2023 Mercedes EQE350 Review: An Expensive but Wonderful Electric E-Class
The EQE is a fantastic EV that manages to capture the aura of an E-Class. Just be prepared to pay for it.
Should EVs look and feel more like gas cars in order to appeal to normal folks and accelerate mass adoption, or should they be radically different in the name of futurism and originality? That’s a debate that, well, like most debates, is hotly contested on the Facebooks and will likely never be settled. Some of my favorite EVs fall into the former category, but my kids would say that it’s because I’m “old.” However, after a week of driving the 2023 Mercedes EQE350, the sleek electric sedan managed to appease both my appetites for the tried and true and also the cutting edge.
Originality is as important to me as it likely is to most late 30-somethings out there with a house in the suburbs, kids, and dogs. And the same goes for practicality. Should a car be so cool and advanced that it’s a nightmare to operate, or should it be so Plain Jane that it doesn’t ignite any emotion? Oh, and at what point is it acceptable to have a yoke instead of a normal steering wheel? The answers are no, not really, and absolutely never.
Despite its spaceship-y exterior, incredibly modern cabin, and alien-like ambient sounds, the Mercedes EQE’s premise is simple: offer a plush ride with the right amount of sportiness that’s reminiscent of its E-Class roots. Of course, all while offering cutting-edge tech and sharp looks that make you feel cool regardless of what your kids think.
2023 Mercedes EQE350 4Matic Specs
- Base price (350 4Matic as tested): $79,050 ($96,320)
- Powertrain: 90.6-kWh lithium-ion battery | dual permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors | 1-speed transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 288
- Torque: 564 lb-ft
- Seating capacity: 5
- Curb weight: 5,434 pounds
- Cargo volume: 15 cubic feet
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- Range: 260 (EPA-estimated)
- Quick take: An easy-to-daily electric sedan that lives up to Mercedes' levels of comfort and panache. However, this luxe driving experience comes at a very steep price.
- Score: 8/10
The EQE debuted in September 2021, about a year after its bigger and more expensive sibling, the EQS. Like their combustion counterparts, the EQE is to the E-Class what the EQS is to the S-Class. The EQE aims to be less expensive, a tad smaller, and slightly less grandiose sedan than the EQS. It’s offered in four flavors including an extra-spicy AMG: the base, rear-drive-only 350+, the 350 4Matic being tested here, the 500 4Matic, and the high-po, 617-horsepower AMG EQE.
Remember the debate I mentioned earlier on? Well, here’s another one. I think the EQE looks great—better than the EQS despite sharing the same design language, don’t you think? The proportions work in favor of the swoopy, free-flowing design, mostly because the EQE is shorter and slightly raised at the rear, making it look hatchback-y. It honestly reminds me of the Acura Integra. In comparison, the EQS (which has an actual hatchback), looks like an adult orca from the side.
Inside, the EQE isn’t offered with the ginormous Hyperscreen, so what you get instead is a 12.8-inch touchscreen in the center, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and a sliver of hard buttons that mostly serve as shortcuts to different on-screen menus—just like in the S and SL. The lack of a Hyperscreen isn’t a bad thing, as it allows the cabin to feel warmer and less alien-like. There’s a gorgeous, clean section of dash adorned with wood and a beautiful air vent in front of the passenger. This appeals to my traditionalist “old man” brain. At the same time, the metal-bezzled screens, cold steel of the speaker grilles, and chill ambient lighting elevate the EQE to modern times without overdoing it.
Under the EQE350 sits a 90.6-kWh battery capable of up to 170-kW DC fast charging, reportedly taking it from 10% to 80% charge in just 32 minutes. As its 4Matic moniker suggests, all four wheels are driven via dual permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors and a one-speed transmission. Horsepower is rated at 288—though it certainly feels like much more than that—and torque comes in at a hefty 564 lb-ft. The byproduct of all that drag is an EPA-estimated driving range of only 260 miles, though if you forego all-wheel drive you can extend that to 305 miles.
Driving the Mercedes EQE350 4Matic
Driving an EV, especially the fancy and expensive kind, is typically akin to putting a saddle on a surface-to-air missile and going for a ride. It’s fun for a little while, but the joy eventually wears off. My absolute favorite characteristic of the EQE350 is the fact that its 288 hp feel more like 400 from zero to 55 mph, and from then on it feels more like a 350-hp car. It’s quick, but you never feel like you’re merely a passenger. It makes it easier to drive, and therefore, more enjoyable. Because, let’s face it, driving a difficult car sucks. We only put up with it because we want to go fast and look cool.
The EQE350 feels just as comfortable popping in and out of parking lots and traversing busy city streets as it does cruising on the highway at near triple-digit speeds. It’s versatile, the suspension is graceful, and the four-wheel steering is light and quick on its feet but not so much that it felt jerky. You can adjust the level of energy recuperation you want via the paddle shifters (way better than pushing a button or digging through on-screen menus)—down for more drag and up for less. It’s simple, it’s fun. On twisty backroads, I enjoyed approaching a corner on Normal Recuperation, then clicking down into Strong Recuperation, and letting the drivetrain’s drag dramatically slow down the car as if I had really shifted down a couple of gears. I often timed it right and didn’t have to touch the brake pedal, though other times I had to reach over with my right foot to shave off a bit more speed.
