2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain first drive review: Go butch or go home

How do you sell a wagon in the United States in 2020? Make it look like an SUV. Traditional station wagons continue to fall out of favor among American customers, but the top crossovers continue to sell like pastries. With this in mind: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon is dead; Long live the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain.

The All-Terrain joins the American lineup of Mercedes as part of the Model Year 2021 E-Class Update. It’s essentially the outgoing E450 wagon with an extra 2 inches of ground clearance, standard air suspension (previously an option), some rugged-looking body upholstery, and new butch bumper treatments. Overall, the look really works; the All-Terrain is downright beautiful, although I’m not sure if all the coating works against my tester’s rich Cardinal Red hue. Either way, this crossover-like updo makes a lot of sense for the E-Class, positioning it better to take on other high-drive luxury wagons like the Audi A6 Allroad and Volvo V90 Cross Country.

You can get the All-Terrain in E450 4Matic version only in the US, which means it uses Mercedes’ 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 engine and all-wheel drive. The straight-six engine is the same one you’ll find in a number of other Benz products, producing 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, plus an additional 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet from the 48-volt EQ -Boost system. light hybrid.

With its ample low-end torque and smooth nine-speed automatic transmission, the E-Class All-Terrain is super pleasant to drive. This wagon pulls away from traffic lights with authority, thanks in part to the extra torque boost from lightweight hybrid technology (Mercedes estimates a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.1 seconds). Also, EQ-Boost stretches the action of the stop-start system, which means it’s more likely to leave the fuel economy feature turned on as this technology isn’t usually my jam. This helps the burly 4,350-pound E450 All-Terrain return respectable EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 city miles per gallon, 28 highway mpg and 24 mpg combined.

The All-Terrain is the kind of car you wouldn’t think twice about going hundreds of miles in one sitting, knowing you’ll arrive at your destination as relaxed as when you left. Standard Adaptive Air Suspension takes a lot of credit for that balance and composure, mitigating the biggest impacts from broken pavement and generally delivering a firm, serene ride. Pro tip, though: skip the 20-inch wheels you see on this test car. As beautiful as they are, they allow you to feel small initial impacts through the frame. Plus, the surprisingly aggressive Pirelli P-Zero 245/40 front and 275/35 rear summer tires go against the whole take me anywhere attitude of the All-Terrain. This E450 comes standard with 19-inch wheels and stock 245/45 tires at all four corners; this is definitely the way to go.

I think you won’t be doing much off-roading with these 20-inch wheels and P-Zero summer tires.

Michael Shaffer / Mercedes-Benz

On the other hand, throw the All-Terrain into Sport mode and the air suspension crouches, the steering adds a little more weight, and those sticky tires offer plenty of cornering grip. In other words, the few people who would otherwise have bought a standard E450 wagon will be happy to know that this thing can still be hustle and bustle if provoked. And if it’s the performance you’re looking for, AMG has you covered.

For what it’s worth, the All-Terrain has Offroad and Offroad Plus ride modes that increase suspension and reduce throttle sensitivity, but I don’t recommend venturing too far off the beaten track in one of these wagons, especially if you are. rolling about 20s. Very similar the new Audi A6 Allroad, this E-Class is an All-Terrain in name and appearance far more than in skill. Do you have a dirt road on the way to your campsite? Great, have fun. Do you want to stay with the jeeps on the trails? Enter the Mercedes headquarters and steal the Class E 4×4 squared instead of.

Furthermore, like Audi’s new Allroad, the E-Class All-Terrain is an absolute technological powerhouse. On the driver assistance front, the E450 is available with adaptive full speed cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, active steering assistance, lane change assistance, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, technology lane keeping and Mercedes’ new exit warning feature, which will alert you if an object is approaching when you are parallel parked and about to open the door. (Cyclists will thank you.) The only bad news is that none of this safety equipment is standard, so be sure to add the $ 1,950 Driving Assistance Package.

The cabin of the All-Terrain is mostly flawless and all 2021 E-Class models now use Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment technology.

Michael Shaffer / Mercedes-Benz

The E-Class updates to Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment technology. A pair of 12.3-inch screens extend two-thirds of the dashboard, the left display serves as a digital instrument cluster, the right one serves as the primary multimedia interface. Like it Integration of MBUX in other Mercedes-Benz models, you can use the software via steering wheel controllers, a touchpad on the center console, voice commands – “Hey, Mercedes, I’m cold” – or just by touching the screen. I deal with the latter, especially with the system’s quick responses to inputs. Also, you should definitely try the augmented reality navigation overlays ($ 350) because they make finding destinations a breeze.

Aside from the technological update, the interior of the E-Class remains essentially unchanged, which is fine for me. It is an incredibly comfortable and elegant cabin, with pleasing details like open pore wood, real metal finishes and a billion different ambient light choices. Front and rear passengers have plenty of room to stretch out, and there’s 35 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Fold them and you have 64 cubes at your disposal.

There is only one very minor problem with the interior of the new E-Class, and it is not specific to the All-Terrain: the steering wheel. For some odd reason, Mercedes removed the thumbpad controllers for the infotainment system, as well as the physical buttons and scroll wheels for the volume and menu controls. Instead, there are small capacitive touch sensors that you have to get used to. The four-way scroll pads for screens aren’t that bad, but the volume scroll bar is maddening. Inevitably I always end up going too high or too low, or I press too hard and mute everything. I’m not sure why Mercedes decided to fix what wasn’t broken.

Long live the long roof.

Michael Shaffer / Mercedes-Benz

But as I said, that’s a minor gripe in an otherwise flawless cabin, which can be optioned all the way to the gills with amenities like massage seats, wireless phone charging, heated armrests, and many different color and finish combinations. There is also a $ 1,100 acoustic comfort package on the option list, which offers increased cabin insulation and special acoustic glass. If silence is your definition of luxury, then this is a must-have add-on.

The 2021 E450 All-Terrain costs $ 68,650 to get started, including $ 1,050 for the destination. Load one like the car you see here and you’re looking at $ 84,790. That’s a lot of money, but it’s in line with the prices of the Audi A6 Allroad. However, the Volvo V90 Cross Country is the cheapest of the bunch and offers much more ground clearance. Also, I think the Swede is the best looking float in the bunch.

In reality though, it totally doesn’t matter if the All-Terrain can outperform an Audi Allroad. What matters is that it makes the E-Class wagon more attractive to US buyers. If these off-road issues also manage to get some people to give up on one GLE-class SUV in favor of the long service life of the roof, which helps ensure a brighter future for all Mercedes-Benz wagons: the Holy Grail AMG E63 included. The new E-Class All-Terrain is no better or worse than the old E450. But if a little extra trim and air suspension is what it takes to move them around the US, then they’re all in favor of a little off-road cosplay.

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