2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Refreshed for 2021, the mid-size Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes as a coupe, convertible, sedan, and for the first time in the U.S., the All-Terrain wagon. Besides the comfort and luxury that’s expected from any Mercedes, it offers sublime handling, cutting-edge technology, almost perfect safety ratings, and improved performance and efficiency for 2021.
The exterior gets redesigned lights and bumpers, but bigger changes are under the hood. The E450 and AMG E53 models use a turbo inline-6 with a mild-hybrid system that boosts power and increases gas mileage to 26 mpg combined.
An upgraded interior presents a wall of screens including a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen, plus a new steering wheel with capacitive touch controls.
The E-Class begins with a potent 2.0-liter turbo-4 with rear-wheel drive, and climbs the performance steps through the 3.0-liter turbo inline-6 up to the AMG V-8 powerhouse. Variable drive modes and an optional air suspension balance prodigious power with the refined comfort.
The E-Class is quick as well as comfortable, with 0-60 mph times ranging from 6.0 seconds in the E350 to nearly half that in the V-8 AMG E63. The coupe looks the best, the cabriolet offers open-air freedom, the wagon offers all the versatility of an SUV with none of the driving dullness, and the sedan epitomizes all that’s good about Mercedes-Benz.
The turbo-4 in the E350 with rear-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 22/31/25 mpg, while the available all-wheel only cuts 1 mpg on the highway.
The E450 sedan with standard all-wheel drive and the mild-hybrid turbo-6 is EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. The E450 cabriolet gets 25 mpg combined, as does the all-wheel-drive AMG E53 sedan, which uses that same 3.0-liter turbo-6 engine.
The E450 All-Terrain wagon with the turbo-6 and all-wheel drive beats most crossover SUVs with a 22/28/24-mpg rating.
As for safety, last year the IIHS awarded the sedan a Top Safety Pick, and the NHTSA gave it a five-star rating. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors.
Optional safety features include a surround-view camera system and a Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control that can slow and speed up based on curves.
Made in Bremen, Germany, the 2021 E-Class comes as an E350, E450, AMG E53, or AMG E63. The wagon and coupe come as an E450, while the cabriolet can be an E450 or an E53.
The E350 sedan starts at $55,300 and the AMG E63 sedan hits $108,550.
The E350 comes with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, synthetic leather upholstery, twin 12.3-inch screens, heated power front seats, ambient lighting, and 18-inch wheels.
At $63,050, the E450 sedan has standard all-wheel drive, while E450 Coupe and Cabriolet models make AWD an option. The E450 All-Terrain costs $68,650 and is equipped like the E450.
The E53 is $74,950.
The AMG E63 S Sedan runs $108,550 with its 603-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, air suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, and more. Tack on a Burmester sound system ($4,550), an AMG carbon ceramic braking system ($8,950) and it can easily eclipse $130,000.
Options for the E-class are very plentiful, from massaging seats to the AMG carbon-fiber package.
The E-Class offers a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, with no free scheduled maintenance, unlike some other luxury makes.
The changes to the 2021 E-Class are subtle, more in the rear than the front, where slimmer taillights hang over a new bumper and deck lid. In front, the lower bumper has blockier air intakes, and new LED headlights. The grille has a single bar forming a crosshair with the big tri-star.
The AMG and the All-Terrain have slightly different grilles, with vertical slots, as well as a bulging hood. The wagon takes on the characteristics of the GLE crossover SUV, especially at the back, where its boxy rear end houses a broad liftgate with an integrated rear roof spoiler and quad exhaust pipes.
Few automakers can match Mercedes for fit-and-finish in the cabin, though we wince at the E-Class’ gloss black plastic on its center console. Around the plastic, the twin 12.3-inch screens form a stretch of glass across the instrument panel, surrounded by walnut or gray ash trim. Other available trims are metal or carbon fiber. Nice synthetic leather is standard on all models except the Cabriolet and AMG E63, which get real leather.
The power heated front seats have significant side bolsters and long bottoms for excellent comfort. A hot massager is optional, as well as an adaptive driver’s seat that can be programmed by entering in the driver’s height.
The coupe has plenty of room in front, but only enough room for two in the rear. There’s 35.9 inches of leg room, which isn’t bad for a coupe, but six inches less shoulder room and one inch less headroom than the sedan. And the coupe’s trunk is only 10.0 cubic feet, compared to the sedan’s 13.1 cubic feet.
The cabriolet has 34.1 inches of leg room in the rear, and loses another two inches of shoulder room compared to the coupe. It also loses another 0.5 cubic feet of trunk space.
The sedan and All-Terrain wagon can fit three in back with more than 36 inches of leg room. The All-Terrain can actually seat up to seven, generously speaking, with its compact rear jump seat. With that seat folded, there’s 35.0 cubic feet of cargo space. With the second row folded, the space is crossover-like.
The Cabriolet’s power retractable roof can go up or down in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph. It also comes with a wind deflector and an “Airscarf” heater at neck level for front riders.
The E350 with its 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 and all-wheel drive can go 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds.
The E450 uses a 3.0-liter inline turbo-6 with a mild-hybrid motor system, called EQ Boost, which improves the acceleration from a standing start; it does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. Mercedes says it adds up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, for a total of 362 hp and 369 lb-ft.
The heavier E450 All-Terrain wagon accelerates from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds.
The sedan has precise steering and sharp handling courtesy of an independent suspension with adaptive dampers on all but the E350. An air suspension is available on the E350 and E450, and standard on the wagon, convertible, and AMG models; it softens the ride while cruising but firms up for more spirited driving to reduce body roll.
The AMG E53 uses this same engine and EQ Boost system as the E450, but with more boost. It makes 429 hp and 384 lb-ft, and can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The power of the AMG E53 comes on so smoothly that it doesn’t feel as quick as it is. It’s track-capable.
The AMG E63 adds to the track capability with bigger brakes and a heavier cooling system. It needs both, for its 603-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, that rockets the AMG E63 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.
The transmission in every E-Class is a quick-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The AMG E63 has a wet multi-plate clutch for even more responsiveness and a double-clutch feature when downshifting.
The E350 sedan and E450 coupe and cabriolet are rear-wheel drive, with Mercedes’ all-wheel-drive system optional. All AMG models and the All Terrain E450 wagon come standard with all-wheel drive.
The wagon rides an inch higher and weighs about 300 pounds more than the sedan, and has a 5.8-inch ground clearance compared to less than 4 inches in the sedan. It’s understandably not as agile, but the available power is thoroughly satisfying.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class family doesn’t have a black sheep in it. It’s a reminder of why the Mercedes name has become a synonym for quality. We’d shop the new All-Terrain wagon or the E450 Cabriolet with the mild-hybrid engine—but we wouldn’t be disappointed by any model.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection