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The Mercedes-Benz E-Class rolls into 2010 with an all-new exterior design, a redesigned interior, two new coupe trims, and a wide range of upscale and innovative features, making it one of the world's top luxury-oriented daily drivers.The Bad
While the E-Class's exterior and interior designs change for 2010, the engines carry over from the previous year with minor updates, and given the heavier weight of the new E-Class, trims equipped with the entry-level V6 powerplant can feel underpowered in some driving situations.
The CarGurus View
Mercedes-Benz continues to refine its venerable E-Class, which occupies a prominent and important space in the Mercedes universe. The 2010 E-Class displays a more aerodynamic exterior design, and receives a wide range of interior updates, which build on the refinements of previous generations. While competitive vehicles from Audi and BMW may offers a bit more in the way of horsepower or features, the E-Class retains a level of prestige, reliability, build quality, and performance most owners will find hard to match.
At a Glance
Mercedes-Benz unveils an all-new E-Class for 2010. Available in both sedan and coupe trims, the E-Class enters its ninth generation with an angular yet aerodynamic exterior design, a meticulously crafted interior, refined engines with improved fuel efficiency, the latest high-tech gadgets, and a wide range of safety features, including nine airbags. Outside, the 2010 E-Class displays a more prominent front end with larger air intakes, angled twin headlights, contoured rear fenders, and wrap-around LED taillights. In addition, the new E-Class coupes feature a pillarless side design and a more swept-back roofline, which convey a sporty appearance.
The 2010 E-Class lineup consists of the E350 and E550 sedans, the all-wheel-drive E350 4MATIC and E550 4MATIC sedans, and the E350 and E550 coupes. All trims have luxury-oriented interiors with wood trim and an updated version of Mercedes' COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system with a 7-inch color LCD display and a center-console-mounted central controller. In addition, for sedan trims, owners can choose between Luxury and Sport packages to customize the cars' interiors and performance. The Luxury package features a monochromatic cabin color palette, Burl Walnut wood interior accents, and 17-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels, while the Sport package includes a contrasting interior color scheme, perforated front brake discs, and 18-inch five-spoke light alloy wheels. Both coupe trims include a panoramic sunroof, which comes standard.
A 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the E350 sedan, E350 4MATIC, and E350 coupe. The V6 produces 258 lb-ft of torque and links to an all-new seven-speed automatic transmission, designed to provide quicker acceleration and smoother cruising, as well as improved fuel efficiency, according to the automaker. The transmission includes the Touch Shift feature, which enables drivers to shift manually using steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The V6 drives the E350 from 0-to-60 mph in 6.5 seconds (6.6 seconds for the 4MATIC). Mercedes recommends premium unleaded fuel for the engine, which posts fuel economy numbers of 18/26 mpg.
The E550 sedans and coupe deliver more muscle, thanks to a lightweight 5.5-liter V8 engine, which produces 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, driving the E550 from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. The V8 links to the same seven-speed transmission. New powerplant components, including new alternators and power-steering pumps that operate only when required, help improve fuel efficiency for both engines, although the powerplants remain essentially unchanged from the previous year.
Ride & Handling
Under its sleek skin, the next-generation 2010 E-Class sports a stiffer body and a retuned suspension designed to optimize ride and handling. The E350 trims feature an Agility Control suspension, which adapts automatically to the road to provide a smoother ride, according to Mercedes-Benz. Power-assist vehicle-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering also comes standard.
The E550 trims ride on an Airmatic semi-active suspension, with electronically controlled air springs that adjust to road conditions. The suspension offers driver-selectable Comfort and Sport settings, which drivers can select for a softer or firmer ride. In addition, the suspension automatically lowers ride height at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics, and automatically levels the vehicle to compensate for cargo or passengers.
All E-Class sedans and coupes feature ventilated braking systems with Predictive Braking Priming, which provides faster braking, and Brake Drying, which helps the E-Class stop more confidently in wet road conditions. 4MATIC trims come equipped with Mercedes' AWD system, which continually monitors traction and evenly distributes torque to the wheels with the best grip to ensure optimal performance on all types of road surfaces.
