Bought new in '96, an excellent package in terms of its exterior size, interior space and cargo volume. Handles well and is a pleasure to drive, especially on the freeway where it just glides along. Highway fuel economy has been as high as 27.75 mpg (Model's EPA was 20/27). IMHO, in good condition the E320 is a screaming used car bargain, but only if its in good condition.
'97 was the last year of the 217 HP smooth powerful straight six engine and first year of the electronic 5 speed automatic - 5th is an overdrive gear so at 65 mph the motor is turning only 2,250 rpm. This model has dual front airbags and side door airbags in all four doors.
The '97's single windshield wiper is OK, but has been replaced in newer models. I wish the car's heater would stay off until the motor was sufficiently warm to provide heat, something I have on an '80 model M-B!