2003 Mercedes-Benz E500 Road Test Specs | Edmunds

2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Road Test Specs

2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

(5.0L V8 5-speed Automatic)


Model year2003
StyleE500 Rwd 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 5A)
Base MSRP$54,850
As-tested MSRP$53,342


Drive typeRWD
Engine typeV8
Displacement (cc/cu-in)5
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)302
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)339
Transmission type5-speed shiftable automatic


Suspension, frontdouble wishbone
Suspension, rearmulti-link
Steering typespeed-proportional power steering
Tire brandContinental
Tire modelContitouring Contact
Tire size, frontP215/55HR16
Tire size, rearP215/55HR16
Brakes, frontventilated front disc / solid rear disc

Track Test Results

0-45 mph (sec.)3.8
0-60 mph (sec.)5.8
0-75 mph (sec.)8.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.24 @ 99.55
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31.57
60-0 mph (ft.)120.22
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)59.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)37.4
Sound level @ idle (dB)53
@ Full throttle (dB)74
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)76

Test Driver Ratings & Comments

Acceleration commentsThe E500's V8 has a flat torque curve throughout its rev range, while the tranny upshifts right at the 6,000 rpm redline. These shifts are positive and seem perfectly timed for maximum acceleration, which is good because you can't keep the transmission from upshifting, even when it's in manual mode. Our best time came with traction control off and a bit of wheel spin when starting out. In terms of refinement and power, this one is tough to fault.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsThe electronic brakes being fitted to new Mercedes-Benz products are undeniably effective in terms of stopping distances. Our test car stopped in 120 feet on its first braking attempt and 124 feet on its third and final run, so fade was nearly non-existent. However, braking feel remains an issue with this system. When pressed into maximum service the pedal gave minimal resistance for most of its travel, and then got "squishy" as it neared the floorboard and stopped moving. The upside is that there was absolutely no ABS vibration in the pedal, and the only noise to be heard was a slight whine that continued for a second or two after the car came to a stop (the whine was completely inaudible as the car slowed). Bottom line: these brakes are great in terms of outright function, but they need work in the "feel" department, even if improving them involves fabricating the sensations normally associated with hydraulic brakes.
Handling ratingPoor
Handling commentsThe solid nature of the E500 under normal driving circumstances had me convinced that it would do well in slalom testing. However, I didn't take into account the combination of a high-torque engine and low resistance all-season tires. The Continental ContiTouring radials made an otherwise stable vehicle feel downright treacherous in the slalom, especially if I applied even a hint of throttle. Further contributing to this situation was the somewhat bizarre inequity between the manufacturer's suggested tire pressures. The front tires called for 26 psi. while the rears were supposed to be at 32 psi, this despite the fact that all four tires are the same size. We, of course, do all testing with the tires set at factory recommended pressures, but having the rear tires set so much higher than the fronts undoubtedly added to the rear end's tendency to come around. Body roll and steering feel were fully adequate for a luxury sedan, but overall slalom performance was disappointing. — Karl Brauer

Testing Conditions

Elevation (ft.)85
Temperature (°F)N/A
Wind (mph, direction)1-5

Fuel Consumption

EPA fuel economy (mpg)Auto 17/24 Manual /
Edmunds observed (mpg)17
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)20.6

Dimensions & Capacities

Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3815
Length (in.)190.3
Width (in.)71.3
Height (in.)57
Wheelbase (in.)112.4
Legroom, front (in.)41.3
Legroom, rear (in.)36.1
Headroom, front (in.)37.6
Headroom, rear (in.)37.2
Seating capacity5


Bumper-to-bumper4 years / 50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years / 50,000 miles
Corrosion4 years / 50,000 miles
Roadside assistanceUnlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenance4 years / 50,000 miles


Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard
Head airbagsStandard
Antilock brakesStandard
Electronic brake enhancementsFully electronic brake system with brake assist
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionStandard
Emergency assistance systemStandard
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontExcellent
NHTSA crash test, side rearExcellent
NHTSA rollover resistanceExcellent

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