It’s hard to argue with an all-wheel-drive wagon this lovely to drive.
– Detroit, Michigan
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Although the car-shopping public disagrees and doesn’t buy them, we fussy car reviewers often prefer wagons to equivalently sized crossovers. The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon is no exception. It’s roomy, it has all-wheel drive for inclement weather, and it can even seat seven people in a pinch – yet it gives you more car-like driving dynamics than a crossover that would be equally utilitarian. For all those reasons, as well as the inherent goodness of all W213-generation E-Class models, I’ll love this wagon no matter how poorly it sells.
It’s great to drive. From its super-smooth V6 and slick automatic, to its plush air suspension and delicate steering, the E400 does exactly what I ask it without any fuss. My overall sense is just one of ease and comfort from behind the wheel. Whether you’re stuck in traffic or hustling in Sport+ mode, the E400 is thoroughly viceless to drive.
Gorgeous interior. The design of this cabin is fantastic, though I’ll admit I hate the Macchiato Beige/Saddle Brown color treatment of this particular test car. But otherwise, I adore the elegant layout of every control in here. The massaging seats are otherworldly comfortable, and the huge widescreen displays make monitoring and using the myriad on-board technologies a cinch.
Great active safety tech. As our other reviews of the E-Class have noted, the car is a smorgasbord of electronics intended to keep you safe. My favorite feature is Steering Pilot, which can steer the car for brief periods of time when you’re using the Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control. But the bright LED headlights, pre-collision warning, and other safety features give me extra peace of mind.
Seating for seven. Well, assuming your sixth and seventh passengers are children, and you have no luggage to carry. It’s a nice perk to be able to pop up the two small rear-facing jump seats in the cargo area, which come with three-point seat belts, if you need more people-carrying capacity in a pinch.
It’s not really a seven-passenger vehicle. If you put kids in the two rear-facing seats, you don’t have any cargo room left over. And let’s be honest, it’s really a very minimal seating solution for short journeys. So while this would be a fine vehicle for, say, unexpectedly transporting your neighbor’s kids home from soccer practice, it won’t beat a minivan for a real-world family road trip.
Where does this engine fit in? This E400 is more powerful than the base 241-horsepower E300 sedan but not as sporty as the 396-hp E43. Like the forthcoming E400 coupe, it’s a bit of a weird in-betweener. Personally, I wonder how much better the fuel economy would be with the 241-hp, 2.0-liter turbo engine in the E300. Yes, acceleration would suffer, but I see no real need for this wagon to reach 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds.
So-so efficiency. Mercedes and the EPA haven’t yet figured out a window-sticker rating for this car, but even on the highway it wasn’t often I got the miles-per-gallon meter above 22 or 23 mpg. I’ll be interested to see official numbers when they’re available to know whether I was just driving too eagerly.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com