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2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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$9,023 — $25,407 USED
23
Photos
Sedan
4-7 Seats
16-27 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 1 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Cabin materials
  • Ride quality with Airmatic suspension
  • Spacious trunk (sedan)
  • V-8 performance
  • Eye-pleasing styling

The Bad

  • Gets pricey with options
  • Firm ride with Sport models
  • Lackluster handling and brakes (non-AMG models)
  • Relatively limited cargo room in wagon
  • Modest acceleration in wagon
2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Sedan and coupe joined by convertible and wagon editions
  • V-6, V-8 or diesel V-6 engine
  • High-performance E63 AMG
  • RWD or AWD
  • New &quot
  • mbrace&quot
  • telematics system

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic Wagon. It competes with the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.

By Mike Hanley

A common bit of advice when weighing a big-ticket purchase is to separate the things you need from the things you want. Hard as it may be to distinguish sometimes — a Rolex is better at keeping time, right? — there's almost always a difference.

Mercedes' new E-Class Cabriolet is the kind of car that skews more to your wants than your needs. It's a luxury droptop that exudes loads of cruising style and possesses premium amenities designed to extend the convertible driving season.

The E-Class Cabriolet is, in short, way more than you need — but just what you've always wanted.

The convertible is available in either V-6 E350 or V-8 E550 form (to see a side-by-side comparison of the two, click here). This review focuses on the E550 because that's the version I spent the most time driving, but I also had a chance to briefly test an E350. I'll cover its performance, too.

Styling

The convertible is the newest member of the redesigned E-Class family, joining the sedan and coupe that debuted last year, and the droptop retains the sleek lines established by the coupe. It's sort of like the Swiss bank account of convertibles: discreet but highly appealing.

The insulated three-piece soft-top maintains a graceful arc that's very similar to the coupe's roofline. The top stows under a portion of the rear deck without resulting in an overly tall trunklid — something that makes for a frumpy shape on some other droptops, ...

A common bit of advice when weighing a big-ticket purchase is to separate the things you need from the things you want. Hard as it may be to distinguish sometimes — a Rolex is better at keeping time, right? — there's almost always a difference.

Mercedes' new E-Class Cabriolet is the kind of car that skews more to your wants than your needs. It's a luxury droptop that exudes loads of cruising style and possesses premium amenities designed to extend the convertible driving season.

The E-Class Cabriolet is, in short, way more than you need — but just what you've always wanted.

The convertible is available in either V-6 E350 or V-8 E550 form (to see a side-by-side comparison of the two, click here). This review focuses on the E550 because that's the version I spent the most time driving, but I also had a chance to briefly test an E350. I'll cover its performance, too.

Styling

The convertible is the newest member of the redesigned E-Class family, joining the sedan and coupe that debuted last year, and the droptop retains the sleek lines established by the coupe. It's sort of like the Swiss bank account of convertibles: discreet but highly appealing.

The insulated three-piece soft-top maintains a graceful arc that's very similar to the coupe's roofline. The top stows under a portion of the rear deck without resulting in an overly tall trunklid — something that makes for a frumpy shape on some other droptops, like the Chrysler Sebring.

Convertible Commentary

It takes about 25 seconds to lower or raise the top, which is fully powered and works in near silence. The top is controlled by a lever hidden under a portion of the center armrest, and it can operate when the car is in motion, as long as you're not going faster than 25 mph.

One of the most impressive attributes of the E-Class Cabriolet is its quiet cabin when the top is up. It's practically as quiet as a metal-roof coupe, with just some slight wind noise right above your head when traveling at highway speeds.

The E-Class Cabriolet introduces Mercedes' new Aircap system, which features a power-operated wind deflector at the top of the windshield and a powered windscreen behind the rear seats. The system is designed to create a pocket of air around front and rear occupants when the top is down to better keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. For us, Aircap didn't really affect front occupants' experience — it's gusty at 65 mph with the windows down — but it did help cut down on wind rush in the backseat.

Top-up visibility is a problem in some convertibles, but it's less of an issue in the E-Class. Over-shoulder visibility is good because there aren't any B-pillars to block your view, and the C-pillars are sufficiently thin. However, the Aircap windscreen between the rear head restraints partially obscures cars right behind you when you look in the rearview mirror.

V-6 or V-8?

So why should you spend even more money — nearly $8,000 more — for the V-8-powered E550 Cabriolet? You don't really need to, because the V-6 E350 Cabriolet is fairly quick, with a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz. However, if you have a hankering for high-speed passing power or just like low-end torque, the V-8-powered E550 is the one you want. The V-8 knocks more than a second from the convertible's zero-to-60 time, to 5.1 seconds, and endows the car with the characteristics of a butler with a penchant for weightlifting: silent operation combined with formidable strength.

The E550's 5.5-liter V-8 makes a generous 382 horsepower, but if you're just out for a leisurely cruise it stays in the background and emits only a quiet burble. Press the gas pedal firmly — you have to because the pedal takes some effort to push down — and you'll experience that addictive V-8 rush of power. That high, however, comes at the expense of fuel economy; the E550 gets an EPA-estimated 15/22 mpg city/highway, compared with the E350's less thirsty 17/25 mpg rating.

Both the V-6 and the V-8 team with a seven-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. The transmission is all about unobtrusiveness through smoothness; with the gear selector in Drive, shifts aren't so much felt as they are heard when engine rpm changes. Even the transmission's manual mode maintains the focus on comfort and refinement; when you press the available upshift and downshift paddles on the steering wheel, you may have to wait a second before the gear change happens, which distances you from the driving experience.

