As for handling, the E350 came equipped with their Agility Control suspension system. This allows the computer to monitor both the driving style of the driver as well as the driving conditions of the road. The computer then adjusts each individual shock damper depending on that feedback. Admittedly, I used this car more as a luxury highway cruiser than a sports saloon, so I found the ride to be planted, yet compliant. It always provided me a comfortable sense of stability and control.
ABS is a given in today’s cars, but the more current cars are also offering additional safety features such as the brake assist in our test E350. Another set of sensors monitor the speed of the driver’s foot depressing the brake pedal and applies full pressure immediately if it senses an adverse situation. Fortunately I never had to use it, but given the heft of this car, it’s great for simple peace of mind.
All around, this car was a driving pleasure. It was smooth, comfortable, and provided all the luxury amenities one could realistically want in a daily driver. The BlueTEC engine was a great bonus. After five days of mixed city and highway driving on and around the coast of Northern California, my mileage impressively averaged over 34 miles per gallon.
In addition to the bevy of standard features, our test car came fully loaded with the optional Premium Package 2, which included the full featured Mercedes COMAND SAT NAV System, an audiophile’s Harman/Kardon Dolby digital surround sound system and iPod cable, a power rear window sunshade, Active Curve Bi-Xenon headlamps, the push button proximity key system, and an electronic trunk closing system. Along with such standard features as the power driver’s seat, power glass moonroof, and multifunction steering wheel, one added bonus is the interior ambient lighting. Not a very significant feature, but its one detail that is absolutely fitting for a $58,000 luxury car. It’s adds an air of softness and calm to night driving.
All the interior features were easy to reach and intuitive, save for the SAT NAV system. The rotary COMAND System took a few times to master its functionality, prompting a few miscues with the controls, but otherwise worked well. I had to resist reaching for the display screen considering many competitive SAT NAV units are touch screen instead.
The dash was managed well, providing an easy to read set of gauges that sandwiched a simple central display screen. It was easily toggled via intuitive steering wheel controls between various systems within the car, for example mileage, distance to empty, stereo settings, drive time, etc.
The outside is unmistakably Mercedes. From their trademark three pointed star emblem on the hood back, the lines have been modernized and have become very sleek and attractive. Aerodynamically, it’s a quiet car, with a .28 coefficient of drag to prove it.
There is more design consistency across the line of Mercedes cars today that have made them stand out more clearly among the tightly knit competitive trio they belong to with BMW and Audi.