The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a beautiful car inside and out, but after driving the sleek-looking coupe, my admiration for it quickly stopped.

Inside the E350 coupe, I couldn't get comfortable. No amount of seat adjusting and lumbar support helped me find a good driving position. My visibility was impeded by the coupe's squatty greenhouse with its low ceiling and large A-pillars. To make matters worse, the E350 didn't make up for these inconveniences with stellar performance, impressive gas mileage or dazzling features.

With a 268-horsepower V-6, the E350 coupe easily reaches highway cruising speeds in good time. There were no jolts of acceleration and no rushing past fellow drivers screaming, "Ha! Eat my dust!" The E350 is far too refined and mature for such idle amusements. But the brake pedal's slow response and loosey-goosey feel was unnerving.

The 2011 E350 coupe has a starting MSRP of $48,850. My test car had an as-tested price of $59,225.

EXTERIOR


With signature bright-eyed circular headlights, the E350 coupe appears alert and ready for the day. The low window height added to the E350's sleek appearance. Not to be mistaken for any other brand, the Mercedes emblem in the grille was astonishingly large — in fact, it was larger than my 6-year-old's head.

As with most coupes, the E350's doors were large, but not cumbersome. When we opened the doors and pulled the front seats forward, my boys had plenty of room to enter the second row. However, child-safety seats aren't as agile as children and it was awkward getting them through this same opening. Not impossible, just awkward.

A world of possibility really opened up when we took a look at the trunk. It was huge. This car could make Costco trips and family vacations easy for everyone. Golf clubs? No problem! Strollers? Bring 'em on!

The E350 coupe has a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that's paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 17/26 mpg city/highway. Don't even think about serving it regular gasoline. Premium gas is all the E350 is able to digest.

SENSE AND STYLE


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): None

INTERIOR


In keeping with E350's stunning exterior, the well-appointed interior was equally gorgeous. It stuns with bright chrome accents on the instrument cluster and center stack and an optional burl walnut wood trim so shellacked it shimmered even on cloudy days.

Despite all its elegance, I couldn't get comfortable in the E350. My primary obstacle was the super-long seat bottom that was extended too far for my short legs. No amount of manipulation of the 14-way power-adjustable driver's seat made up for the fact that what I really needed to do was chop about 4 to 6 inches off of the driver's seat cushion. That said, passengers with long legs might enjoy the added support and be better able to appreciate this perch.

We gave the E350's navigation system a whirl more than once and found it could be redundant at times. When I wanted to select a street name, I had to first spin the dial to select the first letters of the name, which prompted the system to provide a list of options. I found the street on the list and selected it. Then, for whatever reason, another list of options popped up. I selected my desired street once again and then it finally worked.

For families, a two-door vehicle is a known challenge. With the E350's power seats, my kids grew impatient waiting to jump in and out of the backseat. They had to wait for the driver or front passenger seat to power forward and back each time.

This second row has two bucket seats. In between the seats are two cupholders and a cubby that was perfect for Yu-Gi-Oh cards. An optional power sunshade on the rear window helped shade my boys' delicate eyes from the sun, while the standard panoramic sunroof provided amusement no matter the weather.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

SAFETY


The 2011 E50 coupe has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It earned the top score, Good, in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It also has a standard electronic stability system, a requirement of Top Safety Picks.

Besides an electronic stability system, the E350 coupe also has standard rear-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, a first-aid kit, Attention Assist system, which measures driver alertness to sense fatigue, and full complement of airbags, including side curtains for both rows and a driver's knee airbag. The Pre-Safe system also is standard. If you get too close to another car without braking and it appears you will hit the other car, the system launches into action, providing preventative braking (not enough to come to a complete stop but enough to reduce speed), adding tension to seat belts, inflating seats to improve shock absorption upon impact and moving head restraints into optimal positions.

Optional safety features include a blind spot and lane departure warning systems, night vision assist, backup camera, front and rear parking sensors, and rear-seat side-impact airbags. Mbrace, Mercedes' emergency communication system, is also optional.

While the E350 coupe wasn't my perfect fit, I have to give credit to all of the amazing safety technologies this vehicle houses like little hidden nannies working around the clock to ensure the safety of all occupants.

The E350 coupe has two sets of lower Latch anchors that sit behind slits in the bucket seats. They were easy to use with no wrestling or finger-spraining required. However, my son's booster seats didn't fit well in the backseat. With the booster in place, the seat belt buckle was hidden behind it. For my son to buckle up, we had to angle the booster away from the buckle.

Get more safety information about the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 coupe here.