Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan W212/Wagon S212 (2009 - 2016): Review, Problems, Specs
Launched in 2009 as a 2010 model, the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W212) marked the nameplate's return to bulletproof standards of quality, following a disappointing record in the 1990s and early 2000s resulting from the controversial DaimlerChrysler merger. The W212 also marked the first time the E-Class was available as a wagon (codenamed S212) in the United States. 2013 brought a very comprehensive mid-cycle refresh for the E-Class, which included design, equipment, and technical changes.
- Great quality, vault-like feel
- Superb ride quality
- Comprehensive powertrain choices (particularly in Europe)
- Fuel-efficient diesel engines
- E 250 BlueTec, E 350 (US)
- Noisy four-cylinder engines
- Doesn't handle as well as the BMW 5-Series
- Pricey compared to rivals
- Expensive to run
Stay Away From
- Low-powered E 200 BlueTec diesel (Europe) – unless you're a taxi driver
Known Problems & Recalls
- Verify if the power steering fluid connection fitting on 2010 E-Class was fixed as part of the October 2010 recall.
- Check if the diesel fuel filter and oil filter were replaced on 2011 models as part of October 2011 recalls.
- Make sure the rubber seal in the engine compartment was replaced on 2013-2015 models as part of the February 2015 recall.
- Check if the chain tensioner gasket was replaced on 2014-2015 E 250 BlueTec models as part of the December 2014 recall.
- Verify if the double seat belt buckle was replaced on 2015 models as part of the December 2014 recall.
The E-Class offered a wide selection of engines, even in the United States. If low fuel consumption is your priority, the pick of the range is obviously the 195 hp E 250 BlueTec with a 2.1-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel. The entry-level gasoline model, the 302 hp E 350 with a 3.5-liter V6, offers a good balance between performance and costs. However, if you want (slightly) more power Mercedes-Benz has also offered the 329 hp E 400 with a 3.0-liter biturbo V6 towards the end of the production cycle as a replacement for the E 550 V8. If performance is all you care for, then the ridiculously quick 577 hp E 63 S with a 5.5-liter biturbo V8 is your choice.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is not as fun to drive as the BMW 5-Series, but that wasn't the automaker's goal nevertheless. The E-Class is as comfortable as it gets in the executive sedan segment, with most reviews praising the cushy ride that absorbs most road irregularities without letting passengers know what's happening under their feet. The optional Airmatic suspension takes comfort to an even higher level, but in 99 percent of cases, the standard four-wheel independent suspension does its job very well. While not the sportiest car in the segment, the E-Class never rolls too much in corners, which means its behavior is perfectly safe and predictable, thanks in part to the plethora of driving assistance technologies it packs.
Both the pre-facelift and the refreshed model received the "Top Safety Pick" rating from the IIHS, thanks to the E-Class' comprehensive passive and active safety features. The E-Class received "Good" scores for small and moderate overlap front impacts, side impact, roof strength, as well as head restraints & seats. IIHS also gave 2015 and 2016 E-Class models a "Superior" rating for front crash prevention thanks to the optional Driver Assistance Package. In Europe, Euro NCAP crash tested the E-Class in 2010 and gave it a five-star overall score. Depending on the market, standard safety features include nine airbags, ABS, ESP, traction control and Speed Limit Assist.
With the standard suspension, the E-Class delivers a cosseting ride quality, but if you are looking for more sportiness, Mercedes-Benz will let you get a lowered, sport-tuned suspension as part of the Sport Styling Package, at no extra cost. The E-Class offers a much better (less offset) driving position than its predecessors, as well as seats that are slightly firm but great for long-distance trips. Controls are logical, but the driver may get lost while trying to locate a button on the crowded center console. Automatic models have the transmission lever on the right side of the steering column.
With the W212 E-Class Mercedes-Benz has brought back the vault-like feel customers were longing for in this segment since the W124 left the stage in the mid-1990s. The assembly and materials are high-quality, especially those that are in the driver's eye line. The real metal trim and multiple wood veneer options, as well as the analog clock, add class to the cabin, but the quality and finish of some panels are disappointing compared with some of its rivals. The car's reliability record is particularly good.
The W212 E-Class offers impressive levels of headroom and legroom for all five occupants, although the person sitting in the middle of the back seat will have to straddle the bulky transmission tunnel. At 12.9 cu ft (540 liters in Europe), trunk volume for the sedan is above average, but it's the station wagon you must choose if you have lots of stuff to carry around – it has a 20.5 cu ft capacity (695 liters in Europe). However, the rear split-bench was only offered as an option.
The W212 E-Class features the older generation Comand infotainment system that debuted in the S-Class in 2006. The system combines a large display screen with a control knob mounted on the center tunnel and auxiliary buttons on the dashboard – quite a lot of them, actually, for those who want to avoid browsing through the menus. While the system lacks some of the newer features found in the W222 S-Class and W205 C-Class, it's pretty easy to use. The system includes satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, DAB radio and voice controls.
The E 250 BlueTec diesel is by far the most fuel-efficient engine in the North American E-Class lineup, returning 33 mpg combined in rear-wheel drive configuration. The E 350 gasoline V6 returns 23 mpg combined (always in RWD configuration), as does a more powerful E 400. In Europe, the diesel is also the most fuel-efficient choice – the E 220 BlueTec BlueEfficiency Edition with an average of 4.4 l/100 km according to the European test cycle. Unsurprisingly, you have more engines to choose from if you're looking for an European-spec model.
The E-Class' standard kit is generous and consist of power front seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, auto tilt-away steering wheel with audio controls, fully automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows, power/heated door mirrors, as well as an 8-speaker sound system, among many other things. Leather upholstery is optional, though, with Mercedes-Benz offering the MBTex faux leather as standard. The quality of the surrogate leather has been widely appreciated by reviewers, though.
At the time this piece was written, the most affordable new 2016 E-Class model was the E 250 BlueTec diesel, with an MSRP of $52,650. The E 350 gasoline V6 model was slightly more expensive, at $53,100. Compared to its arch-rival, the BMW 5-Series, the E-Class is priced more competitively. The 300 hp BMW 535i sedan was priced from $55,850 while the 255 hp 535d diesel V6 model was available from $58,150. Sure, Mercedes' diesel E-Class has two fewer cylinders and 60 hp less but delivers three mpg more over the combined cycle. With an all-new model arriving in 2016, this is the best time to get a good deal on the W212 E-Class you want.