Emma Jayne Williams

Mercedes E 450 wagon can seat up to seven; offers luxury, safety

Mercedes Benz has a long, complicated history, going back to the 19th century and becoming more distinct after World War II. The heart of Mercedes has been its midsize sedans, represented today by the E-class.

A new wagon was introduced in 1979, offering a third-row seat as an option. E-class-named vehicles came about in 1994 as Mercedes changed its naming system, putting letters before numbers, in line with engine displacement.

For 2004, during the third generation, yet another new station wagon emerged. The fourth generation (2009-2016) brought lots of changes, the most expensive facelift in the history of the automobile.

Changes for the fifth generation (2017-present) included a curvier, more-flowing design (opposed to the previous tight, hard edges), engine changes, enhanced comfort, a new infotainment and control system, and assistive driving and safety technology.

Model year 2019 brings two name changes and a more-powerful, upgraded 3.0-liter V-6 bi-turbo engine now producing 362 horsepower, 33 more than before.

E400 and E400 4MATIC models are now E450 and E450 4MATIC to reflect new features. Route-based speed adaptation, added to the Driver Assistance Package ($2,250), uses a broader scope of navigation and map data to help navigate different roads and situations.

The Mercedes Benz E wagon is available as an E450 4MATIC ($64,200) and an AMG E63 S wagon ($106,950). My E450 had a standard nine-speed automatic transmission for swift, smooth shifts, ECO start/stop, Dynamic Select, and permanent all-wheel drive.

Dynamic Select allows the driver to choose from five modes to change the driving character of the vehicle with the touch of a button, altering the operation of the transmission, steering, accelerator, and suspension, depending on the terrain or driver preference.

Comfort is the default setting, optimizing smoothness and refinement, and engaging the ECO start/stop to save fuel at stoplights/stop signs. ECO has light throttle and shifting, Sport has quicker steering and throttle responses, Sport-plus offers even more-intense performance, and Individual allows the driver to customize the responses.

Self-leveling, self-lowering, driver-adjustable Air Body Control ($1,900) handles curves and cargo with expertise, while 4MATIC responds automatically to the need for traction at each wheel.

A new three-spoke Nappa leather multifunction steering wheel allows the driver to operate all safety assistance systems with hands on the wheel.

New options include rear seat side air bags, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable digital instrument cluster ($850), cabin air fragrance and filtration system ($350), head-up display ($990), power rear side-window sunshades, and two new interior trim colors for the dash, doors, and center stack/console – Brown Ash wood and Burl Walnut.

The standard 12.3-inch panoramic screen serves COMMAND navigation, entertainment and comfort settings, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, using voice control, a central controller with a touch pad, as well as the touch screen.

Mercedes Me Connect services are included for a trial period, and allow the driver to access remote parking assist, vehicle information, online vehicle apps, emergency services, and much more. Mercedes Benz emergency call service (SOS) to connect to first responders and other roadside services is standard.

My E450 wagon was Designo Cardinal Red Metallic ($1,080) with designo Black/Titanium Gray Pearl Nappa leather interior ($4,990), with natural grain Black Ash Wood interior trim on the door panels, lower dash, and center console.

AMG 18-inch sport five-spoke wheels with silver face and gray pockets, part of an AMG Line Exterior package ($500), were fitted with low-noise, high-performance tires. The package included sporty AMG body styling (chunky front and rear bumpers and side skirts) and a large Mercedes-Benz star in the chrome-trimmed two-bar grille.

An exterior lighting package ($800) added the LED intelligent light system and adaptive high-beam assist. Wraparound taillights had LED turn signals and a special sparkle reflective housing.

Designo is Mercedes Benz’ exclusive selection of exquisite paint, supple leather and hand-polished rare wood interior trim options for the ultimate expression of individual style and quality. Mercedes says Designo vehicles are built by highly skilled craftsmen and women.

Illuminated door sills with Mercedes Benz lettering ($350) lit when the door was opened, and ambient lighting with 64 available colors could be adjusted to suit the mood – from energized to soothing. Soft-close doors ($550) preserved the air of class and elegance.

The seats had diamond-quilted perforated black leather seating surfaces, curved smooth Titanium Gray Pearl inserts with black contrast stitching in the perforated Black bolsters, Titanium Gray Pearl on the upper dash and upper door panels, Black DINAMICA headliner, Designo black floor mats, and chrome door pins (lock knobs).

Heated and ventilated front seats ($450) were upgraded with a Warmth and Comfort package ($1,050) with rapid heating function, and heated armrests and steering wheel. The front seats were further upgraded with Active Multicontour seats with massage feature ($1,320). Massage and heat had multiple settings, very soothing during a cold, stress-filled holiday. Three-zone climate control ($760) had rear vents, temperature and fan controls on the rear of the center console.

The interior was flexible and easy to reconfigure, able to carry up to seven people or lots of cargo, with a 40/20/40 folding second row and a folding rear-facing third row. A parcel net, elastic side strap, vertical net and self-rising cargo cover help manage and contain cargo. Front passengers have 37.9 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom, while the second row has 38.2/35.8 inches, respectively.

Cargo capacity with both rows folded is 64 cubic feet, with 35 cubic feet available when the second row was upright. The third row – more like a jump-seat than a real seat – has flat, hard, shallow cushions, removable headrests (stored underneath when not in use), no leg room, and occupied very little cargo room when upright.

An Acoustic Comfort package ($1,100) with increased cabin insulation, and windshield/side window glass with acoustic and heat absorbing membrane, kept outside noise out. A Premium package ($2,600) added wireless charging (under the center stack), keyless go with hands-free access for the liftgate, a six-month trial of SiriusXM All Access, and a Burmester surround sound system.

A Parking Assistance package ($1,290) brought active parking assist and a surround view system. Active parking helps locate a suitable parking space– parallel or perpendicular – using sound waves, and guides the driver through the parking process, automatically steering while the driver operates the accelerator and brake. Surround view helps with accurate parking when active parking is applicable.

The feature-loaded Driver Assistance package ($2,250) brought active steering assist, active blind-spot assist, active lane-change and lane keeping assist, evasive-steering assist, active speed-limit assist, active distance assist, active emergency stop assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, Pre-Safe Plus (rear-end collision protection), and Pre-Safe Impulse Side, an industry-first option.

Pre-Safe sound is standard, and emits a “pink noise” when an impending collision is detected, to protect passengers’ ears from the loud noise of an accident. Pre-Safe predictive occupant protection is also standard, and tightens the front seatbelts, adjusts the front head restraints and passenger seat, and closes the windows and sunroof for maximum protection from existing restraints.

Pre-Safe Plus detects when a rear-end collision is possible or imminent and performs the same occupant-protection procedures. Pre-Safe Impulse Side also uses sensors to detect a side impact and moves the passenger away by inflating air chambers in the side bolsters within a fraction of a second before impact.

My E450 tester also had Attention Assist, to warn the driver if the system detects inattentive driving behaviors. Crosswind stabilization was standard.

Mercedes Benz offers lots of features, standard and optional. I found the controls less than intuitive, though, requiring a few sessions with the owner’s manual. MB offers a tutorial for new buyers when the vehicle is delivered – it should be utilized, as some features aren’t readily apparent, such as a rear fog light.

The E450 is attractive, very comfortable (for the five front passengers), loaded with fun and practical features, and versatile.

With $23,090 in options and $995 destination charges, my 2019 E450 wagon delivered for $88,285.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.

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