2008 E-Class New Car Test Drive
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an icon, a benchmark in its class. In many ways it epitomizes the brand. It's the company's best-selling line worldwide, and one of the best-selling Mercedes models in the United States.
The E-Class represents the middle range among Mercedes-Benz sedans: larger than the entry-level C-Class, but more trim and practical than the imposing S-Class. Nonetheless, today's E-Class is as big as an S-Class was in the 1970s. The E-Class sedans are big, roomy cars that are solid, safe, practical, comfortable, luxurious, and fast. The E-Class features some of the industry's most advanced safety technology, and it expresses what most people think of when they think of Mercedes: status in an elegant, understated fashion.
Yet the cost of operating the popular Mercedes E350, in terms of fuel consumption and maintenance, can be quite reasonable. And there is no better example of how far passenger car diesel technology has advanced than the Mercedes E320 Bluetec. With its advanced common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel engine, the E320 Bluetec accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds, while delivering EPA-estimated fuel mileage of 23/32 city/highway mpg, and producing minimal exhaust emissions. The Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec was named World Green Car at the 2007 New York International Auto Show, and NewCarTestDrive.com chose it as one of its Best Commuter Cars that same year.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class includes six models (nine, if you count the all-wheel-drive variants separately). Buyers can choose a sedan or wagon. They can choose among two V8s, a V6, and a turbocharged V6 diesel, and between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
For 2007, the Mercedes E-Class was freshened with more powerful engines, along with subtle styling changes, new interior elements, and a few tweaks for handling and safety. These changes helped the E-Class keep pace with such outstanding luxury competitors as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Acura RL.
Also new for 2007 were the super-high-performance E63 AMG sedan and wagon, powered by a 507-hp 6.2-liter V8 that made the E63s the fastest E-Class models ever built. And though capable of monstrous acceleration (0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds) and a top speed of 180 mph (were it not for electronics that limit top speed to 155 mph), these latest AMGs retain the touches of luxury expected at the upper end of the market.
For 2008, there are few changes to the E-Class lineup except for a new AMG Sport Package for the Mercedes E350 and Mercedes E550.
The 2008 Mercedes E-Class lineup can seem daunting and complex, yet there is only one primary choice: four-door sedan or wagon. From there, it's a matter of choosing the engine and whether you want 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The E350 models are powered by a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine. The E350 sedan ($51,200) comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission, while the all-wheel-drive 4Matic ($52,700) has a five-speed automatic. E350 sedans are available in Sport or Luxury trim, for the same price either way. The E320 Bluetec ($52,200) is equipped identically to the E350 Luxury version, but features a 210-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6.
The E350 4Matic wagon ($55,950) is equipped comparably to the Luxury sedan. A power liftgate and cargo organizer are standard, along with a folding third seat that increases passenger capacity to seven.
Standard features on the E350 include a glass sunroof, six-disc CD changer, harman/kardon Logic 7 premium audio with nine speakers and surround-sound, fully automatic dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats with memory, real burl walnut trim, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power windows with one-touch express up and down, auto-dimming mirrors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Luxury trim comes with 17-inch wheels, comfort suspension, green-tinted glass and burl walnut wood interior accents. Sport trim includes 18-inch twin-spoke wheels, sport rear bumper, dual exhaust pipes, lowered sport suspension, blue-tinted glass, black bird's eye maple wood trim, white gauges, and a matte chrome gearshift surround.
Options include the Premium 1 package ($2,410) with DVD navigation, Sirius satellite radio, power rear window sunshade and heated and active-ventilated front seats. Premium II ($4,320) adds headlamp washers, a bi-xenon active light system, cornering fog lamps, and Keyless Go to that list. Also optional: leather upholstery ($1,550), a panorama sunroof for sedans ($1,010), electronic trunk closer ($530), split/folding rear seats ($350), wood/leather steering wheel ($550), iPod integration kit ($425), and Parktronic obstacle warning ($1,120). Radar-controlled Distronic adaptive cruise control is no longer available on these models.
New for 2008 is the AMG Sport Package ($2,000), which adds deeper front and rear aprons, unique 18-inch AMG wheels, and an AMG leather-covered steering wheel with manual shift paddles to E350s with Sport trim.
The E550 ($59,700) and E550 4Matic ($61,200) sedans are powered by a 382-hp 5.5-liter V8, and offer more standard equipment than the E350. Leather upholstery, a four-zone climate control system, and Airmatic variable air suspension come standard. Options are similar to those offered on the E350, including the Premium I ($2,860) and Premium II ($4,770) packages, as well as the AMG Sport Package.
The E63 AMG sedan ($85,300) and wagon ($86,050) come with the 507-hp 6.2-liter V8, a seven-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, massive 18-inch tires and wheels, performance brakes, a lowered chassis, and a more aggressively tuned Airmatic suspension. They're distinguished by unique body touches and interior trim, deeply sculpted sports seats, and AMG markings. Distronic cruise control ($2,200) is still available on these models. The AMG wagon does not come with a third-row seat, but one can be ordered ($1,010). Otherwise, options are similar to those on the other E-Class models.
Safety features that come standard on all models include eight airbags: dual front airbags, side-impact airbags for front and rear passengers, and head-protection curtains that run the length of the cabin on both sides. The airbag management system employs multiple impact sensors designed to more precisely control the timing and rate of deployment. The system accounts for the weight of a front-seat passenger and controls seatbelt pretensioners according to the force of impact. Active safety featur.