Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec 18-Month Review and Report

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DSC_0295It’s interesting how this autobahn cruiser has somewhat polarized staffer points-of-view.  Paul Riegler has repeatedly stated that this is the only car he wants to drive, citing its comfortable ride and seats.  Indeed, this is no sports sedan (we’ve just added one of those, the BMW ActiveHybrid 5, to our long-term stable).  Everyone who has driven the car for any period of time, however, has loved it.

The seats are remarkable.  While the massage feature (driver only) has seen some heated discussions on who gets to drive, the seats can be adjusted to fit any size and shape driver.  The sound system is excellent and supports streaming Bluetooth.

IMG_0183 (Large)It’s important to remember the Benz was designed for cruising, not autocross, but I have found that selecting the sport option on the suspension setting goes a long way towards meeting my need to be engaged in my driving and allows the Benz to enjoy the twisties.

Long-distance touring, thanks to a combination of the seats and the diesel’s fuel economy and range as well as a solid and firm ride, is a no brainer.  Why take a plane when you can take the Benz?  While this is perhaps more customary in Mercedes’ home market, where it’s been the practice for many decades (indeed, cell phone’s GSM was designed by Europeans in order to enable a European-wide network that would allow someone to hold a conversation while driving from Germany to Austria and then to Italy), it hasn’t quite caught on in the states, perhaps due to the greater distances involved.

DSC_0416The suspension does an excellent job of providing passenger comfort but it is not overly engaging.   Steering is quick and precise although there is little road feel (it falls between a BMW and a Lexus in this category).  The car feels and reacts like a smaller vehicle (but remember, it is quite large).

The one thing I haven’t quite figured out in the past 18 months is acceleration.  It does in fact go from standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 6.6 seconds but it feels slow doing so.  On the other hand, overtaking traffic can be addictive.

At speed (and we’ve spent significant time driving anywhere from 180 km/h (112 mph) to 220 km/h (137 mph), it feels firmly planted on the highway (or Autobahn).

In terms of overall fuel economy, we let the onboard computer run from the start of our drive to New England in 2011 until now and just hit a total of 357 hours of driving with the car. This translated to 9763 miles (out of a total of 10,748) with an average fuel economy of 29.7 mpg (7.9 l/100 km).

Click here to continue to Page 3The Mercedes E350 BlueTec’s Safety Features and Virtual Tour

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