Made as a sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible with four different powertrains, the 2021 Mercedes E-Class has wide appeal and a stellar history to live up to. Refreshed for 2021, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes as a coupe, convertible, mid-size sedan, and finally in the U.S., the All-Terrain wagon. It compares to the Volvo S90 sedan and V90 wagon, the Audi A6 sedan and Allroad wagon or A7 hatchback, and the BMW 5-Series or, more aspirationally, the Porsche Panamera. Based on the sedan’s classic style, improved performance and efficiency, excellent safety scorecard, overall comfort, and cutting-edge technology, the E-Class represents one of our top tier choices. That it can be had in so many different ways only adds to its appeal.

A modestly refreshed exterior with new light signatures and different bumpers underscore the big changes happening under the hood. The E450 and AMG E53 use a turbo inline-6 with a mild-hybrid system that simultaneously boosts power and increases efficiency to 26 mpg combined, in most models. The All-Terrain wagon has finally arrived in the U.S. as the prescription for all the crossover woes.

The 2021 Mercedes E-Class is a class act in any body style. It’s a good-looking coupe, convertible, sedan, and wagon, but it really shines on the inside. The easiest area to spot the changes in the 2021 model is at the rear, where slimmer taillights oversee a new bumper and deck lid. The lower front bumper is also modified with blockier air intakes, and new standard LED headlight design.

The front grille has a single bar crossing that forms a crosshair with the big tri-star. The chrome pins that make up the rest of the grille on the sedan, coupe, and cabriolet almost looks like it’s moving, or at least evocative of movement. AMG and the All-Terrain wagon feature vertical slots in the grille and a bulging hood Mercedes calls a power dome. The wagon takes on the characteristics of the GLE crossover SUV, especially at the back, where its boxy rear end houses a broad liftgate with an integrated rear roof spoiler and quad exhaust pipes.

With four models and four powertrains, the E-Class can be had any way you want it. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz starts with a potent turbo-4 with rear-wheel drive then climbs the performance ladder up to the AMG V-8 champ. The sedan comes as an E350, E450, AMG E53, or AMG E63. The wagon and coupe come as an E450, while the cabriolet can be an E450 or an E53. Variable drive modes and an optional air suspension balance prodigious power with refined comfort.

The base E350 sedan and E450 coupe and cabriolet start with rear-wheel drive but can be optioned with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system for $2,500 more. All AMG models and the All Terrain E450 wagon come standard with all-wheel drive. A quick-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission with wheel-mounted paddle shifters shuttles the power regardless of engine, but the AMG E63 has a wet multi-plate clutch for even more responsiveness and a double-clutch feature when downshifting.

Even the E350 and its 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 and all-wheel drive can go 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds, according to Mercedes. If that doesn’t cut it, the E450 for $5,250 more should do the job. At $63,050 it hits the sweet spot for us with performance and features, and is the model we’d recommend. The coupe is $65,000; the convertible $73,000. We fancy the wagon’s versatile functionality, too, despite the additional $5,600. The extra weight and boxy rear take 0.2 seconds longer to reach 60 mph than the sedan and coupe, which do it in 4.9 seconds.  

Both the E450 and AMG 53 use a 3.0-liter inline turbo-6 with a mild-hybrid motor system called EQ boost that actually helps with propulsion off the line, not just as a larger battery to take the electrical load off the engine. Mercedes says it adds up to 21 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque for 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of total output in the E450, and 429 hp and 384 lb-ft in the AMG E53. For $74,950, the E53 hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, but it’s not the quickest E-Class. The 603-hp AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the AMG E63 rockets to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. We look forward to testing that $108,550 beauty when it arrives.

From a stop there is no hesitation in getting the E450 to jump forward. On the other end, the mild hybrid turns off the engine coasting into a stop to conserve fuel, making the turbo-6 more efficient than the turbo-4. The power of the AMG E53 comes on so smoothly that it doesn’t feel as quick as it is. It’s track-capable but doesn’t have the upgraded brakes and cooling to make it as reliable as the E63.

The wagon rides an inch higher and weighs about 300 pounds more than the sedan, and has a 5.8-inch ground clearance compared to less than 4 inches in the sedan. It’s understandably not as agile, but the available power is thoroughly satisfying. The sedan has precise steering and sharp handling courtesy of an independent suspension with adaptive dampers on all but the E350. An air suspension available on the E350 and E450 and standard on the wagon, convertible, and AMG models softens the ride while cruising but firms up for more spirited driving to reduce body roll.

The many variants of the E-Class average about 25 mpg combined. In an odd reversal, the 450 with the larger turbo-6 engine with the mild-hybrid system and standard all-wheel drive is slightly more efficient than the turbo-4 in the 350 with rear-wheel drive. The 2021 E450 gets an EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. That’s 3 mpg combined better than last year’s E450. The E450 coupe tops the E-Class efficiency scale at 23/31/26 mpg; all-wheel drive loses 1 mpg highway and combined, same as the 23/30/25-mpg rating for the E450 cabriolet.

The E350 gets 22/31/25 mpg, and all-wheel drive trims 1 mpg on the highway. The AMG E53 sedan with all-wheel drive nets 22/29/25 mpg, but the coupe loses 1 mpg and the convertible loses 1 mpg more as the least efficient of all the E-Classes at 21/27/23 mpg. The E450 All-Terrain wagon with the turbo-6 and all-wheel drive outdoes crossover SUVs with a 22/28/24-mpg rating. We don’t have figures yet for the E63 S sedan and wagon, but it won’t be more efficient than any of these.

