2021 Mercedes E450, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2021 Mercedes E450 Yearlong Review Verdict: Still a Worthy Car of the Year?
After one year with this excellent luxury sedan, here’s what we learned.
As long as “getting behind the wheel” means something, cars like the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 should command respect. What distinguishes the E-Class as a top-notch luxury sedan isn’t technology previewing our autonomous driving future, but the way it drives. After one year of living with a 2021 E450, however, we found ourselves constantly reevaluating how well the car handles the demands of the $70,000 luxury sedan segment.
When the electric Mercedes-EQ EQE midsize four-door is too new or unproven for you, the E-Class is a solid option that’s served decades of buyers. But will you still feel good about picking the E-Class after a year of ownership?
Here’s what impressed and frustrated us about a year with our 2021 Car of the Year.
This Is Why You Get An E-Class
Let’s start with the E450’s mild hybrid inline-six powertrain, the very best part of the car. There’s so much more to engines than horsepower and torque figures, which is why we feel lucky to have driven a car with this engine for a year.
The 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6 is supplemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid assist system that can contribute a temporary electric boost of up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque under conditions when the engine’s peak 362 hp and 369 lb-ft are not yet available. With standard AWD and a nine-speed automatic, the E450 makes the most of that combination with a luxury-first approach. It’s no electric car, but the E450 always has torque to spare.
What makes the experience special isn’t the car’s 4.6-second acceleration to 60 mph, but how the power is delivered with such refinement and quiet. No buzzy idle affects your fast-food drive-through experience, either.
As for the lesser E350, we haven’t driven one recently, but we didn’t have the best experience with its turbo-four engine in the GLE350 SUV. With our six-cylinder E450, we often used a custom drive mode to see how far we could coast the luxury sedan down grades with the engine off.
This is a have-cake-and-eat-it-too Mercedes. We’re talking about a car that’s not just quicker than the standard model (obviously), but just as efficient, as well (not so obvious). In the E-Class, the 2022 E450 4Matic’s 23/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined compares well to the 2022 E350 with AWD (21/29/24 mpg) and 2022 E350 with RWD (23/31/26)—2021 EPA numbers differ slightly.
The E450’s 500-plus-mile driving range is superb, better than both the E350 and the direct competition from Audi and BMW. It’s the kind of convenience you won’t think about on a test drive, but after one year we still love the infrequent fill-ups.
We appreciate the E450’s combination of refinement, quietness, smoothness, and always-there power so much, we’d recommend it over an E350 for anyone capable of making that financial jump—currently $5,300 up from an E350 4Matic.
Look beyond how the Mercedes drives, and it continues to impress. Passengers—and the driver—really liked the E450’s 64-color ambient lighting. That sounds frivolous until you spend long highway miles with the subtle color-changing lights in your periphery.
The setting is reminiscent of fancy pool or jacuzzi lighting, a delightful addition in both cases. Want more substance? How’s this: The Mercedes E-Class is both a 2022 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and earns five stars in every NHTSA crash test.
Where The E-Class Could Improve
Clearly, the age of this generation E-Class (six years and counting) doesn’t hold it back as much as you’d expect. But there’s still plenty to improve, starting with the tech. Again, the numbers don’t tell the full story.
A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display and an equally enormous infotainment screen are both standard. The instrument cluster has plenty of different modes we explored over the course of our year, but it’s not as advanced as the newer system in the S-Class.
The other screen’s inability to maximize the Apple CarPlay display proved a constant frustration. A couple editors wondered what the point of a 12.3-inch display was if it won’t use all of it for the phone-mirroring feature. While we owned a Subaru Outback for a year, the automaker improved its application of CarPlay, but we had no such luck with the E-Class.
The lack of a one-step track-forward/backward button was also mentioned by a couple, and we wish the 360-degree camera system was the default instead of the auto-parking system it shares a button with. We changed camera views in the 360 system far more often—”Am I out of the red?“—than we used the parking system. More open storage space up front would have been great, too.
The biggest surprise was the decline in ride quality. The last E450 we drove was during our 2021 Car of the Year testing, when we lauded the Benz’s ability to ride comfortably when you want yet still deliver sporty responses when the moment calls.
That test car rode on 18-inch wheels; our yearlong E450 rolled on more attractive 19s. And even though both cars employed an air suspension, the ride simply didn’t measure up. Although our E450 still provided acceptable ride quality, we’d easily sacrifice the larger wheels for the hope of a better ride with the 18s.
What’s The E-Class Like To Own?
Overall, the E-Class proved reliable over the course of our ownership except for two mysterious here-now, gone-tomorrow issues toward the end of our loan.
For two consecutive mornings, the car wouldn’t start but had no issues turning itself to the accessory mode. Naturally, as soon as the tow-truck operator sent by Mercedes roadside assistance arrived, the car started right up (we had no similar issues before or since). We took the E450 to our local dealer anyway, where it found a fault code and inspected the car but otherwise found no other actionable fixes.
About a week later and again for two consecutive days, the car’s rearview camera—and indeed the 360-degree camera system—refused to turn on. Our E450 clearly has a sense of humor because, on the morning of our appointment, the cameras all displayed on the big touchscreen without a problem.
This time, three software updates were installed by the dealer—one for the infotainment system, another for the rear camera, and a third for the 360-degree camera system.
We spent $216.13 over the course of our 15,598-mile loan for one service. A 2017 BMW 5 Series and 2019 Volvo S60 we drove each cost us nothing over about 20,000 miles each thanks to complimentary maintenance, but a 2017 Audi A4 cost us $561.36 over about 19,000 miles.
