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

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

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.

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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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.

  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.
  • El scotto Hyundai/Kia's true masters are finally revealed.
  • El scotto Stirring up some more. The GSA is required to buy vehicles from the Big 3. This shows the Federal Government tacitly supports the UAW. Yeah I've seen some Hyundai or Kia hybrids. I didn't pay much attention the EV/American parts percentage tax credits. It looks like a lot of skullduggery. The UAW coming to SEC-land may be the beginning of the end of SEC-land being the US's internal third world country.The US is bringing more manufacturing back from China. Our demographics are shrinking. Unskilled labor will cost more, a union job might not pay enough.
  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.