Excellent wind isolation with the top down; many pampering features; strong performance; ideal handling and ride balance.
Soft top doesn't provide security of retractable hardtop; not as sporty to drive as more performance-focused rivals; option packages quickly drive up the price.
There are plenty of people who like the idea of a convertible. Maybe they had one back in their younger, carefree days and remember sun-dappled cruises on back roads, tunes blasting from the stereo.
Fast-forward a decade or two. Now, these same folks are older, savvier and, very likely, fussier and more demanding. They like the romantic notion of top-down cruising, yet don't want cold air chilling them, don't want road and wind noise disturbing them, and don't want the car to wriggle like Shakira when they encounter potholes or railroad tracks. For these conflicted luxury car consumers, there is the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet — the perfect convertible for the "I want to have my strudel and eat it, too" crowd.
Depending on your mood, you can motor top-down in this Benz with the wind lapping your face and swirling your hair...or not. Those crafty Mercedes engineers have devised a system of wind blockers for the E350 cabriolet that can keep the cabin nearly as calm as it would be with the roof raised. And if it's a bit nippy outside but you can't resist the moonlit sky above, just crank up the seat heaters and the Airscarf neck warmers. The latter blow warm air onto your neck and shoulders, and after the first use will have you wondering how you ever got along without them.
In addition to this tranquil fresh-air motoring experience, you also happen to get a car that practically defines the term "grand touring." The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet excels at covering ground very comfortably and at a rapid pace, if you so choose. Still, in the posh luxury convertible segment, there are a few other cars to consider. Both the BMW 3 Series convertible and Infiniti G37 convertible offer the additional security of a retractable hardtop design as well as a more involving drive for the enthusiast. The Volvo C70 is an outside shot; it's certainly comfortable but doesn't offer the level of sophistication or athleticism of the E350. Lastly the Audi A5/S5 cabriolet is another worthy soft-top choice. But as nice as these rivals may be, they lack the ultimate polish of this Mercedes convertible. It gives you the feeling that you're being completely pampered and protected from the cruel outside world even while you're enjoying it from your fresh-air vantage point.
As with its sedan and coupe counterparts, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet is ably propelled by a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 (the E550 features a 382-hp V8). Matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the V6 pushes this 2-ton Benz to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.0 seconds. Whether you're taking off from a stop or stepping into it for a swift merge onto the freeway, the E350 moves out in a smooth, effortless manner with nearly imperceptible gearshifts.
The transmission also offers a choice of Comfort and Sport modes. Upon start-up, it automatically defaults to the more relaxed, more fuel-efficient Comfort mode, which provides gentler step-off and earlier, more relaxed gearchanges. Switch it to Sport, however, and the gearbox is more alert, holding onto lower gears more aggressively and stepping down more readily to keep the power on tap.
Equipped with the misnamed "Appearance package" (it's more a Sport package), our car had shift paddles on the steering wheel to facilitate manual-style gearchanges. But as we noted with the E350 coupe, it's a mixed bag. Flick the paddle (or gearshift lever) for a downshift and it happens pronto, but flick for an upshift and there's an annoying delay. Sadly, this is common with conventional automatics with any sort of manual control.
As we expected from a Mercedes, the E350's stopping performance was solid, with the 60-0 test taking just 110 feet. The pedal is reassuringly firm yet progressive in action. In terms of handling, the E350 cab is confident and composed. Crisp turn-in response and a planted demeanor when rounding corners inspired both joy and confidence in our drivers, though a few wished the steering effort would weight up more as speed increased. All told, this car felt lighter and more athletic than something weighing 4,000 pounds has any right to be.
Despite the firmer suspension calibrations that come with the Appearance package, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 provides a comfortable ride. Even when we hit pothole-riddled pavement and freeway expansion joints, the bumps and ruts were dismissed with a muffled thump and without jostling. The lack of cowl shake (even while traversing the tracks of a rail crossing) was especially impressive. A convertible obviously doesn't have the structural integrity of a closed car, but you could've fooled us (and did) with the E350 cabriolet.
Cruising up the coastline with the wind coming off the ocean gave us a chance to try this car's elaborate wind-blocker devices. With the windows and rear wind blocker all up, the cabin was fairly calm, with just a little wind tousling our hair. Deploying the Aircap spoiler on the windshield header took care of that, leaving an eerily serene environment with the great outdoors overhead. Of course, if you want to get a little crazy, just lower all the windows and retract the front/rear wind blockers and you can dry your hair nearly instantly after taking a dip in the ocean.
With the available multiadjustable front seats (which include power side bolsters and thigh support) and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, getting an ideal and comfy seating position was a breeze. The individual rear seats (two passengers only) were also well shaped and didn't have too upright a backrest angle (a common issue with convertibles as the backrest has to be pushed forward to create stowage space for the retracted top). Provided rear passengers are about 5 feet 9 or less (and not broad-shouldered), they should be reasonably comfortable back there.
Despite the large number of high-tech features at your service, most of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350's controls are well placed and intuitive to operate. The climate control, for example, has large rocker switches to select temperature, mode and fan speed. Plus, there's an "Off" button, unlike many BMWs and Audis. The buttons for the heated/cooled seats, Airscarf neck warmers and rear wind blocker are logically located in a row above the climate control panel.
The audio system can be operated through its faceplate or through the COMAND multifunction control knob/display screen. The navigation system is easy to figure out without your needing to consult the manual, and features traffic reporting as well. The adaptive cruise control has no separate on/off button (you simply flick the stalk to set it), and you can increase or decrease your set speed in 5-mph increments by pushing the stalk past a detent.
