2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is at the heart of the midsize luxury segment

What It Is
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is at the heart of the midsize luxury market.
Best Thing
Coupe, cabriolet, sedan, wagon, diesel, hybrid: pick your E-Class flavor.
Worst Thing
The Sport isn't that sporty.
Snap Judgment
With its generous mix of powertrains and body styles, there's likely a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class to capture your fancy.

For consumers shopping the midsize luxury market, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers up a veritable buffet of models to choose from. While all the German automakers seem to have midsize luxury down, no automaker offers the breadth and depth--the variety of powertrain options and body styles--as the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. While technically the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a mid-cycle refresh, there's a lot that's changed.

For starters, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC is new, featuring a smaller 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, one that replaces the V-6 diesel that Mercedes previously used. It's also the same engine powering the 2014 GLK250 BlueTEC, and offers a lot of low-end power, and greater fuel efficiency. If diesel doesn't catch your fancy, there are V-6 and V-8 gasoline engines in the E350 and E550, as well as the Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid, which pairs an electric motor and battery pack to the V-6 gasoline powertrain. And to please--or confuse--you further, there are sedan, wagon, coupe, and cabriolet (convertible) models to choose from. Once you've got those preferences figured out, there a couple things yet to still consider. The E-Class offers the 4Matic all-wheel-drive option for a $2,500 price bump on most models, as well as AMG and Sport models that come at a further premium.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is priced competitively, with the entry-level 2014 E250 BlueTEC starting at $52,325 after delivery, and the 2014 E350 gasoline-powered variant coming just above that $52,825. The top of the line 2014 E63 AMG S-Model 4Matic pierces the six-figure stratosphere, starting at $103,295 after delivery. The Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series offer valiant competition, while the 2014 Lexus GS 350 has been significantly updated and merits consideration in this space as well. Where the E-Class falls short is with younger luxury buyers, who may be more inclined to the sportier image of the Audi A6/S6 and BMW 5 Series. But for most buyers shopping the segment, the E-Class will have a model that will satisfy.

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Your impression of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will differ based on the model and body type, but there are a few definite commonalities across the range. Regardless of which body style you opt for, an elegant, classically styled luxury car with a touch of sportiness greets you. The E-Class boasts a substantial, familiar stance, augmented by a few new touches for 2014. Sport models feature the Mercedes three-pointed star emblem in the grille, while others get a badge on the front hood. A new LED application on the headlights is standard, with full LEDs as an option. The taillights get standard LEDs across the range. Despite the large range of models available, and much like its German competition, every E-Class is easily recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz.

Sitting Down

The 2014 E-Class has been given a new grading on the dash, meant to give off a deeper, richer feel. We honestly don't recognize much difference, but luckily for Mercedes the dash looks good. The instrument cluster is borrowed from the sporty CLS, and if nothing else, you're given an immediate sense of refinement inside the cabin. The build quality is excellent--everything firmly in place--with the attractive wood and nice leather you'd expect. The back seat is roomy, with plenty of knee and leg room for taller, adult passengers. Despite the large c-pillar, sightlines are good and we didn't have any issues. The trunk offers ample cargo space, and offers a large opening, low enough for shorter drivers to easily load groceries, a golf bag, and luggage. The stereo offered great sound on the standard settings, we'll tinker around with it further once we get it in our local environs, and have a little more time with it. One thing that was particularly noteworthy was the navigation. A large, modern screen with excellent turn by turn directions, and attractive graphics. This screen will still look good in a few years, too.

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Your experience driving will vary greatly, depending on which E-Class you drive. We started off in the 2014 E250 BlueTEC sedan. Powered by Mercedes-Benz's new 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, the E250 BlueTEC churns out 195 hp, which would seem modest for a large luxury sedan. But with an exceptional amount of low-end power that is accessed early and often, drivers will find it a more than ample pairing. The E250 feels quick for a diesel in the city, and gets up to speed quickly. There is however a noticeable drop in power at highway speeds, a casualty of returning a manufacturer-estimated mid-30s mpg.

If fuel economy isn’t a priority, the punchy, quick, wholly satisfying 4.6-liter bi-turbo V-8 will do the trick. We got to experience Mercedes-Benz's V-8 on the E550 cabriolet, and even with the top down, we could hear the satisfying growl of the capable 402 hp engine. On the coupe and convertible E550, the V-8 will get you to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Stretch out in to the sedan, and that time goes up slightly to 5.2 seconds. And if you don't want all that power, and still prefer a gasoline-powered E-Class, the 3.5-liter, 302 hp V-6 will be happy to play. We sampled this engine in the E350 wagon. It doesn't feel as quick or sporty as Audi's comparable 300 hp V-6, found in the A6 and A7, but it is capable, and will get you around town in a fine manner.

None of the E-Class models we drove felt especially sporty, but all were excellent cruisers, which speaks mostly to the buyers. There is a nice balance in the ride, which leans more to the comfort side. We anticipate the AMG models will make up some ground here, with a firmer suspension, if a sportier ride is what you're looking for. One feature I absolutely adored was the AirScarf on the cabriolet, meant to "wrap your neck in warm air." Considering I could feel warm air blowing around my neck at highway speeds, that assessment appears surprisingly accurate.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers a broad range of models in the midsize luxury segment, and with a variety of powertrains and body styles to choose from, there's likely an E-Class to please. The Audi A6/S6 offers a sporty, attractive alternative, as does the BMW 5 Series. Lexus has gone back to the drawing board, and the new Lexus GS merits consideration as well. But if you're shopping the midsize luxury market, the 2014 E-Class is a must consider. Just make sure you have enough time to sample all of the varied models.

Basic Specs

3.5-liter V-6, six-speed automatic transmission, 2WD (4Matic models available), 302-hp, $,52,825, 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy

Oslo Frisby
Oslo Frisby

OK except for the electrical issues.

Jason Petty
Jason Petty

Diesel convertible please, just smell the air.