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2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Look

Range Continues to Expand

2011 Mercedes Benz E350 Cabriolet Front Three Quarters

Mercedes-Benz may have completely redesigned the E-Class for 2010, but the famed German luxury automaker did not roll out the entire lineup at once. For the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the range was expanded to include two new body styles -- a convertible and a wagon -- plus a 50-state legal diesel engine option for the sedan.

Like the coupe, the soft-top 2011 E-Class convertible is available in V-6-powered E350 and V-8-powered E550 flavors. The top, which consumes roughly 30 percent of cargo space when down, takes about 20 seconds to open or close and can be operated at speeds of up to 25 mph. The wagon, which comes with up to 79 cubic feet of cargo space and seating for up to seven thanks to the famous rear-facing third-row, however, is only offered with the V-6 with 4MATIC all-wheel drive standard (the system is optional on E350 and E550 sedans). Regardless of bodystyle, all E350s come with a 3.5-liter engine with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet on tap and all E550s pack 5.5-liter engines with 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet. All are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

To make things slightly more confusing, the diesel is also called an E350, specifically E350 BlueTec. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel puts out just 210 horsepower but a hefty 400 pound-feet of torque and is rated at It comes with the same seven-speed auto as the gasoline models and is not available with all-wheel drive, but costs just $1500 more than the gasoline E350, but achieves an EPA rated 22/33 mpg city/highway. Gasoline-fueled E350s, by comparison, achieve 16-17/23-26 mpg, with the two-door variants being slightly more efficient than the four-doors. The same holds true for E550s, which achieve 15/22-23 mpg, with only the convertible hitting the lower highway mark.

Of course, there's also an AMG model available - the E63. Like the diesel, the AMG E-Class is available only as a sedan. It is powered by a fire-breathing 6.2-liter V-8 with 516 horsepower and 456 pound-feet on tap mated to a special multi-clutch seven-speed transmission. In testing carried out by sister publication Motor Trend, the E63 needed just 4.1 seconds to hit 60 mph.

Besides the new variants, the 2011 E-Class enjoys a few minor tweaks like the addition of LED daytime running lights and a new grille for coupe models. Mercedes also adds a host of new technology features including active lane-keeping assist and active blind spot assist with active brake intervention. These come in addition to the multitude of other systems already standard, such distronic active cruise control, attention assist, adaptive highbeam assist, and up to 11 airbags. Nine - two front, two front side-impact, driver knee, front and rear curtain, and front pelvic - are standard and rear side-impact airbags are optional.

Speaking of tech features, the 2011 E-Class convertible served as the launch point for Mercedes' Aircap and Airscarf systems. Aircap is designed to reduce turbulence by redirecting air away from the passengers, while Airscarf is designed to make cold-weather top-down driving easier by blowing heat directly onto the neck through vents in the seat.

Base prices for the 2011 E-Class range between $49,725 for an E350 Coupe to a whopping $88,475 for the E63. The E-Class sedan starts at $50,275 for an E350, the convertible at $57,725, and the wagon at $57,075.

Like other Mercedes models, the E-Class comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Unlike other automakers, Mercedes does not offer a longer powertrain warranty, but like the others, provides an extended warranty for up to 6 years or 100,000 miles as an option.

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