If you like to haul the kids and, in the same car, get a bit sideways on occasion, you'll probably have to choose something besides the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E550 Sedan (2010 model pictured), because this time around it's all-wheel-drive only. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Given the apocalyptic snows and torrential rains we've already seen this year, it's clear that Mother Nature has decided it's game on. All-wheel drive of the 4Matic sort is designed specifically for these situations. Of course, the E350 sedan, E63 AMG sedan and wagon, and the E-Class coupe and convertible (both E350 and E550) will still be available in good old-fashioned rear-wheel drive, so there are options if you can't make the shift to a four-wheel mentality.

Powering the 4Matic 2012 E500 sedan is a new 4.6-liter, direct-injection, twin-turbo V-8 rated at a solid 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque--more than enough to justify the added tractive powers of all-wheel drive under acceleration. Electromechanical steering is also standard on the 2012 E550.

Like the E63 AMG sedan and wagon, the E550 sedan will be available in October.