- Fully redesigned E-Class is new from the ground up.
- Both engines receive slight increases in power.
- Rear seat legroom and cargo capacity are both increased.
- Dashboard-wide Superscreen setup uses updated MBUX software.
Driven: 2024 E-Class Keeps the Luxury and Adds Even More Tech
Traditional luxury and new tech share space at the table in the all-new E-Class
The E-Class has been a perennial favorite among luxury-sedan buyers, and it currently sits comfortably at the top of our rankings of Luxury Midsize Sedans. The Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series are both capable, comfortable and capacious, but we think the E-Class is the best all-rounder in the segment. For 2024, the E-Class is all-new and looks to maintain its top spot.
The new E-Class starts with the same platform that underpins the (also recently redesigned) C-Class and GLC SUV. The exterior looks are well in line with what Mercedes has been doing with its other all-new cars. The new E-Class is next-generation, but the changes are iterative rather than revolutionary. The rear end is most recognizably E-Class and looks relatively similar to the current car's backside (apart from the distinct three-pointed star taillight elements).
Compared to the outgoing E-Class, the new car is similarly proportioned as well. The wheelbase is just 0.87 inch longer, for a total of 116.6 inches, but that's the only change to the car's dimensions. Even though the front and rear tracks (the distance between the center of wheels at either the front or back of the car) are slightly wider, other measurements like length, width and height are all unchanged. That means you can expect slightly more rear legroom (a lack of which was one of the few issues we had with the old car), as well as a slightly larger trunk, but you won't have to worry about it being any trickier to park.
While dimensions are similar, there are some major advancements under the skin, should you option them. The new E-Class offers a Technology package that adds two significant features. The first is rear-wheel steering. At speeds below 37 mph, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions — by up to 4.5 degrees while parking. This reduces the car's turning circle, making for tighter U-turns and easier navigation into a parking spot. Above 37 mph, the wheels turn in the same direction to aid stability.
That Technology package also adds an air suspension and adaptive dampers. The air springs have a few functions, but the main ones are to keep the car level regardless of load and raise and lower the car as needed (like lowering the car at speed to reduce drag and make it more efficient). The adaptive dampers read the road and can tune the suspension's compression and rebound independently of each other. Essentially, if one wheel dips into a pothole, the E-Class does its best to ensure the impact is only felt by the wheel and that corner's suspension without transmitting the shock into the cabin.
That's already plenty of change, but the newness keeps on coming.
What's under the E-Class' hood?
Unlike the recently overhauled C-Class, buyers will have two engine options to pick from, not just one. Both are boosted by a mild hybrid system to add extra electric torque and make the powertrain smoother in operation. The smaller of the two engines — found under the hood of the E 350 — is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It is essentially the exact same engine found in the current C-Class, and we described its power as "ample" for the smaller, lighter sedan. We'll find out if it's enough for the bigger E when we get behind the wheel.
If more really does mean merrier for you, there is also the option of a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine. Equipped to the E 450, it makes 375 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, a bump of 13 horsepower over the previous version of this engine. Other changes were made to the interior of the motor to better increase efficiency — the crank case, crankshaft and cylinder head have all been changed for the new model. Both engines are paired to nine-speed automatic transmissions and send their power exclusively to all four wheels. (Rear-wheel drive isn't an option.)
At the time of publishing, fuel economy numbers had not been released. Even with the additional power for both engines, we don't expect the 2024 model to be any worse than the current model's EPA rating of 26 mpg.
How does the E-Class drive?
Our time in the new E-Class was spent in the more powerful E 450 model. Though slightly more powerful than the engine in the previous generation, the real talking point about this engine remains its wonderful smoothness. The lack of vibration is part of the allure of the inline six-cylinder design but Mercedes' deft tuning of the engine's turbocharger and the electric assist give the E 450 a wide and linear powerband. That electric assist operates almost imperceptibly at every speed, so much so that if you don't keep your eyes on the tachometer, you'd be hard-pressed to notice when the internal combustion engine has been switched off. That's thanks to the integrated starter-generator (ISG), which allows the engine to be turned on and off without the somewhat clumsy shudder you can experience in other hybrids.
