2021 Mercedes E-Class Pros and Cons Review: Business Class Upgrade

2021 Mercedes E-Class Pros and Cons Review: Business Class Upgrade

11/13/2020

Pro

  • Excellent chassis
  • Great powertrains
  • Premium interior

Con

  • Complicated infotainment
  • Gets pricey quickly

Climb into a 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, in either sedan, coupe, convertible, or wagon form, and you will understand the true meaning of luxury. For 2021, Mercedes has freshened the E-Class’s sheetmetal, updated its engines, and upgraded its infotainment system. It even fiddled rather heavily with the station wagon variant, rechristening the tougher-looking, SUV-cosplaying model the E450 All-Terrain.

View Other 2021 Car Of The Year Contenders And Finalists Here

From the graining of the dashboard wood to the suppleness of the heated, ventilated, posture-correct leather seats, the E-Class delivers a premium experience. Yet it also is thoroughly modern, from the robust yet efficient responsiveness of its powertrain to the plethora of high-tech features.

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“The E-Class delivers on every front you can think of—both from a passenger’s view and from the driver’s standpoint,” MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina said. “It’s the one that makes everyone feel special.”

The E-Class extends its excellence across all body types and performance measures. The dynamics of a sedan chassis are different than that of a coupe, not only dimensionally but also with different suspension settings due to the different driving habits of their owners. Then, the body of a convertible or wagon requires a massive restructuring of sheetmetal and reinforcing crossmembers, with unique and specific geometries. Yet whatever the shape or task, the E-Class excels.

Testing director Kim Reynolds noted that the sedans felt “fast but heavy” on the figure eight but noted they were, reassuringly, “solid as granite.”

Under the skin, Mercedes offers its M256 362-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged mild hybrid inline-six as the heart of the E-Class lineup, with a 21-hp “EQ Boost” electric motor to help acceleration from a dead stop while the turbos spool up. Mercedes engineers also have improved the shifting of its 9G nine-speed automatic transmission. “There is a steady pull of power, yet some gearshifts are literally unnoticed,” Reynolds said.

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The E-Class’ Air Body Control suspension is the best $1,900 option; it soaks up freeway chop, road rash, bumps, and divots with impunity. “What fantastic ride quality,” Buyer’s Guide director Zach Gale said. “It’s one of the best of any car I’ve driven in a while.”

As for accommodations, the interior’s sense of style and refinement immediately puts the driver and passenger into a state of lavish comfort.

Our E450’s seats were heated and ventilated with adjustable lumbar support and several massage settings; they also had bolsters that would activate to give extra ribcage support under hard cornering. The Cabriolet models come with special sun-reflective leather that remains 55 degrees cooler than regular leather in direct sunlight. In cooler weather, the Air Scarf provides neck-level warmth.

Looking ahead in the cockpit, the driver sees twin 12.3-inch displays that unfurl layer after layer of information. And here resides our one big gripe with the E-Class: MBUX. Although its screens are gloriously crisp, the new infotainment system and user interface raised the ire of nearly every editor for its needlessly complicated nature.

Of course, Mercedes-Benzes are anticipated to be safe. Although the 2021 model year E-Class has yet to be tested, the 2020 edition received top-scoring five-star marks in frontal, side, and rollover crash tests from NHTSA. The IIHS also gives top-scoring Good ratings and named it a Top Safety Pick+.

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With a starting price of $55,300, which can quickly climb north of $75,000, the Merc is a pricey acquisition. But per MotorTrend subsidiary IntelliChoice, the E-Class line is mostly “average” or better in terms of its five-year cost to own. (The base four-cylinder E350 gets an “excellent” return on investment.)

In short, the E-Class is not trying to be something that it is not. People expect certain things when they acquire a Mercedes, and the E-Class delivers the reassurance of sitting inside a whisper-quiet yet thunderous luxury vehicle.

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