Mercedes-Benz has updated its workhorse E-Class sedan and wagon for 2014 with new safety technology, sportier styling, and a new four-cylinder diesel that will offer, for the first time, a four-wheel-drive version.
The new 190-hp diesel version will be called the E250 BlueTEC, and replaces the E350 BlueTEC's 210-hp diesel V6. Given the popularity of Audis and all-wheel drive Infiniti Gs in snowbelt New England, we wouldn't be surprised if an all-wheel-drive E-Class diesel sedan or wagon finds a comfortable niche here. It's due in Fall, 2013.
Most other versions will go on sale this spring. As before, the E-Class comes in seemingly endless permutations: sedan or wagon, rear-drive or 4Matic four-wheel drive, and gasoline (V6 or V8), diesel, or Hybrid gas/electric powertains. The E400 Hybrid again teams an electric motor with the 302-hp gasoline V6. The smaller E-Class coupe, which has also been revised, is actually based on the C-Class Mercedes line and will roll out this summer.
A seven-speed automatic is standard across the line. Helping with fuel economy is a new automatic engine start/stop system that shuts down the engine while idling.
Perhaps the most intriguing of a series of technology updates is a stereoscopic camera that processes 3-D images 55 yards in front of the car, with a maximum range of 550 yards, to determine the speed and position and direction of traffic and objects ahead. This, along with a multi-mode radar system, can identify vehicles, pedestrians, and solid obstacles, and warn the driver or slow the car or both, to prevent collisions. Other sensor systems can help the driver keep the vehicle centered in its lane and, in the words of a Mercedes press release, "semi-autonomously follow in-line traffic."
We like the idea of a car that knows where it is, what it's doing, and what's ahead, but we're nowhere near the point where drivers can afford to take their own attention off the road, and we're not sure we want that day to come soon.
See our complete 2013 Detroit auto show coverage.