Debuting at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the all-new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class elevates the automaker’s most important model to a new level thanks to a more sophisticated look, enhanced technology and new features. The new E-Class will take on rivals like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS when it goes on sale this summer.

Polished presence

Embodying Mercedes’ “Sensual Purity” design philosophy, the new E-Class boasts a coupe-like profile with a longer hood and shorter front/rear overhangs as well as an additional 2.6 inches of wheelbase. Sleeker, more tautly rendered sheetmetal -- now largely of weight-saving aluminum -- is set off by new LED lighting. The body wraps around a stouter central structure that incorporates more high-strength steel. Like the current iteration, the new 2017 E-Class Luxury and Sport models each receive unique grille/fascia treatments along with other minor trim pieces.

As indicated earlier in our report on the comprehensive E-Class interior makeover, Mercedes borrowed themes and elements from the current S-Class and the Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile Concept shown in Frankfurt to give the cabin a world-class look and feel. Premium wood, including Natural Grain Ash, and rich leather along with other accents team in a variety of combinations to allow greater personalization. A next-gen high-resolution display with reconfigurable digital instrumentation and a 12.3-inch center touchscreen plus LED ambient lighting in 64 colors further enhance the appeal.

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The multifunction steering wheel in the new E-Class boasts new smartphone-like Touch Controls and the touchpad on the center controller has handwriting recognition capabilities to complement the voice-control system. Redesigned bucket seats offer greater comfort and support and can be augmented with a new Warmth and Comfort package that supplements basic seat/steering-wheel heaters with warming elements in the center console and door armrests. In the aft quarters, a revised rear bench now features a unique 40/20/40 folding seatback.

More dynamic character

The revised E-Class structure is said to have trimmed some 100-200 pounds, a factor that should prove beneficial to both handling and fuel economy. With respect to the former, the 2017 E-Class rides on a conventional steel-spring suspension with Direct Control adjustable damping in either Comfort or Sport configurations. Buyers also can opt for M-B’s multi-mode Air Body Control full air suspension with auto leveling and auto ride-height adjustment that lowers the car at speed to improve fuel efficiency.

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At launch, the car will be sold here only in E300 spec, with M-B’s familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque channeled to the rear wheels via the firm’s new 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic transmission. Although timing was not announced, Mercedes did confirm new E-Class Sedan variants – which are expected to include an E400 with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and an E63 AMG with an AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 as well as the availability of 4Matic all-wheel drive – will bow with other body configurations.

Class-leading safety

Mercedes has taken great pains to ensure the new E-Class is both the smartest and safest sedan in its segment. Standard equipment like Active Brake Assist and Attention Assist are bolstered by a new Pre-Safe Sound feature that emits a signal through the audio system when it senses an impending collision to trigger a reflex in the ear to better protect against hearing loss. A new Driver Assistance Package features Evasive Steering Assist and Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function as well as Drive Pilot. Dubbed by Mercedes as the next step towards autonomous driving, Drive Pilot uses the Distronic adaptive cruise control to maintain a selected distance as well as follow a vehicle ahead at speeds up to 130 mph. Integrated with Steering Assist and Active Lane-change Assist, it also can make every day driving less stressful. Mercedes says new E-Class also will be the first production car to feature an integrated Car-to-X communication capability that fully supports the exchange of real-time information between mobile phones to provide drivers with advanced warning about dangers on the road ahead. Pricing and packaging details on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will be announced closer to its on-sale date.


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