Luxury sedans like the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class get a raw deal sometimes.
Overlooked on the same lots next to mega-buck, luxury land yachts like the GLE-Class and S-Class, and out of reach from reaching new buyers mentally calculating how many coffees they need to skip to make each GLA-Class payment, the E-Class is excellence hiding in plain sight. It has as much tech as big-budget cars without a breathtaking price tag. It’s almost as efficient as smaller cars, but with better space.
Updated this year with new engines, new tech, and new body styles, the 2021 E-Class will arrive in the U.S. later this year as a sedan or wagon. A coupe and convertible are surely on their way too, although Mercedes hasn’t detailed either one yet.
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The big news is a bigger E-Class. The 2021 E450 All-Terrain is on its way to the U.S. and it’s an off-road-ready wagon with a taller ride height, black cladding, and all-wheel drive.
Style and performance
The 2021 E-Class is incrementally different than the 2020 version from the outside, although it’ll take a sharp eye to spot the differences. The front and rear bumpers are slightly different, and the headlights are a little smaller this time around.
The grille has been overhauled with a crosshair design on the sedan; the E450 All-Terrain subs in a grille borrowed from Mercedes’ crossovers.
Inside, the biggest changes are the easiest to spot; see that wall o’ screens staring back at you? Mercedes added standard twin 12.3-inch displays for driver information and infotainment, the latter being a touchscreen.
The cabin is still warm with leather or synthetic leather upholstery, wood, elegant controls, and luxury materials.
The other big changes are the ones you can’t see but certainly feel. The base engine in the E350 is still a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 255 horsepower paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission and rear- or all-wheel drive. The next step up is a leap in fuel efficiency. The E350e plug-in hybrid pairs a 2.0-liter turbo-4 and electric motor to make 315 hp combined. A 9-speed automatic drives the rear wheels only, and Mercedes hasn’t yet said how far the E350e can travel on electricity alone, stay tuned.
The 2021 E450 borrows a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 and integrated electric motor from the AMG 53 series. In the E450, it makes 362 hp drives all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic. It’s new to the E-Class this year and it’s the only engine available in the All-Terrain.
At the top, for now, is the E53 that uses the same turbo inline-6 and electric motor to make 429 hp. It’s the performance champ for now, although we anticipate hotter E63 variants to come along soon.
Every E-Class has an independent suspension for a cushy ride, although optional adjustable dampers and air suspensions can make it that much more sublime.
Comfort, safety, and features
The E-Class sedan is every bit of the luxury car we expect with a three-pointed badge planted in the snout. Rear-seat riders get more than 36 inches of leg room, which is average but knee room is plentiful. The trunk in the E-Class sedan is modest, but the hauling champ is the E450 All-Terrain wagon. We expect the cargo area to hold at least 35 cubic feet of stuff—up and down a mountain if you can.
Just like Mercedes’ big sedans and SUVs, the E-Class can be trimmed in opulent materials and soft hides—for a price, naturally.
Just like the 2020 E-Class, we expect the 2021 version will have good safety scores; its crash structure hasn’t fundamentally changed, year over year.
The E-Class can be fitted with the latest safety systems that include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system. Mercedes offers the E-Class with its latest driver-assistance system that can steer, brake, and accelerate the car at speeds up to 35 mph.
Every E-Class is well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, an AMG appearance package, twin 12.3-inch screens, synthetic leather upholstery, smartphone compatibility software, keyless start, blind-spot monitors, and heated front seats.
Nappa leather, in-seat massagers, heated and cooled front seats, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, and premium audio from Burmester are on the options list.
Mercedes hasn’t yet said how much the E-Class will cost, but we expect it to stick close to the $55,000 base price of the current 2020 E-Class.