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2007 Mercedes-Benz E350 and E550 Test Drive

At long last, you get what you pay for

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

Photo © Greg Jarem
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has always been a bastion of luxury, safety and image, but recent models were short on equipment compared to rivals from Audi, Lexus, etc. All that has changed for 2007. The E-Class isn't totally new, but it has been substantially upgraded: new V8 engine, choice of same-price Luxury or Sport versions, and many other details that make it a much better value for your luxury-car dollar. Price: E350 sedan, $50,550; E550 sedan $59,000; E350 all-wheel-drive wagon, $55,700.

First Glance: Styling changes outside and in

The most noticeable changes to the E-Class are on the outside. The front bumper and grille (link goes to photo) now protrude in a pointy Cadillac-like prow and the openings near the air dam are larger. Slight changes in front-end trim differentiate Luxury and Sport versions, as do wheels (17" alloys for the Luxury, 18s for the Sport).

The taillights now have a large clear center section housing the turn flasher and backup lights. Sport models get LED taillights and big twin chrome tailpipe tips. (The Luxury also gets dual exhaust, but the tailpipes are tucked under the bumper.) Look closely and you'll see that the Sport gets a slight bluish tinge to the glass, while the Luxury gets green.

The Luxury's interior looks much like last year's model, aside from a new steering wheel with cool soft-touch buttons. Sport models get a darker, more purposeful interior with black maple wood trim in place of the Luxury's brown walnut, plus white-face gauges and contrasting colors on seats and door panels. My only major complaint has to do with the Luxury's light-colored dash: In direct sun the reflected glare off the windshield was brutal. Glare wasn't a problem with the black dash of the Sport I drove.

In the Driver's Seat: The equipment you expect in a $50k-$60k car

2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Interior

Sport and Luxury models each get unique interiors; this is the Luxury version

Photo © Greg Jarem
What I like best about the new E-Class is the improved level of standard equipment. Look up and you'll see the first major change: A sunroof. Two of them, actually, one over the front seat (which opens) and one over the rear seat (which doesn't). An option on last year's model, the sunroof is now standard. A motorized cloth blind covers the two panes to block out the sun; unfortunately front and rear cannot be covered or uncovered individually.

The 2007 E's center console is just as button-happy and complex as last year's model, but the phone keypad now works with Bluetooth phones. (Previously the keypad was a dud unless you bought the optional built-in phone.) Also new on the standard equipment list: A premium Harmon-Kardon stereo system with six-disc CD changer.

Interior space is generous up front; one unusually tall journalist told me the new E was one of the few cars that accommodated him comfortably. Unfortunately, I had to sit behind this guy, and were it not for the deep cutouts scooped into the seatback, I wouldn't have been able to do it without having my knees surgically removed.

On the Road: Power, power, and more power

The 268 hp 3.5 liter V6 engine made its debut in the 2006 E350. It's a fantastic engine, smooth, quiet and very powerful. I didn't see how things could get any better - until I drove the E550's new 5.5 liter V8. It puts out an amazing 382 hp, but you'd never know it in day-to-day driving. Most cars with this kind of power are always trying to get away from you, but the E550 is docile as can be. Only when you stomp the accelerator will you see what it's capable of - and man, does it ever fly!

The trip computers reported MPG in the mid-20s in the E350 and low 20s in the E550, impressive considering how much power these cars have (and how often I was using it). The 7-speed automatic, standard in both cars, no doubt contributed to the rear-wheel-drive E's great mix of power and economy.

The E550 gets standard air springs that give it a smoother ride with better body control in the curves. Traditional steel springs give the E350 a harsher ride but also make it feel smaller and more nimble. Both cars get lower steering ratios for '07, meaning that less steering wheel movement is required to turn the car. I thought the steering was wonderful on windy roads, but straight-line freeway driving required constant tiny corrections.

Journey's End: New E-Class is well worth the price

2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class rear view

Sport model gets big chrome exhaust tips and LED taillights

Photo © Greg Jarem
Last year's E-class had many of the features I like in the 2007 model, including the wonderful 3.5 liter V6 engine, top-notch safety kit, and beautifully crafted interior. But when I sat in the driver's seat and looked around, it just didn't feel like $55,000 worth of car.

With the 2007 E-Class, that's no longer the case. Thanks to premium features such the two-row sunroof, Harmon-Kardon stereo, Bluetooth phone integration and choice of Luxury or Sport packages, the new E350 earns its $50,550 base price. And the sparkling performance of the V8 and competence of the air suspension justify the extra $8,450 for the E550.

Is it perfect? Not quite. Though I like the improved steering response in the curves, I wish it wasn't such a chore to pilot the E in a straight line. And Mercedes' option prices, not available at time of writing, are traditionally quite lofty. That said, Mercedes staffers alluded to package pricing in keeping with the E-Class' new-found value equation.

If I had $50 to $60k to spend on a car, the old E-Class wouldn't have been my first choice. But the 2007 is a totally different story. With its new-found emphasis on style and value, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a much better car -- and a much better buy.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The E550 is the Goldylocks, just right!, Member tonkatoytruck

One has to own a German designed luxury sport sedan to truly appreciate all the features not available in other designs. The power of the V8 makes this a great compromise between an all out sports car and pure luxury sedan. Its safety features are top notch and its smooth ride still provides great handling. It is far more refined than the CTS V I drove, more reliable than any Jaguar or Audi, and with maximum performance summer tires, its performance comes much closer to BMW than reviews would indicate. The seven speed automatic is a marvel of smoothness. I do wish it shifted down quicker but the paddle shifters make this a non issue once you get used to implementing them. Although looks are subjective, I find the smooth, curvy lines the most attractive of its competitors although the Jaguar is beautiful. A car one really needs to own to appreciate fully. Its level of refinement is a true pleasure and makes non German designs seem archaic. The AMG package is worth every penny and provides better wheels, better exhaust, lower suspension, nicer trim inside, and a level of performance that makes the E550 the perfect compromise between sport and luxury.

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