base price closer to the $100,000 mark, though Mercedes has yet to specify how much damage those high-performance strains will do to your bank account. Base coupe models begin near their sedan counterparts, while convertible models start around $60,000. Expect typically strong resale value from E-Class Benzes, though the higher-priced models will take a steeper initial plunge than the more affordable versions.