Driven: 2021 Mercedes E-Class Review
  • Car Review

Driven: 2021 Mercedes E-Class Review

By Chris Teague | August 23, 2021

Pros:

  • Packed with all the tech
  • Sophisticated powertrains
  • Luxurious interior and ride quality

Cons:

  • Starts out expensive and climbs from there
  • Base four-cylinder lacks power
  • Coupe and convertible have a tiny rear seat

Vehicle Type: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a midsize premium sedan with seating for up to five people.

Price Range: The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class ranges in price from $55,300 to $108,550, including destination, but before options or taxes.

Powertrain: The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is offered with a variety of powertrain choices.

The base E 350 engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder that produces 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

The E 450 gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with a mild-hybrid system that produces 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

The AMG E53 comes with an AMG-enhanced turbocharged inline-six that produces 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.

The AMG E 63 S gets a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that makes 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. All models get a nine-speed automatic transmission.


More Photos:

See more 2021 Mercedes E-Class Photos.


Overview:

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The E-Class is not quite Mercedes-Benz’s flagship car – that title goes to the S-Class – but it’s become a huge part of the automaker’s lineup. The 2021 car is offered in several body styles: Coupe, convertible, sedan, and wagon. It sees a light refresh for the new model year, which includes new exterior styling front and rear, new infotainment software, updated safety tech, and a new steering wheel.

The E-Class is offered as a coupe and convertible (cabriolet) in E 450, E 450 4Matic, and AMG E53 models. It is offered as an E-Class sedan in E 350, E 350 4Matic, E 450 4Matic, AMG E 53, and AMG E 63 S models. The E-Class wagon is available in E 450 4Matic All-Terrain and AMG E 63 S models. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class competes with the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Genesis G80, Cadillac CT6, Lexus GS, and Volvo S90. It is targeted at new car buyers that want a top-tier luxury car, and are not concerned with pricing. The new E is a luxury sedan for the ages, and has the safety scores, equipment, and performance to back that statement up.


Overall Score: 7.4/10

Safety Features: 9/10

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The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class earned a Top Safety Pick + award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This score includes good ratings in every crashworthiness category and superior ratings for vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention. The car did score a basic designation for its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention systems and some models’ headlights were rated poor. The car earned five stars across the board in NHTSA testing.

Standard safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, crosswind assist, LED headlights and taillights, a driver attention assist system, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive brakes, a rearview camera, and a parking damage detector.

Available features include active steering assist, adaptive high beam headlights, lane keep assist, lane change assist, congestion emergency braking, a surround-view camera, rear cross-traffic alerts, and route-based speed adaptation.


Value: 6/10

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The E-Class starts at just shy of $63,000 and climbs quickly from there. The fire-breathing AMG models can easily surpass the $100,000 mark. These are premium prices for a premium product, and the numbers on the window sticker will not shock buyers seeking this level of a vehicle.

Mercedes holds back nearly all of the available advanced driver aids for added-cost driver assistance packages. At the E-Class price point, more should be on the standard features list.

While the S-Class remains the car that presses past the bleeding edge of automotive technology, the E-Class has gained ground in that regard. The car’s performance, interior, and tech all make it a compelling choice in its class.


Tech Features: 7/10

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The E-Class comes standard with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch MBUX infotainment touchscreen that offers a touchpad controller interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a navigation system, voice controls, USB-C inputs, Bluetooth, and a FrontBass system are standard.

Optional features include a head-up display, a Burmester Surround-Sound system, augmented video for navigation, rear USB-C ports, and SiriusXM radio.

The E-Class can be had with the latest and greatest tech features, but almost none of them are standard. There should be more included at the car’s price point.


Practicality: 7/10

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The E-Class model line runs the gamut on practicality, as coupe and convertible models don’t manage much cargo space, but the sedan is somewhat generous and wagon models are extremely useful.

Interior cubby and small-item storage are both plentiful and cleverly located to be useful from any seat in the house. The sedan’s trunk space suffers from the car’s curvy rear end, but the back seat folds down to open the space up considerably.

Mercedes’ move to shift the E-Class wagon to an all-terrain model was a smart one, and helps its appeal with people who live off the beaten path.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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The facelifted E-Class is smooth and curvy in all its forms. The sedan and coupe both feature a striking sloped roof and all models’ aggressive new front-end grille design gives the car a sporty appearance. The wagon, despite being a true family hauler, can be downright sinister when amped up in AMG guise, but even the all-terrain model manages to make a strong statement.

