With a refreshed R-Class debuting this morning and a general understanding that most automakers think Americans prefer trucks to wagons, it was a bit of a pleasant surprise to find Mercedes-Benz taking the wraps off a U.S. market 2011 E350 4Matic Wagon here at the 2010 New York Auto Show today. When we first saw this estate at the Frankfurt Motor Show, we were told not to expect an American showing of the vehicle. Well, Mercedes has apparently had a change of heart as they debuted the wagon, and in 4Matic trim no less.
The E-Class Wagon joins the thoroughly revised sedan and coupe variants of Merc's mid-sizer and shares much of their styling outside and in. The one big difference obviously is the wagon back, which looks very handsome to our two-box-lovin' eyes. There's also the surprise of available jump seats in the "way-back," which pop out of the floor of the cargo area and go back-to-back with the rear bench, giving the little ones a great view of traffic behind them. The outgoing model had them as an option as well, but we can't think of any other U.S. cars that still sell these rear-facing "way back" seats.
Mercedes is only bringing the E350 4Matic version of the E-wagon for now, although hope springs eternal that an E63 AMG Wagon might be in the cards eventually, even if it's only a special-order item like the last one was. For now, there are a whole batch of live shots from New York along with a press release after the jump.
Photos by Frank Filliponio / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
NEW YORK – Mercedes-Benz is launching its next-generation E-Class wagon at
the New York International Auto Show, open to the public April 2-11, 2010 at the
Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Packed with useful new safety technology, the
stylish 2011 E350 4MATIC wagon is expected to reach U.S. dealerships this
The Look of a Sedan, the Utility of an SUV
While the new E-Class wagon is styled more like a traditional sedan than an SUV, it
boasts outstanding utility. Standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive provides an extra measure
of traction, whether the road surface is wet, dry or covered with snow.
Smart-looking aluminum roof rails are standard, and inside, a 60-40 fold-down rear seat
makes for cavernous cargo capacity that's highly flexible. For example, the E-Class
wagon can carry a grandfather clock and still accommodate three occupants, or a load
of lumber can be carried with four people aboard.
Its normal five-seat configuration can easily expand to seven seats by unfolding a
standard third-row seat from the luggage compartment floor. The E-Class wagon is the
only vehicle in its market segment to feature seven-place seating. With coil spring
suspension up front and electronically controlled air springs at the rear, its load-
leveling air suspension keeps the car level regardless of the cargo weight.
An elegant luggage cover and cargo net are attached at the beltline so they don't
interfere with the fold-down rear seat. At the same time, the cover can be attached to
the folded seatbacks if needed, and it can be raised conveniently whenever the standard
power liftgate is opened.
4MATIC Four-Wheel Drive Sets a Trend
The new E350 wagon comes standard with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. As modern all-
wheel-drive systems become more refined, they are becoming increasingly popular,
especially in the luxury car market. With negligible weight and fuel-efficiency
tradeoffs, full-time four-wheel drive provides year-round traction and stability benefits
on both wet and dry roads.
The latest Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC system is cleanly integrated into the automatic
transmission so it fits right into the standard body and utilizes the existing front
suspension. Fuel efficiency has been improved, due to a number of innovative
measures that minimize the energy needed to turn the extra gears and shafts.
Sport and Luxury Models
Fitted with standard 17-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels, the E-Class wagon is
available in Sport or Luxury trim that is designed to appeal to a wide range of customer
tastes. All Luxury models come with a comfort suspension and can be identified by a
four-lamella front grille, contemporary yet elegant body styling and an interior
featuring burl walnut trim. Sport models have a three-lamella grille, expressive sport
body styling and are fitted with sport suspension that includes a slightly lower ride
height. Inside, the Sport model includes a unique tone-in-black interior theme
featuring black-ash wood trim.
ATTENTION ASSIST Cautions "Time For A Rest?"
Among the many standard life-saving features on the E-Class is the innovative
ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a
factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is
coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile
during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies
the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers
an audible warning, and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the
More New Safety Systems Assist the Driver
Other examples of trailblazing innovations include: Lane Keeping Assist, which alerts
the driver by simulating rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts
from its lane without the turn signals on. At any speed above 37 mph, the system
recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer
that analyzes the video images.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist uses a small video camera to sense both headlights and
taillights, then softly and automatically transitions between high and low beam
operation to avoid dazzling other drivers. With this system, the range of the headlights
can be varied infinitely from their current 220 feet to up to 1,000 feet.
Night View Assist PLUS can now enable a driver to see pedestrians up to 300 feet
earlier than before. When the system recognizes pedestrians, they appear in the
display with an outlined frame highlighting each person. In contrast to passive systems
that rely on thermal imaging, this active system bathes the road ahead with invisible
infra-red light from two beams mounted in the headlights.
