By Bob Nagy
This is a transition year for the E-Class that introduces several all-new iterations to the lineup and sees others depart. Totally recast, the 10th-generation Sedan plus its late-arriving E43 AMG 4-door and new Wagon siblings become the most innovative, tech-rich models ever offered, while the Coupe and Cabriolet (detailed here) remain unchanged awaiting a similar transformation due for the 2018 model year. Beyond more sophisticated styling, the 2017 Sedan and Wagon boast a stronger, lighter and slightly larger platform, next-gen interior packaging plus the most advanced selection of safety systems and semi-autonomous driver assists available on any M-B. The recast E-Class has become an even more formidable rival to key midsize-luxo players like the Audi A5/A6, BMW 4 Series/5 Series, Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS.
While the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet continue on as notable premium players in their own right, the enhanced dynamic sophistication, stunning interior redesign and augmented driver assists offered on the all-new Sedan and Wagon arguably qualify them as the safest, smartest and most accommodating offerings on the midsize-luxury scene today.
Although the new E-Class Sedan and Wagon add notable visual flair, some may view the Coupe and Cabriolet styling as too conservative. Others might find better value in lower-cost alternatives like a Genesis G80 or an Infiniti Q70. No turbodiesels and -- for now -- just one AMG variant also may irk E-Class loyalists.
All-new from the ground up, the redesigned E-Class Sedan and Wagon boast sharper looks, more sophisticated engineering and enhanced state-of-the-art safety features for 2017 along with next-gen cabin appointments -- all of which will be transitioning into the carry-over Coupe and Cabriolet that are due a similar remake for 2018.
The 2017 E-Class is a different-strokes-for-different-folks proposition. While the Coupe and Cabriolet still deliver a sportier albeit more conventional take on the line, the all-new Sedan and upcoming Wagon --...
... which like the hot E43 AMG Sedan arrive in early 2017 -- represent even more sophisticated and practical alternatives with chassis refinements that further leverage their dynamic capabilities. There simply is no bad choice here. The E-Class 2-doors feature a potent twin-turbo V6 (E400) -- also fitted to the new Wagon -- plus an even more formidable twin-turbo V8 (E550) while the automaker’s 4-cylinder turbo gives the new and lighter E300 Sedan more than sufficient snap to keep pace with traffic in town or on the freeway, whether in rear-drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD). The 4Matic-only E400 Wagon ratchets that quickness up a notch. And with 67 more horses under hood, the performance-focused E43 AMG 4Matic Sedan is both fast and fun.
Part of the Premium 3/Driver Assistance Package on the Sedan and Wagon, the Drive Pilot suite of assists blends radar-based Distronic adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping Steering Pilot that keeps the vehicle centered even in a corner, and Speed Limit Pilot that reads and responds to posted signage to provide semi-autonomous capability.
AIR BODY CONTROL SUSPENSION
A new option on the 2017 E-Class Sedan and Wagon, this multi-chamber adaptive air-suspension setup also includes automatic 4-wheel leveling and ride-height adjustments. It allows the driver to fine-tune the chassis feel to any of three different levels by using the Dynamic Select control that’s standard on all E-Class models.
The passenger compartment of the 2017 E-Class also shows a similar split personality, with the 5-passenger Sedan and 7-passenger Wagon raising the quietness, comfort and overall accommodating ambiance of the 4-place Coupe and Cabrio to a discernably higher plane. Although this next-gen take is set off with style cues echoing those found in the flagship S-Class, leather -- now standard on the 2-door models -- still remains an option here. Beyond a more organic character, the cabin recasting nets upgraded front buckets, a 40/20/40-split-folding 2nd-row bench, more user-friendly controls/control layouts, a 12.3-inch center display screen and Comand infotainment/hard-drive navigation with touch pad.