The big E-Class V8 engines deliver impressive performance, and do a good job of moving the heavy E-Class sedans and coupes along quickly. However, some owners might find the V6-equipped sedans and coupes a bit underpowered, since the engine carries over from the previous year with no increase in horsepower, while the E-Class has gained a few pounds for 2010. Few owners, though, will complain about the smooth acceleration and quiet ride of all E-Class trims.
By stretching the E-Class by about an inch for 2010, Mercedes was able to provide more legroom for rear-seat passengers in sedan trims. However, owners of E-Class coupes will find a tighter rear seat than in the sedan (33 inches for the coupe compared to 35.8 inches for the sedan). Cargo capacity remains about the same for all trims, at 15.9 cubic feet. Interior storage spaces include door pockets, front seatback pockets, and a center console with a large storage bin.
Cabin & Comfort
Inside, the 2010 E-Class continues to lead the way, thanks to its quiet, refined cabin equipped with upscale features and all the latest high-tech gadgets. The 14-way power-adjustable front seats feature power lumbar support and three memory settings, while hand-polished wood trim on the dash, console, and doors adds an elegant touch. Other standard features throughout the line include a power moonroof, dual-zone digital climate control, Bluetooth, and a new interior ambient lighting system. The leather-wrapped steering wheel provides buttons for managing the audio, phone, and cruise control systems, as well as the multifunction display.
An updated version of the Mercedes-Benz COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system also comes standard, and includes a 7-inch color LCD display and a center-console-mounted central controller, which drivers can use to operate the audio and optional navigation systems. An eight-speaker AM/FM audio system with an in-dash 6-CD/DVD changer, Sirius satellite radio, and an MP3 input jack keeps passengers entertained.
The E350 sedans and coupe come standard with MB-Tex leatherette seats, while leather upholstery remains an option. Other options for the E350 trims include a panorama sunroof, heated front seats, and a Harman Kardon Logic7 surround-sound audio system. Owners can also add a Drive-Dynamic multicontour driver's seat with advanced air chambers that automatically adjust to the driving situation. The upgraded driver's seat includes a two-stage massage function. The E550 sedans and coupe increase the luxury quotient with such features as luxury upholstery and a full-grain premium-leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Owners can choose from a wide range of optional features and packages, including a navigation system with a 40-gigabyte hard drive, a Parktronic parking assist system, and the Night View Assist Plus system, which uses infrared technology to detect objects up to 300 feet ahead and displays images on the COMAND screen to aid the driver during night driving.
Safety features for the 2010 E-Class include such innovations as the Attention Assist driver drowsiness monitor, which keeps track of nearly 70 parameters and alerts the driver if it detects drowsiness, and 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. Mercedes offers both as options for 2010.
Other safety options include the Driver Assistance Package, which adds such features as the Distronic Plus intelligent cruise control system, as well as the Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist systems. Distronic Plus maintains a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead. It can adjust the car's speed up to 125 mph and works with the Pre-Safe system to bring the coupe to a complete stop and make adjustments to cabin features to ensure occupant safety.
The E-Class comes equipped with nine airbags, including driver and passenger pelvic bags, as well as a driver knee bag. Antilock brakes, electronic stability control, and electronic traction control also come standard, and fully integrate with the all-wheel-drive system on the 4MATIC trims.
What Owners Think
The E-Class continues to reign supreme as one of the best luxury sedans available today, according to owners, who give good marks to the E-Class for its overall performance and top marks for its ride and handling. The build quality of the E-Class particularly impresses owners, who call the car solid and dependable. Owners like the way the 2010 E-Class adds a number of new features while retaining many familiar ones, such as the placement of buttons and controls, so those who have owned a previous-generation E-Class will feel comfortable at the wheel of the new one. Owners also like the wider range of standard features in the new version, and generally give thumb's up to the exterior redesign, especially for the sporty E-Class coupes.
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 California.
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