But the electric assist isn't all about efficiency. The instantaneous response from the E 450's hybrid system delivers quick throttle response and provides enough power to cover for the gasoline engine in the event it's not yet making full power. Passing is effortless in the E 450, as is merging onto a fast-moving freeway. But there's plenty of low- and mid-range power on tap as well. Progress can be made smoothly through a crowded city center, which only adds to the luxurious feel of the E 450.
Our test car was also equipped with the optional Airmatic suspension. Composed of air springs and adaptive dampers, this suspension ably smooths out most minor imperfections such as small divots and manhole covers. Larger impacts are heard but they don't feel as big as you'd expect.
In the suspension's Comfort setting, the ride at higher speeds borders on floaty but never feels too soft, nor does it lack composure. Selecting Sport mode firms up the ride but not so much that the ride degrades over rougher surfaces. The E 450 is not particularly sporty but this midsize sedan can still cover ground at a respectable pace. Like the previous-generation E-Class, the steering is on the lighter side and lacks some feedback but it is accurate. Body roll is still noticeable but it's under control, and like many other aspects of the E-Class, you can take plenty of confidence in what the E-Class is doing.
When you opt for the air suspension, rear-wheel steering is included in that package. At most speeds, the system goes unnoticed and the E-Class steers and goes down the road naturally. Where you really notice the rear steering is in low-speed maneuvering. Navigating a tight parking lot or a hairpin turn is remarkably easy, and Mercedes claims the rear-wheel steering lops about 3 feet off the turning radius of the E-Class when equipped. We think it's a worthwhile option if it's within your budget.
How comfortable is the E-Class?
It doesn't matter how many screens you stick in a luxury sedan; if it's not comfortable, you're doing something wrong. But the E-Class has not strayed from its proven formula. The highly adjustable front seats are comfy for long drives and feature optional massage functions as well as heating and ventilation. Of note is the size of the center tunnel that runs between the front seat occupants. We felt it was unusually wide and it noticeably intruded on legroom on the passenger side.
Rear passengers benefit from this new generation's longer wheelbase. A 6-foot-tall passenger can sit comfortably behind a similarly sized driver with some room to spare, and there's decent headroom even with the standard panoramic sunroof. The E-Class is still not quite as spacious as other midsize luxury sedans, but we're glad to see Mercedes improved what was one of our only gripes about the previous version.
One on the road, the one thing you're likely to notice about the new E-Class is, well, nothing. At highway speeds, there's a negligible amount of wind noise and the engine is nothing more than a quiet hum. Road and tire noise is present but isn't at such a level that music at a low volume can't mask it. We think our test car's low-profile tires might have played a role in some of that extra noise. At any speed, the E-Class is a very relaxing place to be. The standard Burmester audio system is another highlight of the interior, packing both clarity and a real wallop of power should you like your music played at more unreasonable volumes.
The climate control system has been on the receiving end of a few changes, noticeably in the form of additional presets for the direction of airflow. The slimline vents at the top of the dash manage to move a fair bit of air, and the climate control made quick work of cooling the cabin on a warm, humid day. While we prefer physical controls, the climate menu is a single virtual button push away, and the settings are easy to understand at a glance and change. Of course, you could always just ask the car to do it for you as well. You don't even have to say please.
How's the E-Class' interior?
The interior is easily the biggest departure from the current car. It's a blend of the Mercedes EQ electric vehicles and the automaker's internal combustion engine models. The expansive dash primarily consists of the optional new Superscreen, which is basically the Hyperscreen we've seen in cars such as the EQE and EQS, but with a separate pod for the driver's instrument cluster. The instrument binnacle measures 12.3 inches, while the center touchscreen — which hosts a new iteration of Mercedes' MBUX infotainment software — is 14.5 inches diagonally.
The passenger screen that the Superscreen option adds also measures 12.3 inches. It can display media files and allow the passenger to play games, and it even has TikTok built right in so your passenger can scroll through social media on the car's display. The display also uses a special technology to block whatever's on it from the driver's view when the car is on the move but it's visible when the car's stationary. It might sound like a gimmicky addition, but Mercedes told us that big screens resonate with its buyers, and the automaker thinks the Hyperscreen-esque experience will translate well to E-Class shoppers.
