The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of luxury car. Want a traditional luxury sedan? An E 350 Sedan is likely the vehicle for you. Maybe you want a convertible with a little extra grunt? The Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet is the way to go. Perhaps you want to make Ikea runs as quickly and loudly as possible? Well, it would be the AMG E 63 S Wagon that best fits your life. We could do this all day, but you get the point.
Mercedes revamped the E-Class in 2017 to more resemble a scaled-down S-Class, and it hasn’t looked back since. The interior quality and styling is all up to par with the much more expensive flagship sedan (although its tech lags behind other more recently redesigned Benzes). It also compares favorably to its German competitors. Both the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series are fine automobiles, but the E-Class is still the leader in luxury. Perhaps the obsessive need to fill white space with variants of a car isn’t exactly necessary in the crossover-heavy world we live in, but the E-Class is so excellent in every variation that we can hardly complain.
What’s new for 2020?
The 2020 Mercedes E-Class sedan gets a 14-horsepower bump for its base engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder now produces 255 horsepower. That upgrade results in the model designation changing from E 300 to E 350 (Mercedes numbers long ago stopped aligning with engine displacement). Additionally, every model now comes standard with blind-spot warning and proximity entry with push-button start. The last minor change is the addition of the Premium package being included as standard in the coupe and convertible E-Classes.
What’s the interior and in-car technology like?
Mercedes-Benz is safely in first place when it comes to German luxury car interiors, and the E-Class is no exception. The general design is consistent across all versions of the E-Class, so far as the dash layout is concerned. It flows from one side to the other with elegant lines and beautiful flourishes. Materials are all top of class and feel like genuine luxury when you start moving your hand around the various surfaces. Good luck customizing the interior to the exact way you’d like, as the upholstery and trim options never seem to end. You can choose traditional leather colors and patterns or go with bright and vibrant accents. The options change depending on what level of performance E-Class you bought, giving way to even more customization options. So long as you actually like the basic design of the interior, we’re almost certain that you can find a spec to fall in love with.
Mercedes crams this car full of so much tech that you’re going to need to read the owner’s manual three times over before you start to understand how to use it all. It can be overwhelming, even if the multiple ways of controlling the system at least allows you to choose your preferred input method. You can use the touchpad, scroll wheel, or the steering wheel finger pad to swipe around on the 12.3-inch high-resolution display — it’s not a touchscreen as in Mercedes' newer MBUX system found in the A- and GLE- and GLS-Classes, which also features improved voice commands and better touchpad design. The newer system is still complicated, but is in fact easier to use. The E-Class can't get it soon enough.
The customization continues with the configurable instrument panel, which features different themes and layouts, and a near-infinite array of ambient lighting choices. The LED lights are integrated all throughout the cabin, and you can make them whatever color you want. It may sound cheap or gimmicky, but somehow Mercedes has found a way to make the interior even richer and classier with this lighting. And finally, you can even choose how your E-Class smells. An optional fragrance diffuser can dispense your selection of questionable-smelling, cologne-like substances through the air vents, just as you’re beginning one of the many massage programs available in the seat settings — we promise, testing this was actually very hard work.
How big is it?
This question is highly dependent on the version of E-Class you’re looking at. A wagon will be the most practical, with the sedan coming in right after that. All the versions of the E-Class would fall under the midsize category of luxury cars, so that puts it in the same class as the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Volvo S90 and Lexus GS.
Sitting in the sedan and wagon's backseat is plenty comfortable for adults, but the middle seat isn’t ideal due to the tall middle hump. Passengers also have more space in the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet than other two-door luxury vehicles (of which there are admittedly few), but they're much more cramped and difficult to get in and out of than the four doors.
When it comes to cargo space, the sedan only has a 13-cubic-foot trunk, which is quite small for such a big sedan. The coupe is also comparably small at 10 cu-ft, while the Cabriolet (9.5) is actually OK for a convertible with the roof raised. There are no such space issues in the wagon, though. It's enormous, with a bountiful 35 cu-ft of cargo space behind the rear seats. Put them down and there's a massive 64 cu-ft, which is comparable to many midsize SUVs.
What are the performance and fuel economy?
Here’s where things get complicated due to the huge number of powertrains and levels of performance. A base E 350 Sedan comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 255 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. This engine, along with all the others we’re going to go through, use various versions of nine-speed automatic transmissions. It managed 26 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive or 25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
The E 450 is an upgrade for the sedan and the point of entry for the Coupe, Cabriolet and Wagon. All have a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that makes 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The convertible and wagon net 22 mpg combined, while the sedan and coupe get slightly better at 23 mpg combined.
