Class: Premium Midsize Car
Miles driven: 216
Fuel used: 9.2 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 23.5 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||C+|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|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 & 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.|
|Engine Specs||362-hp 3.0L|
|Engine Type||Turbo 6-cylinder
|Drive Wheels||All-wheel drive|
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/30/25 (mpg city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas required
Base price: $67,450 (not including $1050 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Graphite Gray Metallic ($720) 19-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels with black accents ($500), augmented video for navigation ($350), ventilated front seats ($450), AIRSCARF ($460), AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension ($1900), MBUX Interior Assistant ($200), Driver Assistance Package ($1700), Exterior Lighting Package ($900), Night Package ($400), AMG Line package ($2500)
Price as tested: $78,580
The great: Smooth, strong powertrain; excellent ride/handling balance; classy cabin
The good: Cutting-edge infotainment system; distinctive coupe styling; respectable passenger space for a coupe
The not so good: Steep pricing; some tedious controls
Mercedes-Benz can alter the styling, change the engines, and dream up new tech gadgets for its acclaimed E-Class cars—all of which it has done for 2021—but there’s something curiously nostalgic about its modern family of premium-midsized cars. That something is that the E-Class is a family of cars.
Before the term “passenger car” became synonymous with “four-door sedan,” it was extremely common for an individual platform to appear in multiple body styles but with their shared DNA obvious to all. It has become exceptionally rare now, and we can think of nobody who still does it to the extent that M-B does with the E450, which comes as a four-door sedan, a station wagon (newly dubbed All-Terrain), a convertible, and a coupe.
As if that’s not enough of a reminder of “how things used to be,” the coupe is an echo of another era. It is a hardtop, a 4-windows-down, no-B-pillar, 2-door automobile, something once ubiquitous but now as rare as platform shoes. Consumer Guide tested one of these up-to-the-minute throwbacks, a Graphite Grey Metallic example with 4MATIC all-wheel drive priced at $68,500 (including delivery) but optioned up to $78,580.
All ’21 E-Class models are the recipients of a midcycle freshening of the generation ushered in during 2017 (sedan and wagon) and 2018 (coupe and convertible). They are subject to revised looks, with changes to grille, headlights, and taillights; they’ve taken on the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system; and the E450s receive a new inline 6-cylinder engine with “EQ Boost” 48-volt mild hybridization technology.
Just by numbers alone, the shift to the turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six seems like a wash. It replaces a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that made the exact same 362 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at 1600 revs. However, the new engine feels smoother and utilizes EQ Boost to tap into as much as 21 additional horsepower and 184 more lb-ft for brief periods. (The 48-volt integrated electric motor system also assists acceleration even before the gas engine switches on, permits coasting for fuel savings, and recaptures energy during deceleration.)
“Sport” and “Sport+” modes alter several driving characteristics, including transmission behavior, delaying upshifts to extract more power from each gear range. (For example, at around 40 mph, the engine is turning at 1500 rpm in “Comfort” mode, 2000 rpm in Sport, and 2500 in Sport+.) The exhaust note ratchets up a little in Sport+. Getting away from a stop in Sport+ this driver sensed a hitch—really quick initial response, then a bog, as if there’s an almost-immediate upshift—before the car resumed eager acceleration. With 4MATIC, M-B claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.9 seconds, which is 0.3 second quicker than the rear-wheel-drive E450 goes. (The rear-driver is $2500 cheaper.) It is a rapid highway cruiser with quick kickdown from the 9-speed automatic transmission.
Another purported benefit of the new powerplant is slightly improved highway fuel mileage. The EPA estimates 30 mpg on the open road, a gain of two over the V6 rating. (Projected city mileage of 23 per gallon is the same as before.) Still, this reviewer saw only 21.49 mpg from a test run of 69.3 miles with 44 percent city-type driving.
Set in Comfort mode, ride is comfortable and the car handles and corners very well. Damping and steering firm up by degrees in the two Sport modes, and if equipped with the optional Air Body Control air suspension—as the test car was—ride height is lowered. Damping in Sport+ heightens feel of smaller surface irregularities.
The MBUX infotainment system seems to deliver a little better “cooperation” than the previous COMAND arrangement, but it was easier to find controls to adjust central touchpad sensitivity (talk about a thing you’ll do once) than it was to find a trip-odometer reset (which I couldn’t). The new-design steering wheel has two rows of thumb controls—on each arm!—but none of them seemed to be the trip reset. Tuning and saving of radio presets requires multiple steps. MBUX functions show up on a 12.3-inch display screen that blends with a similarly sized screen that colorfully projects driving controls. Navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, wireless charging, satellite radio playing from a Burmester surround-sound audio system, blind-spot alert, and Parktronic parking assist are standard. Additional safety-attuned driving aids are available in the Driver Assistance Package option.
Passenger accommodations in the sumptuous and attractive cabin are as they have been since this generation of the E-Class coupe went into effect. Seats—heated and optionally ventilated in front—were done in a dramatic mix of Classic Red and Black leather, and black ash wood fanned out over the MB-Tex-topped dash and doors. Though shorter and lower than the sedan, there’s still enough head- and legroom to hold four 5’-11” adults. Rear-seat access is eased by front seats that power forward. With fairly slender C-pillars and no fixed B-pillars, drivers will find the outward view pretty much uncluttered.
For personal-item storage there is a sizable glove box, a split-top console box with side-hinged doors, roomy door pockets, a net pouch on the transmission hump by the front passenger, and covered cup holders in the console. In back are hard-sided pouches affixed to the front seats and exposed cup holders between the seats.
The E450 has good cargo space for a luxury coupe, even if the area isn’t particularly tall. There is a large open space under the floor. Split rear seats fold but don’t rest completely flat, there’s a small gap between the trunk floor and seats, and a bulkhead narrows the passage. The trunk has a high lip and the opening narrows above the bumper.
In an automotive world of changing vehicle tastes and needs (the spread of SUVs; a move toward electrification), a “nuclear family” like the E-Class may prove hard to sustain, and only the models with the most practicality—and, thus, sales potential—may persist. For now, though, variety is the spice of family life.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Coupe
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