Mercedes-Benz issued a thorough midcycle refresh to the E-Class for 2021; its meaningful updates and the impressive range of variants were impressive enough to earn the midsizer our 2021 Car of the Year award. The current, fifth-generation E-Class was introduced for 2017, and because of its face-lift last year, we don't expect to see any significant changes for 2022, although Mercedes-Benz may introduce the plug-in E350e which is already sold in other parts of the world. As a reigning Car of the Year winner, it's no surprise the E-Class sits atop our rankings of midsize luxury sedans, ranked above competitors including the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Genesis G80, and Volvo S90.
To understand what we love about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, look no further than its 2021 Car of the Year win. The midsize car manages to capture the high-tech ethos of future luxury with the wood-grain, stitched leather elegance of old-world opulence in a well-rounded package that eclipses all of its competitors.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the E-Class is its consistent excellence across a wide-reaching lineup of body styles and powertrain options. The entry-level four-cylinder car feels just as thoughtfully engineered as the 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Especially with the optional air suspension, the E-Class provides fantastic ride quality and buttoned-down control.
Our only significant gripe with the E-Class is its occasionally clumsy MBUX infotainment system; it fails to deliver consistent results from the same inputs. Rear-seat legroom doesn't lead the segment, but even a staffer over 6 feet tall said it was plenty spacious.
The minor flaws of the E-Class are easily outshone by its brilliant tech, high-quality materials, solid driving dynamics, and near endless offerings. In a word, it's excellent.
The 2021 E-Class is rich with powertrain options, from a fuel-sipping four-cylinder to a thunderous twin-turbo V-8. Given Mercedes-Benz did not release the plug-in E350e for 2021, we're expecting to see it join the lineup for 2022. Most E-Class models feature the automaker's 4Matic AWD system, but RWD is available on four-cylinder variants.
All performance and fuel economy figures refer to the E-Class sedan rather than the coupe, cabriolet, or wagon, unless otherwise stated. Fuel economy is based on 2021 EPA ratings.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-four
Horsepower/Torque: 255 hp/273 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 6.1 seconds (mfr est)
Efficiency (city/highway): 22/30-31 mpg
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-four plug-in hybrid with electric motor
Horsepower/Torque: 315 hp/516 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.7 seconds (mfr est)
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo inline-six mild hybrid
Horsepower/Torque: 362 hp/369 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.6 seconds
Efficiency (city/highway): 23/30 mpg
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo inline-six mild hybrid with electric supercharger
Horsepower/Torque: 429 hp/384 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.0 seconds (E53 Coupe)
Efficiency (city/highway): 22/29 mpg
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 603 hp/627 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 3.0 seconds
Efficiency (city/highway): 16/23 mpg
One of the greatest strengths of the E-Class is its breadth of offerings, and that should continue for 2022. In addition to the conventional four-door sedan body style, the midsize Mercedes stands alone among its competitors in that it can also be had as a two-door coupe, open-top convertible, and long-roof wagon. The automaker added a fifth variant for 2021: the lifted, SUV-like All-Terrain which replaced the E450 wagon.
The E-Class has been a strong performer in IIHS safety testing. When it was last rated for the 2020 model year, the E-Class had perfect crashworthiness ratings and a Superior score for its front crash prevention system. With its optional curve-adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beams, the 2020 E-Class became a 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick+. The 2021 E-Class holds a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA.
Mercedes-Benz included some driver assist features as standard for 2021 and we expect the same for 2022. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention warning, and rain-sensing wipers will likely be standard. Assuming it carries over for 2022, the Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist with lane centering and lane change assist.
Seating capacity in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class depends on body style. Sedans and AMG wagons seat five, coupes and convertibles seat four, and the E-Class All-Terrain seats seven with a rear-facing bench. The sedans and wagons offer 41.7 inches of legroom up front and 36.1-36.2 inches in the rear seats. Rear legroom drops to 35.9 and 34.1 inches in the coupe and convertible. Cargo volume ranges from 9.5 cubic feet in the convertible (with the top up) to 10.0 cubes in the coupe, 13.1 in the sedan, and 35.0 in the wagon. (That said, sealed trunks are measured differently than open-top hatchback and wagon cargo areas.)
Mercedes-Benz introduced its current twin-screen interior design on the 2021 E-Class, so we'd be surprised to see it change for 2022. The cabin should feature two 12.3-inch displays—a touchscreen in the center of the dash and a digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and GPS navigation are most likely standard.