DETROIT — It sounds like a huge insult, but the new Mercedes-Benz E450 is much better than the car it replaces. And the first place to start with this sedan is under the hood.
The twin-turbo V6 has been replaced with an inline 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. It made 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque at a ridiculously low 1,600 RPM.
It was mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. But it gets better. The E450 was equipped with Mercedes’ EQ or electric boost system. In this case, it was a 48-volt hybrid with an electric motor that added up to 21 horsepower and 184 more pound-feet of torque to assist the turbo spool up.
Let us count the power. That adds up to as much as 383 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. And inline engines have always been much smoother than their V counterparts. What we’re saying is that this car was unbelievably smooth and powerful, and it didn’t look like either. It was a standard-looking Mercedes-Benz sedan. The only giveaway was the sporty AMG five-spoke wheels.
But it moved with authority, and it did not take much effort to do it. One automotive magazine called the 2021 Mercedes E450 buttery, and we can’t argue with the definition. The stop start feature was imperceptible, thus, we never turned it off because most of the time the engine was so quiet, we could not tell when it was running or when it was restarting.
There was an air suspension and five ride modes: sport+, sport, comfort, econ and custom.
The 2021 E-Class is bigger than the model it replaced. It had a long hood and a coupe-like roofline. There were short overhangs, a long wheelbase and 18-inch wheels. It could get from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and could cover a quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds and get to 108 mpg in 10 seconds. It was faster than the model it replaced and more fuel-efficient.
The 2021 Mercedes E450 got 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. We had a sporty model; thus, it had a radiating grille with a large Mercedes star at the center.
But the car wasn’t about speed or performance or brut force, it was about sophistication, luxury, and technology. To us this luxurious midsize sedan was about conveying an organic experience.
Our model had a double-wide digital screen. Actually, it was two 12.3-inch displays that shared a single frame. The one behind the steering wheel held the odometer and the speedometer. There was a TFT display in between.
This display was oversized, which is one way of saying it was easy to see for the older customers that this sedan will attract. The infotainment screen was a touch screen. But there was also a touchpad on the center console.
That was a bit surprising. Another luxury carmaker dropped its touchpad, after complaints about the difficulty of using it. We did find them cumbersome to use.
The interior was swathed in grained ash wood around the center stack, across the dash and along the doors. There was also LED ambient lighting with 64 colors that automatically and randomly changed hues.
Of course, the front seats were heated and cooled, and the steering wheel was heated as well. The front seats were also fully powered including the headrest and there were seat extenders and lumbar supports.
There was keyless operation, Bluetooth, wireless charging, and voice controls. But there was also stuff that wasn’t so ordinary.
When we came to an intersection and were the first car to stop, the camera system would show us the intersection with a widescreen high-definition shot. It was a safeguard against someone speeding through the intersection trying to make the light.
What they called the 3D audio system was really thumping. It sounded like double rows of speakers in the Mercedes E450. They say there was a panoramic roof, we don’t think so.
Still, there was a front and back pane of glass with an interior divider for the dual sunscreen. The back glass was fixed while the front could be tilted, and it opened.
There was plenty of legroom and hip room in the back seat. However, the tunnel for the all-wheel-drive system made it near impossible for an adult to sit on the hump. In other words, this was a midsize four-passenger sedan as most of them are.
It had an extensive driver assistance package that included evasive steering assist, rear-end collision protection, route-based speed adaptation, lane-keeping assist, emergency stop assists, active lane change assist and active brake assist, and on it went. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 took all the work out of driving.
The base price of the car was $62,000. But add on all sorts of options including active parking assist, an acoustic comfort package, intelligent LED light system and surround sound and the price climbed to $76,140 as tested.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.