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Even though it's now in its seventh year and due for a change in '03, the 2002 E-Class offers state-of-the-art safety and performance technology wrapped in a somber but classy body.
Distinctive good looks, lots of standard safety equipment, available all-wheel drive, refined powertrains, rock-solid engineering.
Stately rather than sporty, gimmicky COMAND system option, no manual transmissions available.
Available E-Class Models
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The 2002 E-Class soldiers on unchanged, awaiting a redesign that will take place next year.
The booming economy and generally healthy stock market of the mid-'90s sent luxury sedan sales through the roof. Under these promising conditions, the very popular E-Class has proven to be a solid home run since its last redesign in 1996.
Four different models are available. The E320 Sedan and Wagon (available with 4matic all-wheel drive) come equipped with a strong 3.2-liter V6 engine making 221 horsepower that is capable of propelling these models from a standstill to 60 mph in 7 to 8 seconds, depending on equipment. The E430 Sedan (also available with 4matic all-wheel drive) has a 4.3-liter V8 good for 275 horsepower and runs to 60 mph in the low- to mid-6s. The pavement-searing AMG-tuned E55 comes with a massive 349-horsepower 5.5-liter V8, which will catapult this "E" to 60 in just 5.4 seconds. All models have a TouchShift automanual transmission, which lets the driver select his own gears or leave the slushbox to do the dirty work.
Outside, the E wears a familiar face, as the basic design dates back to 1996. The E320 and E430 Sedans are available with a Sport package, which includes AMG aerodynamic enhancements, specific foglights and 17-inch wheels and tires. If you want more than just AMG looks, snag the E55 and get the more powerful V8, 18-inch wheels and thicker stabilizer bars.
Inside, the multi-function steering wheel, large instrument cluster and central display screen for the optional (but not recommended, as it is somewhat frustrating to use) Cockpit Management and Data (COMAND) system provide the E-Class driver with a wealth of information. Side airbags are standard in each of the four doors, as are inflatable side curtains for increased head protection. TeleAid is also a standard service and can put you in touch with emergency personnel if your airbags deploy or if you suffer a sudden medical problem.
In addition to the airbags and TeleAid, the E-Class comes with other standard safety equipment, including antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control and stability control, that keeps the E-Class going in the direction in which it's pointed. A BabySmart system automatically deactivates the front passenger airbag when a special dealer-installed child seat is present, but in an E-Class, there's plenty of room in back for the kiddie seats.
Thanks to a long list of safety and luxury features, the E-Class continues to represent the epitome of luxury, giving its owners a technologically magnificent vehicle in a striking package. These cars make a statement -- they say, "I'm rich." But they add, "I'm also an intelligent buyer who wants a comfortable and safe car, and that's what I'm paying for."
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