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This year, the big story for Mercedes-Benz is undoubtedly the launch of its 2014 S-Class, traditionally the tip of the Three-Pointed Star's technological spear. It's been said many times that if you want to see how the future of the automobile will look, take a gander at the S-Class, and you'll see a lot of cutting-edge wonders that will trickle down and become more commonplace a generation or three down the road. Yet due to an odd product cadence issue, it's actually the facelifted 2014 E-Class seen here that marks the introduction of a lot of new technology for the brand. The sedan and wagon variants are already on sale, and the coupe and convertible will arrive shortly, but all figure to be on the market ahead of the new S-Class.

The E-Class is actually no less significant to Mercedes than the S-Class – it's known to be a huge profit-driver for the company and represents over 20 percent of the company's US sales. All of which might go some way toward explaining why this mid-cycle overhaul is a lot more comprehensive than what we normally see from Mercedes.

We recently spent an afternoon on Michigan's country roads in a longroof W212 to see if the changes make the new E more desirable.

Driving Notes
  • You have to love Mercedes' candor. In an age where every automakers' marketing department tries to spice up its wagon's appeal by calling it something else (Sportwagen, Sport Wagon, Touring, etc.), Benz is refreshingly honest – this is the Wagon, pure and simple.
  • Based on looks alone, to this author's eyes, this E-Class is a major improvement over the exiting car, it part because the latter's front lighting was particularly jarring. The new model includes substantial sheetmetal-level changes (even doorskins and rear fenders!) that really amp up both its substantialness and the aggressiveness, particularly in Sport trim shown here (recognizable by the pie-plate-sized emblem in the grille and gaping air intakes). Everyone is doing LED daytime running lamps these days, but the E's are particularly interesting and well done. It must be noted that some Autoblog editors don't care for this new look, however, instead preferring its predecessor.
  • Our test car for the day was this 4Matic-equipped E350 Sport, with a 3.5-liter V6 offering 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque apportioned through a seven-speed paddleshift automatic. There's an eco mode with a pretty well done start-stop system, and we liked the power and shift delivery in both standard and sport modes. Manual mode adds a further level of control and interactivity, but shifts are occasionally reluctant or disallowed.
  • Later this fall, a four-cylinder diesel, the E250 Bluetec, bows with 190 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque and available all-wheel drive. EPA numbers haven't been released yet, but Mercedes is confident it can net 40 miles per gallon on the freeway.
  • There's a pretty insane amount of protect-you-from-yourself-and-others active safety tech that debuted here, actually ahead of the S-Class. A stereo-camera ahead of the rearview mirror aids in all manner of safety-related items, including Distronic cruise control. Now with steering assist to keep you in the middle of your lane (even without lane markers), Distronic also lets you follow traffic "semi-autonomously." BAS Plus (read: brake assist) can now detect pedestrians and other forms of crossing traffic and prepare the car's safety systems to help it avoid or mitigate an accident.
  • The interior has arguably changed the least, but it's still very comfortable, if a bit sterile. There's a new gauge binnacle and newly available open-pore wood and lighter colors helps liven things up a lot.
  • With the second two rows stowed, cargo space swells to 57.4 cubic feet – useful, but still smaller than many compact crossovers.
  • Speaking of those seats, we don't know how much owners use them, but we love that MB still includes the option of rear-facing third row. For a long time, the E-Class was the only such jumpseat configuration on the market until the Tesla Model S showed up. Could kiddie 'way backs' be on the way back? Nah...
  • Overall, this is a much deeper-than-normal refresh for a brand that typically exercises a light touch on such things. We asked Benz reps whether this is the sort of thing that we can expect more from, and they downplayed the likelihood of it being the start of a new trend. Bummer.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      IMO, this is the best looking old-school wagon (car-like suspension) on the market at the moment.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Glad that they still offer the rear-facing seats. Growing up my friends mom had an S124 and we used to sit in the back and make faces at the drivers.
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Later this fall, a four-cylinder diesel, the E250 Bluetec, bows with 190 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque and available all-wheel drive. EPA numbers haven't been released yet, but Mercedes is confident it can net 40 miles per gallon on the freeway." The diesel sedan is already here so are we possibly talking about a real diesel E-Class WAGON being sold in the U.S? <
        • 1 Year Ago
        • 1 Year Ago
        Looks like. I wish I could afford it, but it is out of my price range.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love the E wagon and very happy that Mercedes continued to market them in the states. That being said, I preferred the dual headlights before the refresh, and find the slow demise of the hood ornament sad. The latter in particular gave MBs a gravitas that the grill emblem doesn't capture.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sign me up - I'll take one
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am seeing a ton of them lately, they seem to be selling well. Great wagon.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey! Finally a simple wagon title. No more 5 worded bull sh*^ nonsense.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am one of those people who prefer the 2010-2013 E Class to this "new one". I like the real quad light look on my 2011 E Class (4Matic Sport with the AMG looks) to the redesigned 2013 edition. I don't like the current grille and that big star in the middle of it. And why did they take out the ponton rear wheels fenders? My dealership offered me a trade-in. It's a NO! I bought mine because I LOVE her sharp aggressive looks. The current iteration is just too "Asian" looking with a front end that tries to hard to look "aggressive". MB should not design its cars thinking first to the Asian/Chinese market! My E Class is my third. When I replace her i'm upgrading to S Class..
        • 1 Year Ago
        Agreed. I'm glad we got a pre-facelift version of the E. That snout on the new one is just bad. Hopefully the the next model improves. The new S is a good start.
      Mr Sled
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't justify the price of a new one of these, but I've been looking for a lower mileage used one. The third row is what sold me on this wagon. Too bad Volvo doesn't do the third row anymore. A truely sporty vehicle that seats 7... Love it!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought a used E wagon earlier this year and it was the greatest used car value ever. I use the third row seats occasionally (my son loves sitting back there), but I have to admit I try to avoid it. I can't find any information on crash tests done for third-row occupants. I know one of Mercedes' focuses is safety, but without the pressure of crash tests and consumer demand I have to wonder how much effort they put into keeping passengers safe back there.
        • 1 Year Ago
        What model year did you buy? Did you have to do any up-front maintenance?
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, are they going to sell 3 of these in the entire country as usual?
        • 1 Year Ago
        3 people with impeccable taste.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Must be all within 3 miles of me. I see a handful of quite recent E-series wagons in my area on a regular basis. 3-series as well, and even 3 different CTS (only 1 V). Although... it does appear the whole city is being taken-over by Q5 and Q7.
      • 1 Year Ago
      IMHO, the facelift looks much better on the wagon than on the sedan. It's nice that Mercedes still sells this in the US. The lack of wagon options is very frustrating for those of us who don't want the extra weight, poor and handling and poor gas mileage of a crossover.
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