Mercedes-Benz is launching a new-generation wagon, which joins its sedan, coupe and cabriolet siblings in the E-Class family. Packed with useful new safety technology, the stylish 2011 E350 4MATIC Wagon is offered with a 3.5 liter V6 engine producing 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel drive is standard.
The traditional five-seat configuration can easily expand to seven seats by unfolding a standard third-row seat from the luggage compartment floor. The E-Class wagon is the only vehicle in its market segment to feature seven-place seating. Utilizing coil spring suspension up front and electronically controlled air springs at the rear, its load-leveling air suspension keeps the car level regardless of the cargo weight.
Smart-looking aluminum roof rails are standard, and inside, a 60-40 fold-down rear seat makes for cavernous cargo capacity that's highly flexible. For example, the E-Class wagon can carry a grandfather clock and still accommodate three occupants, or a load of lumber can be carried with four people aboard. An elegant luggage cover and cargo net are attached at the beltline so they don't interfere with the fold-down rear seat. At the same time, the cover can be attached to the folded seatbacks if needed, and it can be raised conveniently whenever the standard power liftgate is opened.
4MATIC Four-Wheel Drive Sets a Trend
The latest Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC system is cleanly integrated into the 7-speed automatic transmission so it fits right into the standard body and utilizes the existing front suspension. A number of innovative measures minimize the energy needed to turn the extra gears and shafts to help improve overall fuel economy.
As modern all-wheel-drive systems become more refined, they are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the luxury car market. With negligible weight and fuel-efficiency tradeoffs, full-time four-wheel drive provides year-round traction and stability benefits on both wet and dry roads.
Edgy Design Uses Cubist Cues
The design of the four-door E-Class family begins with a "cubist" treatment of the trademark Mercedes-Benz twin-headlight face. Two parallelogram lights are recessed into the front fenders, bracketing the three-dimensional frame of the front grille.
The overall body shape features a sophisticated interplay between lines and surfaces. Taut, clearly defined lines help define large concave and convex surfaces. In particular, a graceful line follows each rear wheel well and shapes the muscular contours of the rear fenders. The E-Class wagon wears a three-pointed star on the front hood above its familiar louvered front grille.
Sport and Luxury Models
The E-Class wagon is available in Sport or Luxury trim that is designed to appeal to a wide range of customer tastes. All Luxury models have a comfort suspension and can be identified by a four-lamella front grille and a four-spoke steering wheel. Sport models come with LED daytime running lights, a three-lamella grille and a three-spoke wheel as well as a sport suspension with a slightly lower ride height.
ATTENTION ASSIST Cautions "Time For A Rest?"
Among the many standard life-saving features on the E-Class lineup is the innovative ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning, and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.
More New Safety Systems Assist the Driver
Other examples of trailblazing innovations include: Active Lane Keeping Assist, which alerts the driver by simulating rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. Part of the DISTRONIC PLUS system, it operates at speeds above 37 mph via a system that recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the video images. Working in conjunction with the Electronic Stability Program, it can also steer the vehicle back into its lane as a result of specific rear wheel braking.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist uses a small video camera to sense both headlights and taillights, then softly and automatically transitions between high and low beam operation to avoid dazzling other drivers. With this system, the range of the headlights can be varied infinitely from their current 220 feet to up to 1,000 feet.
Night View Assist PLUS can now allow a driver to see pedestrians up to 300 feet earlier than before. When the system recognizes pedestrians, they appear in the display with an outlined frame highlighting each person.
In contrast to passive systems that rely on thermal imaging, this active system bathes the road ahead with invisible infra-red light from two beams mounted in the headlights. Extending the driver's ability to see ahead to nearly 500 feet, Night View Assist PLUS uses an infra-red camera in the windshield and displays the reflected images as highly detailed black & white video images in the instrument cluster.
Optional Distronic Plus system also includes Active Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind, and to the side of, the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings. It also operates along with the Electronic Stability Program to steer the vehicle away from potential danger via specific rear wheel braking.
PRE-SAFE® Brake Applies 100 Percent Braking in Emergencies
When the E-Class is equipped with optional Distronic Plus, another revolutionary Mercedes-Benz safety feature – PRE-SAFE® brake – can now apply full braking automatically in emergencies, to reduce accident severity. When PRE-SAFE Brake senses an impending collision, the system sounds three warning tones.
About 1.6 seconds before impact is likely, partial braking is automatically initiated, and the PRE-SAFE occupant protection system are activated. If the driver still fails to react, full-power braking is initiated about 0.6 seconds before the collision, reducing the impact and effectively acting as an "electronic crumple zone."
All E-Class models are equipped with standard PRE-SAFE – the world's first system that can sense and take protective measures before a crash. The innovative PRE-SAFE system first automatically tensions the seatbelts if the car senses an impending collision. PRE-SAFE uses resettable electric tensioners in addition to the existing pyrotechnic belt tensioners.
In addition, if the front passenger seat is overly reclined or forward, PRE-SAFE automatically moves it to a more favorable crash position. If the seat cushion angle of the front passenger seat is too shallow, it is also re-adjusted to help prevent submarining. If the vehicle skids (often a precursor to rollover), the system closes the sunroof and side windows. If a crash is averted, the electric belt tensioners automatically relax and are ready to deploy again.
If necessary, PRE-SAFE reacts to fishtailing (or oversteer) as well as "plowing" (or understeer) by using existing sensors for ESC stability control to measure steering angle, vehicle yaw and lateral acceleration. Emergency braking can also trigger PRE-SAFE, which monitors sensors for the Brake Assist system as well.
Up to 11 Air Bags for Front and Side Protection
All E-Class sedans and wagons come with a knee air bag for the driver that minimizes leg injuries in frontal collisions, while pelvic air bags work with the existing curtain and side air bags to provide extra protection for front passengers in dangerous side-impact collisions. With front air bags as well, the E-Class sedans and wagons boasts nine supplemental restraints, and rear side air bags are optionally available.
Mercedes-Benz designers paid careful attention to the E-Class interior, to ensure that every surface is appealing in form, color and material. The cockpit features five analog gauges, including two pairs that overlap each other. Standard equipment includes a premium leather-covered steering wheel with integrated multi-function switches and a Direct Select electronic shift lever mounted on the steering column.
14-way adjustable power front seats feature stylish divided seat cushions that cover steel seat frames featuring their own suspension. An optional Drive-Dynamic multicontour seat for the driver uses a series of air bladders and mechanical bolsters in the bottom cushion and seat back to offer impressively variable seat adjustments. To provide extra support during spirited driving, the Drive-Dynamic seat inflates the right-side bolster in a left turn (or the left bolster in a right turn).
Also standard is a COMAND system featuring a large seven-inch color display screen with a standard in-dash, six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Bluetooth interface that allows a phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car's audio system. A standard rear-view camera displays the area behind the car whenever it's in reverse.
The COMAND system can also display maps and directions for the optional GPS navigation system, which can be set up to display Sirius real-time traffic information and Zagat restaurant ratings. The system can also be equipped with an optional iPod/MP3 interface, Sirius satellite radio, HD radio, and an advanced voice control system for audio, navigation and phone systems. Using a console-mounted controller, the central display can be operated by either the driver or front passenger.