Five-Point Inspection: 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

This Week’s Five-Point Inspection takes a look at the soon-to-be-overhauled Mercedes-Benz E-Class, what we love about it and what we’d like to see changed.

About to become redundant, there is a mid-cycle refresh coming for the 2014 model year which will put the current E-Class out to pasture. This doesn’t mean the E-Class is necessarily a bad vehicle, but in the ever evolving world of luxury automobiles, it is either constantly improve your brand or get left behind.

With a base price of $51,905 after transportation charges, the E-Class may be the most versatile vehicle in the automotive kingdom. There are no fewer than four distinct body styles, five engine choices, three fuel options and two drivelines.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC Wagon

Like any good luxurious vehicle, the E-Class excels at being refined. We tested the base E350 that features the 3.5 L V6 producing 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission. This combination is good for 20 MPG city and 30 MPG highway. Our tester came heavily equipped with the sport package, optional 18-inch AMG wheels and both premium packages 1 and 2.

Although there is a terrific diesel, hybrid and two nasty-powerful turbocharged V8 options, the V6 really is all this vehicle needs. Then again, when has an E-Class ever been about ‘all you really need’? The V6 and 7-speed automatic combine to deliver a smooth, buttery drive that is void of virtually any drive-line coarseness. The V6 also produces a nice melodic sound under acceleration; something the four-cylinder BMW 528i can’t match.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC Wagon

Interiors have been Mercedes-Benz strong suit lately. The E-Class is no exception as it is classy looking and has some of the nicest looking wood trim this side of a Bentley. The beige leather, dark wood, black rubber and metal accents combine together to form an elegant interior, although some of our staff members found that the quilted leather interior looks a bit too ‘old manish’ for their tastes.

The Almond Beige Artico leather seats are comfortable and highly adjustable and the Harmon Kardon sound system is clear, crisp and a downright audible pleasure. The center stack/infotainment unit are starting to show its age with the mass array of tired looking buttons and dummy switches.

The exterior of the E-Class still looks sophisticated even after five years in production, but is lacking some of the styling cues found in more recent Mercedes-Benz models; namely an even heavier use of LED lighting and the ubiquitous arching LED Eyebrow.

The four distinct headlight treatments that have been synonymous with the E-Class for nearly twenty years are in the last year of production. When the 2014s arrive, the headlight becomes a single cluster unit mimicking a four-light design. This is unfortunate as the E-Class featured this unique styling trait for so long that is has become a key identifier form the model.

The one area that hopefully receives a little work during the 2014 restyle would be a rejig of the option packages. The E-Class is available with nearly every luxury item known to man, but it would be nice if more of them became standard on lower spec’d models.

In our fantasy world adaptive cruise control, heated/cooled seats and push button start would all be included with the base price. Really, push-button start should be standard on every luxury car.

What the E-Class does best though is become a posh locomotive on the highway. It stays planted on the road in that solid sort of way only German chassis’ seem capable of. Toss it into a corner and even without all the AMG tuned bits and pieces, there is still a deceiving amount of grip. The E350 hangs on harder in the corners than a Cubs fan clinging to the hope of a World Series championship.

The fact this can all be achieved while transporting four people and their luggage, comfortably, highlights why a luxury car demands such a steep entry price. As the saying goes; you get what you pay for.

Thinking about buying a new car? Interested in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

Visit AutoGuide’s new car buying section here. If you want, you can skip to Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

More by Mike Schlee

Join the conversation