Next up is the AMG 53 range. Available as the Sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet, all use the same 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six augmented by Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild-hybrid technology. These cars all make 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The sedan gets the best fuel economy at 24 mpg combined, whereas the convertible and coupe both get 23 mpg combined. Thank the mild-hybrid tech for those higher numbers than the E 450's. The E53 line of E-Classes will hit 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds.
The last variant to discuss is the AMG E 63 S. This high-performance car only comes in the sedan and wagon flavors of E-Class. It has a hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, but you can disconnect the front axle for extra fun. The sedan hits 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, while the wagon does it in 3.4 seconds. Fuel economy is predictably not good. The sedan gets 18 mpg combined, and the wagon is rated at 19 mpg combined.
What’s it like to drive?
Just as one would expect, the varying levels of performance create huge differences in the driving experience. A normal E 350 Sedan is sedate, quiet and comfortable, whereas the E 63 S is a bomb of a car just waiting to be set off. The E-Class isn’t the most fleet of foot with the four-cylinder, so we’d suggest driving it and one of the six-cylinder variants before deciding.
And while there are two six-cylinder engines available, we highly recommend the E 53 variant. Its inline-six is smooth as silk and makes one of the best noises in the automotive world today. Seriously, this thing sounds better than BMW's vaunted inline-sixes. Not only that, but it’s the perfect balance of speed and usability on the street. An E 450 is still a quick car, but the power delivery isn’t quite as satisfying as the E53. Really, it splits the difference between the radical E 63 S and E 450, landing right in the sweet spot. The ride is comfortable when you want it to be, but the suspension can be stiffened enough to provide excellent handling on a twisty road.
If you want to head to the race track or just have a ridiculously quick car, the E 63 S is something special. The twin-turbo V8 may be very different from the 6.2-liter AMG V8s of yesteryear, but there is no lack of power anywhere. Turbo lag is essentially non-existent, and the nine-speed automatic offers lightning quick shifts. Handling gets even sharper, and its rear-drive-based all-wheel drive system puts the power to the ground in a playful manner.
What more can I read about the E-Class?
Our first look and drive of the current generation E-Class.
We take a spin in the AMG E 53 variants of the E-Class.
We drive around L.A. in the Cabriolet flavor of E 53.
Our first spin in the redesigned E-Class Cabriolet in base form.
Our first go-round in the Coupe version of the new E-Class.
We take a turn in the practical wagon variant, and we like it.
This one is the dream. We take a lovely drive in the ultra-powerful E 63 S Wagon.
What features are available, and what’s the price?
A base E 350 will run you $54,050 before adding options. The loaded-up AMG E 63 S Wagon starts at a towering $108,850, and it can get much higher from there. Although the other body styles standard equipment differs, the volume-selling sedan includes an adaptive suspension, all-LED exterior lighting, a sunroof, proximity entry/push-button start, a multitude of driver assist tech (see Safety section below), the big 12.3-inch infotainment system and ambient lighting.
The base price of each trim is listed below, but we provide a full breakdown of features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog:
- E 350 Sedan: $55,035
- E 450 Sedan: $62,545
- AMG E 53 Sedan: $74,795
- AMG E 63 S Sedan $107,345
- E 450 Coupe: $65,345
- AMG E 53 Coupe: $75,945
- E 450 Cabriolet: $72,395
- AMG E 53 Cabriolet: $82,645
- E 450 Wagon: $67,095
- AMG E 63 S Wagon: $109,845
What are the E-Class’ safety equipment and crash ratings?
The Mercedes E-Class comes standard with forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and a driver inattention warning system. From there, you can step up to a further array of well-executed safety and driver aid features. The main suite of features is available in the $2,250 Driver Assistance Package that includes lane-keeping assist, a higher speed automatic emergency braking system, a lane-change assistant (signal and the car will change lanes when it can) and an advanced adaptive cruise control system with steering assist (the car will effectively accelerate, brake and steer for itself, even around curves, when on a highway).
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the E-Class sedan a Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2019 model year. We’ll expect it to win a similar honor for 2020. Every crashworthiness test was passed with flying colors, and the headlights were also rated well by the IIHS. Every test done by the government on the sedan and wagon returned a perfect five-star rating.