Aug
03
2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan in Cirrus Silver Metallic (a $720 option)

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

Class: Premium Midsize Car

Miles driven: 245

Fuel used: 11.1 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 22.1 mpg

Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/29/25 (mpg city, highway, combined)

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB+
Power and PerformanceA-
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyC+
ValueB
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyB
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs429-hp 3.0L
Engine TypeTurbo 6-cylinder
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Drive WheelsAll-wheel drive

Fuel type: Premium gas required

Base price: $73,900 (not including $1050 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Cirrus Silver Metallic paint ($720) augmented video for navigation ($350), AMG Performance Exhaust System ($1250), AMG Track Pace MBUX app ($250), panoramic sunroof ($1000), MBUX Interior Assistant ($200), Driver Assistance Package ($1950), Exterior Lighting Package ($900), Acoustic Comfort Package ($1100), credit for missing standard P17/871 (-$100)

Price as tested: $82,570

More E-Class price and availability information

 

Quick Hits

The great: Smooth, strong powertrain; excellent ride/handling balance; dazzling interior

The good: Cutting-edge infotainment system; lots of high-tech available features; distinctive high-performance character of turbocharged inline-six engine

The not so good: Pricey options drive up the bottom line; some controls can be finicky–especially capacitive-touch steering-wheel buttons

 

Damon Bell

If you want an example of how far off-the-showroom-floor automotive performance has come in the last ten years or so, consider this: A factory rating of 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque only qualifies as a “junior” luxury-brand high-performance sedan in Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class midsize-car lineup for 2021.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

The AMG E53 Sedan might not be the top model in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG lineup, but it offers invigorating performance nonetheless, along with impressive everyday-driver composure and luxury.

That’s how much power the AMG E53’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder makes, with the assistance of Mercedes’s EQ Boost 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The top-dog E-Class as of now is the AMG E 63 S, which is powered by a 603-hp turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Among class rivals, there’s the 591-hp Audi RS6 Avant, the 617-hp BMW M5 Competition, and the forthcoming 668-hp Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing.

Test Drive: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

Interior ambiance is an E-Class strong point. Assembly quality is excellent, and the materials are appropriately upscale. Highlights include twin 12.3-inch screens (the digital instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen) and a flowing satin-metal trim line that runs along the dash and door panels just above multicolor ambient lighting.

You know what? After spending a week testing a Cirrus Silver Metallic E53 sedan, we think 429 horsepower is just fine, thanks. Unless you have regular access to a race track, you won’t be able to really stretch the legs of those ultra-performance models—which, by the way, all start north of $100K save for the Blackwing (which will likely get very close to the six-figure mark with options).

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

A new steering wheel is one of the E-Class’s updates for 2021. It features touch-sensitive controls (which take some getting used to) and drive-mode adjustment knobs with integral digital circular screens that display the chosen mode.

The current generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class debuted for 2017, and the car gets a number of updates for the 2021 model year, including a facelifted exterior design, a new steering wheel that includes capacitive-touch controls, and Mercedes’s MBUX infotainment interface in place of the previous COMAND system. The midline E 450 model drops its previous twin-turbo V6 powerplant and gets a 362-horsepower version of the E53’s turbo 3.0-liter inline six. (You can check out our E 450 Coupe review for more details on the freshened-for-2021 E Class.)

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

The MBUX infotainment system boasts sharp, high-resolution readouts, with lots of “eye candy” graphics.

The impressive fit and finish of our E53 tester were befitting of a luxury-brand vehicle. The paint finish was outstanding—exceptionally glossy and smooth, with excellent depth. The cabin is lavishly outfitted in high-quality materials, and highlighted by dazzling details such as perforated-metal speaker grilles for the Burmester surround-sound audio system, natural-grain Black Ash wood trim, multi-color configurable ambient lighting, and even a pair of small circular drive-mode display screens on the steering wheel.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

Augmented Video for Navigation is a driver-aid feature that superimposes helpful graphics (such as route-guidance turn arrows and street address numbers) over the real-time image from a forward-facing video camera.

The MBUX Interior Assistant feature (a $200 option) brings an extra degree of coddling convenience—it adds an overhead motion sensor that detects driver or front-seat-passenger hand movements, and then helpfully reacts by doing things like highlighting or enlarging elements of the infotainment screen, or turning on the passenger-side reading light when the driver reaches toward the front-passenger seat.

