Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo-Diesel 2.1L I4
Power:
195 HP / 369 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
8.2 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,409 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
15.9 CU-FT
MPG:
27 City / 42 HWY
Base Price:
$53,900
In Europe, there are a number of strange powertrain combinations for each vehicle. A BMW 3 Series, which has a grand total of four engines in the US market (five if you count the ActiveHybrid), can be fitted with everything from the 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder we get here to a microscopic, fuel-sipping, diesel-powered four-cylinder in Europe. And don't for a minute think this is unique to BMW.

Mercedes-Benz has been doing the big-vehicle, small-engine thing in the Old Country for years, selling V6-powered SL convertibles that wouldn't have a hope or prayer in the US market. And it isn't just its sporty offerings that are de-engined in Europe – its sedan engines are downsized across the pond as well. As part of the slowly growing range of diesels in the North American market, Mercedes has shipped one of its less potent sedans to the US, in the hopes that we Yanks can see what our friends in Europe have been enjoying for so long.

It's called the E250 Bluetec, and it takes advantage of the same 2.1-liter, turbo-diesel four-cylinder that we found so charming in the GLK250 Bluetec last year. The E250 also serves as a replacement for the lovable, V6-powered E350 Bluetec. We spent a week with the thriftiest E-Class to see if a small, four-cylinder was enough for a big Mercedes sedan in the US.

Driving Notes
  • That 2.1-liter turbodiesel might not sound like a lot of engine, but its performance fits in well with the E250's brief as a comfortable and luxurious sedan. There's 195 horsepower available at 3,800 rpm, while 369 pound-feet of torque can be had between 1,600 and 1,800 rpm. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, though our tester was fitted with Merc's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
  • Despite weighing in at a hefty 4,400 pounds (rear-drive models are 200 pounds lighter), the readily available torque allows the E250 to deliver reasonable performance, although the heavy footed among us might be happier with the gas-powered E350 or the super-desirable E550. Mercedes claims the diesel-powered E-Class will hit 60 in 8.2 seconds, but it didn't feel quite as slow as that number indicates.
  • The EPA rating on the MB's window sticker claims it will return 27 miles per gallon in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, for a combined 32-mpg rating. Our experience was slightly above the combined average, at about 34 mpg in mixed driving.
  • There's some turbo lag here, but it's only truly intrusive when digging into the throttle at very low speeds. The 2.1 is a quiet, unobtrusive mill, that doesn't subscribe to any of the clattery diesel noises when cold and remains stealthily quiet while accelerating at freeway speeds.
  • A seven-speed automatic is the sole transmission for the E250, and it is a peach. Smooth, barely perceptible upshifts are matched up with quick downshifts. There is a sport mode for the transmission, as well as a set of paddles on the back of the E-Class' steering wheel, but that sort of fire-at-will cog-swapping kind of misses the point of a sedan that's powered by a small diesel engine. Still, it works just fine, and Sport does speed downshifts slightly, but we found it was just better to let the trans do its thing without interference.
  • Our tester featured a Mercedes sport package, which adds a unique set of 17-inch alloy wheels (the standard size offered on the E250), while lowering the suspension and adding a few aesthetic tweaks. Still, the ride was comfortable, likely due to the relatively small wheels and higher sidewall of the tires. The E250 was smooth and comfortable over a variety of surfaces, only suffering from an overabundance of vertical motion, or porpoising, on undulating surfaces at higher speeds.
  • Prices for the E250 4Matic start at $53,900, but can climb quickly from there. Our tester adds $720 for the Obsidian Black paint, $440 for split-folding rear seats, $350 for a rear spoiler (why isn't this just part of the Sport Package?), $3,870 for a Premium Pack that adds the COMAND infotainment system, a rear-view camera and heated seats, $1,290 for a Parking Assist pack (surround video camera, active park assist) and $2,800 for a Driver Assistance pack (adaptive cruise, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping and cross-traffic alert. Oddly, the Sport Pack is a no-cost option. Add on destination and delivery charges of $925, and our tester could be taken home for $64,295.
  • The case for the E250 is hurt by its range of V6-powered, diesel-engined competitors. Both the BMW 535d and Audi A6 TDI are significantly more powerful for just a couple thousand dollars more than our tester's base price.
  • The E250 is a compelling vehicle for a select group of buyers. Where the E350 and E550 are solidly in the sport sedan category, the E250 is not. It's quieter and smoother, making it a generally better car for those that aren't looking to get anywhere in a hurry. We like the fuel economy argument it provides, as well. All that said, its starting price and more powerful competitors hurt the appeal of the oil-burning Benz for just about anyone that doesn't place fuel economy as their number one priority.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 72 Comments
      audisp0rta4
      • 11 Months Ago
      If I were in the market, I'd buy a base E250 bluetec 4matic and call it a day. I'd consider nav/connectivity options, but that's it. I love the idea of a simple, roomy, well built (hopefully) E-Klasse that can go a few hundred thousand miles, just like they used to!
