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Mercedes Benz E400: As plush as you make it

The words “affordable luxury” can be applied to a number of vehicles in the Mercedes Benz line up. The E400 sedan can be one of those vehicles, but you have to show restraint with the options list and stay away from the letters A-M-G.

My test car was an E400 sedan (and thankfully, the E is not for electric) signifying it was an “E-Class” (mid-size in M-B speak) and mid-level in the lineup. However, $25,000 in options pushed it into a more exclusive parking lot.

HANDSOME LOOKS

The E400 is a handsome piece, as all its shapes flow together nicely. The classic long hood short deck proportions give the E-Class a sportier look than previous editions. While sharing some family styling cues with the C-Class and S-Class, it has its own look augmented by the optional AMG styling kit and 19-inch AMG wheels.

Motivation takes the form of a 3.0-L twin-turbo V6. This twice-baked engine has a robust 354 lb-ft of torque and is backed with a silky-smooth 9-speed automatic.

A premium priced car should have a premium interior. That’s not always the case, but the E400 delivers. The latest E-Class eschews the monotone, cold interior designs of the past and warms with curvy yards of leather and some lighter wood with shiny, metal sprinkles.

Behind the wheel, you’ll find a 12.3-inch display (optional) instead of gauges. Accessing information is a screen swipe or fingertip flip of switches supported by a console dial that manages the 12.3-inch screen for the infotainment system. Unfortunately, the COMMAND navigation is part of the system and it’s just not current and thankfully will be replaced in the Mercedes Benz line. A plus is the steering wheel, which has touch surfaces for swipe or peck actions.

OOZING COMFORT

Slip into the front seats and the E400 serves driver and front passenger with the oozing comfort and space you expect. The hot/cool/massaging seats are very adjustable and supportive. I was surprised to learn that beyond the seats; the console, armrests and steering wheel are all heated.

In the rear, there is more headroom than you might expect, but legroom is just adequate. Three-across seating is ok for short trips and the seat folds to increase trunk space, which is shallow at 13.1 cubic feet.

On a sunny day, get a spritz of the in-car fragrance dispenser, blast the optional $6,000 Burmester sound system and mash the pedal on a deserted stretch of highway for an enjoyable experience. After dark, the ambient light color selections are a little nightclub tacky, but it’s a guilty pleasure on a late night drive.

JUST RIDE

About those drives, the silky transmission, footprint of the 19-inch tire and Air Body Control suspension converge to provide a composed, smooth ride in the Comfort mode. I primarily kept it in Sport mode for curvy back roads and acceleration blasts on cloverleaf on-ramps. Sport+ is only good for short drives, as its very firm. The E400’s adjustable suspension is one that actually changes the ride and response with each setting.

Acceleration is strong with Mercedes Benz indicating a 0-60 acceleration time of 5.3 seconds. The turbo spools up with minimal lag and has plenty of steam for passing. The 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive immediately “digs-in” to provide bite and traction on wet or sloppy surfaces. The 4Matic system is a great feature if you want crossover traction with sedan packaging.

The 2019 Mercedes Benz E400 4Matic is a true Mercedes Benz and it’s a luxury cruiser, but not a sports sedan. The tech is mostly good, and the ride is smooth and predictable without float. Only your wallet limits the level of customization and luxury you can ladle-on to an E400.