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2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Review & Test Drive 17
Jan
Posted by Matt Thomas in Automotive, E350, featured, Mercedes Benz, Mercedes Benz E350, Test Drives on 01 17th, 2011

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 is back building upon the success of the E-Class redesign that launched last year.  The sales figures say it all – in 2010 Mercedes sold nearly 61,000 E-Class sedans besting all previous generations’ sales numbers by 10,000 units on average.  This new sedan is a bold statement that aims to take on the rest of the German and Japanese forces and has the styling, technology, and luxury to make the competition take notice.

The first thing you’ll take notice of with the new 2011 E350 is the exterior redesign.  Gone are the round headlights of the E-Class of old – replaced with stylized rectangular lights that give the entire front end a fresh and modern appeal.  The E-Class front end is one of the best looking new Mercedes in the lineup.  The front grill is integrated into the overall lines of the car much better than on the new C-Class, CLS, or even S-Class.  Those smooth lines flow towards the rear of the E350 where you’re met with attractive tail lamps and Rectangular exhausts that are neatly housed in the rear bumper.

Our test car was fitted with the optional Mercedes 4-Matic all-wheel drive system.  During our testing the 4-Matic system proved to be excellent in providing superb grip on wet pavement even under hard acceleration and pushing the car through corners on twisty two-land roads.  The car has loads of grip and part of this can be credited to the 4-Matic system, but most of the credit should be given to the suspension tuning.

The E350 we tested had the optional sport package which uprates the wheel package from 17” alloys to a much more aesthetically pleasing 18” model.  This change comes in addition to slightly stiffer suspension being fitted to the car which can still have it damping electronically controlled via a sport button on the center console.  The suspension is a real high point on the E350 as it seems to strike a perfect combination of sporty performance and luxury ride.  The E550 will give you uprated Airmatic suspension which takes the comfort and performance of the E-Class to a new level but the standard suspension found on the E350 is perfectly adequate.

We couldn’t discern much of a difference between the economy and sport modes in the suspension under normal driving.  Only when the sport mode was active and we were pushing the car through tight bends on back roads could we tell a difference.  The E350 has loads of grip and never felt anything less than composed during our drive.

The E350 comes with a peppy 3.5 liter V6 engine that produces 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.  While it’s not an enormously powerful engine it produces most of its torque between 2,400-5,000 rpm where the transmission will keep the revs for most of your around town driving and highway commuting speeds.  The engineers at Mercedes have simply made this engine give you 95% of its performance where you’ll access it 95% of the time.  It felt very sporty and responsive, and actually a bit more so than our G37 we tested a few weeks back.  Some of this is due to the amazingly well-refined engine but part of the credit needs to go to the superb 7-speed automatic.

Each E350 comes with a finely tuned 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters integrated into the steering wheel.  The transmission was nothing short of flawless as it called up gears with precision and smoothness demanded of a car in this price range.  The transmission gear-selector is well integrated into a stalk behind the steering wheel. This not only works very well but it frees up space on the center console and makes the entire interior look much cleaner.  The shift paddles work VERY well and give an excellent positive feedback to the driver on each pull while in manual mode.  Frankly, this transmission blows the G37’s 7-speed box out of the water in every comparison possible.  It was buttery-smooth, never got lost or confused, and called up gears without any large delay.

But better than how this car looks, accelerates, or handles is the interior.  The dash is laid out in a very intuitive manner.  In fact, everything about the interior is intuitive.  It is obvious that there was a vast amount of time thinking over where to put everything and how to put everything in the interior.  As we already noted the transmission gear selector was cleverly relocated in a way that’s more functional and allows more space in the center console.  Every button, knob, or selector felt very “chunky” and solid.  Nothing felt cheap or flimsy.  Dash plastics are soft and the wood trim (though not our favorite) looks very nicely integrated into the entire interior.

Our test car had the optional panorama sun roof that extends a second sunroof over the rear seats.  It is a $1090 option that anyone with kids needs to serious consider.  It gives the little ones something to gawk at during your drives and adds a significant amount of pleasing natural light to the entire interior.  Leg room and head room is more than ample in the E350 as all 6’2” of me had no issues fitting in the backseat.  In fact, the back seat is enormous.  We had more than 3 inches of space between our kneecap and the back of the front seat and almost as much headroom.  Two full sized adults could be accommodated for long trips without any complaints.

Overall the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 simply wowed us.  It beats out the Audi A6 and new 5-Series with its looks and can compete with them on almost every other level.  The fact that reliability is returning the Mercedes brand means that for the first time in years you can purchase a new Mercedes and not feel like you were just taken to the cleaners; a trip you probably wouldn’t have completed in 2002 as your E-Class would’ve almost certainly broken down.  The E350 deserves to be called a sports sedan and has proven that Mercedes is back. Audi, Lexus, BMW, and Jaguar – you’ve been warned.

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Specifications:

  • Base Price: $49,400
  • Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
  • Curb Weight (lbs): 4059
  • City (MPG): 17
  • Hwy (MPG): 24
  • Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft): 258 lb-ft @ 2,400-5,000 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 113.1
  • Length (in.): 191.7
  • Width (in.): 75.9
  • Height (in.): 57.7

COPYRIGHT:2010-2011:MATT THOMAS

We would like to thank Mercedes-Benz of Omaha and James Drake for allowing us to perform a full test drive and review of the new 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350. If you are in the market for a new or used Mercedes be sure to contact Mercedes-Benz of Omaha at 402.384.9999 and mention this article.

Matt Thomas is the Senior Editor for Legit LifeStyle, an Automotive, Entrepreneurship, and Lifestyle Website.


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