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2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class ReviewThe Good
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans and wagons continue to rank at or near the top of their class in a number of categories, including performance, interior features, ride, and handling, and come equipped with a few new features for '09 that make them even more desirable.The Bad
The E-Class loses a step to its competition when it comes to safety ratings, and taller adults will find the back seats of E-Class sedans and wagons surprisingly tight when it comes to legroom.
The CarGurus View
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sets the standard for the large luxury car class, combining attractive styling, amazing performance, and the luxurious interiors owners have come to expect from the German automaker. Although Mercedes trips up a bit when it comes to safety, and the sedans and wagons exhibit a bit of body lean in tight corners, the E-Class still excels in just about every way, although owners will have to pay a hefty price for all that German engineering.
At a Glance
The E-Class gets sporty for 2009. Borrowing a design option from the C-Class, Mercedes-Benz offers a new Sport Package for its 2009 midsize E-Class sedans. The Sport Package, which drivers can add to E350 or E550 sedans at no extra cost, includes aggressive sport body-styling, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles, and 18-inch AMG five-spoke wheels. All E-Class vehicles receive a single-feed 6-CD changer and a revamped COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) entertainment and information system, which integrates audio, video, and optional navigation functions, and now includes Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling. In addition, Mercedes adds a larger 4-gigabyte hard drive to the E-Class's optional navigation system.
Drivers can now add Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to E-Class sedans at no additional cost, and the standard E-Class sedan receives new seven-spoke, 17-inch wheels with all-season performance tires. In addition, Mercedes adds Sirius satellite radio as a standard feature.
As in previous years, drivers can choose from a range of E-Class vehicles with a variety of powerplants and upgrade options. In addition to the E350 and E550 sedans, E-Class trims include the E350 4Matic Wagon, the V8-powered E63 AMG sedan, and the E63 AMG wagon. In addition, Mercedes now offers its diesel-powered E320 BlueTec sedan in all 50 states (previously it was available in about 45 states). All E-Class sedans seat five passengers, while the wagons seat seven passengers.
The E-Class's base 3.5-liter V6 powerplant, which powers the E350 luxury sedan, the E350 4Matic sedan, and the E350 4Matic wagon, generates 268 hp. This double-overhead-cam engine features continuously variable timing, which helps it develop 258 lb-ft of peak torque at 2,400 to 5,000 RPM for aggressive acceleration and instant response when the driver steps on the gas pedal. The engine links to a five-speed automatic transmission and posts fuel economy numbers of 17/24 city/highway mph. Fuel economy drops to 16/22 for sedans equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive and 16/21 for the E350 4Matic wagon.
For those who prefer more power, a 382-hp, 5.5-liter V8 drives the E550 sedan and E550 4Matic Sedan. The V8 provides 75 percent of peak torque at just 1,000 RPM, which helps these sedans leap off the mark and dash from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. The lightweight cast aluminum engine was designed for both performance and durability, as well as a smooth delivery of power, according to Mercedes. The V8 engine links to a seven-speed automatic transmission with Touch Shift, which enables drivers to shift manually. Fuel economy numbers for the V8 check in at 15/22, which drop to 13/18 for the 4Matic trim.
For the top-of-the-line E63 AMG sedan and wagon, a 6.2-liter V8 engine generates 507 hp and a whopping 465 lb-ft of torque at 6,800 RPM. With all that power and torque, the E63 roars from 0 to 60 in just 4.3 seconds. The engine links to a seven-speed AMG 7G-tronic automatic transmission with fingertip shift paddles located on the steering wheel, so drivers can manually shift gears when desired. Naturally, fuel efficiency numbers suffer a bit for the E63 with its big engine, checking in at 12/18 for the sedan.
Those who prefer a more fuel-efficient vehicle can opt for the E320 BlueTec sedan, with its 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbodiesel. The BlueTech achieves fuel efficiency ratings of 23/32 mpg.
The standard E-Class sedans and wagons feature rear-wheel drive, while 4Matic versions come equipped with Mercedes' all-wheel-drive system, which features a permanent 40/60 split when applying torque between the front and rear wheels. The system includes a four-wheel electronic traction control system, which reduces engine power and applies individual brakes as needed when it detects wheel slippage to help drivers maintain control of the vehicle.
