In a way, it is for 2017. The traditionally stoic E-Class adopts the familiar Mercedes sedan look, getting more curves and a generally lower and sportier appearance than the upright sedan has traditionally carried. The trouble is that it really looks like a C-Class or S-Class. Get used to glancing at the top left corner of the trunk to see if it’s a C or an E or an S.
But the other benefit of sharing pieces from siblings means the new E-Class is packed with gee-whiz technology that at times even outstrips what’s offered on the big S-Class. Drive Pilot, for example, makes the E-Class basically self-driving, and it doesn’t even need to follow lane markers up to 81 mph to stay in line with traffic. The car’s even set up to talk to other cars, which will be useful once other cars besides the 2017 E-Class can do the same.
Inside, the new E-Class is striking, with two wide screens dominating the dash and displaying information about all of this technology. You’re also greeted to some of the most refined tech offered in a Mercedes, even if it’s still likely to offer a maddening level of personalization to the settings.
Still, the E-Class also knows how to hide some of the technical smarts behind a beautifully styled interior. Materials are noticeably upgraded, too. Like the C-Class, the new E has a surprising amount of style for this level of car. It would have all the style points were it not for that new Volvo S90. For now, performance won’t be much to write home about. The only version available when the 2017 E-Class goes on sale this summer will be the E300 with its 2.0-liter, 241 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A nine-speed automatic transmission will also come standard when the redesigned E-Class goes on sale. Expect at least a V6, a plug-in hybrid and a diesel to closely follow.
Walk into a Mercedes dealership and it might take more than a quick glance to differentiate the models. But realize that the E-Class isn’t the forgotten middle child of the family, but like the one in the family who got brains and beauty. It may look a lot like a Mercedes sedan, but the 2017 E-Class could be the Benz that’s just right.