2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review: Traditional Luxury Meets Hit-Or-Miss Tech

Mercedes’ mid-size sedan is bigger, heavier, and more tech-laden than ever. But is it better?

byMichael Teo Van Runkle|
Michael Teo Van Runkle
Michael Teo Van Runkle.


With the 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Stuttgart's mid-size sedan enters its 11th generation with a thorough overhaul, injecting technology into the venerable luxury sedan to bring it firmly into the 2020s. The E450's turbocharged straight-six engine now comes complemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system that improves both low-end grunt and fuel efficiency. Matching serious performance gains, the new gen’s chassis dynamics benefit further from Airmatic suspension and rear-wheel steering.

Meanwhile, the interior receives more techy gadgets—or gimmicks, depending on how you look at things—than ever before. Ambient light bars can now pulse to the beat of the music, a trio of massive screens lights up the entire cockpit (one of them happens to be 12.3 inches and placed in front of the passenger), and an optional dash-top camera offers video conferencing capability. The instrument screen can even display holographic maps for ADAS controls and navigation. 

Does such a seismic technological shift enhance or take away from the E-Class driving experience? Turns out, a little bit of both.

Michael Teo Van Runkle

Mild Hybrid, Mild Weight

In total, the stately E450 now puts down 375 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the latter available as low as 1,800 rpm thanks to the silky smooth inline-six pushing 22 psi of turbo boost and the electric motor contributing 148 of those lb-ft. The E350, meanwhile, pairs the same e-motor to an inline-four to produce 255 hp and 295 lb-ft. Both employ a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The e-assisted torque results in a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds in the six-cylinder, a halt-tick improvement over the outgoing E450 that feels very legit in real-world driving. Nine whole gears and hybrid efficiency also contribute to a claimed 31 mpg on the highway (or 33 mpg with the E350). All the while, the hybrid system charges up and moves along imperceptibly—regenerative braking is barely noticeable while electric motors hum along with very little actual hum. In fact, if not for the gauge readouts and longer distances between fill-ups, most drivers might well forget the new E-Class is a hybrid in the first place.

Par for the new-version-of-a-luxury-car course, the E gains a few hundred pounds but copes with the added weight without breaking a sweat. The wheelbase has grown by 0.87 inches, but rear-wheel steering pairs with Airmatic suspension to make driving around town or on the highway a breeze. The ride is already pillowy on 21s but optioning the 18-inch wheels should smooth out the ride even further.

Then, push hard into the Continental EcoContact 6 tires while canyon carving to truly experience Mercedes wizardry, as the rear steering does its magic to make a 16-foot-long sedan handle just as well as many hatchbacks. Of course, the eco tires squeal and moan under load, but weight distribution is excellent and all-wheel drive behaves predictably.

Smooth Design


Electric EQs notwithstanding, M-B design for the past few years took a step in the right direction in my eyes, as each model smoothed out any angularity clinging on since the late 2000s. For the E-Class to join the S and GLC as highlights in the lineup, continuing that trend required a new grille up front with subtle tri-point details, flowing lines over a long nose, simple side panels, and a low roofline that transitions into a deftly tucked rear end.

The interior also largely continues to refine design cues seen in the previous generation, though a fanning quilted weave on the seat upholstery does hint slightly at the EQ’s seashell inspirations. All the textures and materials definitely stand out as quintessential Benz, including stellar seats that, though comfortable, probably need a year or two of daily driving to truly break in. [Ed. note: So, like, anywhere from a third of the entire lease term to indeed your entire lease term. -CT] Adjustable headrests, seat heating and ventilation, sufficient space for both front and back row occupants, and heavy sound deadening result in a supremely serene environment, with or without the exhaust humming in Sport mode.


Mixed Tech

At the intersection of sport and luxury where German automakers love to meet, Benz clearly took a strong left turn and raced as quickly as possible toward the techy side of things. Fortunately or not, the E-Class now takes on a decidedly EQ-ish level of computerization, as massive screens are now the centerpiece of the entire experience. 

Starting from the left, the instrument display reads very crisp and clear, with large configurable dials that range from a full navigation map to analog-style clocks, a g-force meter and boost gauge, to hybrid system regen information. For $900, Mercedes will add Genesis-style simulated depth to this gauge cluster, sending different images to each eye to create the illusion of three dimensions. Small tip for anyone who finds VR goggles or even head-up displays nauseating: Turning off the 3D gauges takes only two taps on the center screen... or, y'know, just save the $900.

