Mercedes-Benz USA execs have long described its customers for the E-Class wagon as having the highest income of any of its models. Then they remember that the G-Wagen overtook it in that category. But the point remains that the E-Class wagon is the spiritual heart of Mercedes-Benz for its strongest customers.
So, it is appropriate that the 2022 E450 4Matic All-Terrain should so perfectly embody the attributes that have made Mercedes’ cars legendary. The E450’s cabin serenity is reinforced by the test car’s $1,100 Acoustic Comfort Package, which includes added cabin insulation and a sound-and heat-absorbing membrane applied to the glass.
Abetting this insulation in keeping the car hushed is the application for 2022 of a 48-volt mild hybrid system to the car’s silken 3.0-liter I6 combustion engine. This replaces the previous 12-volt automatic stop/start system, which handicapped last year’s car with the intrusive restart cough of Star Wars’ General Grevious. This system contributes to the car’s EPA rating of 24 mpg in combined driving.
The car’s M256 engine is rated at 362 horsepower, and the 48-volt integrated starter/generator mild hybrid system can add a maximum boost of 21 horsepower. More significantly, the electric motor can contribute 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Combining that silent torque with the inherent perfect primary balance of the inline six-cylinder combustion engine and sending the power through a 9-speed planetary automatic transmission with a torque converter creates exactly the posh, effortless driving experience expected from the three-pointed star.
The E450 can sprint to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. No one is measuring that, or racing this sublime wagon, but the ability to zip onto the highway from the on-ramp with speed to spare is reassuring.
As an All-Terrain model, our $76,250 (including destination) test E450 was equipped with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system and was appropriately finished in Polar White, making it seem like the perfect winter driving machine. Standard seat heaters with easy-to-access physical buttons on the door panel along with the optional $250 heated steering wheel (a must-have!) further contribute to the car’s cold-weather excellence. Even the natural grain ash wood trim lends a welcome visual warmth.
The E450’s adaptive air suspension provides both responsive handling and a comfortable ride. The Mercedes rolls on 19-inch wheels, which are large, but not as huge as so many cars have these days, so the all-season tires have a 45 aspect ratio. That’s still low, but it isn’t 30, so there is some sidewall compliance aiding the smooth ride.
Inside, the wagon is a combination of cutting-edge technology and throwback Vista Cruiser configuration. That’s because while there are dual, ultra-high definition 12.3-inch displays to remind you of the dual 27-inch monitors on your desktop.
At the same time, stowed in the floor of the rear cargo “way back” area is the same kind of rear-facing fold-up jump seat so many of us experienced as kids during the station wagon era, watching the world recede through the rear window if we were the less motion sickness-prone children. The vomiters normally sat in the front-facing second-row seats.
Speaking of the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, that car was notable for its roof-mounted skylights that provided a view upward. Our test E450 goes one better, with the optional $1,000 panoramic sunroof, which not only provides a glimpse out, but which also bathes the entire cabin in light, eliminating the cave-like atmosphere of so many wagons and SUVs.
Up in the front row, the MBUX infotainment system looks as good as the stellar Burmeister audio system sounds. An especially thoughtful aspect of the video display interface is the ability for the driver to dial it back to suit their preferences.
On the Modern Classic setting, you get the latest in Mercedes’ design thinking, with an elegant display style. Sport gives the dashboard a high-tech “turbine” appearance. Progressive blessedly reduces the digital clutter. And Discrete cuts all the displays back to the absolutely necessary. This, combined with a dim setting on the brightness produces a satisfactorily calm cabin for nighttime highway driving.
With any luck, that highway will be in the direction of a ski resort and your skis are on the roof, while the car is loaded with friends and family. There seems to be no more serene, secure way to cover the frozen distance than in the E450 4Matic All-Terrain.