The 2012 Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon has spoiled me for the rest of my days. With a ton of cargo space and the capability to transport my family in vogue as well as in comfort, this wagon also delivers a sublime driving experience.
Simply put, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon is the ultimate family mobile, with exception of one giant not-so-family-friendly feature: its price.
This wagon has quite a hefty price tag; it starts at $58,025, including an $875 destination charge. But if your family is in the market for a car at this price point, the E350 wagon won't disappoint — especially if performance is near the top of the priority list.
It's expected that a Mercedes-Benz will offer many luxuries and amenities, but what I wasn't expecting was the E-Class wagon's exceptional handling. I suppose it didn't hurt that my upgraded test car's driver's seat massaged me as I drove. It did take me a short time to get used to the wagon's extended length, but once I did, I found it easy to maneuver. Whether on freeways or suburban streets, the ride feels smooth without being sleep-inducing. Acceleration with the 3.5-liter V-6 is graceful but packs a punch when needed, and braking is precise. The E350 comes standard with all-wheel drive.
All the engineering in the 2012 E350 wagon comes at a price. To get one as well-equipped as the wagon I tested with real-time traffic and navigation, dual rear entertainment screens and that amazing massaging driver's seat costs $76,055.
The seven-seat E350 is a big wagon, but it couldn't be any further from the bloated wood-paneled ones often associated with this particular body style. Its exterior looks almost regal with its exaggerated length, but there are hints of sportiness in its sleek profile and chiseled build. Mercedes-Benz succeeded in bucking the negative wagon stereotypes when it comes to the E350, and quite frankly — a wagon has never looked so good.
What's great about a wagon is it's still a car; it's easy for everybody to pile into and simple to load and unload. Door handles can be reached by most, and the usual higher step-up that comes with SUVs matching the E350's seating capacity isn't an issue.
A power liftgate is standard, which is always a perk for busy parents, but an even better feature is that the keyless entry works on both the front and rear doors. It might sound trivial, but as I'm always carrying bags in addition to my child (and trying to hurry to get my daughter loaded in the car while someone is impatiently waiting for my parking space), being able to walk up to the rear door and open it with no extra steps was huge for me. The loss of that particular feature is one I've cursed ever since the day my test drive of the E-Class wagon ended.
At 20.5 cubic feet, the wagon's cargo area rivals the space found in some three-row SUVs, and if the second row is folded down, the E50's cargo space appears cavernous. There's almost nothing you won't be able to bring with you on a trip in the E350 wagon.
Not so trivial is the seven-speed automatic transmission that's paired with the 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, making this wagon much more than just a grocery-getter. It gets an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg city/highway, which I found surprising due to its size and standard all-wheel drive. I averaged just slightly below its 22 mpg combined city/highway rating during my weeklong test drive. This wagon requires premium gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
Almost everything inside of the E350 wagon made me swoon. From the buttery rich optional leather interior, to the perfectly contoured driver's seat, to the available panoramic sunroof, the interior is upscale and gorgeous. The wood accents seem a little dated to me, but I'll chalk it up to personal preference.
Families will immediately notice that the E-Class wagon's interior is spacious. It was the perfect car for our family to take on a day trip up to the mountains. When Grandma and Grandpa joined us one evening, all five of us fit easily in the first and second rows. There is plenty of legroom, and you shouldn't hear any complaints with regard to personal space, even if rear-facing child safety seats are installed.
The E350 wagon also offers a unique option for accommodating more passengers: two rear-facing seats are located in the cargo area. These jump seats bring seating capacity in the E350 wagon up to seven. The seats even come with their own cupholders! Although my husband fit and sat in the back for the sheer novelty of it, the seats are better suited for children, but only those who are out of child-safety seats. Teens will likely find they're too big to sit back there.
Another perk kids will love are the dual entertainment screens on the backs of both front seats ($1,910). There won't be any arguments over storage; each passenger gets their own cupholder, and there's plenty of additional space in the seatback pockets and door pockets. Parents will enjoy an additional storage bin under the front armrest, bottleholders in the door pockets and bins underneath the front seats.
If you really want to bring on the luxury, there are many ways that Mercedes-Benz can indulge you. Of course, adding features means adding to the price, but if you've got the extra cash, these luxuries have the ability to elevate your usual commute to a zen-like experience. Listening to the Spa channel on satellite radio while using the massaging driver's seat will make you want to circle the block a few times before picking the kids up from school. And the way the active seat bolsters "hug" and support you with each turn will keep you relaxed on the most hectic of days. It's no exaggeration when I say that I could've driven the E350 wagon all day long.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Mercedes-Benz makes things as easy as possible when it comes to Latch anchor access. The E350 wagon features my favorite setup: plastic covers that flip up to reveal the Latch anchor. I love that I don't have to dig between the cushions to find anchors. The wagon has two sets of Latch anchors in the outboard seats, and car-seat installation is a snap. Two child-safety seats, including rear-facing seats, fit easily in the second row, but three car seats won't fit across the backseat.
The E350 wagon has standard all-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, active front head restraints and seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. However, the side curtain airbags only provide protection for the first- and second-row seats. They don't extend into the third row.
Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe system, which is standard, can anticipate a collision and automatically tighten seat belts, close windows and the sunroof, and adjust the front seat to better protect the driver in a crash. Also standard is Attention Assist, which monitors the driver's behavior to detect signs of drowsiness.
Optional features are night vision, blind spot and lane departure warning systems, and adaptive, auto-leveling headlights. The feature I tested most, especially in Los Angeles' stop-and-go traffic, was the Distronic Plus technology. It's also known as adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front of you and brakes as needed for traffic. It was incredibly accurate and impressive.
Get more safety information on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon here.