Vehicle Overview
No changes are visible for 2002 except for new wheels on the E320 — the lower-powered version of the series that continues to be the most popular Mercedes-Benz model in North America. The group also includes the E430 sedan and a performance-oriented E55 AMG sedan. Germany’s AMG is the premium builder of high-performance Mercedes-Benz models.

Face-lifted for the 2000 model year, the E-Class comes as a four-door sedan or an E320 wagon. Each can be equipped with either the standard rear-drive or optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The sedan is slotted between the C-Class sedan and the top-rung, four-door S-Class. Rivals include the Acura RL, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac Seville, Infiniti Q45 and Lexus LS 430. In other words, the E-Class targets the heart of the luxury sedan market.

Mercedes’ Tele Aid telematics system now offers expanded concierge-type services, including travel and sports/entertainment ticket reservations. Tele Aid operates on its own cellular phone system to summon emergency help using an SOS button, call Mercedes’ roadside assistance or track a stolen vehicle. If an airbag deploys, help is sought automatically. The system can also provide remote diagnostics and emergency door unlocking.

The E-Class sedan measures 189.4 inches long overall and sits on a 111.5-inch wheelbase. It is a bit longer than its archival, BMW’s 5 Series, and is about 7 inches shorter than the Lexus LS 430. A sloping grille and slanted oval headlights are neatly integrated into the front end, in what Mercedes calls “visionary styling.” An available Sport Package for the E320 and E430 includes AMG aero enhancements, projector fog lamps and 17-inch tires.

A “designo” Silver Edition now has a single-tone Charcoal Nappa interior. Leather-upholstered seating for five occupants is provided. But like many of today’s cars, the E-Class is better suited for two adults in the backseat, or a four-person capacity. In addition, a wide driveshaft tunnel makes the center rear seat appropriate for just short trips. With a 15.3-cubic-foot capacity, the trunk has a wide, flat floor and useful side wells that can hold small items.

A standard COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system controls a satellite-based navigation system, the sound system and an optional telephone in three ways: via voice commands, buttons on the steering wheel, or controls positioned around a dashboard display screen. Buyers can elect to add InfoServices, which provides customized news headlines, stock quotes, sports scores, weather forecasts and other services via the Internet.

Under the Hood
The E320 is equipped with a 221-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 engine, and the E430 comes with a 275-hp, 4.3-liter V-8. A 349-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 engine propels the limited-production, high-performance E55 AMG sedan. All models have a five-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission that incorporates a manual-shift mode for use whenever desired. Mercedes’ permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system, named 4MATIC, is available for the E320 and E430 sedan, but the E55 AMG is rear-drive only.

Mercedes claims that the E320 sedan accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, vs. 5.4 seconds for the high-performance E55 AMG.

All models have Mercedes’ Electronic Stability Program, antilock brakes and traction control. Brake Assist applies full braking force during an abrupt stop.

Two types of airbags go into the E-Class sedan, in addition to the federally required front airbags, which deploy at one of two levels depending on impact speed and crash severity. Curtain-type airbags protect the heads of occupants, and side-impact airbags are mounted in each of the four doors.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for
From the 2002 Buying Guide