DETROIT — The all-new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan was unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show boasting an array of available safety tech that is currently unmatched by any other automobile. It is scheduled to go on sale this summer.
Though longer than the car it replaces (2.6 inches in additional wheelbase, 1.7 inches in overall length), its more curvaceous styling hides the extra size well.
As before, there are Luxury and Sport lines, the former denoted by a traditional grille and hood ornament and the latter a grille-filling Mercedes star.
While the exterior resembles the smaller C-Class, the interior is more evocative of the bigger, pricier S-Class. The standard central display measures an enormous 12.3 inches with its housing extending to encompass a set of traditional gauges.
The new E-Class also features the latest COMAND touch pad and knob controller, but it's the first Mercedes to get touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons that respond to swiping movements just like the console-mounted pad. Such an interface is an industry first.
So, too, are an abundance of new high-tech safety systems. Pre-Safe Sound emits a "short interference signal" through the car's sound system if a collision is detected. This is intended to trigger an inherent, protective human reflex in the inner ear. Should a more certain accident be detected, more obvious warnings will sound and the standard Active Brake Assist system can automatically brake. A driver inattention warning system and crosswind assist are also standard.
Additional new safety options include Evasive Steering Assist (aids the driver in making a more controlled avoidance maneuver), Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function (has a higher speed threshold than the standard system and can detect cross-traffic when pulling out at intersections) and Pre-Safe Impulse Side (uses air chambers in the front-seat side bolsters to move occupants away from the doors when an imminent side impact is detected).
There is also a new Remote Parking Pilot (an automatic parking system operated by smartphone that allows you to exit the car before placing it into a very tight parking space remotely) and Active Lane-Change Assist (simply signal and the car will wait for the next safe opportunity to change lanes for you). These two items will be available later in the model year as certain regulatory hurdles get ironed out.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 will be the only model available at launch. It will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive will be standard, with 4Matic all-wheel drive optional.
A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is new to the E-Class, but with a more than 100-pound weight decrease (not to mention similarly powered competitors), downsizing shouldn't be a problem in a straight line. It should almost certainly help fuel economy, which further benefits from aerodynamic improvements — its drag coefficient of 0.23 is better than that of the new Toyota Prius.
Other powertrain details, including additional models, will be announced closer to its on-sale date, though expect a turbocharged inline-6, a range-topping AMG V8 and a plug-in hybrid with a diesel-powered model likely to arrive last.
Edmunds says: Safety tech and luxury are at the forefront of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as its cabin and features list have been significantly bolstered.