2018 E-Class New Car Test Drive
Like the latest S-Class and C-Class, the E-Class sedan is balanced and handsome, with a long hood and short trunk. It looks more relaxed than the more compact C-Class. A deep line at the shoulders tapers under a carefully draped roofline, to the LED taillamps with a charming pattern Mercedes-Benz calls Stardust.
Now a tradition, Luxury models get a tri-star badge mounted on the hood, while Sport models get it in the less flashy grille.
The beautiful coupe and cabriolet are a bit lower than the sedan, and look even lower with frameless windows. But there's small awkward pillar that divides the rear side window into 2/3 and 1/3.
AMG models are still lower, with bigger wheels and darker trim.
The E-Class cabin speaks in a rhythm of textures, wood and metallic weaves led by stitched and vividly colored leather rising and falling from the door panels to the center console. It glows under 64 shades of ambient lighting from ivory to purple, studded by circular air vents.
The dash can be dominated by twin high-rez 12.3-inch display screens that replace the gauges and controls, although most E300s will come with one screen and a handsome set of dials and climate switches underneath. In place of a shift lever, there's a touch-sensitive control puck for the COMAND infotainment interface. It's a futzy knob.
The COMAND infotainment system remains balky (although for 2018 Android Auto and Apple CarPlay appear). For example, too much is required to enter a destination in the navigation system, whose points of interest are too slim.
The E300 is receptive to fingertip control, namely in the steering wheel that has touch surfaces for swipe-and-tap operation. Intended or not.
Front seats have lots of lumbar support, and available massage. Bolstering in the AMG models is thick. The heated steering wheel also heats the armrests and center console. Rear seat has a middle armrest, cupholders, and available laptop holder.
There's a choice of Burmester sound systems that use structural parts of the body as passive speakers with carved metal grilles. The system for $6000 has 23 speakers and crystal-clear 3D sound.
Luxury features include a cabin fragrance dispenser for a few hundred dollars, and the 64-color ambient lighting. Imagine purple lighting with white leather, and see Miami Vice. But with classier colors and leather, the E-Class can make a BMW look dowdy. Even a Jaguar.
There is good space in the rear of the sedan, where the seatback folds in three sections. The boost in cargo space is necessary because the sedan's trunk is small, at 13.1 cubic feet.
The rear seat in the Coupe and Cabriolet offer seven inches less legroom than the sedan and wagon. However a six-footer will have enough legroom and headroom to fit.
A pair of rear-facing third-row seats is standard in the wagon. They fold into the cargo floor, to make a strong 35 cubic feet of space behind the second row.
Because the four-cylinder engine occasionally makes brusque noises that can sound cheap, the cabin could use more sound deadening.