2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain
- Fall 2020
What to expect
- Essentially a lifted E-Class wagon with additional off-road traction modes
- Benefits from other E-Class enhancements for 2021, including revised bodywork and MBUX infotainment
- New variant of the fifth-generation E-Class introduced for 2017
What is it?
Though crossovers are significantly more popular, wagons still enjoy a dedicated fan base of buyers who desire practicality without SUV aesthetics. The distinction between wagon and crossover gets cloudier with vehicles like the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain. At its core, the All-Terrain is an off-road-oriented variant of the E-Class wagon. Compared to the wagon, the All-Terrain has extra ground clearance and black body cladding on the bumpers and wheel arches. The All-Terrain also comes standard with the wagon's optional air suspension. Additional off-road modes further enhance the all-wheel-drive system's low-traction behavior. All of these elements bolster the All-Terrain's off-road capability, making it a tougher package overall than the E-Class wagon without venturing into full-blown SUV territory.
The E-Class All-Terrain benefits from changes to the 2021 E-Class more broadly. Like the E-Class sedan, the All-Terrain gets new front and rear bumper and light designs, and the cabin is reworked slightly. The most significant change is to the infotainment system, which moves from COMAND to Mercedes' new MBUX interface. While a bit more menu-intensive than the old interface, MBUX features a robust voice recognition system that can handle just about every vehicle function you can think of.
For now, the E-Class All-Terrain is only available with one powertrain, but it's a good one. The E 450 utilizes a turbocharged inline-six augmented by a 48-volt electrical system. It provides additional boost to the engine when needed and can turn the engine off early while slowing to a stop. Total output stands at a healthy 362 horsepower. We're not sure if the wagon's twin-turbo V8 will make an appearance in the All-Terrain, but the proliferation of AMG performance brand variants means you shouldn't count it out.
Why does it matter?
Luxury wagons have been a relatively niche product for decades now, but sales remain healthy enough that Mercedes sees an opportunity to further subdivide that market. There aren't many cars — wagon or otherwise — that place an emphasis on off-road performance. Between its all-weather traction and superlative cargo capacity, the All-Terrain is the closest you can get to an SUV without making that jump.
What does it compete with?
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is one of the only other luxury wagons with extra ground clearance. Aside from the lifted ride height, however, it doesn't offer unique hardware or extra traction modes compared to the standard V90. There's also the new Audi A6 Allroad, which offers sleek styling and a high-tech cabin. Like the Mercedes, the sole available powertrain is a turbocharged six-cylinder augmented by a mild hybrid system. If you're fine with sticking a little closer to the ground, there's also the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. The upcoming Audi RS 6 Avant is more tuned for acceleration and on-road performance, as evidenced by its 591-horsepower V8.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain is one of the only luxury wagons to offer a semblance of off-road ability. It's your best bet if you want the utility of an SUV without the bulk.