The E-Class interior is packed with upscale trim pieces and accents of wood and aluminum. The front seats are nothing short of heavenly, and make the morning commute a pleasure in the car. Even in its less sporty iterations, the E-Class cabin is driver-oriented and easy to use.

The car’s revised steering wheel design places many of the most often used controls and functions at the driver’s fingertips. Where many luxury brands do the same but forget that a comfortable steering wheel shape is just as important, Mercedes sculpted the E-Class’ wheel to make it easy to grip and use all of the myriad controls that adorn it.

With optional Burmester audio equipment installed, the car’s cabin turns into a visual show as much as it does with sound. The front speakers rotate in and out of sail panels by the front-side windows and combine with the E-Class’ ambient interior lighting to put on real production.


Driving Experience: 9/10

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The base turbocharged four-cylinder engine’s 255 horsepower is enough to move the curvy E-Class around town and down the highway with ease, but it’s not enough to make the experience exciting. It pairs nicely with the nine-speed automatic transmission, though, and delivers its power smoothly and predictably. Available all-wheel-drive is absolutely a worthy upgrade over the standard rear-drive configuration.

The E-Class upgraded V6 offers a significant power boost over its four-cylinder counterpart. With 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, it’s capable of scooting the car around with authority. Here, too, there is a nine-speed automatic transmission, and its quick shifts are a welcome companion to the powerful engine. Optional air suspension brings a level of handling and comfort not seen elsewhere in the E-Class lineup.

In AMG guise, the E-Class becomes a rocket ship, but one that can handle corners. The E53’s turbocharged V6 purrs and delivers healthy acceleration that continues to build to the redline. Stepping up to the universe-killing E63 S brings a twin-turbo V8 and over 600 horsepower, which gives the car the ability to move heaven and earth, or at least it feels that way in the driver’s seat. The cars also feature a mild-hybrid system with a 48-volt battery and small electric motor to boost power during acceleration.


Fuel Efficiency: 6/10

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The base E 350 Sedan with rear-wheel drive returns an EPA-estimated 22/31/25 mpg city/hwy/combined. With all-wheel drive, those numbers move to 22/30/25 mpg.

The E 450 Sedan is rated at 23/30/26 mpg, the Convertible at 23/30/25 mpg, and the coupe at 23/31/26 mpg. Adding all-wheel-drive bumps most ratings down by one mpg.

The AMG-massaged E-Class cars deliver fuel economy that ranges from 18 mpg combined to 23 mpg combined. V8-powered cars only manage 16 mpg in the city. These SUV-like numbers are to be expected for both cars, as their high-powered engines and all-wheel-drive systems both create a drain on fuel economy.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The E 350 Sedan starts at $55,300, which includes a $1,050 destination charge. It comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, a start/stop system, rear-wheel drive, a selective damping system, 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, full LED exterior lighting, blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, crosswind assist, driver attention assist, dual-zone climate controls, power front seats, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch driver instrument cluster display, a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen running the latest MBUX infotainment system, touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB-C ports, HD radio, Bluetooth, and three years of live traffic information.

The $63,050 Mercedes-Benz E 450 sedan comes with a turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive.

Stepping up to the $74,950 AMG E 53 sedan brings an AMG-enhanced turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 48-volt EQ boost, 19-inch AMG wheels, aluminum trim, 64-color LED ambient lighting, a Burmester surround-sound system, wireless charging, and SiriusXM radio.

The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S sedan has a starting MSRP of $108,550 after destination and gets a hand-built AMG twin-turbo V8, an AMG nine-speed automatic transmission, AMG cylinder management, dynamic engine mounts, 4MATIC+ AWD, race and drift driving modes, a race start function, AMG sport suspension, three-stage electronic stability programs, a high-performance composite braking system, a limited-slip rear differential, a performance exhaust system, speed-sensitive steering, 20-inch wheels, an AMG performance steering wheel, AMG drive menus, AMG track pace menus for the infotainment system, and Nappa leather dash trim.

If it were our money, we would choose the E 450 sedan out of the E-Class lot. Its V6 engine provides more than enough power and the car can be outfitted with all of the best tech and interior goodies without completely sinking the economy in the process.


More Photos:

See more 2021 Mercedes E-Class Photos.