Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan - does it get any better?

Mercedes E350
By all accounts, I am a Mercedes fan. I love the grille and hood emblem and the prestige that the brand represents. Last weekend I treated myself and rented an E350. My expectations were fully met; click through for my impressions.

Mercedes E350
My particular E-Class rental was in white, which looked especially regal and stood out from other cars on the road. I probably wouldn't get a white car, but have to admit that it looked great. The E-Class is, in my opinion, one of the best looking sedans on the market today, more aggressive looking than the BMW 5-Series, more striking than Audi A6, and lightyears ahead of the Japanese competition (Infiniti M and Lexus ES). Whereas I think Mercedes may have gone a little too far on the new CLS design, the E is perfection. The headlights and LED DLR lights are menacing, the side profile is angled perfectly with large rear fenders, and the taillights are elegant and restrained. Some people are put off by the regality of the E Class and don't like the hood ornament; I think that is all part of the car's greatness.

Mercedes E350
The E-Class' interior is fantastic; maybe not as technologically dazzling as the Audi A6's or as slick as the BMW 5-Series', but it rather exudes luxury and taste. The little details make the E-Class' interior so special: the powered rear sunshade, the little button to automatically lower rear headrests for better visibility, and the cool yellow ambient lighting throughout the cabin. The COMAND system, while not as visually pleasing as BMW's iDrive system, is very easy to use. By the end of my 2-day rental, I was an old pro at navigating the little silver button in the center console. The Harmon/Kardon speaker system was top-notch and the air-conditioning unit was easy to use.

The seats were extremely comfortable. The electronic lumbar support buttons on the side of the seat cushion were a nice surprise, as was the electronically controlled head rest. The voice-activated controls were surprisingly accurate, and especially convenient for entering coordinates in the GPS while driving.

Mercedes E350
The 302 horsepower, 3.5L V6 in the E350 is by no means as fast as the CLS and C 63 AMG models that I drove last year, but it sounded great and had ample power to maneuver on highways. I wish there was a little more power in the lower RPMs, but I guess that's what the 550 and 63 AMG are for? Suspension was very nice and the tires were quite grippy; the car satisfyingly sunk into each turn, and bumps were hardly noticeable.

In short, I would buy this car in a heartbeat (of course, preferably the 63 AMG). Mercedes has to be careful in the next redesign...please don't mess with perfection.

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