Choose your style. While most models come in one or two body styles, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is available in four: sedan, coupe, cabriolet, or a wagon. The last choice is increasingly uncommon in the U.S. market, but it gives Mercedes a slice of the segment to target.
The variety enables the E-Class to reach a wide segment of the luxury populace. Indeed, from single buyers to growing families, it can keep fans in the segment for many years even as their personal needs happen to change. You don’t get a crossover SUV in the mix, but you get everything else. And if you need that crossover, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a great place to search.
Widespread availability of all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive brings with it certain handling and control advantages with it. Some E-Class models such as the base E 350 sedan and E 450 coupe and cabriolet have standard rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive a $2,500 option.
If you’re looking at an AMG model or the All Terrain E 450 wagon, then all-wheel drive is standard. In the E-Class, the 4MATIC AWD system is always on. It features a fixed torque split, ensuring that power is sent to all four wheels, resulting in a marked improvement in ride comfort, handling, and safety.
Four, six, or eight cylinder. The E-Class has the power curve covered by offering four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engine choices. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the E 350 produces 255 horsepower and shuttles this car from 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds in its all-wheel-drive guise.
Offering more power and better efficiency is the 3.0-liter inline-six found in the E 450 and AMG E 53. This engine works with a mild-hybrid system that improves step-off acceleration, combining to deliver 362 hp in the E 450 and 429 hp in the AMG E 53, with the latter delivering a robust 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. The mild-hybrid system shines best when the vehicle is slowing to a stop, as the engine turns off to conserve fuel.
Powering the AMG E 63 is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 603 hp. This engine supplies blistering speed and a 0-60 mph time of just 3.3 seconds. Its air suspension system supplies improved ride comfort around town then adjusts to handle more spirited driving to mitigate body roll.
Each Mercedes engine works with a nine-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Generous creature comfort roster. There isn’t a basic E-Class to be had, at least in the equipment and amenities realm. Every model comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push button start, heated front seats, ambient lighting, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, and twin 12.3-inch screens. The only demerit we see is the standard imitation-leather seats – we think this model is deserving of real hides, especially for the price you’re paying.
We’re constantly seeing improvements in technology, another Mercedes strong suit. In the current model, natural voice controls manage search and navigation through a simple “Hey Mercedes” command. This year, a new steering wheel replaces the previous miniature thumb pads with capacitive touch. Unfortunately, they’re not as accurate, and can become a point of frustration.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class checks all the right boxes. It may be the best model in its class (sorry, BMW 5-Series), with an excellent combination of body styles, powertrains, tech, and safety features to go with its world-class styling.
If there is a fault to be had, it’s the usual spend-up costs that can wreck a budget. The AMG variants in particular are very expensive, but they’re also some of the top performers in the segment.
Check prices for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class »