Standard equipment on the E400 4MATIC wagon includes a power-operated liftgate that can be halted in any position, useful in garages with low ceilings, and there will be an optional keyless access and “hands-free” system, the latter allowing you to open the liftgate by waving your foot under the rear bumper. As with the previous wagon, a self-leveling air suspension will be standard.
Much as we love station wagons, we’re forced to acknowledge the logic, often repeated to us by automakers’ product planners, that they don’t sell in the United States. Especially when wearing premium badges and with correspondingly chunky price tags. The outgoing E-class wagon was a classic case in point; the considerable praise heaped into its spacious cargo hold doing little, apparently, to persuade people to actually buy the thing. So we’re pleased that the new version, which has just been unveiled, will find its way over here, as it looks to be one sweet lugger.
Keeping the wagon dream alive.
The usual trim levels will apply: Luxury (chrome-mesh grille and hood ornament) and Sport (big three-pointed star in the grille and no hood ornament). Like the sedan, the E400 4MATIC wagon will be loaded with advanced technologies, including those that enable semi-autonomous driving.
The big question is whether it will sell in sufficient volumes to persuade Mercedes that station wagons are not a dead end. It’s not been long since the E-class wagon was perceived as an upmarket alternative to an SUV—matriarch Carmela drove a W210 version in the early seasons of The Sopranos—but these days the body style has become a minority taste everywhere but its European heartland; the “SUVs and Wagons” page on Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. website puts the outgoing E wagon beneath six crossovers and SUVs. On the other hand, those who do sign up for the wagon in America pay significantly more than for an equivalent crossover (the 2016 model starts at $60,825 while the GLE SUV begins at $52,025), so it’s good that the wagon attracts Benz’s most affluent customers. We should hear more about pricing on the 2017 model in a week or so. As with our affection for the Benz wagon, we don’t expect the car’s MSRP to go down.
Controversially, it’s actually slightly smaller than the model it replaces, with a less boxy cargo hold, meaning that capacity has fallen slightly. With the rear seats in place, and measured using European methodology, load space is now 22.6 cubic feet, or 0.9 cubic feet down from the current W212 version. It’s still roomier, of course, than the smaller C-class wagon (which U.S. buyers are denied), and it is bigger than its principal home-market competitors, the BMW 5-series Touring and the Audi A6 Avant. The minimum width of the cargo floor between the wheel arches is 43.3 inches.
As it did with the freakishly quiet E-class sedan, Mercedes says that it has worked hard to reduce cabin noise. In addition to sound-absorbing material on the bulkhead and floor, there are acoustic shields under the rear seats and atop the wheel wells, with the E also getting “aero-acoustically optimized” door seals and handles. An optional Acoustic and Comfort package adds a special acoustic film to the windshield and side glass as well as extra insulation for the center tunnel.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-class Wagon
The mechanical package is shared with the new E-class sedan arriving at U.S. dealerships this summer. The wagon will arrive in the first quarter of 2017. European buyers get a full choice of four- and six-cylinder engines fueled by either gasoline or diesel. Not so in the States, where we’ll get the take-it-or-leave-it option of the E400 4MATIC model, powered by a twin-turbocharged V-6 with all-wheel drive. This 3.0-liter V-6 is rated at 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque and comes with Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic transmission. We won’t get any rear-drive versions or diesels, and we’re also told that there aren’t any plans to bring the 396-hp Mercedes-AMG E43 version to the States. Mercedes-Benz USA cautions that this doesn’t rule out another AMG variant to arrive later. (E63, anyone?) E-class chief engineer Michael Kelz also told us that we’re likely to see an E300 version later, also with 4MATIC, with that model designation disguising the fact that Mercedes has downsized the 300’s engine to a turbocharged four-cylinder.