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2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon: First Drive

Thankfully the company already had a strong contender to begin with. For 2014, the changes to the E-Class are subtle but thorough. A new front and rear design is smoother and more integrated, and the rear doors and quarter panels no longer feature the bulbous fender of the previous model. The overall look is still recognizably Mercedes-Benz, but sleeker and leaner. Two distinct front-end looks are available for the sedan and wagon: Sport puts the three-pointed Mercedes-Benz star in the grille, and Luxury mounts it more traditionally to the front of the hood. In addition to the sedan and wagon, the E-Class is also available as a coupe and convertible; they’re slated to reach dealerships at the end of this month.

From startup to full throttle, the operative word here is “smooth.” Everything the E-Class does is smooth, from the way it glides over the pavement to the hushed experience of a highway cruise. Steering and transmission aggressiveness can be adjusted between Economy and Sport mode by a switch on the center console. The differences aren’t terribly noticeable, however, and mostly just a more eager shift pattern that holds a lower gear longer for spirited cornering and driving.

The interior received a refresh along with the exterior sheetmetal, resulting in a more luxurious cockpit. Shapes and forms are still similar, but material quality has improved, with more metal trim adding some visual flair to what was previously a somewhat dull environment. The comfortable, big seats offer significant adjustability for all shapes and sizes.

Outward visibility is also good, with big windows all around, even in the wagon. That wagon also offers seven-passenger seating, with a folding rear-facing bench suitable for small humans; it stores in the cargo floor when not needed.

Mechanically and cosmetically, the new E-Class isn’t all that different from the old one, just slightly better in most ways. Where the company focused much of its attention, however, is in the car’s electronics, with a host of new safety systems that will eventually trickle into the rest of the lineup. Mercedes-Benz is starting to take advantage of something called sensor fusion, making use of a vehicle’s various electronic sensors like radar and ultrasonic for an increasing number of new and interesting capabilities. The systems can do everything from brake the car to avoid pedestrian impact to steer the car through a gradual bend. See more on the technical specs of the E-Class’ latest technology here.

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