Michael Teo Van Runkle

That massive center touchscreen measures 14.4 inches diagonally and supports wireless Apple CarPlay, but most of this car's MBUX operating system still takes a bit of struggling to truly figure out. Pressing the home button doesn’t go to the home page, but rather the main navigation screen. Climate quick keys along the bottom, meanwhile, control temp and fan speed, but further HVAC settings are buried in a submenu. (What's more, the climate system itself seems to have a mind of its own, even when purposefully not in Auto mode.)

Mercedes hoped to reduce the amount of unnecessary taps at the center screen each task requires by instituting a “zero layer” concept. Tiny widgets for common selections seem to be the solution, and they do fit quite well given the screen’s enormous footprint. An AI algorithm intended to further ameliorate any frustration will take a while to dial in properly—eventually, weather, time of day, and driver profiles will prompt predicted temperature levels, seat positions, and music preferences. (A few days of testing never did the trick. And if it works as well as the updated Interior Assistant which can now interject not just after it hears the word “Mercedes” but also at any time with a new “Just Talk” function, don’t get those hopes too high.)

An optional camera above the center screen, meanwhile, allows for selfies, video conferencing, and supports third-party apps including—no joke—TikTok and Angry Birds. Zoom and Webex are also supported but, in my experience, those aren't nearly as fun. The 12.3-inch passenger screen also supports apps including movie and TV show streaming with a built-in visual filter that prevents the driver from watching out of the corner of their eye and getting distracted.

Picturing an E-Class customer who actually enjoys ambient lighting throbbing to the beat takes a bit of imagination, but some of the other tech really does enhance the E-Class experience. Haptic controls carry over from previous years, while vibrations in the front seats that Benz calls “tactile transducers” pair well with tunes ranging from pulsing electronic to gutbucket country. Plenty of USB-C outlets in purposeful locations, cupholders galore, and a dual sliding pano roof (controlled by perhaps the most satisfying of haptic sensors) all fit into the luxury ethos where nothing is ever out of reach.

And M-B’s ADAS system works well, too, staying in the background and only intruding every so often. Lane-change assist in adaptive cruise is available, but sadly no Drive Pilot quite yet, which would require a whole ‘nother suite of sensors throughout the vehicle despite the E-Class being just the sort of car perfectly suited to Level 3 autonomy.

The Early Verdict

In the post-pandemic automotive market, the base E350’s relatively reasonable starting sticker of $63,450 comes as something of a surprise. Stepping up to the E450 results in an MSRP of $69,250 though, and as tested, this car reached an eye-popping total of $91,620. That big price bump largely includes techy options and Airmatic suspension ($3,200) which should be considered absolutely mandatory.

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class tiptoes a fine line between technology that helps and technology that hinders. For those who want big screens and video conferencing capability and happy passengers enthralled in cinema all while blasting around at speeds that would bedevil an E of even 10 years ago, go whole-hog and spec a fully loaded E450. Otherwise, keep the car simple, turn off what Mercedes allows to be turned off, and just drive this eminently impressive daily that adds just enough tech in base form to bolster Benz’s reputation for building rock-solid luxury sedans.

Michael Teo Van Runkle
2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class SpecsE350 4MaticE450 4Matic
Base Price (as tested)$63,450$69,250 ($91,620)
Powertrain2.0-liter turbo-four mild hybrid | 9-speed automatic | all-wheel drive3.0-liter turbo inline-six mild hybrid | 9-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
Horsepower255 @ 5,800 rpm375 @ 5,800-6,100 rpm
Torque295 @ 2,000-3,200 rpm369 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
Seating Capacity55
Cargo Volume19 cubic feet19 cubic feet
Curb Weight4,189 pounds4,376 pounds
0-60 mph6.1 seconds4.4 seconds
Top Speed130 mph130 mph
EPA Fuel Economy24 mpg city | 33 highway | 27 combined22 mpg city | 31 highway | 25 combined
Quick TakeA solid luxury sedan at its core, but tech giveth and tech taketh away.

Got tips? Send 'em to tips@thedrive.com

Mercedes-Benz E-ClassMercedes-Benz Reviews