Extending the driver's ability to see ahead to nearly 500 feet, Night View Assist PLUS
uses an infra-red camera in the windshield and displays the reflected images as highly
detailed black & white video images in the COMAND display.
The optional DISTRONIC PLUS system now includes Blind Spot Assist, which monitors
both blind spots alongside the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a
vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.
Its optional Parktronic system also incorporates Parking Guidance, which utilizes ten
ultrasonic sensors mounted behind the front and rear bumpers. At low speeds, the
system scans available parking spaces and displays a "P" in the dash if the car will fit
in the space. When reverse is selected, Parking Guidance displays a pictogram of the
steering wheel and provides helpful steering guidance.
PRE-SAFE® Brake Can Automatically Apply 100 Percent Braking in Emergencies
When the E-Class is equipped with the optional DISTRONIC PLUS system, another
revolutionary Mercedes-Benz safety feature – PRE-SAFE® brake – can now apply full
braking automatically in emergencies, to reduce accident severity. When PRE-SAFE
Brake senses an impending collision, the system sounds three warning tones.
About 1.6 seconds before a potential impact, partial braking is automatically initiated,
and the PRE-SAFE occupant protection system are activated. If the driver still fails to
react, full-power braking is initiated about 0.6 seconds before the collision, reducing the
impact and effectively acting as an "electronic crumple zone."
All E-Class models are equipped with "basic" PRE-SAFE – the world's first system that
can sense and take protective measures before a crash. The innovative PRE-SAFE
system first automatically tensions the seatbelts if the car senses an impending
collision. PRE-SAFE uses resettable electric tensioners in addition to the existing
pyrotechnic belt tensioners.
In addition, if the front passenger seat is overly reclined or forward, PRE-SAFE
automatically moves it to a more favorable crash position. If the seat cushion angle of
the front passenger seat is too shallow, it is also re-adjusted to help prevent
submarining. If the vehicle skids (often a precursor to rollover), the system closes the
sunroof and side windows. If a crash is averted, the electric belt tensioners
automatically relax and are ready to deploy again.
If necessary, PRE-SAFE reacts to fishtailing (or oversteer) as well as "plowing" (or
understeer) by using existing sensors for ESC stability control to measure steering
angle, vehicle yaw and lateral acceleration. Emergency braking can also trigger PRE-
SAFE, which monitors sensors for the Brake Assist system as well.
Up to 11 Air Bags for Front and Side Protection
The E-Class now comes with a new knee air bag for the driver that minimizes leg
injuries in frontal collisions, while new pelvic air bags work with the existing curtain
and side air bags to provide extra protection for front passengers in dangerous side-
impact collisions. Combined with front airbags, the E-Class now boasts nine
supplemental restraints, and rear side air bags are optionally available.
Edgy Design Uses Cubist Cues
The design of the new wagon begins with a "cubist" treatment of the trademark
Mercedes-Benz twin-headlight face. Two parallelogram lights are recessed into the
front fenders, bracketing the three-dimensional frame of the front grille.
The overall body shape features a sophisticated interplay between taut lines and large
curved surfaces. The wagon appears to have continuous side windows from the front
windshield all the way to the rear lift gate, thanks to flush roof pillars trimmed to blend
with the side glass.
Mercedes-Benz designers paid careful attention to the E-Class interior, to ensure that
every surface is appealing in form, color and material. The cockpit features five analog
gauges, including two pairs that overlap each other. Standard equipment includes a
premium leather-covered steering wheel with integrated multi-function switches and a
Direct Select electronic shift lever mounted on the steering column.
14-way adjustable power front seats feature stylish divided seat cushions that cover
steel seat frames featuring their own suspension. An optional Drive-Dynamic
multicontour seat for the driver uses a series of air bladders and mechanical bolsters in
the bottom cushion and seat back to offer impressively variable seat adjustments. To
provide extra support during spirited driving, the Drive-Dynamic seat inflates the right-
side bolster in a left turn (or the left bolster in a right turn).
Also standard is a COMAND system featuring a large seven-inch color display screen
with a standard in-dash, six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Bluetooth interface that allows
a phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car's audio system.
A standard rear-view camera displays the area behind the car whenever it's in reverse.
The COMAND system can also display maps and directions for the optional GPS
navigation system, which can be set up to display Sirius real-time traffic information
and Zagat restaurant ratings. The system can also be equipped with an optional
iPod/MP3 interface, Sirius satellite radio, HD radio, and an advanced voice control
system for audio, navigation and phone systems. Using a console-mounted controller,
the central display can be operated by either the driver or front passenger.