Mercedes’s E350 BlueTEC attempts to revive diesel cars in America, with the German automaker’s trademark mix of luxury and performance. Let’s break down what’s been said about the E350.
MotorTrend says “the E350 Bluetec is not a blast to drive, period,” adding “In fact, the driving experience is actually quite dull.” They say that the motor noise is quite loud, compared to other modern diesels, although the cabin does a good job at dampening the noise. The shifts are quiet, as well.
Regarding performance, MotorTrend says: “Acceleration is lackluster, with the 210-horsepower, 400-pound-foot turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 needing 7.5 seconds to get the 4167-pound sedan to 60 mph and 15.6 seconds to get it through the quarter mile. The brakes… are fairly middle of the road as well, with 60-0 mph requiring 128 feet. Handling? That’s middling too.”
MotorTrend goes on to praise its fuel economy as a trade-off for its performance: 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Mercedes is charging $1,500 more for the diesel E350, but the review notes that this will come back in fuel-cost savings.
The reviewer likes many of the options and packages that come with the E350 (if not their price), but finds the center stack controls to be cheap-looking.
The final assessment? “Given its fuel economy and ability to effortlessly eat up highway miles, it would certainly make a great road-trip car. Just prepare to be stared at a lot by truckers on the rare occasion that you have to fill up.”
Car and Driver is similarly unimpressed with the E350 Bluetec’s acceleration saying it “isn’t nearly as astounding as those torque figures might suggest.” They add: “Our test car posted a tepid 7.2-second 0-to-60 time, nearly a second off the 258-pound-footed, gas-powered E350’s 6.3 seconds. We attribute some of this laggardlyness to our diesel’s 300 extra pounds, most of it exhaust-scrubbing hardware.”
They call the engine “solid, firm, unbreakable.” They call the steering “slow, a bit numb, and not very linear,” the brakes “deliberate and predictable.”
Car and Driver says “The ride is absolutely stable, and the car tracks with locomotive determination. Responses are stout; this is a linebacker, not a wide receiver.”
They also praise the range of this car, again noting that this is the major selling point, not killer performance.
The Car and Driver test car was equipped with the Premium 2 package which included navigation, Harman/Kardon audio, HID headlamps, and heated seats and a lot more. C&D say that “nothing approaching the full cost of the Bluetec system’s hardware appears to be passed along to the consumer, and fuel savings promise to be significant if diesel prices remain close to those of gasoline.” But they do mention that the Bluetec replacement urea will set you back about $1500 every 100,000 miles, negating much of the fuel savings.
Car and Driver concludes that the E350 Bluetec “defines luxury as the reduction of stress.”
Automobile says that the E350 has “that old-school Mercedes vibe” and “unmistakable Autobahn breeding.” The suspension is firm and “The steering effort is consistent and not overly light. You sit on large, firm, flat seats… [T]hen of course there’s the diesel engine gurgling away under the hood. The whole effect is very Germanic.”
They say the best thing about this car is its engine and its impressive fuel economy: “According to the trip computer, this test car had averaged 29 mpg over the previous 550 miles, which is pretty darn impressive for a mid-size luxury car — especially one that’d been driven by my heavy-footed colleagues.” They also say the engine is a bit loud. The steering is referred to as “numb.”
It seems as if Automobile’s reviewers couldn’t muster a lot of excitement for the E350 Bluetec, but they came to a similar conclusion as other reviewers: “A car doesn’t need to autocross reflexes or drag strip muscle to exude personality.”
They conclude: “What the E-class does manage, even with an oil-burner, is to carry off an air of bank-vault solidity that still eludes most imitators.”
Edmunds says the E350 Bluetec “is a luxury sedan that non-diesel buyers should test-drive, since it shows us why the diesel engine is the powertrain of choice for many Europeans.”
They say it hustles from 0 to 60 in 7.7 seconds and note the appeal of its range: “with a fuel tank capacity of more than 21 gallons, the car’s cruising range is 696 miles on the open road.”
As far as the steering goes, they say it handles well “although its light-effort steering isn’t too communicative.” They add: “This car feels tremendously stable. Not a very sporting car but isn’t trying to be, which is actually kind of refreshing.”
Again, with an allusion to old-school Mercedes performance, Edmunds says that the E350 “rides like a Mercedes of 25 years ago.” They were generally in favor of the controls at the driver’s disposal and called the cabin space “ample.”