By on October 31, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic Rainbow Haven

Style is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You believe the Mini Paceman is the ugliest of Minis; I say it’s the best. You believe the X6 is BMW at its masculine and modern best; I believe the X6 stands in stark and unfortunate contrast to the beautiful delicacy of the BMW 2002tii.

We disagree. And that’s okay.

Therefore, when we approach the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — supplied here by Mercedes-Benz Canada in E300 4Matic form — we may differ on the merits and demerits of the new midsize sedan’s design. But surely on this we can concur: the E-Class is now less distinguishable from its baby C-Class brother than ever before.

Is that a good thing? Perhaps not. But on the other hand, the new E-Class is now less distinguishable from its big S-Class brother than ever before.

Regardless of the image it presents to the world, the fifth-generation E-Class is much more Benz than the C-Class, and very nearly as much Benz as the S-Class.

Following the market’s move toward ever-smaller engines in packages small and large alike, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class launches in North America with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. 4Matic all-wheel drive is a $2,500 option in the U.S. Fitted to our tester, a car supplied by Mercedes-Benz in Canada, all E300s are equipped with all-wheel drive as standard.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic rear

Rated by the EPA at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway, we averaged 28 in suburban/highway driving that involved little traffic. The auto stop-start shuts down the 2.0T unobtrusively but can be a touch gruff reigniting.

We discussed the 2.0T’s plentiful power already on TTAC, suggesting in the process that cylinder counts simply aren’t what they used to be. There is the briefest sense of 4,045 pounds needing to be propelled, but a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds (according to Car And Driver) and a 50-70 time of 5.0 seconds tells the story of a car that’s not wanting for power. Just as you scarcely hear the breeze, you don’t really hear — and most definitely do not feel — the 2.0-liter at work.

The nine-speed automatic typically operates as a background device, not calling much attention to itself in the faulty ways so many nine-speeds do. (Once, when decelerating down a high-speed hill to a stop, the nine-speed shifted down harshly into second.) Transmission responsiveness is quickly changed by shuffling the car through Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic front

The engine/transmission combo is a suitable partner for the E-Class’s comfort-oriented chassis. On this standard suspension — not the optional air-sprung upgrade — ride quality is exceptional, revealing the benefits of four additional inches of wheelbase (compared to the C-Class) and a superior real-world orientation.

Prodded on a winding road, the E300 4Matic is by no means a nimble and agile C-Class, but the E-Class doesn’t suddenly become undone. There’s a pervasive sense of heft, of a few hundred additional pounds. But the steering weights up naturally and there’s enough information coming up through the seat of your pants to indicate that little needs changing for the E-Class to become a genuine sports sedan. In this guise, it’s a proper cross-country cruiser with the ability to up the pace.

If there’s a dynamic letdown, the E300 4Matic’s brake feel is most definitely it. Prolonged mush gives way to proper deceleration, but only after diminishing confidence caused by a squishy initial reply. Mileage accrued by crusty auto journos can’t be blamed — this E300 4Matic is a relatively fresh addition to the press fleet.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 Interior

There’s certainly no shortage of deceleration, but it sometimes occurs at inappropriate moments. This E300’s Intelligent Drive, with Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, and Distance Pilot Distronic, can become confused when, for instance, one lane opens up to become two exactly where perpendicular traffic approaches.

Though precise at almost every juncture, it’s in these confusing moments that the E-Class feels like it loses peripheral vision. Panic ensues, and the Benz throws you forward, jerks the steering wheel and elevates your heart rate only to discover that there was absolutely nothing catastrophic about to happen.

Drive Pilot, the videos for which you’ve seen entail a high degree of hands-off driving, is an amazing bit of kit that works flawlessly so often. And the speed with which this sort of technology has made its way into new vehicles is striking. As an invisible vehicular shepherd of sorts, the systems that work together to provide a level of autonomous driving in the 2017 E-Class are individually impressive safety items: blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise, as examples. The end result, however, at least on my drive routes in late 2016, suggests that the amalgam is less than the sum of its parts.

The visible and tangible elements of the E-Class’s high-tech leap forward are executed more adroitly. Controlled mainly by two touchpads on the steering wheel, a center console-mounted control wheel, and a control pad above the wheel, screens spanning much of the dashboard are chock full of customizable arrays responsible for seemingly endless functions. My favourite setup had the phone menu in the far left of the gauge cluster, a centralized tachometer with a digital speedometer in its middle, and efficiency readouts on the far right of the driver’s main unit. Then I split the 12.3-inch center screen with a smaller navigation map and a wider radio/media box.

That’s a lot going on, and in a few days of faux E300 4Matic ownership with this optional wide-screen upgrade, I was sometimes left wondering where I’d left the information, searching the width of the car (eyes off the road) for enlightenment.

