Used 1998 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

All-wheel drive comes to the Mercedes' E-Class lineup via the E320 sedan and all-new E320 wagon. Like the rest of Mercedes' model lineup, E-Class cars formerly powered by an inline-six engine now receive a more fuel-efficient V6 unit that is also supposed to improve the cars' low-end response. The 1998 E-Class cars receive the benefit of BabySmart airbags which are able to detect the presence of a Mercedes' car seat in the front passenger seat and disable the front passenger airbag. BrakeAssist is also a new feature, which aids drivers' stopping distance in a panic-stop situation.

Vehicle overview

Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new E-Class for 1996, sporting a distinctive countenance, larger dimensions, door-mounted side-impact airbags and more standard equipment. This year, the cars' receive their first major update. Inline six-cylinder engines are replaced with more powerful, more fuel-efficient V6 engines in the E320. The V6's broader torque curve guarantees better acceleration in stop-and-go traffic. The E300D replaces its diesel engine with a turbodiesel unit that boasts a peak horsepower of 174 and peak torque of 244 foot-pounds. With numbers like that, even Americans may become interested in this eco-friendly auto.

The E-Class gets Mercedes newest safety technologies, which include Brake Assist and the BabySmart system. Brake Assist is designed to give drivers maximum braking power in a panic situation by detecting a "panic" application of the brake pedal and adjusting braking power to their highest limit. We've not tried this new system yet, but we are somewhat hesitant of a car that thinks it knows more about our impending doom than we do. The BabySmart airbag system works in conjunction with a special Mercedes car seat, allowing moms and dads the option of putting little Suzie in the front passengers seat without having to worry about the front airbag deploying in her face.

The newest model in the E-Class lineup is the E320 wagon, which comes standard with seven-passenger seating. With an available 83 cubic feet of cargo space and all-wheel drive, the new E-Class wagon is the perfect car for those wanting the security of a sport-ute and the practicality of a car.

Following the trend for more versatile vehicles, Mercedes has made traction control available on the E320 sedan and wagon. The system uses a 35/65 front-/rear-wheel power split for most driving conditions. Unlike other AWD systems, the E-Class's is able to divert maximum power to one wheel, providing exceptional power in foul-weather driving conditions.

Occupants are treated to an 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.

The E-Class is the epitome of luxury, giving its owners a technically magnificent vehicle in a striking package. This is definitely our choice of cars in the middle-luxury segment.

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.