It isn’t often (OK, maybe never) the price of a luxury car gets
reduced by several thousand dollars. But that’s what Mercedes-Benz did
with 2010 models, including the E550. But Mercedes-Benz not only
lowered it prices, it did so with a re-designed vehicle, not the staid
offerings of yesteryear.
The E550 five-passenger sedan is the prime example of how the German
manufacturer is attempting to retrieve former Mercedes owners who may
have opted for more trendy and less expensive luxury sedans in recent
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
In a perfect world, my weekly test drive would have been, let’s say,
to drive across Germany on the Autoban. But a week of everyday driving
was just fine, too. There’s nothing E550 doesn’t do well.
It’s not the most economical beast around. Its 16 mpg with the
required premium fuel isn’t exactly eco-friendly. Then again, the MB
E550 is a performance sedan that boasts of a 5.5-liter, 32-valve, 382
horsepower engine and a 7-speed automatic transmission. Guess what? It
accelerates with authority with a 0-60 mph rating in 5.2 seconds. Know
anyone who buys a Mercedes Benz for environmental reasons?
Therefore, even short stints on the highway showcase the car at its
best. It’s quick. It’s quiet. It maneuvers in traffic with elegance and
confidence. What’s not to like?
No manufacturer calls its cars black, red, white, blue or green. The
newfangled names are often pretentious. But how can you not like
Palladium Silver (exterior), Natural Beige (leather seats) and Black
Ash (wood trim)?
The E550 is handsome and ideally appointed. The wood trim
complements the leather. The seats are comfortable — like an expensive
chair that feels right the first time you sit in it.
There’s adequate room all around, but it’s not spacious. The trunk
is cavernous and flat without obstructed space. Three golf bags might
fit and certainly a dozen grocery bags or several pieces of luggage
won’t present problems.
The redesign feature a more angular body. Forget the squared off
Mercedes-Benz reputation. Headlamps have also been redone with a modern
sports car look. Mercedes, of course, promotes the E series as the
“world’s most aerodynamic luxury sedan. Audi may disagree, but it’s a
The E550 shouldn’t be considered a sports car, but to call it a
sedan seems unfair. It’s a cruiser, for sure. But 5.2 seconds for the
0-60 mph test can’t be ignored. There’s little interior noise at any
speed and bumps in the room are largely absorbed.
Base price is $5,100 less than the 2009 model.
Wood trim that would work if used in what used called a “smoking
room.” Handsome stuff used classically displayed throughout the cabin.
Hip huggers/massager. Officially, it’s called the Drive Dynamic
Multicontoured Driver Seat. The lumbar support hugs your hips while
turning. And there’s a free massage with a flick of a lever next to the
driver’s seat. It’s a $650 option. Buy it.
Dolby Digital sound system. Solo drive on the open road? Nirvana.
Put in six CDs, crank up the volume. Drive for hours in bliss. Road
rage? Not from this driver in this car. It’s part of a $6,800 Premium
Package with some items hard to resist.
Seven-inch navigation screen with crisp picture.
Heated cup holders.
Expensive option packages.
Three seat belts in the back seat, but who’s kidding whom? Two
adults fit comfortably in the back seat, but three people will not —
unless they’re all petite.
Steering wheel column shift lever. It’s the old “three-on-the-tree” approach. Doesn’t seem to fit a luxury car.
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.2 seconds.
Airbags: driver and passenger front dual stage, front and rear window side, front side and pelvis and driver knee.
Antilock brakes: standard.
Fuel economy (EPA estimates) 16 mpg (city), 24 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet rated
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $56,300.00.
Price As tested: $69,625.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 4
years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 4 years/50,000 miles; Roadside
Assistance, unlimited miles/unlimited years.
Web site: www.mbusa.com.
What Others Say:
“I can’t recall a price cut of this magnitude — nearly 9 percent —
on any recent car, let alone one that’s been fully redesigned.” —- New
“With starting prices marked down and new features added such as the
standard Attention Assist that monitors and warns of impending driver
fatigue, Mercedes-Benz has made a bedrock entry in the premium midsize
field that is a more-solid value than its predecessor.” —- Consumer
“The new E-Class is a return-path to what people always loved
Mercedes for: a solid, safe, comfortable, conservative car in which you
can invest utter faith.” —- Motor Trend.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Most car buyers seek value over status, but how about getting both?
The next car I buy will likely be the best value I can find for about
half the price of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550. But if I had $70,000 to
spend, I’d buy this car.”
James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For
Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online
publications and is also the editor of TheWeeklyDriver.com. A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike — to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.