Mercedes-Benz introduced a new generation of its midsize E-Class sedan for 2003. A 221-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 powered the E320, while the E500 got a 302-hp V-8.
A high-performance E55 AMG model with a 469-hp supercharged V-8 is also available. A wagon body style is offered, and E-Class models can be equipped with rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive. The E-Class is slotted between the German automaker's smaller C-Class and top-rung S-Class.
Sport versions of the sedan and wagon are available, and rear-drive E500 models gained a seven-speed-automatic transmission for 2004. Bi-xenon active headlights are available.
For the 2006 model year, a new E350 series with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 replaces the E320. Active front head restraints are newly standard. New 17-inch wheels are installed on E350 and E500 models.
Mercedes-Benz added an E320 CDI sedan with a diesel engine for 2005.
(Skip to details on the: E320 CDI)
Moved to a new platform for 2003, the E-Class sedan displays more flowing lines than its predecessor and sports a lower, swept-back front end. Oval headlights are angled back more sharply, and a sculpted trunk replaced the former squared-off profile. The front fenders, hood, trunk lid and bolted-on frame members are made of aluminum.
An Airmatic air suspension is standard on the E500 and E55 AMG and optional on the E350. An AMG Sport Package for the E350 and E500 includes sculpted front and rear aprons and staggered-width 18-inch wheels. An Appearance Package for the E350 and E500 includes sculpted side skirts and active-curve headlights.
Front-seat occupants in the five-passenger interior face a V-shaped console. Standard equipment includes a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and Mercedes' COMAND instrument panel system. A navigation system is optional. Four-zone automatic climate control goes into the E500.
Under the Hood
The new E350 gets a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, while the E500 packs a 5.0-liter V-8 that cranks out 302 hp and 339 pounds-feet of torque. The supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 in E55 AMG models delivers 469 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque. In the E320 CDI sedan, a 3.2-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel produces 201 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque. The rear-drive E350 and E500 use a seven-speed-automatic transmission, but other models have a five-speed automatic.
Sensotronic brake control, which is a brake-by-wire system, promises faster, more surefooted emergency response. Antilock brakes and Mercedes-Benz's Electronic Stability Program are standard. Adaptive front airbags deploy at a lower force in less-severe collisions. Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are standard.
Civility reigns behind the wheel of the E-Class. Everything about this car is smooth and luxurious.
The redesigned 2003 E-Class lost most of the heavy feel that was unpleasantly noticeable on previous models. The refined E500 delivers lively acceleration whether it's starting from a standstill, passing or merging. Trimmed in beautiful wood, the dashboard layout is a little too complicated for some people, and the tachometer should be a bit larger.
Consumers seeking stunning four-door performance need not search any further than the E55 AMG, which responds to the throttle like a supercar and has taut handling to match. Few cars of this caliber are so satisfying overall.�
After a five-year absence, diesel power returned to a Mercedes-Benz model sold in the U.S. for 2005. Americans have shunned diesels, citing such drawbacks as noise and odors.
With the E320 CDI sedan, Mercedes-Benz claimed to have overcome those negative factors, though emissions remain an obstacle until improved diesel fuel emerges. The E320 CDI meets the emissions requirements of 45 states.
Mercedes-Benz claims the turbocharged E320 CDI can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds — slightly faster than the gasoline-powered E320 — yet it earns an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 27 mpg in city driving and 37 mpg on the highway. Except for the lack of optional Sport and Appearance packages, the E320 CDI's equipment is the same as its gasoline-powered E-Class siblings.
Not only does the diesel engine start normally in the E320 CDI, but it's also difficult to discern that you're riding in a diesel-powered sedan. A slight engine rattle might be heard occasionally, but the car is generally quiet. Acceleration is smooth and effortless, if less dramatic than in a gasoline-powered automobile. No odors are evident. You can expect more than 30 mpg on the highway. Approaching the 37-mpg estimate demands a gentle throttle foot and careful attention to traffic flow. Back to top
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