While the 2-door E-Class models stand tastefully pat in their current wrappers, the Sedan and Wagon receive full restyles that bring each more into line with the sleeker-looking S-Class and C-Class. Their more expressive body contours and fascia designs add head-turning appeal, abetted by a longer hood and shorter overhangs. The remake also expands both track and wheelbase -- the latter dimension by a substantial 2.6 inches – bolstering their stance while enhancing packaging and dynamics. As in the past, E-Class models offer no-cost Sport and Luxury Package trims, each featuring a unique grille/front fascia and detail treatments.
The well-appointed E-Class cadre all complement real-wood accent trim, dual-zone climate control, power tilt/telescoping steering column, power front seats and basic mbrace Connect Mobile App services with ancillary touches like rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, SmartKey remote locking, ambient cabin lighting and fuel-saving Eco Start/Stop. The Coupe and Cabriolet also get real leather seating surfaces in place of M-B Tex. Depending on model, the comprehensive basic safety features including adaptive braking technology, and Pre-Safe systems are supplemented by seven or nine airbags. The Sedan and Wagon also add new Pre-Safe Sound that helps reduce potential hearing loss resulting from loud impact noises.
The E-Class extras roster also is somewhat model-dependent for 2017. All versions offer M-B’s classic designo premium cabin appointments including supple Nappa leather upholstery, but only the new Sedan and Wagon can be upfitted with an available 12.3-inch reconfigurable main instrument cluster, 1,450-watt Burmester audio system and a cabin-quieting Acoustic Comfort Package. While Premium 1, Premium 2 and Premium 3 Packages that bring increasingly elevated levels of luxury and driver-assist/safety features also are available across the board, several Premium 3 features including semi-autonomous Drive Pilot, Car-to-X connectivity and a Head-up Display are exclusive to the redesigned Sedan and Wagon range.
Despite the demise of the turbodiesel-4 and twin-turbo AMG V8, the 2017 E-Class offers a broad selection of powertrains. However, for the time being, some are model-specific. The new E300/E300 4Matic Sedan arrives with M-B’s potent and torque-rich 2.0-liter/241-horsepower turbo-4, while the 3.0-liter/329-horsepower twin-turbo V6 fitted to the 2017 E400 4Matic Wagon also carries over in the E400 Coupe and RWD-only E400 Cabriolet variants. The Sedan and Wagon feature M-B’s more efficient 9-speed automatic transmission, but both 2-door models retain the existing 7-speed unit. The Coupe and Convertible continue in RWD-only E550 guise with a 402-horsepower twin-turbo V8, while the sole 2017 AMG-spec E-Class, the new E43 4Matic Sedan, matches its superbly responsive 396-horsepower/3.0-liter biturbo V6 with an AMG-tweaked sport version of the 9-speed automatic.
E300/E300 4Matic Sedan
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
241 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (RWD), 22/29 mpg (AWD)
E400/E400 4Matic Coupe/Convertible and E400 4Matic Wagon
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
329 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
354 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg (RWD, 7-speed automatic), 20/28 mpg (AWD, 7-speed automatic), N/A mpg (AWD, 9-speed automatic)
E43 AMG 4Matic Sedan
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
396 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm
386 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
4.7-liter twin-turbo V8
402 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 E-Class lineup reshuffle sees the remade E300 Sedan become the new entry-level member of the family, opening at just over $53,000 while the E300 4Matic version kicks off around $55,600. The E400 Coupe commences just below $55,500 with the E400 4Matic starting closer to $58,000 and the E550 bumping that figure close $61,600. Those who favor their E-Class with an al fresco twist will find the E400 and E550 Cabriolet models raise the ante to roughly $63,600 and $70,100, respectively. Pricing for the late-arriving E400 4Matic Wagon starts at $63,300, and E43 AMG Sedan starts at $73,400 are definitely premium, but also retain historically robust E-Class residual values -- although the more heavily-optioned versions are likely to fare less well in the long run. Check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers in your area are paying for all of these models.