Perfect crash-test scores and excellent standard safety features protect the E-Class. A full suite of standard safety features complement an extensive options list, and the outward vision is good in the sedan, and great in the All-Terrain wagon—not so much for the coupe and only with the top down in the convertible. The NHTSA and the IIHS give it top scores of five stars overall and Top Safety Pick+. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and a system called Pre-Safe that sounds an alert when a collision from behind is imminent; it also applies the brakes so the car doesn’t subsequently rear-end the next car in a chain reaction.

Optional features include just about everything, from a surround-view camera system to a Driver Assistance package that bundles adaptive cruise control that can slow and speed up based on curves, junctions, toll booths and other map data; an active stop-and-go system that can stop in heavy traffic then restart and go up to 35 mph as well as keep the car centered in the lane without driver intervention; a front cross-traffic braking system to avoid getting T-boned or hitting cyclists or pedestrians coming out of a blindspot; and hands-free driving for up to one minute, if all the conditions are right.

Inside, a wall of screens stretches across the cabin to include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen highlight the interior upgrades. The touchpad is still there, and the steering wheel gets new capacitive touch controls that aren’t as accurate as the outgoing model’s thumb pads. Accessing all the vehicle info in either screen is made easy with excellent natural voice commands, or by using the touchscreen, touchpad, or steering wheel controls. One of the coolest options amid all the tech upgrades is augmented video for navigation that is far better than the Google maps that can be accessed with standard smartphone compatibility. The hallmark circular vents below it can be embedded in dash trim of gray ash or walnut wood. Black, carbon fiber, and metallic elements trim the AMG models, but the synthetic leather upholstery in the E350 and E450 eschews dark for creamier tones. Few automakers do interiors as nicely and comfortably as Mercedes. 

The E-Class fits four in posh comfort; spacious as a sedan, with decent trunk space upgradable to SUV-like cargo volume in the All-Terrain wagon. The coupe and cabriolet have rear seats that could fit a young family of four, but the front seats provide plenty of room for heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. The power-adjustable heated front seats with memory have significant side bolsters and long bottoms for max comfort, but leather only comes standard on the cabriolet and AMG E63. An available hot massager breaks up long road trips, and an adaptive driver’s seat can be programmed by entering in the driver’s height, then the system sets the ideal position and the driver can tweak the inputs. The sedan and wagon can fit three in back with more than 36 inches of legroom.

The All-Terrain even has a compact rear jump seat in back for two to seat of up to seven total. Fold the jump seat to increase cargo volume to 35.0 cubic feet. The sedan has just 13.1 cubic feet in the trunk. The wagon’s jump seat is a good approximation of the rear seats in the cabriolet. It has 34.1 inches of leg room, and more than eight inches less shoulder room than the sedan. The trunk only holds 9.5 cubic feet; the coupe holds only half a foot more stuff, good for that extra shoebox. The coupe’s a bit more reasonable for four for a jaunt around town. Leg room is only a tad tighter than the sedan at 35.9 inches, but there’s about a half-foot less shoulder room and more than an inch less head room.

Loaded with standard features, the E-Class isn’t that expensive without AMG models or all the options. Either the E-Class keeps getting better equipped or other luxury cars keep getting more expensive. Make no mistake, Mercedes charges plenty for the E-Class, but with all the features and refinements, it’s worth it. At least before the temptation of options and AMG variants. Every E-Class comes with 18-inch wheels, twin 12.3-inch screens, smartphone compatibility software, keyless start and entry, heated power front seats with synthetic leather upholstery, and ambient lighting for about $56,000 to start with the E350.

A new generation of natural voice controls awakened by “Hey Mercedes” helps search and navigation, as well as in-car functions. Every E-Class comes with a new steering wheel with new capacitive sensors for infotainment and cluster controls. Even though the base E350 costs only $200 more than the 2020 model, we prefer the E450 with standard all-wheel drive. At $63,050, it’s more powerful and more efficient than the E350 for $5,250 more. But, for the interior space of a crossover SUV with the performance of a sedan, the All-Terrain wagon has all the features of the E450 plus the space. It costs $68,650.

In the other direction, the coupe and cabriolet also come standard as an E450 with available all-wheel drive for $2,500 more. They and the E53 and E63 come with an upgraded flat-bottom steering wheel with a sensor mat wrapped around the inside so when the adaptive cruise is activated the driver need only tap the wheel to let the system know all is well. Aside from a power retractable soft-top roof that can go up or down in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph, the $73,000 cabriolet comes with a wind deflector between the rear headrests that limits wind buffeting and turbulence, as well as an “Airscarf” heater at neck level for front riders.This would be a welcome feature for solid roofs, too. The available sun-reflecting leather with a special coating that Mercedes says stays 55 degrees cooler than untreated leather.

Options are too plentiful to list, from massaging seats to the AMG carbon-fiber package. The augmented video for navigation is noteworthy. Pull up to a stoplight and the front camera projects onto the 12.3-inch screen. With navigation set, it will show a direction arrow over the intersection as well as the name of the street. It even shows the addresses of houses and buildings. It’s really helpful at night. The 2021 AMG E63 S Sedan tops the lineup at $108,550 with its 603-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, air suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, and more. Tack on a Burmester sound system ($4,550), an AMG carbon ceramic braking system ($8,950) and it can easily eclipse $130,000.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is impressive on every level. Not only is it a masterpiece in its own right; but it’s able to achieve new found levels of refinement, performance, and technology while living up to its hallowed nameplate. With stunning looks, dynamic driving manners, and topnotch technology; it’s easy to see how the refreshed 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is stellar. For those looking to try a bit of hallmarked history that leads the current luxury flock, the E-Class in any version is definitely worth a look.