2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

North Vancouver, British Columbia – It always surprises me that luxury automakers are willing to take such big risks when restyling their most popular vehicles. Drastic changes in styling can have a dramatically positive or devastatingly negative affect on purchasers’ decision-making before they even get to drive the car, with the result that any advances the manufacturer has made in vehicle comfort, safety, driveability, and utility may simply not be experienced by some potential buyers.

So I wonder at the possible consequences for the dramatically redesigned 2010 E-Class sedan. In my opinion, the new face of the E-Class has traded soft elegance for sharp-edged aggressiveness. In Canada, all E-Class sedans come with the AMG body kit, which means a more aggressive lower spoiler with those odd L-shaped LED daytime running lights. As well, the E’s sporty 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels would be more appropriate on an E 63 AMG performance sedan. I can’t see traditional E-Class buyers, who are mostly conservative, middle-aged sedan lovers, warming up to this aggressive styling.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are plenty of loyal E-Class buyers who are hooked on the prestige, performance and safety of an E-Class sedan, not to mention younger buyers who may want to avoid the perceived stodginess of the old E-Class.

One thing is for sure, once behind the wheel, drivers will be impressed with the new E’s improved driving dynamics, interior roominess, luxury features, and safety.

Changes for 2010

For 2010, the six-cylinder E 350 4Matic starts at $62,900, a dramatic $11,600 price drop from the 2009 E 350; presumably, this is to keep its price competitive in an increasingly competitive luxury car market. V8-powered E 550 4Matics and rear-drive E 63 AMGs were also reduced in price this year. As well, Mercedes has introduced a new rear-drive E-Class coupe and convertible, a rear-drive E 350 BlueTEC diesel model will be added this spring, and a 4Matic station wagon model will be added later this year. Last year’s E 300 4Matic sedan with a 3.0-litre V6 has been discontinued.

The new E Class sedan has a completely new body that’s 30 per cent stronger, a longer wheelbase, wider track and slightly lower height and an amazingly low drag coefficient of 0.27. To save weight, the E’s doors, front hood and trunk lid are made of aluminum, and as a result the E 350’s curb weight has increased only slightly even though the car is bigger.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

The E 350 continues to use the same torquey 268-hp 3.5-litre V6 but it now comes with a fuel-saving seven-speed automatic transmission instead of a five-speed. Its standard fourth-generation 4Matic all-wheel drive system is now integrated into the transmission and is lighter and more efficient, and new automatically adjusting shock absorbers are standard on E 350 models while an automatic air suspension is standard on E 550 models.

New safety technologies in the 2010 E 350 include standard Attention Assist, Intelligent Highbeam Control, LED daytime running lights, and optional Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. Also available are Distronic Plus, and Night-view assist.

Despite the drop in price for 2010, the new E 350 has more standard features, including the seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift paddles, 18-inch tires and alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights, Intelligent Highbeam Control, and LED fog lights. Inside are standard Artico faux leather upholstery and wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, 14-way power-adjustable heated front seats with three-position memory, split-folding rear seatbacks, panoramic sunroof, six-CD/DVD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius satellite radio, power tilt and telescoping multifunction heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, auto up/down power windows, auto-dimming exterior and rearview mirrors, ambient lighting package, garage door opener, Parktronic parking sensors, anti-theft alarm, and tire pressure monitoring system.

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