Ride & Handling
As you'd probably expect, the E-Class's ride and handling rank near the top of its class. Some reviewers give higher marks to the BMW 5-Series when it comes to handling in tight corners, partially because the E-Class tends to display some body lean when pressed hard on twisty roads. However, the E-Class's overall combination of luxury, balance, and performance make it a true winner.
For a heavy car, the E-Class handles with precision and agility, thanks to speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering and a slightly firm suspension, which features double wishbone design and gas shock absorbers in the front and an independent five-arm multilink suspension in the rear. It also delivers the classic Mercedes smooth ride, gliding down the highway with ease. The E350 trims ride on 17-inch wheels, while the E550 and E63 trims receive 18-inch wheels, which also help to improve ride and handling.
All the E-Class engines, including the entry-level V6 and the BlueTec diesel, provide impressive performance and acceleration, but the big V8s give the E-Class vehicles an extra kick into the stratosphere, making for a confident and even exhilarating driving experience. Inside, the E-Class pampers, with comfortable seats that make long journeys easy to endure. However, many reviewers and owners find the back seat surprisingly tight for a car of the E-Class's size, and taller occupants will find legroom tight. Other surprises: a smallish trunk and limited interior storage spaces.
The E63 sedan and wagon come equipped with an AMG-calibrated Airmatic Semi-Active Air Suspension, which adjusts the air spring tuning automatically, depending on the driving situation, to ensure optimal handling and a comfortable ride.
Cabin & Comfort
Inside the cabin, the E-Class leads the way when it comes to comfort and luxury amenities. Leather interior trim and wood accents on the doors, dashboard, and center console contribute to an upscale feel. For the wood trim, the E350 trims receive Burl Walnut, while the E550 and E64 trims get Black Birdseye Maple. While leather seats remain optional for the E350 trims (they receive MB-Tex simulated leather as standard seating material), the E550 comes equipped with standard leather seats, while the E63 receives Nappa leather seats with Alcantara cloth inserts.
All trims also come equipped with power-adjustable front seats and headrests with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, a power sunshade for the roof, and a 12-speaker, 510-watt audio system with speed-sensitive volume, a six-disc CD changer, and an MP3 input jack located in the center console. The E63 trims add a six-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio.
The E63 sedan and wagon come equipped with a number of additional features designed by AMG, the in-house sport tuner for Mercedes. Sport seats, an ergonomic sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel sports pedals with black rubber pads, and an AMG instrument cluster all come standard.
Owners can add heated seats as an option. Other options include a power rear window sunshade, an electronic trunk lid, and a GPS navigation system with voice activation.
If owners want 60/40-split folding rear seats in the sedans, they'll have to add those as an option, since they're not standard equipment except in E63 trims. The E-Class sedan trims offer 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space, while the wagons offer 24.4 cubic feet of space with the third-row seat folded down, and 68.9 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded down.
Although the E-Class comes well-equipped with safety equipment, it received a few nicks when it comes to safety ratings. While it received a five-star rating, the highest possible, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for protecting occupants from injury in the event of side impacts, it received only a four-star rating for frontal impacts. Alternatively, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the E-Class a top rating of Good for frontal impacts, it gave the vehicles only a classification of Acceptable for side impacts.
All E-Class vehicles include the Pre-Safe system, which automatically closes the windows, adjusts seat belts, and positions the front passenger seat for optimal airbag deployment if it detects a potential emergency situation. Other standard safety features for all E-Class trims include all-speed traction control, antilock brakes, a night security illumination system, and a full range of airbags, including side curtain airbags.
What Owners Think
Owners give the 2009 E-Class good marks for its solid build, smooth ride, good performance, and careful attention to detail common in many cars from the German automaker. In addition, many owners note the relatively good fuel economy they get from the E-Class. The car doesn't feel heavy, according to owners, and handles well. Some are disappointed by the level of road noise that enters the cabin, however, and others find fault with dashboard controls, which at first can be complicated to operate.
CarGurus owners agree that the E-Class's exterior styling and performance, as well as its sound system, are at the top of its class, but find fault with the navigation system.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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