        Michael Scoffield
        • 11 Months Ago
        @audisp0rta4
        And you'd be right. It's exactly what they do. Here in Europe they're quire popular as taxis. I've seen a few with close to 400.000 miles on them that still felt solid. They have a great ride, solid interior, good fuel economy and excellent reliability. They're obviously not perfect but somehow manage to capture the spirit of the old diesel Benzes.
      CarCrazy24
      • 11 Months Ago
      I had a tough choice when looking for a new car, and I considered the GS, the A7, and the various BMW diesel sedans. But I'm glad I picked up the E250, it's been fantastic. The Benz was by far the most comfortable and had the best mileage. Agreed, it's by no means fast, but it handles solidly, feels as solid as a vault, and has outstanding range. This is the closest thing to the old W123 diesels that made Mercedes famous in the 1980's. The whole point of getting a diesel is for mileage, and my E250 has been averaging 35mpg in 50/50 city and highway miles, with increases to nearly 44mpg on long highway drives. I'm enjoying every minute in it.
      Avinash Machado
      • 11 Months Ago
      Brilliant car.
      George
      • 11 Months Ago
      I think this is a good idea, and the reality, folks, is that we are going to see more of this primarily because of high gas prices and tougher emmissions standards. A car that does 0-60 in a bit over 8 seconds is plenty fast enough for most people - especially the typical demographic of a Mercedes driver. I am not knocking Mercedes in any way. I own 2, but it's all about buying the right tool for the job intended. This car is a luxury cruiser, and gas mileage is a bigger deal to its buyers. If I bought an E-class model, I'd likely go for the E550, but the gas mileage would be painful. I have a ML with a V-8, and I am happy with the performance. The V-6 was just too slow for the weight of the vehicle and my driving style. Still, though, those constant visits to the pump get me. My other Mercedes i a C-class. My wife drives it, and the performance is plenty for her. She's not trying to race anybody. My only concern would be the durability of a 4-cylinder in that type of car. I have no data for that, but in the right application, it can make a bunch of sense.
        Michael Scoffield
        • 11 Months Ago
        @George
        Actually George, this type of E-Class 2.1 four cylinder is very popular here in Europe as a taxi. I've been in quite a few that had even close to 400.000 miles on them and still felt solid. They're reliability, space and ride is what makes them so popular. So this engine is quite durable, even in such a heavy car.
      Sacto1654
      • 11 Months Ago
      Now, if they put in this engine in the new C-Class (e.g. C250 BlueTec), that makes more sense with the lighter weight of the C-Class.
        George
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Sacto1654
        The CLA45 looks like a great car, and the price is not bad. I expect this type of setup in the C-class (versus the V-8 AMG) at some point.
      ishmaelcrowley
      • 11 Months Ago
      Get a diesel Cruze instead.
      sniperhunter2001
      • 11 Months Ago
      This is horribly overpriced, if you ask me. I'd much rather save $10K and get a 2.0T Jag XF or Audi A6 2.0T. The amount you save with those two cars over this diesel Benz, you wouldn't be able to recoup in the diesel for ages. Probably over 10 years...horrible price point.
        montoym
        • 11 Months Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        I presume you meant the E-Class in general? Because the C250 is the cheapest version of the E-Class that we get here, $500 less than the base price of the E350.
        Andrew Pappas
        • 11 Months Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        But when you resell or trade in the car, it will hold onto it's premium. Hopefully.
      funguy6713
      • 11 Months Ago
      People will knock this car for the price and the 4-Banger Turbodiesel, however the power and torque levels are very good with this engine along with fuel economy. Me thinks M-B will have to rebadge this car as an E350 Bluetec because people will have issues with it being a "250." MB and BMW now does this with a lot of their models now. The E550 does not have a 5.5 Litre engine and I remember back in the 1990s they rebadged the 260E as the E300 2.6 because customers balked at the 260E badging. The BMW 528s don't have a 2.8 LItre V6 but have a 2.0 Litre 4-banger Turbo. Finally when compared to Audi and BMW, the after sale dealership experience of the M-B service department is top class and incomparable to either the terrible Audi/VW and ok BMW service departments...
        Merc1
        • 11 Months Ago
        @funguy6713
        They won't be changing any badging. M
      Cadavillac
      • 11 Months Ago
      So $64k buys you a luxury automobile that has halogen headlights? Seriously? An Acura ILX for half the price has them standard.
        Dexter Morgan
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Cadavillac
        Do your research before you post. The 2014 E class comes with LED headlights as standard equipment.
          dea5787
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Dexter Morgan
          Nevermind dexter. Apparently you are correct and we are wrong. The other day I saw what I thought was a 2014 e with halogens. Maybe it was a 2013? In any fact, you are correct. My apologies. Glad I learned something new today.
          in2dwww
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Dexter Morgan
          LIGHTING PACKAGE: $1,500 - full LED lighting. Nope, not standard. It's an option. It should at least come with Xenon lights.
