After teasing the interior of this very car at CES last week, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled all the details on the 2017 E-Class, the company's middle-of-the-road sedan that slots between the high-volume C and the flagship S. It's also one of the last cars in Mercedes' lineup to get the company's newest design language — and as you might expect, it looks a bit like a scaled-down S-Class. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)
The real story is the technology, though, which helps explain why the car got a teaser at CES. (The company actually calls it "the most advanced vehicle the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio," which is saying something.) Big features include Drive Pilot, a semi-autonomous system that can handle highway driving up to 130 miles per hour — and still up to 81 mph when road markers "are unclear or non-existent." Like the new BMW 7-Series, the E-Class can also park and un-park itself with the assistance of a phone app.
The really novel thing that Mercedes has going here is a touch-sensitive set of controls on the steering wheel, allowing the driver to control the user interface using swipe motions — and speaking of the UI, it's redesigned and presented on a 12.3-inch display. It's not the biggest in the industry (that honor still probably goes to Tesla), but it's still huge.
Interestingly, the car will ship with V2V and V2I technology — vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure — which allows it to send and receive information from nearby cars, streetlights, and so on. I've experienced V2V in a testing environment before, and it's going to be a big deal for safety; it only helps when a lot of cars on the road actually support it, but expect to see that happen pretty rapidly within the next couple years.
At launch in the US, the car will only be available with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that puts out 241 horsepower, an unusually small mill considering that the outgoing model is available in configurations ranging all the way up to 577 hp for the AMG variant. Needless to say, a new AMG will likely be coming — along with a plug-in hybrid.
The new E-Class launches in the US in mid-2016.
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