The E-Class comes in an array of four different body styles--Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet and Wagon--and five different engines.
All E-Class models come with a 7-speed automatic transmission. E350 models are the starting point up the price ladder, with their 302-horsepower, 3.5L V6. Above that, it's the E400 powered by a turbocharged 3.0L V6 making 330-horsepower. 4MATIC all-wheel drive is standard on the E400 and available on most E350 models. At the top of the line, there's the performance-focused E63 AMG, with its 518-hp, 5.5L biturbo V8.
Environmentally minded shoppers have a couple of good options. The E350 Bluetec packs a strong 3.0L turbo-diesel V6, making 210 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile the E400 Hybrid offers the E350's gasoline V6, paired with a 27 hp, 207 lb-ft electric motor system that supplements its output, permitting both electric-only operation in some situations and the engine to be detached during high-speed coasting, or "sailing." The Hybrid also has the first lithium-ion battery pack designed specifically for automotive use, Mercedes-Benz says. Both of these models are rear-wheel drive only.
No matter the model, the E-Class has a classic luxury-sedan interior, with interior trims that are impressive and upscale yet not too flamboyant. Coupes and Cabriolets have less backseat space--with seating for four instead of five--but an AirCap system in Cabriolet models helps limit air turbulence with the top down. Ride comfort is top-notch through the lineup, too, and a driver-adjustable suspension system is included, while V8 models get air shocks to increase comfort without additional body motion.
On E63 AMG models, standard equipment includes a navigation system, enhanced voice control, a rearview camera system, an Active Multicontour Driver seat, heated and active ventilated front seats, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, bi-xenon headlamps with Active Curve Illumination, additional corner-illuminating lamps, an electronic trunk closer and Keyless Go.
Standard equipment across the E-Class model line includes power front seats (with 3-position memory), Smart Key entry, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, an integrated garage-door opener, rain-sensing intermittent wipers and ambient lighting. The COMAND screen- and controller-based system is also included, wrapping together radio, DVD/CD and a Bluetooth interface, as well as other media through a memory-card slot.
All E-Class models also include Attention Assist, a feature that studies the driver's steering patterns, alerting the driver with a coffee-cup icon and instrument-cluster message if when between 50 and 112 mph, it suspects drowsy driving.
The E-Class has several other noteworthy active-safety options. Night View Assist Plus uses infra-red light from beams mounted within the headlights to help see ahead nearly 500 feet--and see pedestrians up to 300 feet earlier than without the system, thanks to a screen built into the instrument cluster. There's also Distronic Plus, a sensor system that now includes Blind Spot Assist and Park Assist. Distronic Plus cars also have Pre-Safe, a system that can automatically apply full braking for an impending collision.
Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are offered together in a Lane Tracking Package, while the Driver Assistance Package brings Distronic Plus, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Active Lane Keeping Assist. Some of the desirable luxury features and conveniences are grouped together into Premium 1 and Premium 2 packages, while standalone options include a rear side airbag, Parktronic parking guidance, split folding rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a 115-volt power outlet and a rear-seat entertainment system, among many others.
A new E400 sedan replaces last year's E550 sedan. The E400 is powered by a turbocharged V6, rather than a V8, which should improve fuel economy in the mid-sized luxury sedan. Though the new engine is less powerful than the one it replaces, it makes up for the power deficit with greatly improved efficiency. For buyers who must have V8 power with their E-Class sedan, the E63 is still available.