          Spartan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Dexter Morgan
          Dexter Morgan, did you even do your research?
          dea5787
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Dexter Morgan
          You're wrong dexter. YOU should do your research before you tell someone else to do theirs. This car indeed has halogen headlights. In2dwww is correct
        in2dwww
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Cadavillac
        It doesn't even come with leather as standard. The horror. The horror.
          Joe Liebig
          • 11 Months Ago
          @in2dwww
          lol. I hate leather seats. Especially the cheap fake **** you get in those ugly Acuras uneducated people are raving about.
          Dexter Morgan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @in2dwww
          @Spartan and in2dwww: perhaps English isn't your strong suit or perhaps it's reading comprehension. LED headlights are standard equipment on the 2014 E. The $ 1500 package you're referring to adds LED highbeam and active curve illumination. So yeah, I've done my research. Perhaps next time you'll do yours.
          May
          • 11 Months Ago
          @in2dwww
          No LED headlights but LED daytime running lights are standard.
      Eta Carinae
      • 11 Months Ago
      Just optioned a 2.0T CTS will ALL the options to $66,495.......this engine in the E class makes it hard to swallow such a price...especially since this model isnt even fully loaded.....and you will likely not even recoup the money because of the price of diesels (maintenance as well).......
        redgpgtp97
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        As with all Caddy's you probably will lose y our ass off when you go to trade it in. They have terrible depreciation values.
        Dexter Morgan
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        This same engine is used in the Sprinter vans and is sufficient enough to power the E250 sedan. Also, at the as-tested price thus is a very loaded E-class. Your comment seems to be implying that at almost $65K you're getting a basic car. When, in fact, the options on this E250 are similar to the top tier 'Premium' package for the CTS you seemed to have built. I'd also like to add that the additional cost of maintenance will be offset by the much better fuel economy. In the end, the target audience for the E250 and the CTS 2.0T are not the same so I fail to see how a cost/value comparison can be made.
        redgpgtp97
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        Hmmm, on the long term will a 2.0T outlast a Mercedes built 4cyl diesel? Had a 190d back in the day w over 300k.
      Dexter Morgan
      • 11 Months Ago
      It's surprising to see so many people with 'sticker shock' at the $ 65K as-tested price. Most of you perhaps have never shopped this range of cars but midsize Germany luxury sedans are usually priced in the high $ 50's to high $ 60's range. Just because you're getting a diesel doesn't mean the price is magically going to drop $ 10K or so. What you're losing in performance vs. the E350 is more than made up for in the better torque and the higher MPG's. Stop judging cars on paper (0-60, 1/4 mile times, size of engine etc). In the real world, people buy based on other factors - safety, efficiency, reliability etc.
        graphikzking
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Dexter Morgan
        How about convenience? In my area there are probably 30 gas stations. 4 carry diesel. I can get around that and once I know which have diesel, it's simple to always visit them. NOW, 2nd problem. Many of the diesel pumps are older (I know because whenever I borrow my buddies Passat TDI) . They are NOTHING like the ones I see in the Audi TDI commercial with the hot girl putting diesel in her Audi. All the pumps except 1 make you go inside and pay instead of paying at the pump. That is a HUGE inconvenience especially when you have a kid or two in the car. To get them out of the car seat whether in nice weather or rain, snow sleet etc go into the store, get the card out, carry them back to the car, strap them back in etc. Just not convenient. Those 2 reasons alone made me not consider a diesel for my wife. For a small pickup for myself, I'd choose it 9 out of 10 times. The torque would be great to have in a Tacoma. This engine would be PERFECT in a tacoma! It would get roughly the same MPG as this car which means over 30 mpg in a pickup. At least Mercedes gets that bigger cars benefit from diesel better than smaller cars. It's also easier to absorb a price increase in a 50k car than it is in a 30k car.
          Dexter Morgan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @graphikzking
          You have a valid point there graphikzking. Where I live, diesel fuel is plentiful and widely available. I'm just glad that carmakers are starting to bring diesels back to the US - GM even offers it in the compact Cruze.
      voidaudio
      • 11 Months Ago
      CLA250? Okay. C250? I can deal. E250? No thanks, North America isn't Europe/Asia. Didn't they try this kind of downsizing experiment before with the S-class and fail miserably? That said, it will be interesting to see if the competitive set will try to follow suit.
        Andrew Pappas
        • 11 Months Ago
        @voidaudio
        The 350 bluetec was overkill. With this much torque, this is perfectly matched to this car. And your mpgs climb
        Merc1
        • 11 Months Ago
        @voidaudio
        What downsizing with the S-Class are you talking about? Didn't happen here in the U.S. M
          Tina Dang
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Merc1
          I think he is talking about the S350 from the 220 Series, but since that model came at the very last model year, It was not a failure at all.
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