The 2021 Mercedes E 450 All-Terrain Is a Jack-of-All-Trades That's Managed to Master a Few

The 2021 Mercedes E 450 All-Terrain Is a Jack-of-All-Trades That's Managed to Master a Few

Is lifting wagons the only way to get people to buy them?

The current Mercedes Benz E Class lineup is not what you'd call simple. There's the sedan, the coupe, the convertible, the amped-up E 53 AMG versions of those cars, and the full-on Friday-the-13th psycho E 63 S AMG sedan and that car's wagonoid counterpart. Whew. But of all the E-Class models in the lineup, the weirdest and hardest to wrap your head around is probably the E 450 All-Terrain.

At first blush, it looks like Mercedes is trying to rip off Subaru. The All-Terrain is a slightly lifted version of the regular E-Class wagon, which was cut from the lineup when the model received its 2021 face-lift. The All-Terrain has a higher ride height than a normal wagon, plus plenty of plastic body cladding that diminishes the elegance that expensive Mercs are supposed to have.

With the All-Terrain, Mercedes is trying to bridge the gap between the hot-hot-hot SUV market and the all-but-dead wagon market. News flash, this isn't an SUV, and you shouldn't think of it as one. It's a ploy to trick your SUV-hungry brain into thinking this here wagon ain't so different from the GLE sitting on the same dealer lot. So, if it's not an SUV, what is the All-Terrain? Who's it for, and what is it supposed to do?

Well, for starters, it's for anyone with the cash. Our E 450 All-Terrain test car rang in at an eye-watering $88,260. Keep in mind, it comes standard with Mercedes' smooth-as-silk 3.0-liter mild hybrid turbocharged inline-six engine, all-wheel drive and air suspension. Our test car added on the excellent Burmester sound system, some not so excellent matte gray paint, and the full suite of Mercedes driver aids.

It might sound like a shed-load of money, but we'd be remiss if we didn't say right now that this funky, not-quite-an-SUV thing is worth the money. The centerpiece of the whole car, like pretty much any non-AMG E Class, is the interior. Seemingly everything is coated in leather — even the insides of the door pockets. The seats are supple and can be adjusted to support you in more than a dozen ways too.

The chairs themselves and the All-Terrain's interior made a 750-mile road trip a breeze. California's I-5 isn't exactly treacherous, but the drive from Los Angeles to Sacramento (and back) demands patience and resolve. That ribbon of asphalt stretches on for what seems like an eternity, and in most cars, fatigue sets in about halfway through. Not in the All-Terrain.

Thanks to the double-glazed windows, the hushed interior, the complete lack of any concerning squeaks or rattles, and the All-Terrain's supple ride, the miles disappeared. What's normally an almost six-hour slog turned into six hours of quality time I could spend with my passengers. And let's not forget that, because this is a wagon, 35 cubic feet of free space behind the second row swallowed three days' worth of luggage for three adults with room to spare.

The aforementioned driver aids meant that most of the journey was spent not driving, but simply watching the interstate pass by. When we did need to take over control of the drive, the engine's 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque were always on tap. The nine-speed automatic downshifted quickly when a little more oomph was needed for overtakes or freeway on-ramps. Not once did I feel the need to tug at the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles to coerce it into a different gear.

We spent most of the drive in Normal mode but occasionally switched to Eco to watch the engine shut off and coast along in complete silence. Over the course of the trip up and back, just one stop was made for fuel. A quick look at the trip computer revealed that the All-Terrain did almost exactly 28 miles to the gallon, right on par with the EPA's highway mpg rating. Over the course of our little trip, we were able to squeeze more than 500 miles out of a single tank of fuel — not bad when you consider this all-wheel-drive beast weighs in at a hefty 4,551 pounds.

So, yes, the All-Terrain is a relaxing mile-munching schlepper, but its charm goes beyond the long drive. The day-to-day schelp was a breeze, too, and around town it's easy to thread in and out of parking lots and tightish spaces. Its added ride height means it's easier to get in and out of than the standard E-Class sedan, but it doesn't lumber around town the way a regular SUV does.

Overall, the All-Terrain delivers comfort, space, efficiency and a modicum of driving pleasure without asking for anything in return aside from the occasional fuel stop. Wagons might be a dying breed, but the All-Terrain proves why they're just so darn great. It's the jack-of-all-trades that put in enough work to master more than a few.

Edmunds says

Now, if only Mercedes would bring the C-Class wagon to the States, even if they had to slap plastic cladding on it ...

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