The newest sedan in Mercedes-Benz's expansive E Class is the product of a mid-cycle refresh. Gone is the BlueTec E350 with the 6-cylinder diesel. In its place for 2014 is the E250. It features a new 4-cylinder biturbo diesel and a restyled exterior. Mercedes is an old hand at diesels, and it shows in the performance of this midsize sedan.
Appearance: The E class gets new single-lens LED headlamps and a slight sheet-metal resculpt that makes for a sleeker look. Our tester had the Sport Styling Package, which comes with sport-tuned suspension and sport exterior styling, such as the two-bar grille with integrated Mercedes star that echoes the AMG performance line. Completing the look are 17-inch wheels and an optional rear-deck spoiler ($350). We liked the Lunar Blue Metallic paint, which helped show off the chrome accents.
Performance: The 2.1-liter sequential turbo diesel produces 195 horsepower and a healthy 369 pound-feet of torque, which makes for stout low-end power. We didn't notice any turbo lag. Even though it takes some time to get rolling (0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds), the E250 never feels slow or underpowered. Our tester had the optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which increases the 0 to 60 time and reduces the car's estimated fuel mileage, which is an impressive 28/45 for the rear-wheel-drive model and 27/42 with AWD. Along with a smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic, there is an engine start-stop feature to help save fuel. The diesel is quiet from inside the cabin and at idle produces only a mild chatter outside the car. The standard safety features include ABS, electronic stability and traction controls. An optional Driver Assistance Package brings Mercedes' advanced safety electronics, such as Distronic Plus radar-based cruise control, lane-keeping and blind-spot assist and cross-traffic collision alerts. There also is a parking assist package ($1,290) that includes a surround-view system.
Interior: The comfortable cabin is quiet, and engine and road noise don't intrude. Compared with some Mercedes models, the E250 interior isn't flashy. You get standard faux leather upholstery (leather is an option), brushed aluminum trim and a choice of three wood veneers; ours was black ash. For 2014, there is a new three-gauge instrument cluster and analog clock. The 14-way power front seats make it easy to find the perfect adjustment. Split-fold rear seats are optional. Our tester had the Premium 1 Package ($3,870) that includes the Comand system for audio, phone and navigation, rearview camera and Harmon/Kardon Logic 7 surround-sound system.
Our 3 favorites
MPG: I drove to Orlando and it seemed as if the fuel needle barely budged.
Design: Sport or luxury, you have your choice.
Safety: A lot of advanced features are available as options, but they quickly add to the sticker price.
MPG: 27 city, 42 highway for our AWD tester.
Front design: The one-piece headlamps with LED running lights are sharp next to the sporty grille.
Surround-view: The optional stereoscopic camera shows rear, front and overhead views.
The bottom line: Smaller engine. Turbocharging. Diesel. The future is all under the E250's hood. If you value fuel efficiency as well as luxury, the Mercedes-Benz E250 deserves to be near the top of your shopping list.