Home Automobile Our Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon Is the Best SUV Alternative Imaginable

Our Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon Is the Best SUV Alternative Imaginable

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This long-roof E-class provides a better combination of sport and utility than any sport-utility vehicle we can think of.

30,000-Mile Update

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: station wagons are better than SUVs. Our long-term Mercedes-Benz E450 wagon continues to prove this as it excels at seemingly every task we throw its way. We’ve now passed the 30,000-mile mark, and the entire C/D staff agrees that this car is a lot sportier and just as utilitarian as many supposed sport-utility vehicles.

The E-class wagon has 35 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and up to 64 cubes with the rear seats folded. (It even has a rear-facing third row of seats that brings total seating capacity to seven). Editors have filled this space up with all manner of items, and all marvel at the way that the E450 combines this practical nature with dynamic excellence and unbeatable luxury.

Senior editor Eric Tingwall said he usually signs out SUVs for long trips so that he can bring along his “unnecessarily huge” dog crate, but it fit just fine in the E450 for a trip he took to Chicago. He gushed about how nice it was to be driving something lower to the ground, “The ride and body control are just right in this car. Perfect, really.” Research editor Beth Nichols wisely reserved the car for her wedding weekend and boasted that she was able to fit her wedding dress, gifts, and a few long pieces of copper pipe for a chuppah with plenty of room to spare. And chief brand ambassador Eddie Alterman remarked how easily the E450 dispatches curvy mountain roads even with a full load of luggage in back.

This wagon even can go off road—sort of. Road test editor Charlie Dryer utilized the car’s adjustable air suspension when he encountered some two-track dirt roads in northern Michigan. Who needs a Jeep when you can lightly traverse adverse terrain in comfort with the E450 when its suspension is fully raised for extra ground clearance? In Europe, Mercedes-Benz even sells a version of the E-class wagon called the All-Terrainwith a suspension lift and some extra body cladding, in the vein of competitors’ such as the Volvo V90 Cross Country and the Audi A6 Allroad. We’re just fine with the classier, unsullied version that Mercedes-Benz sells here.

A relatively expensive visit for the Benz’s 30,000-mile scheduled maintenance drained our wallet of $333 and included an oil change and several inspections. Otherwise the E450 has been entirely trouble-free, and its average fuel mileage has stayed steady at 22 mpg, spot on its EPA combined rating.

20,000-Mile Update

The main issue many of our editors have with our long-term 2019 Mercedes-Benz E450 wagon is that they don’t get to drive it as often as they’d like. More than any other long-termer in our fleet, this delectable Benz has been in high demand since it arrived. Those staffers who heretofore had been out of luck in properly experiencing the E-class are just getting the opportunity to snag a night in it as its odometer passes the 20,000-mile mark, and they have some things to say.

Copy editor Beth Nichols was thrilled to finally get her chance in the E-class wagon. She mostly gushed over the car but did find a nit to pick: after setting up her seating position, she noticed that the steering wheel partly obscured the gauge cluster. She then admitted this was a “first-world problem,” given the otherwise sumptuous atmosphere that pervades the E450’s cabin.

After his turn in the E450, print director Tony Quiroga offered some sage advice that almost seemed targeted at the AMG-hungry Golson. “For those who don’t get the appeal of a Benz, drive this car. Still don’t get it? Wait a few years, mature, and there’s no doubt this car and its slightly lazy dynamics will make perfect sense.”

We don’t want to jinx anything, given what happened to our last E-class wagon, but this E450 has seen smooth—if somewhat costly—sailing through the first half of its test. At a 20,000-mile scheduled-maintenance visit, our dealership performed an oil change, replaced the cabin air filter, rotated the tires, flushed the brake fluid, replaced the wiper blades, and inspected the car. This rang up a bill of $704, more than double that of the E450’s 10,000-mile service.

Months in Fleet: 8 months Current Mileage: 20,640 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 22 mpg 
Fuel Tank Size: 21.1 gal Observed Fuel Range: 460 miles 
Service: $957 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0

Our long-term 2019 Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon brings a sense of occasion to our daily lives. We feel special whenever we drive this classy E-class, and the practical aura that its longroof body adds to the equation only makes it easier to enjoy. With a hair over 12,000 miles on its odometer, our drivers have repeatedly praised its front-seat comfort as well as its solid sense of straight-ahead on longer treks, including jaunts from Ann Arbor to Chicago and back.

And because this Mercedes projects such elegance and affluence, we also tend to reserve the E-class for our most special outings. When assistant buyer’s guide editor Eric Stafford needed a car for a trip to northern Michigan to propose to his girlfriend, the E450 was the obvious choice (and if you’re wondering, she said yes).

Stafford reported that he and his fiancée “enjoyed every minute spent in it,” though we’re sure the excitement of the engagement contributed somewhat to this impression. The car’s height-adjustable air springs came in handy for the happy couple as they navigated unplowed snowy roads, as did its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 tires. The only issue they encountered was with the car’s passive-entry function, which can be inconsistent, sometimes requiring the driver to manually unlock the doors with the key fob. Another driver noticed that the system seems to be very sensitive to where the key is on your person when reaching to open the door, noting that the door unlocked more reliably with the key in a front pocket as opposed to a back pocket or in a purse.

Another logbook commenter found storage cubbies to be lacking, as filling the front cupholders with cups blocks the usefully sized bin located behind them. Nothing more significant has befallen the E450, with its only dealer visit being its 10,000-mile service, which included an oil change and several inspections for a fairly steep $253.

Our average fuel economy has stayed consistent at 22 mpg, which matches the EPA’s combined estimate. The large 21.1-gallon fuel tank means that we can easily go 450 miles between fill-ups, and 500-plus-mile stints are within reach at highway speeds—our record so far is 521 miles on a single tank.

Months in Fleet: 5 months Current Mileage: 12,006 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 22 mpg 
Fuel Tank Size: 21.1 gal Observed Fuel Range: 460 miles 
Service: $253 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0

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