NAIAS 2016: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the Base, But Far From Basic

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
naias 2016 2017 mercedes benz e class is the base but far from basic

When you consider the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will spawn nearly a baker’s dozen variants in its time — coupes, performance models, wagons (please?) — the donor sedan can end up less thrilling than white bread. The remedy for this, like anything else in life, is to put a screen on it.

Fussy child? Screen. Long flight? Screen. Mid-size luxury sedan? You guessed it.

In addition to sporting the much hyped configurable screen setup from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will sport two fewer cylinders (to start) and a longer list of semi-autonomous driving features that won’t be available in the U.S. to start.

What we will see later this year is a base E300 powered by a turbocharged four cylinder that makes 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, pumped through Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic transmission. The base E300 is down 61 horsepower from this year’s naturally aspirated V-6 in the E350, which may return in all-wheel drive form later. That may not matter, though, depending on how much weight Daimler has stripped out of its executive saloon (they didn’t reveal those details)

We already know that the twin-turbo V-6 in the E400 will be the tops of the range without affixing AMG to the E-Class — so don’t hold your breath for a V-8. Maybe the new E-Class plug-in hybrid will turn your crank instead?

Although the outward appearance of the new E-Class is distinct and noticeable from last generation, the car’s interior received the most attention. Standard for the E300 is a panoramic 12.3-inch display that rivals the computer screen that yours truly used to hammer out this story. The large screen is controlled by a trackpad a la C-Series and S-Series, but also responds to steering wheel-mounted, swipeable inputs.

According to Mercedes, the wheelbase for the new E-Class has been stretched 2 full inches, although overall length has only grown 1.7 inches. It’s unclear if rear passengers will see the fruits of the Merc’s longer chassis, so we’ll have to wait when the cars finally arrive this summer.

Mercedes hasn’t yet announced pricing for the E-Class, but it’s clear that the current models asking price of more than $53,000 to start won’t budge.

Sometime after launch, Mercedes says it’ll introduce in the U.S for the first time the ability to autonomously change lanes in the new E-Class, park the car without the driver, and some car-to-road communication wizardry. Before we get those features however, the new E-Class will sport the same tech found in the S-Class: Distance Pilot DISTRONIC, which can follow a car ahead of it up to 130 mph; Steering Pilot, which can read and follow clearly marked roads up to 130 mph; and Active Brake Assist.

From the outside, the new E-Class sports a similar appearance to the C-Class, albeit longer and wider. Two different grille configurations for base and sport versions of the sedan have been carried over from the current generation, and there will be a diesel version of the sedan. Whether that diesel will be available in the U.S. is currently open for debate.

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  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 11, 2016

    Two many doors. Boring!

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Jan 11, 2016

    It looks interesting, definitely a few retro cues. The striped piano black/stainless combo is a bit much for me, but I can see a target audience to which it would appeal. The look is attractive, I personally prefer something a little more subdued. With the full LCD gauges, are they visible with polarized sunglasses on? I have trouble viewing the screens in my current cars, but they are only for Audio/HVAC (and iDrive). Have they overcome this? My thought had been that OLED would be the solution, but it appears LCD is becoming more prevalent.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.