2021 Mercedes E-Class grille
Jerry Kronenberg

Sexy, Sporty 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Offers Tons of Luxury Performance

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2021 Mercedes E-Class grille
Jerry Kronenberg

Touch of E-Class

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class packs all of the luxury and performance that Mercedes can muster into a sexy, sporty package. Perhaps that's why Motor Trend recently named the model its 2021 Car of The Year. Slightly updated for 2021, the E-Class (base price: $54,250) contains everything from a convertible version to an all-terrain one, with rear- and all-wheel drive available and turbocharged engines that boast as much as 603 horsepower. I recently tested the AMG E 53 sedan (base price: $73,900), a racetrack-capable version of the model one level below the top-of-line $107,500 AMG E 63.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class exterior
Jerry Kronenberg

Exterior

On the outside, my test E 53 featured sexy optional Cardinal Red metallic paint ($1,080). A long, languid hood sat atop standard LED headlights and big grille with a large Mercedes emblem. These swept back to large front doors outfitted with automatic folding mirrors and nice chrome door handles, all sitting atop great Michelin tires and $950 20-inch five-spoke wheels. My test model also featured a nice panoramic sunroof ($1,000) and a surprisingly generous trunk with enough space for probably four large suitcases and a few knapsacks.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class front seat dashboard
Jerry Kronenberg

Front Seats

Inside, my test E 53 boasted a sleek, industrial design. Optional $2,990 gray perforated leather with gray suede trim and red stitching adorned the seats, as well as a steering wheel with suede where the hands rest (a surprisingly comfortable addition). My test car's dashboard also featured gray leather with red stitching, as well as air vents and other trim done up to look like shiny chrome and burnished steel. In reality, the material was plastic — but it still looked pretty cool. So, too, did the car's racing-style accelerator and brake pedals.

My test E 53's sporty front seats offered good headroom, legroom, and hip room to driver and passenger. These came with not only great electric seat adjusters, but with built-in heating and cooling ($450) and even massage-chair options ($1,320).

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2021 Mercedes E-Class controls
Jerry Kronenberg

Controls

The dashboard's crystal-clear digital display featured a standard speedometer and tachometer or your choice of multiple alternate displays such as "Sport" and "Supersport" (basically, what you'd see in a race car). My E 53 also came with a great 12.3-inch main touchscreen powered by mousepad-like controls and featuring everything from restaurant and hotel listings to a Drag Race Mode. This screen and some backup buttons and knobs controlled the E 53's climate system, navigation, optional $4,550 AM/FM/SiriusXM Burmester audio system, and other features. My test model also came with some nice additional features, such as a wireless phone charger and ambient mood lighting in the cabin.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class trunk
Jerry Kronenberg

Back Seats

The E 53's rear seats offered decent hip room, although headroom was a bit light due to the car's low-slung roofline. Legroom was also a bit limited, undoubtedly to make room for the E 53's large trunk. Although the E 53's back seats are technically designed for three adults, even two would find the space a tad cramped on longer journeys. On the plus side, there's a nice armrest/cupholder in the center when only two people are in back.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class drag race mode
Jerry Kronenberg

Road Test

Of course, if you want roominess, buy a minivan. People buy fancy Mercedes sedans for what's under the hood. On the road, my test E 53's all-wheel drive, nine-speed automatic transmission, and 429-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine offered enough high performance to keep Danica Patrick happy. Press the model's keyless startup and the engine roars to life with a muted rumble, like a lion waiting to bounce.

Mercedes rates the E 53's acceleration at just 4.4 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph, and my test model barely broke a sweat as it briefly but relatively quietly revved to 6,800 rpm to get there. (The E 53 includes what's called a "mild hybrid" motor to help with acceleration and slightly improve fuel efficiency.)

The vehicle brakes and corners well, while backing up and parking are relatively easy given the E 53's generally modest size. The car's large front windshield and its windows offer good sightlines, although the rear view could be a tad better. Fortunately, my test car came with a great 360-degree backup camera and a $1,950 optional Driver Assistance Package that included a cross-traffic alert system, active emergency-stop assist, and other safety features.

As for fuel efficiency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the E 53 at 22 mpg/city, 29 mpg/highway and 25 mpg/combined. During a weeklong test drive, I racked up a combined 26 city/highway mpg.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class grille
Jerry Kronenberg

Pricing

Of course, Mercedes style and luxury don't come cheap. While my test E 53 carried a $73,900 base price, extras took the car's sticker price to $101,780 after factoring in a $1,050 destination and delivery charge. The E-Class also competes against a number of fine vehicles, such as the $53,900 BMW 5 Series, the $54,900 Audi A6, and the $36,895 Cadillac CT5. While all of those are excellent models, you can't go wrong with the 2021 Mercedes E 53. An economy car it ain't, but your money will get you all of the style, luxury, and performance any automobile shopper could ask for.

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