The MBUX infotainment system is an improvement over the COMAND interface, but it still requires practice and familiarization. There are so many functions and display options that you can spend a lot of time searching for specific controls, and noodling to get things set up the way you like them. Once you’re past the learning curve, you can fully appreciate the digital instrument panels’ crystal-clear graphics and extensive configurability, as well as a plethora of available high-tech features. Our test vehicle was also equipped with the Augmented Video for Navigation ($350), a slick driver’s aid that displays a forward-mounted camera view with helpful superimposed graphics such as navigation-route turn arrows and street-address numbers.

The front sport seats have fairly pronounced bolsters for good support in spirited cornering, but they’re perfectly comfortable in everyday driving. One finicky complaint—the front seat-belt latches are mounted very low, which made it a bit tricky for us to buckle the driver’s seat belt. The back-seat space is decent for average-sized adults up to 6 feet tall or so, but legroom quickly grows tight as the front seats are adjusted rearward. Plus, the panoramic sunroof’s housing intrudes on headroom for tall occupants. Small-items storage is average overall, but the front and back door pockets are generously sized.

If you like customizing your behind-the-wheel experience with drive modes, the E53 definitely has you covered, with no less than 19 settings spread across six parameters.

  • Basic drive modes: Slippery, Individual (a customizable setting), Comfort, Sport, and Sport+
  • Engine: Reduced, Moderate, Sport, Dynamic
  • Transmission: D (regular drive) or M (manual; defaults to the driver shifting via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles)
  • Exhaust: Balanced or Powerful
  • AMG Dynamics: Basic, Advanced, Pro
  • Suspension: Comfort, Sport, Sport+

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

The E53’s front sport seats offer a fine mix of comfort and support. Rear seat space is on par with most class rivals.

The turbo inline six delivers its 429 horsepower with smoothness and alacrity. The 9-speed automatic transmission is positively unflappable—we never caught it stumbling, or confused by our throttle inputs. The fuel-saving auto stop/start feature is also buttery smooth; we could feel no shudder when the engine turned off or turned back on.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

Though the E-Class sedan’s trunk opening is fairly generous, the trunk itself is a bit stingy for the class–there’s just 13.1 cubic feet of cargo volume inside.

We’ve never been crazy about Mercedes-Benz’s insistence on using a steering-column-mounted shift lever. Even though that arrangement frees up console space, we prefer the sportier look and feel of a console-mounted shifter, especially in a performance-focused car like this one. However, the steering-wheel paddle shifters work great to summon quick upshifts or downshifts. Choosing the Sport+ drive mode activates an automatic rev-matching throttle-blip feature on downshifts when braking aggressively. In addition to aiding the vehicle’s stability, the throttle blip sounds great and delivers a gratifying high-performance feel.

The AMG Performance Exhaust System (a $1250 add-on) delivers a rather pronounced growl—especially when it’s set to “Powerful” mode—but even the normal “Balanced” mode is plenty snarky. The 6-cylinder engine doesn’t sound as lusty as V8 at idle, but it rises to a lusty, refined growl in spirited driving. Plus, there are delightfully exhaust-overrun pops and cackles in Sport+ mode when you lift off the throttle.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

The E53 is powered by an “AMG-enhanced” turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six (with “EQ Boost” 48-volt mild-hybrid assist)  that puts out 429 horsepower. Nineteen-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels are standard equipment.

The adaptive-damping AIR BODY CONTROL sport suspension delivers sport-sedan nimbleness combined with a decently absorbent ride. We didn’t notice a pronounced difference between the suspension-mode settings. Even the Sport+ mode is perfectly tolerable on normal pavement—it’s not wearyingly stiff or uncomfortable.

At an as-tested price of $82,570, it’s hard to call the E53 a bargain, but if you’re shopping it against those more-powerful six-figure rivals, it actually is a decent value—and nothing about it feels “junior.”

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan is an impressive high-performance sport sedan that delivers driving thrills and coddling luxury in equal measure, topped by a hearty helping of high-tech features.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Sedan Gallery

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AMG E53 Sedan

Test Drive: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe

AMG E53 Sedan

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