Ride & Handling

The E550 sedan is a comfortable car, with one of the most compliant suspensions in its class. The E550 Cabriolet, by comparison, rides much more firmly — even with its Dynamic Handling Suspension in its Comfort setting. The setup features adaptive shocks as well as programs that adjust the responsiveness of the gas pedal and shift points of the transmission. The ride is more what you'd expect from a sport sedan than a Mercedes convertible.

What does this mean in daily driving? The suspension doesn't mask bumps completely, instead transmitting them to you in the cabin. Some of them are fairly jarring, too. The E550 Cabriolet's Sport mode firms up the suspension, which lets you feel the road even more and makes impacts sharper. It also holds the transmission in a lower gear for more responsive engine performance.

The firm ride doesn't really go with the E550's light steering, which doesn't demand much effort when turning the wheel. Turn-in response is quick and natural, but there's little feedback, and large bumps jiggle the steering wheel some.

On the plus side, the E550 feels planted in corners. It's low-slung, which helps, and there's very little body roll.

Like other Mercedes cars, the Cabriolet has a way of making the cruising experience serene. You can take the E550 up to 70 mph, but it hardly feels like it's making an effort. It seems to be saying, "Is that all you got? I can do this all day." There's a substantialness to the car that's reminiscent of Mercedes' S-Class full-size sedan.

There is one glaring issue with the convertible, and that's shudder in the body. It's not so excessive that I wouldn't recommend this car because of it, but there's more than I was expecting from a brand-new model. Manhole covers and train tracks bring out the worst of it — you can actually see the windshield pillars shaking out the corners of your eyes.

Cabin

The E550 Cabriolet's cabin is similar to the sedan's, an interior that garnered praise in a recent Cars.com luxury sedan faceoff. It features materials quality and an attention to detail that's expected in this class but sometimes not delivered. The center of the dash is a little busy-looking, with its multitude of buttons, but the rest of it has that timeless Mercedes design that should age well.

The leather-covered front seats have firm, supportive cushions, and apart from some mild soreness near my hips, I was comfortable after a three-hour drive. My E550 had the optional multicontour seats, which add adjustable air bladders in the front seats for tailored lumbar support and side-bolster width.

The front seats also have some of the longest seat cushions I've ever seen. The cushions stretched nearly all the way to the back of my knees (I'm 6-foot-1) and provided quite a bit of welcome thigh support. If you'd rather have less, the multicontour seats include an adjustment for the driver.

The convertible has two rear seats separated by a cupholder console. The seats are decently sized, but the rear of the cabin is short on legroom, and passengers other than small children might need to bum some space by getting their compatriots up front to move their seats forward.

Cargo

The trunk measures 11.5 cubic feet, but if you want to lower the top you'll have to pull down a partition from the upper part of the cargo area that reduces total trunk space to 8.8 cubic feet.

The partition is taller than ones in other convertibles, meaning that it takes up valuable trunk height — so much that I wasn't able to fit my small suitcase in the trunk with the partition lowered (it wasn't a problem at all with the partition out of the way). I could have thrown the bag in the backseat on my solo trip, but that won't be an option when traveling with a full load of passengers. Plus, who wants to scuff up that nice leather upholstery with luggage?

Safety

The E550 Cabriolet comes standard with numerous airbags. They include front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags up front that deploy from the doors, pelvic airbags for the front occupants, and a driver's knee airbag. Side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional.

Also standard are antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, active front head restraints, pop-up roll bars and Mercedes' Pre-Safe system. Using sensors in the brake assist and stability systems, Pre-Safe aims to better prepare occupants for an impending collision by cinching the front seat belts, adjusting the front passenger seat for better seat belt and airbag orientation, and closing the side windows. The optional Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system includes Pre-Safe Brake, which automatically brakes the convertible if a car in front of it slows or stops suddenly, and it prepares the brakes for full stopping power the moment you press the brake pedal. If you don't brake hard enough, an audio-visual warning will ensue.

Attention Assist, a technology designed to detect when a driver becomes drowsy and activate alerts, is also standard. For more safety-feature information, check out the Standard Equipment & Specs page.

E550 Cabriolet in the Market

The E550 Cabriolet starts at $64,800, and the as-tested price of our test car was $74,910 with options. That may seem like an extravagant sum — until you look at the convertible's two primary competitors: the BMW 650i convertible and Jaguar XK convertible, both of which start at more than $85,000. There's no question these two cars are luxurious, powerful and stylish, but so is the E550 — and for a whole lot less. I didn't think I'd ever say this about a Mercedes-Benz, but against these competitors, it's actually the value choice.

Send Mike an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.8
94 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Read reviews that mention:

(3.0)

I do enjoydriving it

by driver from Cumming,Ga on November 13, 2018

The car is good but I wish it had a back up camera and navigation. They told me it would be about 500 to install but it turns out to be overtwice that much. There have been two malfunctions so far . I ... Read full review

(5.0)

Smoothest ride coupled w/fastest pickup in speed

by Mongo from Upperco, Md on November 10, 2018

This car meets all of your luxury needs with nimble handling, extremely fast accelleration when needed. Excellent on the highway or on country roads. The total package in a luxury sedan. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class currently has 7 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Mercedes-Benz

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    unlimited months / unlimited distance

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The E-Class received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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