|Positives: Looks more like a handsome wagon than a rugged crossover, powerful powertrain combo, stunning displays, excellent levels of storage and passenger space.|
|Negatives: Needlessly complex infotainment system, unrefined ride, gets pricey when optioned out.|
|Bottom Line: We love the E450 All-Terrain because it's quick AWD wagon and because it thumbs its nose at ubiquitous crossovers. The new engine is a wonderful change, too. We just lament the overdone infotainment and the somewhat unrefined ride for this price.|
There's a lot to love about the All-Terrain's driving experience. Although it doesn't handle like a sports car, the potent station wagon more than holds its own in terms of power. Don't expect to take it hard into the turns despite the adaptive air suspension. It's still a heavy beast.
Ride Quality: The 19" wheels make the ride pretty firm, but it wasn't upsetting. Don't upgrade to the 20" versions because that would certainly make it a rough ride.
Acceleration: It takes 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph. That's pretty dang quick for a big station wagon, but the mild hybrid system does a phenomenal job of filling in torque gaps.
Braking: The brakes are strong and progressive. Pedal feel was decent, and there were no mushy spots.
Steering: There's some solid steering effort, and it's nicely precise. There is, however, an absence of feedback.
Handling: The added ride height and weight doesn't help matters. The E450 All-Terrain feels corpulent in the turns, but its low center of gravity is still better than most crossovers.
We gave the infotainment system relatively high marks because of the way it looks. Big screens and vivid graphics certainly look upscale, but the functionality issues and fussy controls make it hard to use.
Infotainment System: Massive 12.3 inches of real estate for both the instrument cluster and the center display screen are seriously large. The colors look phenomenal, as do the graphics. The menus are a bit convoluted, as is the navigation of them while driving.
Controls: While there are physical controls via the touchpad and steering wheel, the overall use of them is wonky. It's easy to mis-select a menu item or scroll past a selection when you don't intend to. We also despise the little steering wheel stalk of a gear selector.
Some might criticize Mercedes' attempt to make its venerable E-Class wagon look like a crossover, but we quite like the execution of it which doesn't deviate much from the wagon look. The plastic trim is subtle, and none of it seems overdone. Inside, the looks are high-end, and it retains the E-Class's level of refinement.
Front: Although it doesn't have the AMG GTR grille found on the ballistic Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon, we quite like the twin-bar grille and the simple headlights. The twin bulges on the hood are also a nice touch that's not overdone.
Rear: The parallel taillight pattern looks great, but we would prefer less chrome on the back end. Matte black would've worked better, but that might not look premium enough for the brand.
Profile: The body is both lean and muscular, and the sloping greenhouse looks so good here. Even the black wheel arches look pretty nice.
Cabin: The interior is very refined with excellent materials and a premium-looking layout. It's just too bad there's no carbon fiber trim or a less tech-heavy setup inside.
Aside from the somewhat stiff ride, the interior of the All-Terrain is both sumptuous and roomy. It makes a strong case for not buying a tall crossover.
Front Seats: Great bolstering and perfect cushioning make for some seriously comfortable front seats. There's great adjustability, too. We just don't like the door mounted controls because we keep reaching for the left side of the lower seat cushion to make adjustments.
Rear Seats: All positions in row two are very good, and there's 36.2 inches of rear legroom which is plenty for tall passengers.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The All-Terrain has very good sound deadening and also manages road and wind noise very well.
Visibility: All around visibility is very good with some minor obstruction in back due to the raked D-pillar. The seating position is also very good and helps you place the car in tight spots.
Climate: The large circular vents move air quickly and in high volumes. We had no problem firing up the heated seats. It's just too bad our tester didn't have a heated steering wheel at this price.
The E-Class series does very well in crash tests and with safety tech. It scored top marks and provides solid safety tech. Unfortunately, the standard set of safety features isn't robust and the full kit is very expensive as optional equipment.
IIHS Rating: The E-Class earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating with demerits in the area of headlights, dependent on trim level.
NHTSA Rating: The E-Class gets five stars in crash tests from the federal government. There's also less rollover risk because of its height.
Standard Tech: The E450 comes with a Brake Assist System, Attention Assist, Active Brake Assist, PRE-SAFE Predictive Occupant-Protection System, Crosswind Stabilization, Blind Spot Assist, PRE-SAFE Sound, and a Rearvlew Camera.
Optional Tech: Our tester came with the $1,950 Driver Assistance Package that includes Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Steering Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Brake Assist w/ Cross-Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Rear-End Collision Protection, PRE-SAFE Impulse Side, and Route-Based Speed Adaptation.
The E-Class Wagon makes a strong case to shy away from crossovers because of its capacious cargo area. We just wish there were more thoughtful cabin storage options. They get sacrificed to style, unfortunately.
Storage Space: The center armrest is on the shallow side in spite of its length. The retractable door compartment at the front of the center console is quite good. Door pockets are medium sized.
Cargo Room: The All-Terrain provides 35 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a total of 64 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.
We were really surprised by how much efficiency a high-powered station wagon could get. Our numbers were pretty good given the fact that we pushed the All-Terrain pretty hard at times.
Observed: 26.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 169 miles.
The premium Burmester sound system sounds incredible, and it's a welcomed addition to an already luxurious vehicle. It comes in the packed $2,300 Premium Package Lite, and it's worth the expense.