Test Drive Notes Library
- Does a lot well. As you might expect from a $97,000 sedan, this car accelerates, corners, and rides pretty well. It’s designed to have multiple personalities. It can be driven as a comfortable cruiser when you’re mother-in-law’s in the back seat, or taken on twisty roads and pushed hard when you’re trying to burn off some frustration after spending hours in the car with your mother-in-law.
- Power. With its mild hybrid system, the E53’s 6-cylinder turbo has a total of 429 hp. So it never leaves you waiting. Surprisingly, we got nearly 20 mpg in backroad driving. Normally, a car with that kind of power, doing that kind of driving, would be solidly in the mid-teens. The 9-speed transmission is smooth, but better suited to town and highway driving.
- Interior. Mercedes has been doing a great job with its interiors. The enormous, sleek infotainment screen looks great. Materials are A+. Seats are very comfortable. Incidentally, our E53 came in a cool looking frozen matte-gray exterior paint job, or as we used to call it back in the day, "unpainted."
Test Drive Notes Library
- We didn’t love it. It’s a very good car. But it’s neither as comfortable as we’d expect an E-Class Mercedes to be, or as good on back roads as we’d expect an AMG-tuned Mercedes to be. As a low-to-the-ground sedan, it increasingly feels like an anachronism. How many people want to spend $100K on a traditional, mid-sized sedan these days? Some, obviously. But while this is a car that does a lot well, it doesn’t do anything exceptionally.
- Tight in the back. The back seat of the E-Class is certainly comfortable enough, but not as spacious as you might hope.
- Infotainment interface. We’re not fans of Mercedes’ current system. We’d take BMW’s iDrive anyday, with its rotary controller. The Mercedes system uses touch pads as the primary means of control (the screen also operates as a touch screen, which we used when we got frustrated with the touch pads). The touch pads are awkward to use accurately. And because you have to “check your work” on the screen, your eyes are off the road more often, and for longer than you’d like. It’s also pretty easy to drag a finger across one of the touch pads (between the seats and on the steering wheel) and wipe out the Hacks on Tap podcast by accident.
- Expensive options. The base price of the E53 is just a scoche under $74,000. Not cheap. But our tester was loaded up with more than $20K worth of optional equipment. There’s plenty on the list that we’d happily live without — goodbye $1,600 designer black headliner! But be prepared to pay dearly for your Mercedes options.
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