HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 MERCEDES-BENZ E550 REVIEW


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SEE ALSO: Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 MERCEDES-BENZ E550 REVIEW

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE E550 VEHICLE

The only thing the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 doesn’t do is make passengers an espresso. Fully loaded with incomparable luxury and cutting edge technology, the 5-passenger E550 tops any other experience one might have in an upscale sedan. The side walls of the driver’s seat securely hug you, for crying out loud, when making tight turns.

I drove a 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 with a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8 engine and a 7-speed automatic transmission. Standard comfort highlights included the 8-speaker COMAND audio system with a 6-disc CD player and Bluetooth; 4.5-inch instrument cluster display; 14-way power front seats; and interior wood trim. Optional equipment included a $1,070 panorama moonroof; a $650 Drive Dynamic Multicontour Driver Seat with Massage (the hugging chair); a $6,800 Premium Package (40GB hard drive navigation system, upgraded audio parts, heated seats, better high beams and keyless start); and a $2,900 Driver Assistance Package (Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot Assist). At base the E550 is $56,300 – but with all the aforementioned options, total price for my test drive cam to $68,595.

When you drive a vehicle the price of a small house, in the case of the Mercedes-Benz E550 you do get a living-room experience. The leather seats are dreamy, the black wood trim is nicer than what I’ve witnessed on most indoor entertainment systems, and the room climate control is perfect. In comparison to the Audi A6 and the BMW 550i, the E550 is the top choice for getting the best in performance and luxury – and at the best price.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: With the E550, it’s not so much what the vehicle offers – which is just about everything – but how comfortable and accessible the interior features are. Heated and cooled seats are a nice touch. The massager on the driver’s seat is unbelievable. Steering wheel controls allow the driver to scroll through the many commands (trip, navigation, audio and telephone) very quickly. Every detail has been carefully thought out, right down to the rear screen for the rear window to help reduce driver’s glare.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The E550 is fully loaded with Mercedes-Benz safety features: advanced airbag systems for all passengers; Attention Assist; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; Tele Aid System; 24-hour roadside assistance; steel reinforced cabin; 3-point seat belts with pre-tensioners; ISOFEX anchor and tether system for children; and active head restraints.

Cost Issues: The E550 undoubtedly costs a lot of us average Americans with a base price of $56,300 and the potential to reach almost $70k when loaded with excellent optional packages. However, if you are in the market, when evaluating what both the Audi A6 and the BMW 550i have to offer along the same lines, the E550 comes out a better deal.

Activity & Performance Ability: The E550 goes from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds with a V8 engine that is undeniably responsive, displays excellent cadence on imperfect road conditions, and is tapered at the corners. The adaptable suspension offers two settings, or Comfort and Sport. The Comfort setting absorbs bumps and potholes as if they didn’t exist. The Sport setting offers a more engaging experience behind the wheel because it is authoritative and firmer; up the fun with steering wheel paddle shifters. The Attention Assist is an amazing system that detects driver drowsiness using more than 70 parameters, including factors such as linear/lateral acceleration and steering wheel movements. So if the system determines you are drowsy, the system issues visual and auditory warnings. Many of the performance technology I have not yet witnessed on another vehicle, making the E550 very cutting edge.

The Green Concern: EPA ratings for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 are 16-city/24-highway driving mpg with a combination of 20 mpg. I was able to average around 19 mpg in variety of driving situations. The E550 takes premium fuel.

FINAL PARTING WORDS

If you are seriously considering buying the best 5-passenger sedan any top luxury brand has to offer, test drive the Audi A6 and the BMW 550i – and then get behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz E550 to discover the best in performance, comfort and price.

2010 Katrina Ramser

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