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2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 First Drive: Raising Its Own Benchmark

With a sweet straight-six engine and luxury and tech in spades, it's easy to fall for Mercedes' new E-Class

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  • The 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models are arriving in the U.S. now.
  • Both the E 350 and E 450 sedans come standard with 48-volt mild hybrid tech and all-wheel drive.
  • The six-cylinder E 450 is the star of the pair, especially with its optional air suspension.

Crossovers and SUVs might be Mercedes' current cash cows, but sedans will always be Benz's benchmarks. The full-size S-Class and midsize E-Class are the cars by which all other luxury sedans are judged, and with good reason. The redesigned S-Class unquestionably carries that highfalutin baton. Now, it's time for the E-Class to follow suit.

We got a brief stint behind the wheel of the new-for-2024 E-Class last summer, but with U.S. sales of Mercedes' midsizer commencing as you read this, it's time to test one on our home turf.

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2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 driving

Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

First off, let's talk about how rad Mercedes' new Verde Silver paint looks on the E-Class; this is a stunning shade that lights up in direct sunlight but keeps a subtle green glow at night. It really works with the 20-inch multispoke wheels on our E 450 tester, though we think it'd be a whole lot classier without the AMG-line front fascia — something that stupidly comes standard on every U.S.-spec E-Class. The E 450's rear end, on the other hand, is nothing but elegant, though the MB logo taillights might be a kitschy step too far.

The base E 350 is visually identical to the more powerful (and more expensive) E 450 — save for the alphanumeric badge on the trunklid, natch. Instead, the big difference is what's under the hood. The E 350 uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the E 450 steps up to a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 375 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Both engines are paired with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that can produce as much as 23 hp and 148 lb-ft of supplemental boost. This means the engine's stop-start system can be used more liberally; the engine will cut off before the E-Class comes to a complete stop and there's enough shove to get the sedan up and moving while the engine fires back up. The best fuel economy comes from the E 350 and its EPA-estimated 27 mpg in combined driving. That's fine, though it's interesting that a similar BMW 530i gets 30 mpg combined.

2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 inline-6 engine

Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is standard across the U.S.-spec E-Class range, though the company says it might consider adding rear-wheel-drive variants in the future. Both engines are also matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission that's ultra-buttery-slick in operation — totally befitting of an E-Class. Speaking of which, there's a lot to be said for the refinement of a straight-six engine. We're sure the four-cylinder will be perfectly fine for many buyers, but the linear power delivery and overall smoothness of the I6 really work in a midsize Merc.

Compared to the previous E 450, the 2024 model offers an extra 13 hp but an identical amount of torque. That isn't much, but the updated engine is tuned to deliver the power with more authority. In our testing, we recorded a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 4.4 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 12.8 seconds at 107.9 mph. That's a substantial gain over the last E 450 we tested, which recorded a 0-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.3 seconds at 103.7 mph. It's not like the new E-Class has a weight advantage, either; a 2022 E 450 4Matic sedan tipped our scales at 4,315 pounds, while the 2024 E 450 4Matic weighs in at 4,448 pounds.

The new E 450 exhibits improvements in the other direction, as well. The 2024 E 450 4Matic took 110 feet to go from 60 mph to a complete stop in our testing — a 29-foot reduction from its forebear.

2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 driving

Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

Outright handling chops are not the E-Class' primary focus, but everyone who spent time behind the wheel of our E 450 loved the way it drove. In the default Comfort setting, the optional $3,200 Airmatic suspension smoothed out the surfaces of Los Angeles' craptastic freeways without making the E 450 feel floaty or disconnected. There's an appreciable uptick in firmness when you switch over to Sport mode, but again, nothing so aggro that it compromises the E-Class' civility.

Around our handling course, the E 450 glided around corners with grace. The slightest amount of oversteer can be coaxed out of the rear end should you apply the throttle too generously on corner exit, but it never upsets or unsettles the E 450. This car will pull off 0.93 G's of lateral force on our skidpad, but do so in a way that you could still sip your Starbucks to-go cup if you wanted. With every facet of the E-Class, comfort is always at the forefront. Need something edgier? Wait for the upcoming AMG E 53.

Inside, cushy leather seats constantly cosset you, and we like that the E 450 has a low beltline, allowing for great sightlines. Front and rear passengers have lots of room, though getting in and out of the back seats requires a bit more head-ducking than you might expect. It's super quiet inside the E 450, too; we measured an ambient noise level of 62.6 decibels at 70 mph — that's even quieter than the far more expensive BMW 760i.

2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 interior

Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

The E-Class' interior is all-new compared to the outgoing model, but it's nothing we haven't seen in Mercedes' other new models. Even the dashboard-spanning Superscreen is effectively just a truncated version of the Hyperscreen offered elsewhere in the lineup.

A word about Superscreen: While the updated MBUX infotainment interface is snapper to use, with a more logical menu structure, it's still absolute overkill in terms of digital real estate. Some people go ga-ga over these mega-screen setups, but we think the E-Class' elegant interior would be better suited to a less-in-your-face setup. The $1,500 Superscreen package really just gives you the passenger display and a selfie camera (sigh). Surely the E 450's standard 12.3-inch driver display and 14.4-inch central multimedia screen are enough.

The base Mercedes-Benz E 350 4Matic starts at $63,450 while the E 450 4Matic comes in at $69,250 (both prices include $1,150 for destination). Our tester is as close to a fully loaded E 450 as you can get, with options like the $3,400 Pinnacle package (head-up display, Burmester 4D stereo, etc.), $1,950 20-inch wheels, $1,950 Driver Assistance pack, $3,200 air suspension and $2,990 Nappa leather contributing to an $87,920 as-tested price. That's quite a chunk of change — especially when you can get a similarly optioned BMW 540i xDrive for about $10K cheaper. Yet the new E-Class feels like it's worth every penny. The E 450 is an especially shiny three-pointed star.

2024 Mercedes-Benz E 450 rear three-quarter

Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

Edmunds says

Mercedes-Benz proves it has the know-how to stay ahead of its midsize luxury competitors, offering a package that's oh so soothing and rewarding to drive. Now we're eager to see how Mercedes blends this luxuriousness with ferocity from its AMG performance arm.