Engine: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder
Power: 241 hp, 273 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: Not yet available
Can Fuel Economy: Not yet available
US Price: Starts at $52,150 (before freight)
CAN Price: Starts at $61,200 (before freight)
If ever there was a showcase for both where an automaker is coming from and where it’s headed, it would be the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
It sports all the characteristics that have helped make the E-Class the standard-bearer of executive sedans, but it’s also leading the charge for Mercedes towards more efficient engines and innovative autonomous safety technology. In short, this Mercedes is at the nexus of the car universe, and it’s called the E-Class.
One ingredient in Mercedes’ recipe for success is its design. Each vehicle appears evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Park any one of the nine previous generations of the E-Class next to each other and some semblance of familiarity will shine through. That continues with this new E-Class, though it also ties in well with the rest of the brand’s current lineup, most notably the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class sedans.
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Like its siblings, the E-Class features an elongated hood and swooping roofline that carries into powerful-looking shoulders. It’s a strong but sophisticated look that manages to fit in with the rest of the family without stepping on any toes. It has also been stretched somewhat, with its overall length growing about two inches and its wheelbase closer to three. Those numbers are more evident inside than out, particularly when it comes to rear passenger legroom.
Despite the added dimensions, the 2017 E-Class actually weighs about 150 pounds less than the outgoing version, thanks to the expanded use of aluminum. And while that might not seem substantial, every little bit helps for a car that tips the scales at more than 4,000 lb.
Powering the big-bodied sedan in E 300 guise is an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine is the antithesis of everything buyers have come to expect under the hoods of their premium sedans, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With 241 hp and, more importantly, 273 lb-ft of torque, it makes plenty of power. But most important of all, the full breadth of that torque comes on line at a ridiculously low 1,300 rpm.
Mated to a nine-speed automatic, the four-cylinder certainly doesn’t feel like a four-cylinder, though the mapping of the throttle-by-wire system can feel slightly disconnected depending on the drive mode. Applying the accelerator in Comfort or Eco modes sees smooth-but-slow power delivery that is very even-keeled, while stomping on the skinny pedal in Sport or Sport+ changes the game completely, with the engine feeling more like a naturally aspirated V6.
Sure, some will bellyache about the engine’s size, but those complaints should be confined to what they see on paper, as driving the new E-Class proves it’s more than enough engine for the job.
The E-Class certainly isn’t short on choice when it comes to suspensions, with three setups available on the order sheet. Riding on comfort or sport steel suspension, or a multi-chamber air system, the car is sure-footed, comfortable and confident no matter the drive mode. It was business as usual cruising around California’s Monterey County until the more winding roads in and around Laguna Seca, where an unexpected eagerness was revealed. Even in Comfort and Eco modes, this new E-Class is more than willing to take a corner tighter than one would expect from an executive sedan.
Likewise, the steering was both light and tight, and proved exceptionally responsive in Sport and Sport+ modes.
Continuing a long trend of industry firsts for the E-Class, the 10th-generation car is nothing short of a technological marvel. It features a number of firsts for both Mercedes and the industry as a whole, including the ability to change lanes on its own.
This E-Class takes adaptive cruise control to the next level, and has the ability to follow another vehicle at a pre-selected distance at speeds as fast as 130 mph and steer itself around turns without driver intervention.
But the ability for the car to change lanes on its own is something to behold. And no, that doesn’t mean the E-Class will choose to change lanes on its own; rather, when a lane change is signalled by the driver, the car will handle the rest of the work.
That tech, of course, is joined by the increasingly popular brake assist and a self-parking system that can park the car in both parallel and perpendicular orientations. If self-parking isn’t good enough, the new E-Class is also wired to retrieve itself from a parking spot at the touch of a button on your smartphone. The feature hasn’t cleared the necessary regulatory hurdles necessary for public use just yet, but it’s coming as soon as next year.
The car also boasts some neat safety features like Evasive Steering Assist, which adds steering torque when an evasive maneuver is performed, and a lateral collision detection system that uses the front seat side bolsters to move the driver or front seat passenger three inches closer to the center of the car to lessen the impact of a crash.
All these systems aren’t without their faults, though. Should you sidle up to the left shoulder to make way for a lane-splitting motorcycle, for example, the system detects that the car is closing in on a solid line and begins to apply the brakes autonomously.
This E-Class is typical Mercedes through and through, with a well-appointed and smart interior that features not one, but the option of two 12-inch screens. The second screen replaces the traditional analogue gauges behind the steering wheel and can be configured to display just about anything a driver would want to see while behind the wheel. It’s not as savvy as Audi’s virtual cockpit, but it’s certainly a close second.
Elsewhere inside, every surface feels luxurious and the attention to detail is fantastic. The seats remained comfortable after more than 400 miles of wheel time, thanks in large part to the optional massage function, no doubt. Audio quality from the available Burmester stereo is great, though as in other models, the satellite radio tends to cut out sporadically, particularly under bridges and overpasses.
The new E-Class is also set up with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easy smartphone integration.
The Verdict: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
When it comes to this new E-Class, Mercedes isn’t mincing words. It claims it’s the most advanced car. Ever. And Mercedes is right — kind of.
Yes, the 10th-generation E-Class boasts a suite of advanced safety features that is unprecedented in the industry. But those features aren’t standard, and are likely to add a few thousand dollars to the price tag. With that said, if the E-Class is the future of the automobile, well, the future’s looking pretty bright.