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2020 Mercedes-Benz E Class Review

LIKES
  • Beautiful interior
  • Turbo thrust
  • Wagon and coupe bodies
  • AMG editions
  • The latest safety tech
DISLIKES
  • Coupes are snug
  • Spartan base trim
  • Infotainment could be better
  • Becomes very expensive, very quickly
BUYING TIP
  • The optional air springs transform the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class from excellent to absolutely stellar. They’re money well-spent.


It's good to be the king: There's a reason the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class family of cars still rules the mid-size luxury roost.

Given unlimited budget but just one parking space, there are few among us who wouldn’t put the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class high on our shopping lists.

The just-right E-Class is a fine car in any configuration, from mild E350 sedan to practical E450 wagon to sexy convertibles to ferocious AMGs. You can’t go wrong here, which is why we award the lineup 7.8 out of 10 points. The 2020 E-Class is one of the highest-rated non-electric cars on our scale. 

This year, the base E350 has a little more power from its turbo-4 and a new name. (It was E300 last year). E450 denotes a twin-turbo V-6 that delivers more than enough power for most shoppers. The AMG range is split into two very different powertrains: the no-compromise mild-hybrid E53 and the track-slaying E63. 

In short, there’s a car for every budget, and each one is better than the last. Ride quality across the board sets a high standard (and a higher one with the optional air suspension), while handling is more entertaining than you may expect. 

Coupes and convertibles are gorgeous to behold, but they’re predictably light on practicality. That’s where the wagons come in with their SUV-rivaling cargo space. Sedans hit a happy medium for most buyers, though their trunks are disconcertingly small. Rear-wheel drive is standard on E350s and E450 coupes, while a grippy all-wheel-drive system is available. 

The E-Class’ beautiful interior can be dressed up in numerous synthetic and real leather hues, and its dash, doors, and center console can be decked out in several trim options. There’s not a bad interior in the bunch, but we encourage you to spend some time picking a favorite. 

The standard 12.3-inch touchscreen is bright, though its tablet-like interface can prove distracting. A better bet is to use the standard Apple CarPlay compatibility. 

Every E-Class comes fitted with automatic emergency braking, while a reasonably priced option package adds adaptive cruise control and various other functions that help center the car in its lane, drive with limited intervention in traffic, and even change lanes automatically at the tap of a turn signal.

Good crash-test scores and better-than-expected fuel economy bolster this lineup’s appeal. 

Styling
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a knockout in any configuration.

No matter the body, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a stunner. We score the lineup at 8 out of 10 points, with one above average for its curvy exterior and two for its divine interior.

The most common 2020 E-Class is the sedan. Although pretty with its wide grille, subtly flared fenders, and sloping tail, it’s the least interesting of the pack. The wagon has beautiful proportions, a first for an E-Class estate. Its tailgate has wider taillights than the relatively upright units fitted to the sedan, and their basic theme is shared with the two-door.

Though hardly common, the E-Class coupe and convertible are the lookers of the group. Coupes feature a roofline that dives toward the end of the rear bumper for an almost fastback-style profile. Convertibles aren’t as dramatic, but their raised or lowered cloth roof gives them a timeless elegance.

Mercedes has largely done away with its traditional hood ornaments in favor of a big star festooned to the grille. Seek out the hood ornament while you still can; it’s a lot less gauche than the big star that’s optionally illuminated.

Inside, the E-Class blends high-tech with retro to impressive effect. Most cars have two digital displays housed under a single piece of glass, with the left unit serving as an instrument cluster and the right functioning as a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The wide swath of trim that sits below can be adorned in several types of wood trim, so spend some time figuring out what looks the best for you. Mood lighting and intricate stitching on the standard synthetic leather and optional real hides elevate the experience even more. 

Performance
In every configuration, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class exceeds expectations on the road.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has the chops to be an even better-performing lineup this year thanks to a more powerful base engine.

We rate the lineup at 8 out of 10 based on our experience with last year’s model. AMG-tuned versions might score a point higher, too. 

This year, the base E-Class is once again called E350 to mark a new version of its 2.0-liter turbo-4 newly rated at 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive runs $2,500 and is likely fitted to most cars in colder climates. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard in the E350, as it is in every other E-Class.
We haven’t driven the new engine, but it’s likely to perform a lot like last year’s model. Our expectations are high since last year’s E300 accelerated briskly from a stop, easily belying its roughly 4,000-pound curb weight.

The E450 badge applies to cars with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that’s rated at 362 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Even a recent E450 wagon loaded up with passengers and their gear was a veritable rocket, and silent one at that. Rear-wheel drive is standard on E450 two-doors, while sedans and wagons shuttle power to all four wheels.

The standard coil-spring suspension delivers a plush, comfortable ride with just enough winding road chops to keep things interesting. Spend for the optional air suspension and you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest rides available at any price, however. 

