Competes with: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Genesis G80, Jaguar XF
Looks like: A more refined and well-rounded E-Class … except for the new All-Terrain wagon, which looks like a pricier Buick Regal TourX
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the E350; the same turbo four plus an electric motor in the new-to-us plug-in hybrid E350e; and a mild-hybrid 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder in the E450; nine-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive available except for the rear-wheel-drive E350e
Hits dealerships: Fall 2020
Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to update the looks of its vehicle lineup continues apace with the mid-cycle refresh of the E-Class for the 2021 model year. The E-Class gets updated styling front and rear as well as more standard technology inside the cabin. A new All-Terrain version of the wagon — think Audi A6 Allroad — replaces the more traditional carlike wagon, and we’ll also get a plug-in hybrid sedan option, the first of this generation of E-Class to be offered in the U.S.
The new-look 2021 E-Class will actually be very familiar to those who’ve seen the 2021 GLE-Class SUVs, as the front styling in particular is very close to the already-revealed SUV’s looks. The styling update includes new LED headlight and taillight designs as well as new grille styling and a new front bumper design. The new E450 All-Terrain wagon — which will replace the carlike wagon in the U.S. — goes for the cladding-heavy styling that’s become a trademark of every “go anywhere” wagon design, from the Subaru Outback to Volvo’s Cross Country models to Audi’s Allroad wagons. Mercedes says the All-Terrain will look more similar to the GLE SUV, and both it and the E450 sedan have “power dome” hoods.
The dual 12.3-inch display setup — one for the gauge cluster and a touchscreen version for the infotainment system — is now standard instead of an expensive option, and all 2021 E-Class models will get the latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment software. Capacitive touch controls remain on the steering wheel, as Mercedes says “[a] mechanical system was no longer needed.”
Engine and Transmission
The E350 sedan is still lowest on the totem pole for 2021 and is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the outgoing model, making 255 horsepower. The E450 sedan and All-Terrain wagon get a mild-hybrid 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder good for 362 hp. The plug-in hybrid E350e sedan is only available with rear-wheel drive and pairs the E350’s turbo four with an electric motor for a reported 315 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque total system output. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and most models are available with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
A host of advanced safety features are available in the new E-Class, mostly as part of the optional Driver Assistance Package, which even enhances the standard automatic braking assist with pedestrian detection to include traffic detection when turning across oncoming traffic. Another safety development is the replacement of steering input as a method of detecting the driver’s hands on the steering wheel with capacitive pads that can detect the driver’s hands. This enables the car to detect if the driver is actively holding the wheel during semi-autonomous driving; if the driver’s hands are not detected, a series of increasingly urgent warnings are sounded and will ultimately activate the car’s emergency brake assist system to stop the car.
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The refreshed 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and All-Terrain wagon go on sale in the fall.
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