With an new set of engines in most models for 2012, plus standard 4Matic all-wheel drive for the E550, the Mercedes-Benz E Class steps up its game in some respects and maintains its generally high level of quality in the rest.
Aggressively styled and quite clearly Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the E Class exudes modern Teutonic themes with sharp angles, dramatic sheetmetal work, and plenty of chrome. Inside, the style is similar, with excellent materials and clean looks that speak of quality and clarity of design vision.
Available in four different body styles (Coupe, Convertible, Sedan, and Wagon) and several different engine configurations, the E Class is a full range rather than a single model. The E350 gets a new engine for 2012; a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 302 horsepower. Direct injection enhances power and fuel economy over the previous V-6. E550 models get a new 4.6-liter V-8, also with direct injection, rated at 402 horsepower. The E350 BlueTec diesel carries its 210-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine forward from last year. Several of the sedans and wagons can be had in 4Matic all-wheel drive (rear-wheel drive is standard across the range), and all models share a standard seven-speed automatic transmission.
In addition to the standard E Class models, AMG has had its hand in the works, with E63 AMG Sedan and Wagon models. Both share a 518-horsepower, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. E63 AMG models use a special wet-clutch automatic seven-speed transmission, and come with standard rear-wheel drive.
Handling and ride comfort are carefully balanced in the 2012 E Class, with neither taking precedence, yielding a ride that's both dynamic and smooth. The cabin's quality materials, comfortable seating, and relatively spacious back seat make the most of this balance, rendering the E Class an excellent road-trip car. The Wagon even offers temporary-duty rear-facing third-row seats--a throwback to the "wayback." Wagons also get a power liftgate.
With two of the body styles winning Top Safety Pick ratings from the IIHS, the E Class is a proven performer in safety tests. It also packs a load of available safety technology, including driver drowsiness detectors, blind spot monitors, automatic high-beam lights, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assistance.
For the full details and opinion on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E Class, head over to The Car Connection