Three weeks, maybe less, would likely be enough for you to settle on a personalized setup that would allow you to intuitively take advantage of the system’s speed while developing the required skill for the finicky thumbpads on the steering wheel. Three weeks may also be enough for you to forget how silly Mercedes-Benz’s column shifter feels.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class interior detail

Besides the advanced tech and the higher-class interior, the E-Class quite naturally also leaps beyond its smaller sibling in terms of cabin space.

The C-Class, like so many of its direct competitors, offers little in the way of rear seat space. But the E-Class feels bigger in every direction thanks to a cabin that’s roughly nine percent larger. Clearly not as spacious inside as a mainstream front-wheel-drive midsize sedan with similar exterior dimensions, this car still has proper family sedan space. Imagine how much more family-friendly it’ll be in E-Class Wagon form.

Meanwhile, front seat comfort, admittedly as subjective as exterior styling, is made better by a broad range of adjustability, from the headrest to the seat cushion length to the power tilt/telescoping wheel.

For this blend of comfort, power, economy, technology, and style, one must pay handsomely. Sure, the C-Class now strikes me as a lot less car than the E-Class, but the C-Class costs a lot less money.

If you’re looking for the best value in the midsize luxury sphere, the E-Class ain’t it, not that the E-Class’s especially premium pricing stops it from being the segment leader in sales.

For the E300 4Matic’s U.S. base price of $55,575, Lexus sells an all-wheel-drive GS, not with the 2.0-liter turbo but rather the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, plus a premium package, a cold weather package, a Mark Levinson audio upgrade, and Lexus’s Intuitive Parking Assist.

Jaguar’s 340-horsepower all-wheel-drive XF 35t is $55,485 with a $1,000 cold weather package.

Hyundai’s new Genesis Motors sells the Genesis G80 with a 5.0-liter V8 at the E300 4Matic’s basic price point.

Of course, this is no basic E300 4Matic. (There is no direct like-for-like cross-border comparison, so equipment levels aren’t identical.) The $11,250 Premium 3 Package, which includes Premium 1 and Premium 2 contents, features a list of 28 additions: keyless access, parking pilot, a Burmester audio upgrade, and a lengthy catalog of aforementioned safety gear. Throw in optional wheels and heated and cooled seats and suddenly you’re cresting the $70K marker.

Yet the driving experience is a decidedly S-Class-like experience. And that car starts at $97,525. Perhaps the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic is a screaming deal.

[Images: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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33 Comments on “2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic Review – Uppercase C or Lowercase S?...”

  • avatar

    To answer the headline, I just test drove an E300 and C300 back to back; simple demo models from the dealership, and I’d say the new E-class is a lowercase S. The C is more attached to the road, and bumps and cracks in the road make their way in through the steering and the sound in the cabin. The C looks its size from behind the wheel, while the E looks like it’s much bigger when you sit down. The dash stretches out like the deck of a speed boat, and you’re able to feel the texture of the road without having the imperfections intrude. The E is much quieter, more relaxed, and the interior design has more S than C and it’s all for the better. Just waiting on a few promotions before I scoop one up with the acoustic damping package.

  • avatar

    I think this thing has my favorite interior currently out there. Especially in the espresso color scheme, it’s stunning- neither too flashy nor too stuffy. So much warmer and more inviting than the previous E interior.

  • avatar

    I will never be part of the world that buys these things but I’d just like to issue general kudos for MB’s turning away from hamster-in-heat rear ends.

  • avatar

    Dear god that dash is terrible. I thought the ND Miata’s infotanment looked stuck on/afterthoughish but that takes the cake.

    Its like something out of RoadKill when they run out of time/money/effort to wire up a proper speedo/tach.


  • avatar

    Wow, I really hate the rectangle skateboard tablet dash. That looks incredibly cheap, and per the photos has very bad glare.

    Recessed dial areas FTW. I hope their choices don’t catch on with others.

  • avatar

    Also, they made the screen surfaces very shiny, and the wood very matte. Which is the exact opposite of how it should be.

    And why no mention of the Q70 as competition, which will give you a V8 for same price?!

  • avatar

    How much will MB charge you for MOAR POWER!!!!!!!

    I mean MOAR CYLINDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Who cares about more power? It’s the sound that will drive the upgrades. This class of car shouldn’t sound like an inline four. Keep it with six cylinders or make it electric; there’s no in-between.

  • avatar

    Feedback for “luxury” marques: I stare are two big LCD/LED/whatever screens all day, I don’t want to stare at two more on the ride home.

  • avatar

    I thought the previous model was far better looking, at least on the exterior.
    This one simply screams “budget Mercedes”.

    Also, the auto-stop feature is pure evil, and even an automaker like Mercedes can’t make it seemless. It feels like the car is about to lose the transmission at every stop.

  • avatar

    I like the look of the car but the dual LCD screen dash is a deal-breaker. It looks tacky and will cause make the interior look dated all too quickly.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Keyless entry an option in a US$55,600 luxo-mobile? I don’t think so!

  • avatar

    Honestly, I see no reason to buy this over an ML350. Similarly equipped, the ML is $5-10k cheaper and has a V6. This is just less car for more money.

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