EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view

Photo of Kristin Varela
Former Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin Varela


My job as household CEO is to search for the truth behind product marketing. This ranges from instant oatmeal that promises to hatch dinosaur eggs to shampoo that claims to make my hair curlier, straighter, shinier, easier to dry, thicker, fuller, blonder, etc. It’s a full time job just filtering the good from the bad, the true from the false. So it makes my day when a product actually surpasses what it claims to do. This is the case with the 2005 Mercedes E320 4-Matic sedan.

I’ve never heard anyone claim that this vehicle is the quintessential mom-mobile, but it’s loaded with more mom-friendly features than you’d think. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that Latch connectors can be a real pet peeve of mine. I love the design of the Latch (also known as ISOFIX) on the E320. They’re cleverly hidden behind a Velcro flap that lifts up for easy access to the connectors.

Most vehicles recommend removing the rear headrests when installing car seats. Mercedes makes it easy for us. With the push of a button, the rear headrests flip back, making car-seat installation smoother and the view of the road clearer.

The trunk space is large enough to store the necessary items and will even fit a double stroller.

By far, my favorite feature of this vehicle is the $1,550 sunroof package. This includes rear side-window roller blinds and a power rear-window sunshade. Thank you, Mercedes! We can finally put out of business the company that makes those tacky Winnie the Pooh suction-cup shades. I don’t know any moms who actually like those – we all just use them out of necessity.

The driver’s seat is an example of luxury at its best. With 10-way power adjustable front seats (and three-position memory) it’s easy to tailor this car to fit a driver (and passenger) of any size. Mercedes even thought to include the headrest position in memory storage. That’s just plain smart.

One annoyance I discovered is that the cruise control gets in the way of the turn signal. More than once, I set my speed at 40 mph when I meant to switch on my turn signal.

The navigation system in the Mercedes E320 also has some built-in, mom-friendly features. It points out the nearest hospitals, grocery stores, and, um, golf courses. Well, the hospital and grocery store part is practical. They still have to throw some extras in there to appeal to the Mercedes-buying crowd.

I was disappointed to discover that my test vehicle didn’t have the optional driver’s seat massage. It sounds a little uppity to me, too, but let’s get real: We all know that, in general, moms are overworked and under-compensated. We all deserve a great massage, but most of us don’t make time for one. This being the case, why not treat ourselves while waiting in line for car pool pickup?

Speaking of car pool pickup, the Mercedes hood ornament, which I always thought was just a status symbol, actually serves a purpose. It marks the end of the car and makes a great tool for measuring how close I am to the vehicle in front of me. Depth perception can be tricky.

While I may feel out of place parking my Mercedes at Wal-Mart, I have new-found respect for this luxury sedan. It is generally well-thought-out (minus the puny cupholder and perforated leather seats) and functional for stay-at-home moms, working moms and DINKs (dual income no kids) alike.

*For more information on the 2005 Mercedes E320 and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.

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