Inside the cabin there is a fair amount of storage space thanks to the large glovebox and center console bins. Though the rear seat doesn't fold down (typical for a convertible, though Audi offers this feature in its A5/S5 drop top), there is a pass-through feature to allow long, skinny items to be transported within. At 12 cubic feet (with the top up), the E350 cabrio's trunk capacity is respectable and enough to easily transport a golf bag and large carry-on suitcase. Putting the top down, however, requires a movable partition to be pulled down, cutting trunk capacity and preventing bulky items from fitting.
Installing a rear-facing child seat in back requires a bit of maneuvering from Mom or Dad, and as there is no center seat, it must be placed in one of the outboard positions. Once in place, it limits the front passenger's legroom considerably, as that seat must be moved up to accommodate the rear-facing placement. Of course, turning the kiddie seat around (front-facing) allows that front seat to be slid back considerably, allowing those long of limb to easily ride in front of Junior.
Design/Fit and Finish
The newest midsize Mercedes convertible is 180 degrees apart from its softly contoured, organically styled CLK-Class precursor. Angular headlights, flared fenders and chiseled flanks mark the new car, and opinion on the new design language was mostly favorable. "It's more masculine, more substantial-looking," one of our editors said, while another liked most elements of the design except for the oddly sculpted rear quarter panels that "look like they were borrowed from a first-generation Subaru Forester."
The cabin of our test car was hard to fault with its cohesive and uncluttered design, elegant wood and chrome accents, and superb build quality.
Who should consider this vehicle
Discerning folks who want a convertible that provides comfortable and serene al fresco motoring would be well served by the clever 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. And there is enough performance and handling here to more than satisfy most drivers. That said, more serious driving enthusiasts should also test-drive the aforementioned Audi, BMW and Infiniti competitors.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Is the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2011 E-Class featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are 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.
How do people like the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2011 E-Class 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2011 E-Class.
Review Have had two Lexus ES350 and one RX350. All were nice, but the RX wasn't the good quality as expected, and was boring. My wife loved the RX, so it took some prodding to change. So far we have 900 mi on the MB E350 and it is much more fun to drive with good quality. Will likely miss the Lexus free maintenance, but this car seems worth it. Very quiet, great music system, nav, etc. The panorama sunroof sold my wife, but it uses a screen to keep out sunlight instead of a solid cover. So in Texas the screen allows some heat through. Keep that in mind. A/C is extremely cold though, so no worries. The Command interface works well for me. Transmission lever is cool but different.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
What options are available on the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class?
Available Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2011 Submodel Types: Sedan, Coupe, Convertible, Wagon, Diesel, E63 AMG, E63 AMG 4MATIC S-Model, AMG E 63 S 4MATIC, AMG E 43 4MATIC, E55 AMG, E 63 AMG 4MATIC S-Model, Hybrid, AMG E 63 4MATIC S-Model
Available Trims: E350 4MATIC, E350, E350 Sport 4MATIC, E 300 Sport 4MATIC, E 350 Sport 4MATIC, E 400 4MATIC, E350 Luxury 4MATIC, E 350 Luxury 4MATIC, E320, E550, E320 4MATIC, E350 Sport, E 400, E 300 Luxury 4MATIC, E550 Sport 4MATIC, E63 AMG, E550 4MATIC, E500, E 300 Sport, E500 4MATIC, E63 AMG 4MATIC S-Model, AMG E 63 S 4MATIC, E 300 AMG Line 4MATIC, E 400 Sport 4MATIC, E320 BLUETEC, E 350 Sport, AMG E 43 4MATIC, E 350 Luxury, E320 CDI, E350 Luxury, E 250 Sport BlueTEC 4MATIC, E250 Luxury BlueTEC 4MATIC, E300TD, E430, E55 AMG, E250 Sport BlueTEC 4MATIC, E320 BlueTEC, E 250 Sport BlueTEC, E 63 AMG 4MATIC S-Model, E300D, E350 BlueTEC, AMG E 63 4MATIC S-Model, E 300 Luxury, E 400 Luxury 4MATIC, E 400 Sport Hybrid, E 550, E250 Luxury BlueTEC, E250 Sport BlueTEC, E350 Luxury BlueTEC, E350 Sport BlueTEC, E400 Sport Hybrid, E420, E430 4MATIC
Exterior Colors: Black, Polar White, Iridium Silver Metallic, Steel Grey Metallic, Palladium Silver Metallic, Arctic White, Lunar Blue Metallic , Selenite Grey Metallic, designo Diamond White Metallic, Diamond White Metallic, Obsidian Black Metallic, Diamond Silver Metallic, Capri Blue Metallic, designo Silver Metallic, Desert Silver Metallic, Lunar Blue Metallic, Cardinal Red Metallic, Indigo Blue Metallic, Quartz Blue Metallic, designo Cardinal Red Metallic, Dolomite Brown Metallic, Indium Grey Metallic, Mars Red, Alabaster White, Brilliant Silver, Dune Silver Metallic , Piedmont Green Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Flint Grey Metallic, Pearl Beige Metallic, Pewter Metallic, Tectite Grey Metallic, Glacier White, Granite Grey Metallic, Midnight Blue, Platinum Blue Metallic, designo Mocha Black Metallic, Dakota Brown Metallic, Aspen Green, Desert Silver, Barolo Red Metallic, Bordeaux Red, Bordeaux Red Metallic, Obsidian Black, Agate Green, Calypso Green Metallic, Cardinal Red Metallic (Late Availability), Cuprite Brown Metallic, Everest Green Metallic, Iridium Grey Metallic, Jade Green Metallic, Night Black Magno Matte, Olivine Grey Metallic, Pewter Silver Metallic, Sienna Black Metallic, Smoke Silver Metallic, Tectite Gray, designo Graphite, designo Mocha Black, designo Mystic Brown, designo Selenite Grey Magno Matte