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The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes with a new edgy look, available in many models and iterations. The 2014 E-Class might be remembered for the breakthrough of intelligent drive, as the E-Class smashes into the Brave New World of the car doing the driving for you, with a burst of electronic enhancements in pursuit of safety. Mercedes counts 11 of them, down to anti-glare continuous high-beam headlamps.
Because the E-Class competes with the Cadillac CTS and Audi A5, it needs to be pretty, and the new face of the 2014 E-Class brings it alive. The interior is cleaned up for 2014 as well.
Over two days in Oregon, we drove the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC Sedan, E350 Cabriolet, E550 Cabriolet, E400 Hybrid Sport Sedan, and E350 4MATIC Wagon. Each has something special to offer. Give us our pick and we’ll take the wagon. The black paint and brown leather upholstery had something to do with that.
The new E-Class is more dynamic, improved to the eye from every angle. Mercedes calls it elegant and poised, and it is that, but it’s aggressive too. The front end is especially sporty, while character lines on the sides are cleaner. The tweaks keep Mercedes moving from old man’s car to muscle car.
The E350 with the V6 makes 302 horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque, and accelerates from zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds. The E550 with the V8 makes 402 hp and 443 ft-lb, and takes 4.9 seconds. We prefer the V6 because it’s smooth, plenty fast, and more efficient.
There’s also a 2.1-liter turbodiesel that makes 195 horsepower with a robust 369 lb-ft of torque, and comes standard with 4MATIC all-wheel drive; we got 40.6 miles per gallon driving on two-lanes and freeway. The diesel makes more sense than the V6 Hybrid, which delivered just 29.8 mpg. We got 25.0 mpg in the V8-powered E550. The diesel is slower than the hybrid but more responsive.
All the E-Class models come standard with the ECO stop/start system, which shuts the engine off when the car stops. The Mercedes system is less intrusive than the BMW system.
In two days of driving different E-Class models, we have no big bad notes, only little ones. Suspensions: check. Transmission: check. Handling: check. It all works. You won’t be unhappy or surprised. You’ll like your ride and comfort. Just know what to expect in acceleration, and get a good feel for the transmission, and the rest is turn-key, in buying a Mercedes.
The interior is less changed than the exterior. The dashboard is smoother, every inch soft touch, with new two-piece trim in three woods. Beige leather and brown satin ash is beautiful, as is gray leather and black ash, and more we haven’t seen. Changes on the instrument panel for 2014 include a new cluster with nice off-white gauges, and sleeker air vents with an analog clock between them. Console switches are now dipped in chrome.
The soft top on the convertible is quietest in its class, says Mercedes, and with the optional Airscarf, Aircap, and wind deflectors, you can drive with the top down on brisk days. The seats are a bit different in the models. In the Cabriolets they’re Recaro-like, with tight ribbed leather.
As for the active safety enhancements, there’s a whole lotta assisting going on here. We have collision prevention assist, parking assist, steering assist, lane-keeping assist, cross-traffic assist, rear-end collision assist, pedestrian recognition assist, and last but not least Attention Assist. That’s the hand that reaches out of the dashboard and slaps you. Just kidding.
We wonder if some of this assistance might take us into the land of unintended consequences. As in, you might get creamed from behind when it late-brakes for you to prevent your smashing the guy in front of you. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll wait for Top Gear to take a safety-optioned E-Class and drive it toward a brick wall at 30 mph with another one on its tail, to see what happens. We’ll wait for Jeremy Clarkson to drive blindfolded with no feet on the pedals, toward Richard Hammond bound to a post.