Used 1996 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review

Edmunds expert review




What's new for 1996

All new and sporting a face anybody's mother could love, the E-Class comes in three flavors: E300 Diesel, E320 and E420. A new front suspension and larger wheels and tires provide better handling, while optional gas-discharge headlamps mark new technology. Side-impact airbags are included in the doors of all E-Class models. E420's can be had with ESP, which is a new safety system that makes sure the E420 is under control at all times. The E420 also gets a new five-speed transmission.

Vehicle overview

Mercedes-Benz introduces an all-new E-Class for 1996, sporting a distinctive countenance, larger dimensions, door-mounted side-impact airbags and more standard equipment. First out of the blocks is the E320, equipped with a 217-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline six; and the E300 Diesel. Later in the year, an E420 V8 will be released, putting 275-horsepower to the ground through the rear wheels, and a five-speed automatic transmission will be offered.

Styling follows familiar Mercedes themes, but the front end of the E-Class is quite a departure from previous Benz models. Round headlamps, available with new gas-discharge technology, contain low beams as well as parking lights and turn signals. Smaller inner lights serve as high beams. Fog lamps are integrated into the bumper covers. The result is a crisp retro look that gives the E-Class a large dose of personality and presence.

Occupants are treated to a new automatic climate control system that can be set for driver and passenger comfort, and filters dust, pollen and odors from the air. The usual burl walnut trim covers the instrument panel, and E320 models come with standard leather seating. A three-position memory feature is standard on all models, and it positions the driver's seat, steering wheel, headrests and side-view mirrors for up to three different drivers. Cupholders are provided front and rear.

E-Class is equipped with improved anti-lock brakes, new standard traction control systems, child-safety locks on the rear doors, dual airbags and new inflatable restraints in the doors. E420 models can be ordered with an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which helps drivers keep the car under control in hazardous conditions. An infrared remote security system is standard.

The revamped E-Class should compete very well with the new BMW 5-Series and the Lexus LS400. Its understated elegance, newfound personality, and superb engineering will prove to be an irresistible blend of attributes in the luxury car class.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.