The late John Candy was a heavyweight comedian in more ways than one. Many of us who grew up in the 1980s and ‘90s have a soft spot in our hearts for his work. Films like Trains, Planes and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and Canadian Bacon still bring joy to audiences decades after they were released. But not every Candy feature was so sweet.
|1. The 2014 Mercedes E350 4MATIC Wagon is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.
2. The E350 4MATIC Wagon starts at $54,400.
3. Fuel economy is 19 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. In testing we managed to beat the EPA average of 21 MPG.
4. Cargo room is a lengthy total of 57 cu-ft.
One of his most disappointing motion pictures was entitled Wagons East! Universally panned by moviegoers and critics alike, it ended up being the last film Candy ever worked on; he passed away before it was released. What a terrible end to a successful career. Did he die from shame? We’ll never know.
When it comes to wagons one company has been exponentially more successful than John Candy’s swan song. For years Mercedes-Benz has offered a compelling lineup of spacious estates. Continuing this tradition of practicality and luxury is the 2014 E350 4MATIC Wagon.
REFRESHED FOR 2014
The E-Class is Mercedes’ middle child, a vehicle that sometimes gets lost between the company’s more affordable C-Class and its range-topping Sonderklasse models. To keep this from happening the folks in Stuttgart have just released a nicely upgraded version of the car for 2014.
The E-Class’ already handsome styling has been tweaked; it’s a touch more modern looking but just as tasteful. With the exception of the front fenders everything from the windshield forward is new. The grille, bumper and of course the headlamps have all been reworked.
Around its side and back the car’s rear door skins have been changed, the rocker moldings are new and of course the exhaust tips and tail-lamps have been restyled.
The interior has been upgraded as well, but like the car’s body it’s purely evolutionary. The texture used on the cabin’s plastic trim and other soft surfaces is more premium. There’s a new instrument cluster and analogue clock, plus there are chrome accents and some interesting new wood trim. Most timber veneers used in vehicles are coated with a blindly shiny finish. They’re so smooth they might as well be plastic, but the available wood used in the 2014 E-Class is actually textured; with a thin satin finish you can actually feel the material’s grain. Best of all it looks exceptionally premium.
SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY
Under the E350 Wagon’s hood is a familiar member of the Mercedes powertrain family. This haute-couture hauler is moved by a 3.5-liter V6. Thanks to direct fuel injection and other advanced engine technologies it delivers a competitive 302 horsepower with 273 lb-ft of torque.
Performance is completely respectable, though the engine really has to rev to deliver maximum acceleration; don’t expect big-block levels low-end torque. A magnificent seven-speed automatic transmission allows the engine to sing its lungs out, quietly of course. At wide-open throttle the V6 sounds like it’s working hard to haul around the wagon’s husky two-ton body, but the highly muffled sounds are hardly objectionable. Powertrain noise and vibration are very well attenuated.
One standout feature of the E350’s powertrain is something the company calls ECO Start/Stop. When this fuel-saving feature is enabled the engine shuts off when the vehicle is stopped, whether you’re at a red light or sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru. Unlike competing systems Mercedes engineers nailed it. When the engine cuts out you almost can’t feel it; when it restarts there’s barely a shudder. It’s quick, too. The powerplant is up and running even before your foot is off the brake pedal. BMW, are you paying attention? This is how start/stop systems are done.
Aside from the standard-issue V6 a four-cylinder diesel engine will be available in September. It should deliver 195 horsepower with around 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Of course there’s always the V8-powered E550 as well the nuclear-grade AMG model if more performance is necessary.
HOME, HOME ON THE DRIVING RANGE
The 2014 E350 Wagon we tested drives exactly like a $69,000 automobile with bona fide country-club credentials should. It’s comfortable, spacious and quiet. The ride is unexpectedly firm for something so family focused; as such it handles twists and turns without losing its composure. The car’s structure feels like reinforced concrete it’s so stiff and as a result there are zero squeaks or rattles and absolutely no quivering of the body, even when you crash over monster pot holes.
Acceleration is plenty quick but the engine needs a few revs on the clock to really start pulling; that’s really no surprise since it’s a modern, multi-valve, overhead-cam powerplant. Once it’s happily spinning the wagon springs ahead with the enthusiasm of a third-grader making a b-line for the Whack-a-Mole machine at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Driving the 2014 E350 4MATIC Wagon like a normal customer and not a throttle-obsessed automotive reporter should result in an average of 21 miles per gallon. The car stickers at 19 MPG in the city and up to 26 on the open road. After more than 100 miles of aggressive driving we managed to beat the EPA average with a score of around 22.4 MPG. That’s pretty respectable for a large car with all-wheel drive.
Mercedes has a brand-new version of its flagship S-Class on the way. The car will be receiving some major electronic upgrades to deliver an even more luxurious driving experience. It’s arguable whether trickle-down economics works but in this instance trickle-down technology is a sure thing. The new E-Class comes with much of the same technology as its big brother.
Features like steering assist and automatic braking, cross-traffic warning and pre-collision detection all contribute to making the 2014 E-Class safer than ever. With so many electronic sensors and circuits autonomous driving can’t be far off.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an admirable upgrade to an already strong product. It brings fresh design and advanced new features to the market, plus the station-wagon body style is wonderfully practical with up to 57.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Base price for this version is $54,000.
Sedan and wagon models are on sale right now. Coupe and convertible body styles should start arriving at dealerships within a matter of days.
Like the preponderance of John Candy’s work, the 2014 E-Class wagon should bring joy to families for many years to come, but unlike the dearly departed actor’s final film this wagon imported from the Eastern Hemisphere is actually a successful product. Instead of a box-office failure the E350 4MATIC Wagon is a box-hauling wonder.