June 3, 2004

Consumer Reports says Mercedes E320’s excellent performance marred by poor reliability

Yonkers, New York – In recent tests of four luxury sedans, Consumer Reports rated the Mercedes-Benz E320 the best of the group, with an overall score of “Excellent.” The E320 outscored the newly-redesigned BMW 530i, the Jaguar S-Type, and the Volvo S80 in tests for the June 2004 issue of the Consumer Reports magazine.

However, the E320’s performance was tarnished by its poor showing off the track, said the magazine. In CR’s annual subscriber survey, the first-year reliability of the redesigned E-Class has been much worse than average. It was one of nine sedans that received the lowest rating in predicted reliability. However, the E320’s score in performance testing places it fourth among a total of 13 luxury sedans that have been tested recently by Consumer Reports. The Lexus LS430 is the top-rated vehicle in the category.

“The E320 provides a superb driving experience, combining a very comfortable ride with agile handling, a quiet cabin, and excellent fit and finish,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test facility in East Haddam, Connecticut. “Unfortunately, its poor performance in the reliability front prevents us from recommending the E320.”

Closely tailing the E320 was the BMW 530i, which received a major redesign for 2004. Its previous generation earned the spot of CR’s best car tested in 2002 and 2003. But the 2004 530i’s biggest drawback is its needlessly complicated multifunction iDrive control system, said the magazine.

Of the four cars tested, CR is only recommending the S80. To be recommended, the vehicle must have performed well in Consumer Reports’ tests, have at least average reliability based on CR’s surveys of its subscribers, and done well in independent crash testing. The reliability histories of the E320 and the S-Type are much worse than average, making it impossible for CR to recommend those vehicles. CR lacks reliability data on the 530i.

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