It’s safe to say that in my career, I’ve tested, pushed, revved, tracked and picked apart hundreds of vehicles. It’s also safe to say that it’s extremely rare for me to get a crush on a mid-range sedan, no matter how luxurious—especially the “entry-level” variant.
And yet, crush I did on the all-new 2017 Mercedes E-Class, which is nothing short of a technological tour de force. Even though I drove the lowly 300 version, I found myself repeatedly surprised and delighted. Surprised at the handsome new styling (I detested the last iteration’s exaggerated boxy lines and square-jawed face) and the relative simplicity of the controls (not usually Mercedes’ strength). And delighted by the top-flight interior trim options and a 13 cubic-foot rear cargo area, bigger and more flexible than most crossovers.
Although the devil is most often in the details, especially with today’s crowded luxury auto space, in the case of the E300, the bigger picture commands equal focus: This is not only the most advanced production car Mercedes has put on the road to date, but it is arguably the most advanced car for sale at the moment. Some are sure to take issue with such a bold claim, but the new E-Class is a smorgasbord, a buffet, an all-you-can-eat meal of cutting-edge semi-autonomous, active-safety and luxury features. And with a base price of $53,075, it begs a simple yet profound question: if you can get this much in Mercedes’ mid-size sedan, why—other than for sheer status—would you spend tens of thousands more for a flagship S-Class?
Lest you think I have begun to sip Mercedes’ Kool-Aid, the E300 does have a few less-than-perfect features. Numero uno: With 241 horsepower, the E300 isn’t exactly a weapon of mass speed destruction. And its own cleverness sometimes trips it up: The thoroughly impressive self-parking feature, capable of finding a spot and also slotting itself in, neatly paralleled my E300 between two other vehicles. The only problem? The other cars were parked nose-in in a supermarket lot (watch it on the video).
As for oomph, I’m not worried. Mercedes will get the AMG high-performance version to market any day now. Which might just turn my sedan crush into true love.