The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a range of mid-size, five-passenger luxury steeds that enters its fifth (official) generation with the 2017 E300.
Built to compete with the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, among others, the new E-Class stands out by eschewing any semblance of racetrack capability in favor of a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride made possible by an exceedingly cushy cabin and next-level autonomous control and safety features.
The rear-wheel-drive E300 and all-wheel E300 4MATIC are the first of the new series to reach our shores. Both are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-banger that delivers 241 horsepower (hp) and 273 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. Upcoming propulsion options include a gasoline-powered, 333-hp twin-turbo inline six, a diesel variant, and a plug-in hybrid that bolts an electric motor onto the base gasoline engine.
The E300 gets 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 30 mpg on the highway. Adding all-wheel-drive reduces the highway rating by a single mile; both compare favorably to the E-Series’ German rivals.
The exterior styling is being marketed as an adaptation to the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class, but it could be mistaken, from some angles, for a mid-fifth-generation Dodge Charger. The bulky front fascia, upright grille, and rounded rectangular headlights represent a significant stylistic departure from the outgoing model’s tapered front end.
“Luxury” editions get chrome teeth and a standing hood ornament while “Sport” models get a big badge planted in a body-colored grille. Aside from slight adjustments to the suspension tuning, that’s about where the differences end.
The cabin is slightly roomier and completely rebuilt with all-new materials, hyper-adjustable seats, and a wide range of upholstery, color schemes, and lighting options. The crown jewel is a flatscreen display that stretches from the instrument panel to the center console. Audio and climate control, navigation, and just about everything else can be controlled from the steering wheel, a control knob, or voice commands.
New safety and convenience features include the semiautonomous Drive Pilot, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping control; PreSafe Impulse Side, which moves passengers away from the windows when an imminent T-bone is detected; and Remote Parking Pilot, which allows drivers to step out and let the E-Series wedge itself into tight spaces.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 and E300 4MATIC are in showrooms now for a starting MSRP of $52,150 and $54,650, respectively.
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