One aspect of this process that I didn’t enjoy, however, was when I reached for the brake pedal under Strong Recuperation, it would already be depressed. The first few times I thought “Oh shit, I ain’t got no brakes!” but then I realized it was the regen setting using drivetrain drag plus the brakes to slow down the car. Just something to get used to, really.
The Highs and Lows
I get E-Classes. There were several in the family while growing up, from 320s to 430s, E55s, and E63s, I’ve been around them for years. This EQE, I’d say, has the aura and feel of an E-Class. It doesn’t take itself too seriously like an S-Class does, yet it’s more grown-up and a little snobbier than a C-Class. It’s not the poorest guy in the neighborhood but also not the richest, know what I mean? I like that. It drives well, it’s comfortable, and unlike the EQS, the backseat offers enough headroom for a six-foot-tall passenger.
As staff writer James Gilboy pointed out during his first drive review, the electronics can make or break the EQ experience regardless of which model you’re in. While they’re not maddening, the way Mercedes organized the menus and hid some of the features simply doesn’t make any sense. Can you eventually get used to it? Yes. Should it be this complicated? No. Also, $96,320 for the middle grade of the mid-level sedan? That’s practically an insult. And let’s not forget, you’re not even close to the 300-mile mark in terms of driving range.
Mercedes EQE Features, Options, and Competition
My test car was loaded to the gills, rocking about $6,100 of additional equipment. The priciest features were the black microfiber headliner at $1,600, rear-axle steering for $1,300, acoustic comfort package for $1,100, and 20-inch AMG wheels for $850. Less expensive options consisted of the aromatherapy system with HEPA filter for $450, star pattern grille for $300 (I loved it), and ventilated front seats for $450.
As far as competition goes, the EQE finds itself in a unique position where it doesn’t have any truly direct rivals. Certainly not as simple as comparing an E-Class to the BMW 5 Series anymore. The BMW i4 eDrive35, for example, matches the EQE in terms of performance and range but is considerably smaller and its cabin is not as luxurious. It’s also rear-wheel-drive only. The i4 M50 offers all-wheel drive but focuses mostly on sportiness than comfort with its 536-hp dual motors and $80,000 price tag when similarly equipped. It’s a similar story with the Audi e-tron GT which starts at $107,000, bringing it closer to the EQE AMG.
If I were to spec an EQE350 4Matic for myself, I wouldn’t change much from what was selected on this press unit. I’d retain the exterior color but swap the wheels for the 21-inch multi-spokes in black. I’d also ditch the AMG interior and keep the standard, plushier seats, and opt for the winter package that adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and heated washers and windshield.
Range, Charging, and Efficiency
I used a variety of chargers ranging from the slowest Level 1 to DC fast chargers during my week with the EQE, and I didn’t experience any issues. ChargePoint, EVgo, and Electrify America had their stuff together in Indianapolis. The biggest number I ever saw on the dash was 255 miles of range, though it showed a potential 266 miles had I let the car charge a while longer. The fastest charging rate I experienced was about 125 kW, though it would average somewhere in the 90s at a DC fast charger. Despite temps hovering around in the low 30s during my test, I didn’t experience any drastic parasitic battery loss overnight, and most of my journeys resulted in average range loss unless my right foot was feeling happy.
Mercedes has committed to being fully electric by the end of the decade, as well as reaching its goal of having a carbon-neutral fleet of passenger cars by 2039. So far it’s met its goal of introducing battery electric vehicles by 2022 and is working on having an EV counterpart to every model it offers by 2025. The EQE certainly plays into that plan.
As is the case with many vehicles nowadays, electric or otherwise, portions of the EQE’s interior are crafted from synthetic leatherette, further boosting the sedan’s green credentials. Other materials used throughout are also synthetic and not actual leather, especially in the case of my specific tester, which was fitted with the AMG interior package.
Value and Verdict
Oh Lord Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz exists for a reason. Value isn’t typically associated with these cars, but even taking that into consideration, my test car’s price seemed exorbitant. In comparison, a gas-powered E350 4Matic starts at $60,400 and comes in at just $74,785 when similarly equipped to this EQE.
If that’s not a concern for you, the 2023 Mercedes EQE electric sedan is thoroughly enjoyable to drive. Its drivetrain is adequate for its purpose and all systems worked as expected during my test. There weren’t any electrical glitches and my charging infrastructure experience was a positive one. It fits four passengers quite comfortably and a (small) fifth one could sneak into the backseat for a quick trip. The trunk is big enough for three or four carry-on suitcases (or one of my wife’s rolling trunks). It also looks really good, managing to turn heads essentially everywhere I went. Most importantly, it blurs the lines between the outgoing and the incoming by offering a familiar driving experience wrapped in a sleek, modern package.
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