The AMG lineup

Mercedes offers two AMG versions of the E-Class, and they’re kind of like flavors of hot sauce. The E53 uses a 429-hp 3.0-liter turbo-6, while the E63 swaps in a potent 603-hp twin-turbo V-8. 

Both make their power in distinctly different ways. The E53 uses a 48-volt electric starter-generator wedged between the engine and transmission that can add a hefty 184 lb-ft of torque boost when called upon. The mild-hybrid tech delivers near-V-8 power with 6-cylinder fuel economy.

The old-school E63 is a fire-breather by comparison, with little effort made to save fuel. Though both cars send power to all four wheels, the E63’s all-wheel-drive system is biased to force as much rearward. Additionally, its firmer suspension and uprated brakes—with carbon ceramics on the options list—give it genuine track-day chops. Just the sight of an E63 wagon hustling around a road course should make any car enthusiast weak at the knees.

Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is beautifully wrought inside, and the wagon is more useful than most SUVs.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sets a high bar with its comfortable, spacious interior, and that’s just in base E350 sedan form.

Predictably, the experience varies based on the body style. Sedans are spacious for four adults but have a modest trunk. Convertibles have endless headroom with little rear-seat space. Wagons are just about perfect, but you’ll have to tell that to the hordes of SUV buyers who are missing out. 

Overall, the lineup scores 8 out of 10 points. Wagons would net 9 points given their massive cargo holds.
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Power-adjustable seats are standard up front, though Mercedes makes real leather an option on all but the range-topping E63. Various options include cooling, heating, and massaging for the seats, plus heated armrests for the truly hedonistic. 

Rear-seat room is good at a hair over 36 inches in sedans and wagons. Two-doors force considerable compromises to contort into their back seats, but that’s what we expect.

Cargo space is surprisingly modest in sedans at just 13.1 cubic feet. Wagons, however, can lug about 35 cubic feet of luggage, and E450s have rear-facing third-row seats for kids. 

The interior’s flowing lines are draped in gorgeous materials no matter what you spend, though the automaker will gladly swap in lacquered wood, metal inlays, and more. 

Road and wind noise is kept in check, especially with the optional Acoustic Comfort package that adds additional insulation and thicker window glass. 

Safety
Few cars have as stellar a safety record as the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is at the top of its class when it comes to safety. We rate it 10 out of 10, a perfect score for a nearly perfect car. 

Standard tech meets our expectations with a good array of collision-avoidance gear including automatic emergency braking, a driver-attention monitor, and a slew of airbags. 

Level 2 self-driving features are optional and can hold the 2020 E-Class in the center of its lane far better than systems on many rivals. Additionally, a tap of the turn signal in a so-equipped car can automatically move it into an open lane. The E-Class won’t drive itself, but it does take a lot of the stress out of commuting. 

Additional options include blind-spot monitors and rear-seat side-impact airbags.

Certain versions of the E-Class earn a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, though even base cars with standard LED headlights receive high marks.

The NHTSA rates the car at five stars overall as well.

Features
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an expensive proposition, but it feels worth the money.

Few cars can coddle like a well-equipped 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But few cars will also empty your wallet as quickly, either. Shop carefully and a nice E-Class isn’t hard to find. We rate the lineup at 9 out of 10 points on account of its standard fare, its optional extras, its massive screens, and its good warranty.

The range starts in the mid-$50,000 level, which buys an E350 four-door. That cash buys a car with synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable seats up front, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and two USB ports. Add the Premium package with its upgraded Burmester audio, heated front seats, wireless charging pad, blind-spot monitors, and keyless ignition, and then toss in the safety package that includes Level 2 self-driving features plus perhaps the air suspension and you can keep the tab to under $65,000. That’s how we’d buy an E-Class; it’s admittedly not cheap, but it’s worth it.

E450s are a decent deal at about $5,000 more than an E350, and they come standard with all-wheel drive.

Plan to spend close to six figures for an E53 with a few options and you’ll exceed that figure before you even get started with the E63.

No matter which E-Class you decide to take home, make sure to spend a good bit of time sorting through the options as there are many desirable features.

Fuel Economy
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is more frugal than you might expect.

The days of diesel Mercedes wagons that could drive halfway across the country between fuel stops are long gone, but the latest crop of E-Class cars isn’t too thirsty.

We rate the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class at 4 out of 10 based on the E350, which is rated at 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined with rear-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive slices those figures to 22/30/25 mpg.

E450s are only a little thirstier at 23 mpg combined in most versions, while the E53 AMG is the real surprise at 24 mpg combined in sedan form thanks to its mild-hybrid tech.

Then there’s the E63, which will struggle to hit 20 mpg in real-world driving. With over 600 horsepower underhood, the E63’s fuel economy is somewhat reasonable, though. That’s our justification, at least.

All versions of the 2020 E-Class run on premium unleaded fuel.


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