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November 7, 2007 > Auto Column

Auto Column

2007 Mercedes Benz E550

The Mercedes Benz sedan product line in the USA has three different 4-door models. The C class on the smaller end, the E class in the middle, and the larger S class. We recently tested a 2007 E550.

Various engines are available in each class of car. For example, the basic choices for the Mercedes E class are a 208 HP diesel, a 268 HP V-6, and a 382 HP V-8. Then you can go the extreme and get a 507 HP, 6.3-liter V-8 in the AMG version of the E class sedan.

Our E class had the 5.5-liter, 382 HP V-8 that develops 391 foot pounds of torque. This engine has been around for a number of years and is a good, reliable, and powerful unit. It is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission (no manual is available). This combination delivers smooth and strong acceleration. Its quiet, no muss, no fuss take off can really surprise you. It's easy to be going way over the speed limit before you realize it.

E550 is a performance, five-passenger, luxury car and lives up to the Mercedes Benz reputation for luxury and great performance. The E class was redesigned for the 2003 model year and restyled for the 2007 edition.

The automatic transmission can "read" how you are driving (performance or cruising) and adjust itself to your current driving style. Drivers can also choose between sport and comfort modes to give more oomph or more fuel economy. There is a choice of three settings for the shock absorbers to suit your driving style. Harder settings stiffen the E550's response to hard turns, but I must admit that I could not sense much of a difference between the softest and hardest settings.

Heated seats are pretty common in cars these days so Mercedes Benz has gone one step further. E550 front seats also have small fans that can ventilate the seats to cool them.

The E class sedans are built in Germany and live up to the famous German reputation for build quality and reliability. I only had two small complaints about the E550. There are two control stalks on the left side of the steering wheel: one was for the cruise control and the other controlled the lights. It was easy to confuse them and try to use the cruise control lever to signal for a turn.

The other issue was partially my fault. The big V-8 uses a lot of gas. The reason that it used a lot of premium gas was that I have a very heavy throttle foot. If I had taken it easy, maybe I would have been close to the EPA numbers of 15 city and 23 on the highway.

Our test E550's MSRP started at $59,775. Then things like a $540 wood and leather steering wheel, a $520 electronic trunk closer, and other options and packages were added to bring the total to $68,815. A 4-wheel drive E class wagon, with the V-6, starts at $55,575. The E63 AMG sedan starts at $85,775. The 2008 models will not change but some of the prices will increase slightly by $400 to $900.

We absolutely enjoyed our time with the E550. It really meets its design criteria of moving five people around comfortably, quietly, safely, and quickly. Is it cost efficient? At almost $69K that's for you to decide.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM

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