We understand the temptation to get the biggest and most attractive wheels you possibly can. And the 19s on our E450 look great. But over a year of driving, the ride quality and a few tech issues stood out as needs-improvement areas. At least with the former, you can maximize that Mercedes magic by trying a car with 18s first. Just make sure to consider the E450 if you can—the powertrain is one of the very best.
Zach Gale – Writer / Motortrend Staff – Writer / motortrend
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Polishes Its High-Tech Presentation
The S-class is the brand flagship, but the E-class is the core model for Mercedes-Benz, a car that has to work equally well as a twee-engined Parisian taxi or a twin-turbo V-8 AMG battle wagon. That’s why Benz’s engineers and designers are always careful with a redesign.
The E-class needs to cater to the preferences of a traditional owner base and simultaneously serve as a showcase for the brand’s abilities. That’s no easy task, and they have gone to great lengths to get it right with this mid-term facelift of the 2021 W213 E-class.
From the outside, the facelift is so extensive that you could almost call this car a new generation. While the doors, roof, and glass sections remain identical, the headlights and front grille have been thoroughly restyled, looking more swept back and stretched taut.
The rear actually features an entirely new look, with the taillights now horizontal instead of vertical. Which, ironically, brings the E-class in line with famed designer Bruno Sacco’s “vertical model affinity,” which dictated that a similar design language should be followed across the lineup. All Mercedes sedans now have horizontal taillights, with the exception of the soon-to-be-replaced C-class.
Up front, the E-class comes with a number of different grilles, only one of which still keeps the upright star on the hood. We are particularly fond of this traditional look, but we suspect a far greater number of customers will opt for the AMG Line grille with a central star.
The actual AMG models, the E53 and E63, feature a front end that looks like it was grafted from the AMG GT, and the All-Terrain brings the Audi Allroad faux off-road treatment to the wagon. All trims except for the traditional “luxury” grill feature bulges on the hood that Benz refers to as “power domes.”
While the body modifications are impossible to miss, changes to the interior are more limited. The analog instrumentation disappears, replaced by two 12.3-inch screens. And the console rotary knob makes way for a more contemporary-looking touchpad. However, our test car was still fitted with the previous system, and we hear Daimler is considering giving customers a choice between the systems.
We strongly encourage them to do so, since the old setup is far easier to use than the new one.
That’s because the large rotary knob engages with precision and a delicate click, allowing you to move to the desired map size, screen icon, or radio station with precision. The haptic touchpad, on the other hand, needs to be operated like a cell phone, and the constant swiping, pinching, and spreading almost never leads to the desired result without corrections and distraction.
Of course, you can always use the improved voice-recognition system or use the central screen as a touchscreen, but why mess with a system that works?
With the exception of the touchpad, the MBUX system does have some advantages over the previous system. It’s quicker, and it offers quite a few more functions, like the augmented reality navigation setting that indicates turns by displaying virtual arrows over a real-time camera feed of the road in front of you. That trick is good enough to make you forego Waze, sometimes.
The interior remains altogether elegant and sumptuous, characterized by tasteful combinations of wood, metal, and leather. The frameless rearview mirror looks elegant, and the vents and switches operate with typical Mercedes precision.
Fit and finish are impeccable, as they should be in this class. And we appreciate the fact that the E-class maintains its own somewhat opulent style, as opposed to the cold futurism that dominates the cockpit of an Audi A6.
Though you wouldn’t guess it from the horsepower number or displacement, a lot has changed under the hood, with the old twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 making way for a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six. Output remains identical at 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, but the new powertrain is superior for two reasons.
First, it includes an electric motor (basically, a beefy starter/generator called EQ Boost) that can produce up to 21 extra horsepower and 184 extra pound-feet of torque. Using a 48-volt electrical architecture, the electric motor helps swell the torque curve while the turbo spools up, improving response time.
And second, a straight-six defined some of the classic E-classes for the same reason it makes sense now: Compared to the old V-6, the inline engine is noticeably more refined, with ultra-silky sound and vibration characteristics. Even when pushed to the redline, it emits little more than a purr.
A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive. Thus powered, the E450 charges to 60 mph in a Mercedes-estimated 4.9 seconds, one-tenth of a second quicker than the outgoing model.
Top speed will be governed at 130 mph, but we can attest that the identically powered European-market E450 reaches a governed 155 mph with ease and with a considerable margin above that, were it allowed to go faster. We regret to inform you that Daimler won’t offer any of the excellent four- and six-cylinder diesel engines on the United States market. They are clean and ultra-economical, and they could help restore diesel’s reputation here.
While the standard suspension imbues the E-class with a serene ride, there’s an optional three-chamber air suspension that’s even more cushy. In the non-AMG versions, the suspensions are on the slightly softer side, complemented by precise but pleasantly low-effort steering. When asked to, the E450 can dance through the corners with ease, but its real domain is effortless long-distance cruising.
The E450 4Matic will be priced starting just above $60,000 when it hits the market late this year. It will be joined by the entry level E350, powered by a 255-horsepower 2.0-liter four; the AMG E53 with its electrically boosted 429-horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six; and the 603-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8-powered AMG E63 S. You won’t see that one working as a Parisian taxi.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic Sedan
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
BASE PRICE (C/D EST)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
183 in3, 3000 cm3
362 hp @ 6100 rpm
369 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Wheelbase: 115.7 in
Length: 194.5 in
Width: 73.7 in
Height: 57.8 in
Curb weight: 4300 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 4.5 sec
100 mph: 11.3 sec
1/4 mile: 13.1 sec
Top speed: 130 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/city/highway: 23/20/28 mpg
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