We found the array of screens, and the dashboard in general, to be not as imposing as the Hyperscreen-equipped EQS. The screens in the E-Class looked a bit shorter and the overall effect, when combined with the narrower interior dimensions of the E-Class compared to the larger EQS, made the Superscreen look and feel better integrated into the interior.
The rest of the interior is what we've come to expect from Mercedes-Benz. High-quality leather abounds and there's even a smart two-tone option that gives the dashboard a look as if it's floating just below the windshield. Unlike the current car, the new E-Class gets rid of almost all the physical controls in the cabin. The exception is a single physical strip of touch-sensitive buttons underneath the central display. It controls functions like the volume, the driving modes and the screen's power button, but the newest version of MBUX is easier to navigate and most buyers won't even miss the physical buttons.
The seat controls are still at the top corner of the doors near the door jamb, the gear selector is still on a stalk rather than taking up space in the center console, and the steering wheel is still awash with touch-sensitive controls you may or may not find yourself activating by accident. The center console is devoid of controls of any sort, and instead it features a cubby hidden away by a sliding lid that reveals the cupholders and a small storage area. It's all-new for the E-Class, but fans of the brand who are familiar with its more contemporary offerings will likely find the cabin quite familiar.
How's the E-Class' tech?
The E-Class goes big on tech. The large center display features an updated version of the MBUX infotainment software and a new design. The icons are bigger and in various colors, which should make the interface easier to navigate. It looks a lot like a smartphone or a tablet that runs a Mercedes'd version of iOS and Android.
Another new feature is what Mercedes is calling "artificial intelligence" but really is just a program that helps learn your habits and automate some functions for you. (You can also set them yourself by going into the automations menu in the center display.) Essentially, if the E-Class realizes that when you get to a certain GPS location, always come to a stop, and always roll down your window (say, to scan your way into a parking lot as you enter work), it will ask if you want to automate this feature and have the window roll down automatically every time you reach that location. Habits relating to seat heating, ventilation and climate can also be learned, and the E-Class will know what to do in certain scenarios to make your life a little easier.
Other major tech changes include just how many advanced driver aids are available. The newest feature is what Mercedes is calling Attention Assist, and it essentially tracks a driver's eyes to make sure they're on the road. If your eyes leave the road for a certain amount of time, it will start to warn you to pay attention again — no more Instagram scrolling for you. Blind-spot warning, lane keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking, lane change assistance, Traffic Jam Assist, evasive steering assistance and Pre-Safe (a system that tensions the seat belts and prepares passengers for an imminent impact) are all available on the new E-Class too.
Other than the eye-catching dashboard, we think the biggest and most exciting new tech is the fully automated lane change function on the E-Class. Previously, when you had adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance active, the car would change lanes for you once you had activated the turn signal. With this new system, which is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada, the E-Class will sense a slower vehicle in front of you, check its own blind spots, activate the turn signal itself, and change lanes with no input from the driver. Given the correct conditions, the E-Class will pass the slower vehicle and then change lanes back into the original lane with no input from the driver. As you'd expect, the system does have a lot of hoops to jump through in order to activate, but we found it worked reliably about 80% of the time when we expected it to do so. When it didn't activate, you still had plenty of time to either slow down or change lanes the old-fashioned way — by yourself. Every time the system activated and executed a pass on its own, we were duly impressed.
The luxury car market is constantly evolving and Mercedes is not content to simply keep up. From its impressive Superscreen setup to the advanced driver aids to various automated creature comforts, the new E-Class has piled on the tech in an effort to stay in front of a competitive pack. But it hasn't forgotten its luxury roots. In one form or another, the E-Class has existed (though not always with that designation) for over 70 years and the new generation shows it can still combine traditional luxury with the newest technology without losing the plot. To see where our expert editors rank the new E-Class, stick with Edmunds for our upcoming evaluation when the car becomes available later this year.