Saturday, December 31, 2016

Owning a Mercedes E350 4matic

We bought a used Mercedes Benz E350 4matic in September of 2015.  It is a 2010 (W212) model and it had 34k miles on it.  Our daughter is off to college which is over 500 miles to drive each way.  We have made this trip many times.  The car already has over 77k miles as of this post (December 2016).

The good

This car handles very well for a luxury sedan.  Of course I said the same about the Jaguar XJ8L we had before it.  Seems that luxury cars are no longer the bouncy boats they once were. This is a great car for long road trips.  As I mentioned above, we often take this on long trips and the driver fatigue is the lowest I have had in any car.  It's very stable and it inspires confidence while also being very comfortable. Once while driving through central Missouri a car quickly veered into me as I was passing.  I had to take immediate action to avoid a collision.  I had to steer quickly to the left, using all remaining pavement, possibly even dropping the edge of the left wheels off the pavement.  We were doing over 70mph.  I was easily able to control the vehicle with confidence and we avoided any damage.  

This car is very easy to enter/exit and to drive.  My wife has RA and she says it is a great car for her since everything about it is easy.  Doors open easy, it shifts easy, etc.  

I like the paddle shifts for the automatic trans.  In this car you need them too.  More on that below.

We like the look of the car, even in silver.  I generally prefer red or blue.  Silver and black are my least favorite car colors, and sadly the most popular on Mercedes.  I don't mind it so much on this car though.  

The entertainment system is very good.  I am shocked however that is does not support Bluetooth A2DP (music streaming).  That seems ridiculous for a 2010 model.  Especially when it supports everything else.  I do mean everything too.  It supports 6 DVD/CD, PCMCIA expansion, Satellite radio, AM/FM, weather radio, and it has a connector in the glove box where you can connect USB, video, and audio.  It has a built in hard drive that you can use to store music on as well.  The sound quality is great too.  

So far it has been easy to work on.  I have only done oil changes, spark plugs, and rear brakes but those were all very simple.  The engine compartment opens up to expose the whole engine which is rare these days.  So many cars have the engine tucked under the bodywork making it hard to access the rear of the engine.  Not this car.  Here is a photo with the air cleaner removed.
Engine bay with air cleaner removed
Removing the air cleaner is a few clips and hoses, no tools needed.  You can see all the ignition coils in plain sight here.  Another great feature is that I can reset the maintenance reminders myself with no tools.  It is done with the display and steering wheel buttons.  It is a bit tricky and takes me several attempts each time but at least I can do it which is more than I can say for Volvo and Porsche.

The 270HP engine makes decent power.  This is the lowest power gas engine for this model year.  Still, it's not too bad.  The powerband is broad too for a naturally aspirated engine.  Fuel economy is OK for an AWD luxury car.  I get mid-20's on a road trip and about 20 in town.  

Tire life has been very good.  

The not so good

While the seats are very comfortable, I don't like the fake leather they use to make them.  It is much hotter in the summer than real leather.  It also has a bad feel on the skin when wearing shorts.  Much better when you have some jeans to separate you from this material.  It seems very durable and it looks good but it feels bad on your skin.  I find myself missing that fantastic Jaguar leather.

Like most newer cars, the automatic transmission favors the highest possible gear and the convertor locked.  I think the convertor locks as soon as you are moving.  This is all done for fuel economy.  The downside comes when you are merging onto the freeway.  You his a steady speed in the cloverleaf when it is constant radius.  At this point it shifts into the highest gear.  As the ramp straightens out to merge onto the freeway, the car resists downshifting.  You keep going deeper into the throttle with little response until finally it drops about 3 gears and you accelerate away.  Like I said, this is typical of modern cars.  Here is where the paddle shifts come in.  I limit the upshifts to keep the engine above 2,000rpm or so.  I can now accelerate on smoothly.  You can optimize the gear using the paddles until you get to cruising speed.  Then you just hold the upshift paddle until D is selected.   One other issue with this trans happens when going up a steep hill at low speeds.  Again the trans will hold the highest gear with the convertor locked to the bitter end.  When it does finally downshift, it can occasionally be harsh.  

Like most cars this size it is cramped for 5.  You can ride 4 with decent comfort but that 5th person in the middle is a tight squeeze.  This is not just an E-class issue of course.  You need a pretty wide car to fit 3 adults across in comfort.  It's fine across town but after an hour on the road, the back seat occupants will complain.


This car has turned my wife into a Mercedes fan.  It is very likely her next car will be a Mercedes.  She wants to consider an S-class next time for the extra room though.  I like the car too.  I would probably get the E-class again as a like the less big size.  Now they have the E400 which is basically this car with twin turbos.