Despite contrary belief, the long-roof is alive and well, at least in the luxury segment.
As most mainstream automakers are diverting their attention away from the traditional station wagon in favour of crossovers and electrification, the Europeans are sticking strong with what they believe in. Audi has just announced the return of the Avant to the North American market, Porsche produces the spectacular Panamera Sport Turismo (reviewed here), and Mercedes-Benz makes multiple wagons all the way up to the 600+ horsepower AMG E 63.
In the past two years, we have been fortunate enough to sample three long-roofs from Stuttgart, including the new AMG C 43. As interesting as those tuned motors are, Mercedes-Benz’s highest net worth clients have a perennial favourite. Rather than focusing at the performance models, the wealthiest North American buyers would opt for this – the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4MATIC Wagon.
The E-Class Wagon comes in three distinct variants, starting with this entry-level E 450. Those craving some additional power will look towards the inline-six in the E 53 (reviewed here), and of course, the ultimate in long-roof sleepers remains the $119,900 E 63 (reviewed here). There’s little to visually differentiate the E-Class Wagon from the smaller C-Class, other than slightly substantiated proportions. It looks fairly handsome overall, though the rear end appears to droop a bit when looking at the side profile. LED lighting is standard all around, and our tester was equipped with some stylish 19-inch AMG wheels.
On the inside, the five-door is typical E-Class fare, with excellent materials inside and out. One heritage touch that surprised us is the presence of a rear-facing third row seat that pops out of the cargo area floor. Every E-Class Wagon since the W123 (1975 to 1986) has offered this option, and we’re glad to see it surviving the test of time. It has two three-point seatbelts and a graphic that indicates that it can support booster seats up to a certain height. This is an occasional-use seat only for smaller people, but the cool factor is very real.
Being a Mercedes-Benz, the E 450 is superbly comfortable. The powered and heated front seats provide excellent support for all commuting situations, regardless of length. The driving position is fairly good, however the two large displays make for a rather tall dashboard and shorter drivers may have issues maintaining proper visibility without raising the seat significantly. Rear seat legroom is more than sufficient and a healthy boost over the smaller C-Class (reviewed here), meaning the E-Class, especially in this body configuration, makes for a perfect family vehicle.
The E 450 replaces the outgoing E 400, and along with the name change offers a bit of a power bump. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (not to be confused with the inline-six in the 53-series cars) offers 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. It’s paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, and all of this comes together to make for a 100km/h sprint in just about five seconds flat. The regular E 300 is quick enough for what most people will want, but the E 450’s extra horsepower and torque makes for a good bit of fun.
The V6 is much smoother than the E 300’s turbo-four, which is saying a lot considering how good the four-cylinder already is. We observed some unnecessary and frankly, unpleasant drone on acceleration, but operation is seamless. When cruising at speed, the E 450 is as silent as you expect a mid-level Mercedes to be, with minimal road noise making its way into the cabin. Everything is well insulated, and ride quality is superb.
The fuel economy is rated at 12.3L/100km city and 8.9L/100km highway, for a combined average of 10.8L/100km. Our road test returned a 11.5L/100km average with a healthy mix of city driving. One longer highway run saw an indicated 8.8L/100km, surpassing the projected number ever so slightly. The E 450 requires 91-octane premium fuel, and the tank will hold a maximum of 66L.
An essential feature available on current E-Class models is the Intelligent Drive Package, which adds all of the active safety bits becoming commonplace. Systems like Active Distance Assist, Active Steering Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Congestion Emergency Braking, Active Lane Change Assist, and more are all included. These all come together to make for a semi-autonomous driving experience in your E 450, and going a step further than most competitors, the car can actually change lanes on command without the driver ever having to touch the steering wheel.
Mercedes-Benz prices the E 450 Wagon at $75,900 to start, a $4,200 premium over the E 450 sedan. Our test vehicle carried the $3,000 Intelligent Drive Package, $4,600 Premium Package, and $550 heated rear seats. Those wanting the AMG 19-inch wheels will have to spend an extra $1,000. The Premium Package is absolutely necessary, as it offers a panoramic sunroof, digital instrument cluster, Burmester sound system, Keyless Go, and heated front armrests. We assume most dealers will only carry Premium Package cars, anyhow. The as-tested total for our tester came to $85,050 before taxes and fees.
The end is imminent for long-roofs, as buyers alone are digging the station wagon’s grave with every purchase of a crossover or SUV. Mercedes-Benz’s lineup is unique in that the plethora of models they offer means there’s legitimately something for everyone. Those looking for a soft-roader for the Costco parking lot can be coddled in the GLC, and buyers looking to get some real off-roading cred can opt for the traditional yet modernized G-Wagon (reviewed here). What the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4MATIC Wagon offers is a traditional take on luxury transportation with the modern amenities we expect from the E-Class line.