It isn’t often (OK, maybe never) the price of a luxury car gets reduced by several thousand dollars. But that’s what Mercedes-Benz did with 2010 models, including the E550. But Mercedes-Benz not only lowered it prices, it did so with a re-designed vehicle, not the staid offerings of yesteryear.
The E550 five-passenger sedan is the prime example of how the German manufacturer is attempting to retrieve former Mercedes owners who may have opted for more trendy and less expensive luxury sedans in recent years.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
In a perfect world, my weekly test drive would have been, let’s say, to drive across Germany on the Autoban. But a week of everyday driving was just fine, too. There’s nothing E550 doesn’t do well.
It’s not the most economical beast around. Its 16 mpg with the required premium fuel isn’t exactly eco-friendly. Then again, the MB E550 is a performance sedan that boasts of a 5.5-liter, 32-valve, 382 horsepower engine and a 7-speed automatic transmission. Guess what? It accelerates with authority with a 0-60 mph rating in 5.2 seconds. Know anyone who buys a Mercedes Benz for environmental reasons?
Therefore, even short stints on the highway showcase the car at its best. It’s quick. It’s quiet. It maneuvers in traffic with elegance and confidence. What’s not to like?
No manufacturer calls its cars black, red, white, blue or green. The newfangled names are often pretentious. But how can you not like Palladium Silver (exterior), Natural Beige (leather seats) and Black Ash (wood trim)?
The E550 is handsome and ideally appointed. The wood trim complements the leather. The seats are comfortable — like an expensive chair that feels right the first time you sit in it.
There’s adequate room all around, but it’s not spacious. The trunk is cavernous and flat without obstructed space. Three golf bags might fit and certainly a dozen grocery bags or several pieces of luggage won’t present problems.
The redesign feature a more angular body. Forget the squared off Mercedes-Benz reputation. Headlamps have also been redone with a modern sports car look. Mercedes, of course, promotes the E series as the “world’s most aerodynamic luxury sedan. Audi may disagree, but it’s a fun discussion.
The E550 shouldn’t be considered a sports car, but to call it a sedan seems unfair. It’s a cruiser, for sure. But 5.2 seconds for the 0-60 mph test can’t be ignored. There’s little interior noise at any speed and bumps in the room are largely absorbed.
Base price is $5,100 less than the 2009 model.
Wood trim that would work if used in what used called a “smoking room.” Handsome stuff used classically displayed throughout the cabin.
Hip huggers/massager. Officially, it’s called the Drive Dynamic Multicontoured Driver Seat. The lumbar support hugs your hips while turning. And there’s a free massage with a flick of a lever next to the driver’s seat. It’s a $650 option. Buy it.
Dolby Digital sound system. Solo drive on the open road? Nirvana. Put in six CDs, crank up the volume. Drive for hours in bliss. Road rage? Not from this driver in this car. It’s part of a $6,800 Premium Package with some items hard to resist.
Seven-inch navigation screen with crisp picture.
Heated cup holders.
Expensive option packages.
Three seat belts in the back seat, but who’s kidding whom? Two adults fit comfortably in the back seat, but three people will not — unless they’re all petite.
Steering wheel column shift lever. It’s the old “three-on-the-tree” approach. Doesn’t seem to fit a luxury car.
Cruise control indicator can be confused with turn signal and wiper indicators.
Facts & Figures: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.2 seconds.
Airbags: driver and passenger front dual stage, front and rear window side, front side and pelvis and driver knee.
Antilock brakes: standard.
Fuel economy (EPA estimates) 16 mpg (city), 24 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet rated
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $56,300.00.
Price As tested: $69,625.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 4 years/50,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, unlimited miles/unlimited years.
Web site: www.mbusa.com.
What Others Say:
“I can’t recall a price cut of this magnitude — nearly 9 percent — on any recent car, let alone one that’s been fully redesigned.” —- New York Times.
“With starting prices marked down and new features added such as the standard Attention Assist that monitors and warns of impending driver fatigue, Mercedes-Benz has made a bedrock entry in the premium midsize field that is a more-solid value than its predecessor.” —- Consumer Guide.
“The new E-Class is a return-path to what people always loved Mercedes for: a solid, safe, comfortable, conservative car in which you can invest utter faith.” —- Motor Trend.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Most car buyers seek value over status, but how about getting both? The next car I buy will likely be the best value I can find for about half the price of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550. But if I had $70,000 to spend, I’d buy this car.”