2017 MERCEDES-BENZ E300 GOES
TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASS
After a full-scale redesign, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan moves into its 10th generation with the 2017 model, offering a new engine, numerous technological features that include the ability to drive itself for short stints, and the kind of classy interior you typically expect from the German automaker.
Little wonder that U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 1 among 17 offerings in its analysis of the midsize luxury segment.
I happened to drive the 2017 E300 sedan after a couple of week-long stints in Jaguar models and was pleasantly surprised by its agility and handling. No, it didn’t match the power of the Jaguar F-Type R or F-Type SVR when it came to driving performance, but it was a quite a bit livelier that one might expect for the class.
It is, after all, a sedan meant for hauling passengers and their stuff in relative comfort, but especially when set in Sport or Sport-Plus mode, the E300 delivers strong throttle responses even though the only engine offering for the E300 is a turbocharged 4-cylinder. It is mated with a nine-speed transmission and is rated at 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.
Company clockers say the zero-to-60 mph time is 6.2 seconds in rear-wheel-drive configuration and a tick slower, 6.3, for the all-wheel-drive 4MATIC. Other engine options for the sedan and updates for E-Class coupes and convertibles, which are unchanged for 2017, will come later.
I mentioned Sport and Sport-Plus mode settings. There are two others, Eco and Comfort, plus a third, Individual, that allows you to pick and choose the way you want your E-Class to perform. You can set the transmission and steering, say, to Eco or Sport, while setting the suspension to Comfort for a smoother, less firm ride than either Sport or Sport-Plus provides that is usually expected by buyers in the segment.
The Individual setting also allows you to permanently turn off the automatic shutoff feature that kicks in when you come to a complete stop at an intersection or in stop-and-go traffic. If you don’t do that, you have to manually turn the function off by pressing a button each time you stop and restart the car. Frankly, I find the feature somewhat annoying, and turning if off -- when I can -- is something I do, dare I say, automatically.
Apparently, though, the automatic start/stop system does save fuel, up to 3-5 percent according to a New York Times piece that ran last spring. Though the same story quoted one driver as saying he estimated his savings at about a mile-per-gallon. According to the federal government, mileage figures for the E300 turbo-4 are 22 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway, and 25 combined using premium fuel, of course.
Among standard features on the E300 are navigation, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry with push-button start, a sunroof, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, wood interior trim, and the company’s COMAND system for operation infotainment systems. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, HD Radio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlan and Android Auto also are included.
Voice-operated systems respond fairly accurately to most commands, but with the delays in responses, you’re really can accomplish most changes faster by using the controller on the center console, though that involves getting the display screen in the correct mode (i.e., switching from audio to navigation, for example).
Things like a rearview and surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, automated parallel parking system, front seats with massage systems, front-collision warning system, premium audio and more are offered in option packages.
Of course, the E300’s interior has a classy appearance with lots of high-quality materials in evidence. It is a Mercedes-Benz, after all.
One really nice thing designers managed to do, however, is incorporate the large, 12.3-inch display screen into the flow of the dashboard rather than leaving it sticking out above the center stack as the case is with some of the models from their competitors. Instead of looking like an afterthought, it’s like they gave some attention on how to do this. A slight overhang over the screen also helps alleviate the glare problem on sunny days.
Pricing for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 starts around $52,000. Can’t give you the exact cost of the model that served for my test drive because it was so new the Monroney sticker wasn't available. I’m guessing it was quite a bit more with all the features that were included.
What I liked about the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300: The big touchscreen provides a clear, detailed map for the navigation screen, which, as I noted earlier, is nicely incorporated into the flow of the dash. The seats are comfortable, the cabin quiet, and the exterior more striking in appearance than its predecessor.
What I didn’t like about the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300: It took a while to link my cell phone up, and some extra steps are required to complete some of the infotainment functions. But engineers seem to be dumbing down the systems so even the technologically challenged (ahem!) can manage. The trunk capacity (13.1 cubic feet) isn’t up to some of its competitors.
Would I buy the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300: Yes. Don’t let the 4-cylinder engine lull you into thinking it’s going to be underpowered. It is definitely not that.