Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Mercedes-Benz E300 Base include 2.0L I-4 241hp intercooled turbo engine, 9-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), integrated navigation system, side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 18" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control.
Starting at: $52,150
For now, the four-cylinder E300 is the only E-Class sedan. It’s no hot rod, but it is responsive, with its 273 pound-feet of torque coming on down low at 1300 rpm, giving good early acceleration. Its paddle-shifting 9-speed transmission helps keep it in the perfect spot of the powerband.
The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system splits power front to rear at 45:55.
The standard suspension uses multi-links and adaptive dampers, and comes in base (firm) and sport (firmer) versions. A sport-tune steel suspension has a mildly firm setup, but the air suspension and driving modes give the E-Class breathtaking versatility. It can cruise with lots of suspension travel, slow and smooth shifts and light-touch steering in Comfort mode, or approach AMG levels of heft and stiffness when set in Sport+ mode.
The top suspension is called Air Body Control, and, coupled with the driving modes, gives the E300 vast versatility, so we recommend those options, along with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. They improve the car so much, we think they warrant the cost.
The air suspension system uses springs with two chambers per front strut and two chambers per rear strut; the chambers inflate and deflate at lightning speed based on sensor readings from the road. It lowers the ride height on the freeway for better aerodynamics and fuel mileage, and can raise it when more ground clearance is needed.
The modes are Comfort, Economy, Sport and Sport +. Comfort offers languid steering and shifting, and lengthy suspension travel. We often preferred Sport mode, which brings the best compromise of a good ride and quickness from the throttle, steering and transmission.
Like the latest S-Class and C-Class, the new E-Class is balanced and handsome, with a long hood and short trunk. It looks more relaxed than the more compact C-Class. A deep line at the shoulders tapers under a carefully draped roofline, to the LED taillamps with a charming pattern Mercedes-Benz calls Stardust.
The Luxury model gets a tri-star badge mounted on the hood, while the Sport model gets it in the less flashy grille.
The E-Class cabin speaks in a rhythm of textures, wood and metallic weaves led by stitched and vividly colored leather rising and falling from the door panels to the center console. It glows under 64 shades of ambient lighting from ivory to purple, studded by circular air vents.
The dash can be dominated by twin high-rez 12.3-inch display screens that replace the gauges and controls, although most E300s will come with one screen and a handsome set of dials and climate switches underneath. In place of a shift lever, there’s a touch-sensitive control puck for the COMAND infotainment interface.
The couple inches of added wheelbase brings a bit more interior space. Front seats have lots of lumbar support, and available massage. Rear seat is also a bit bigger, with a middle armrest, cupholders, and available laptop holder.
There’s a choice of Burmester sound systems that use structural parts of the body as passive speakers. One has 23 speakers and 3D sound.
If you know you’ll be happy with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and won’t long for more power and smoothness later, then the E300 stays in the game. But look carefully at the electronic takeover of your steering wheel and pedals, before you think it’s a good idea to give them up to engineers who will never be in the car with you.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 ($52,150) comes in Luxury and Sport models, with rear-wheel drive or E300 4MATIC ($54,650) with four-wheel drive.