Thanks to a modest makeover, the 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class now boasts sleeker and sportier lines, more interior space, and a slew of new features. Otherwise, the midsize sedans and wagons continue to offer the same blend of power and prestige that has made the E-Class one of Mercedes’ top-selling lines.
The 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is offered in three trim levels: a base E320, more powerful E500, and performance-oriented E55 AMG. Each trim is available as a five-passenger sedan with rear drive.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 3.2-liter V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed shiftable automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz E320, Mercedes-Benz E500, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
For 2003, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan gets its first face-lift in nearly a decade. The wheelbase has been stretched by approximately an inch, expanding cargo space and shoulder room, while design elements have been softened for an overall sleeker look. However, the wagon version of the E-Class carries over unchanged. New standard features on both body styles include dual-stage airbags, rain-sensing wipers, and a four-link front suspension. Mercedes has also tweaked the E-Class’ brakes and ventilation system.
With its sleeker design and lower stance, the 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan is reminiscent of Mercedes’ sporty CLK-Class coupe. In contrast, the wagon version of the E-Class remains mostly unchanged from 2002.
For 2003, E320 sedans come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rear defogger, and cargo tie-downs. The E320 wagon adds aluminum roof rails, a rear liftgate, an intermittent rear window wiper, and optional AWD. In addition to a larger engine, the E500 adds 17-inch wheels and performance tires. The E55 AMG gains 18-inch wheels, Z-rated performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, and a power glass sunroof. Options on most models include special metallic paint, bi-xenon headlights, heated headlight washers, parking assist sensors, a solar panel, and an Airmatic suspension.
2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models feature a newly remodeled cabin with more intuitively positioned controls and softer surfaces. All versions of the E-Class now come with standard leather front seats and burled walnut wood trim. Sedans seat five passengers, while the E320 wagon can handle seven people.
Standard equipment on E320 and E500 sedans includes 10-way power-adjustable bucket front seats with lumbar support, memory settings for three drivers, a folding center armrest with storage compartment, dual-zone climate control, rear ventilation ducts, a leather tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, power locks, power windows, power heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, a reverse-tilt passenger mirror, retained accessory power, a universal remote transmitter, cruise control, remote trunk release, a trip computer, an external temperature display, Mercedes’ TeleAid emergency communications service, and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD player.
The E320 wagon gets an eight-speaker sound system, a split-folding rear seat back, and a manually-folding third-row bench seat. Upgrading to the high-performance E55 AMG adds leather sport seats, multiple front-seat heating settings, power-adjustable lumbar support, four-zone climate control, fan-controlled ventilation ducts, and phone pre-wiring.
A long list of options includes heated seats, a heated steering wheel, rear obstacle detection, a navigation system, full leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, contoured seats, a premium Harman Kardon sound system, a six-disc CD player, a wood steering wheel, and power rear and side sunshades.
Performance & Handling
Three engines are included in the 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Series. Base E320 sedans and wagons come fitted with a 3.2-liter, 221-horsepower V-6. The E500 gets a five-liter V-6 producing 302 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque, while the AMG model is powered by a supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 pumping out 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. All engines are matched to a five-speed TouchShift automatic transmission, which allows for driver-controlled gear changes.
While certainly not the fastest or most elite of the Mercedes family, the E-Class continues to provide well-rounded and reliable driving dynamics. E-Class sedans and wagons balance precise handling with a smooth ride. For 2003, Mercedes has made improvements to steering and braking responsiveness. With the exception of acceleration noise in V-8-powered models, the airtight E-Class is known for offering a serenely quiet ride.
Standard safety equipment on 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models includes front and rear head airbags, front and rear side-mounted airbags, antilock brakes, emergency braking assist, electronic brake force distribution, stability control, traction control, dusk-sensing headlamps, daytime running lights, and tire pressure monitoring.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz E320: 17/24 mpg city/highway, 20 mpg combined
Mercedes-Benz E500: 15/21 mpg city/highway, 17 mpg combined
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG: 13/19 mpg city/highway, 15 mpg combined
- Quality build
- Reliable performance
- Comfortable cabin
- Lots of luxury features
You Won't Like
- Outdated wagon design
- Extra-stiff suspension
Best-selling luxury sedan offers reliable performance and prestige.
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