First impression: This newly redesigned sedan has bold top-of-the-line styling with many features borrowed from the S-Class.
The brand-new Mercedes-Benz E300 debuted for model year 2017, replacing the E350 with a pretty hefty upgrade that created a vehicle with more in common with an S-Class sedan than its midsize luxury counterparts. If you regularly transport one or two VIPs with minimal luggage, this is a great option for your fleet.
There’s no shortage of competition for the midsize sedan category, and each has its own unique strengths and drawbacks. This vehicle is unmistakably a Mercedes-Benz, so right off the bat it has that distinction for your brand-conscious customers who would accept nothing less. The German automaker has given the midlevel sedan a lot of special touches that one might expect on a much more expensive full-size offering: adjustable LED ambient lighting inside and out, Dynamic Select mode for your most comfortable ride and drive with ECO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ (S-Class influence), ECO Stop/Start system for gas and emissions savings, and the manufacturer’s signature COMAND system—the car’s mission control where you can find navigation with 3D maps (very cool), vehicle settings, and entertainment.
The 12.3-inch screen/control cluster is reminiscent of the S-Class and just as functional. In addition to the roller dial control and alphanumeric draw screen by the arm rest, many of the features can be accessed through the steering wheel-mounted touch controls on the left and right side. A push start (nicely nestled in the soft-to-the-touch Brown Ash dash accent) and steering column shifter leave the center console clean and unfussy.
The remote key—also a new design for Mercedes—can be charged while driving by plugging it into the power outlet in the center console, where you will also find a connection for both Android and Apple phones. Multi-position power adjustable seats make it easy for any driver of any height or size to get comfortable. The front passenger seat can also be controlled by a switch on the driver-side door panel, making it extremely easy to move the seat forward for rear occupants. As always, there are a slew of options to customize your vehicle, including driver massage and heated seats, active blind-spot assistance, and lane departure warning indicators.
It is, however, the things that you don’t see—the features you never know exist in this kind of vehicle—that are most impressive. Mercedes prides itself on being “human engineers” as much as they are luxury vehicle engineers, so there are some sweet touches that make the E300 comfortable and safe. Besides numerous airbags that protect both the driver and passengers regardless of position in the vehicle, the E300 has Crosswind Assist that helps to stabilize it when experiencing a harsh gush of wind over a bridge or cruising past a truck; PRE-SAFE, which closes windows (including sunroof) and restrains passengers if a crash is sensed; PRE-SAFE Sound, which is a system that emits what Mercedes calls “pink noise” to produce a natural reaction to block loud noise, like that of a crash; and rain-sensing wipers for convenience.
Some may be surprised that the E300 is only available in a 4-cylinder inline turbo, but the smaller engine churns out 241 hp and MPGs upwards of 30 when driving highway (rated 22 for city driving). Our testers noticed a slight difference in power but not enough to be a deal breaker—zero problems merging into heavy traffic or accelerating when needed. The inline-4 turbo is coupled with a new 9-speed transmission called 9G-TRONIC for smooth and effortless shifting. As mentioned before, Dynamic Select lets the driver set the tightness and comfort of the ride; we were partial to Sport mode for really sharp handling.
The rear cabin is quite comfortable for long and short rides, although the prime spot is clearly behind the passenger seat for added leg room. The leg room is a bit smaller than its competitors by an inch or two but head room was not an issue for any of our testers. The fold-down rear console has a space for a water bottle or two with ample elbow room for each passenger. Climate control vents and an optional rear power sunshade completes passenger comfort. It’s even possible to install a folding table or a coat hanger on the back of the front seats for added work space and crease-free jackets during the journey.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 Specifications
TRIMS: E300, E300 4MATIC (all-wheel drive)
ENGINE: 2.0L inline-4 turbo with 9G-TRONIC transmission
REAR LEG ROOM: 36.2"
REAR HEAD ROOM: 38.2"
The bottom line: The E300 is a sleek midsize sedan that offers more than you would expect but all that you need for your high-end passengers. There’s a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a fantastic entry-level Mercedes for those who aren’t ready to commit to an S-Class. [CD0117]