With a comfortable cabin (albeit with some uninspiring tech), solid performance, and an astonishingly economical drivetrain, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec is an impressive newcomer to the luxury sedan segment.
The 2007 E320 BlueTec is the first car to reach the U.S. with a BlueTec diesel system, making use of a number of components in the exhaust stream that serve to treat the engine's emissions before they are released into the air. These comprise an oxidizing catalytic converter, a particulate filter, an advanced "denox" storage converter, and a Series Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converter, which adds a reducing agent to the exhaust stream in diesel cars to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides into less noxious components. In addition, the exhaust-stream technology, the E320 runs on ultralow sulphur diesel, which is available at a limited--but growing--number of gas stations across the country.
Hawkeyed observers of the 2007 model-year E-Class will be able to tell that its face-lift has made the front end look sharper thanks to a pointed, more beaklike front grille. Other cosmetic tweaks include additional horizontal eyelids on the car's headlights and the addition of some extra wire mesh beneath the front bumper.
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec marks a new chapter for diesel in the United States. With a comfortable cabin, solid performance, and an astonishingly economical drivetrain, we think it will be a hit.
The salvation of the E320's navigation system is the white-on-black monochrome LCD display built into the speedometer, which is perhaps the most useful onboard tech feature of the entire car. In navigation mode, this display supplements the main in-dash screen by showing turn arrows, distances, and road names throughout the course of the journey, vastly improving the waypoint-finding experience.
Programming destinations into the E320's navigation system is cumbersome, as it requires lots of fiddling about with the multidirectional button cluster on the lower right of the screen. Letters for place names or points of interest must be selected and entered one at a time, a procedure that is lengthened further by the navigational system's sluggish processor (fiber-optic communications network appears to offer little help), which has a habit of stopping for a long, hard think between menu levels and sometimes between individual letter entry.
The interior of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec has many of the same luxury appointments and tech features as those we saw in the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E550. Coddled in leather seats and surrounded by burled walnut trim, it was clear that whatever changes had been made under the hood, the interior of this car is unmistakably Benzian.
As part of the Premium II options package, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec comes with the Keyless Go smart-key system that enables drivers to unlock the car and start the engine without having to remove the RFID-enabled key fob from their pockets.
Similar to the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E550 and the S550, the Mercedes E320 BlueTec does come with the option of hands-free calling. However, it is Mercedes' proprietary take on this technology (rather than the open-standard Bluetooth), that supports only a limited number of cell phone handsets and requires users to buy a separate adapter module from the dealer for an extra $350.
We are not great fans of the navigation systems in the E-Class. The LCD screen is set very low down in the central stack, making it directly in line with the natural resting place of the driver's right hand on the steering wheel. This problematic placement is compounded by the screen's dullness and the unfortunate blue-on-blue color scheme that is used for most menus.
The 2007 E320 BlueTec comes with Mercedes' premium 12-speaker, 420-watt Harman Kardon digital surround-sound audio system. With 7.1 surround-sound architecture, the system produces a clean, crisp sound with deep bass notes and good separation for music with wide dynamic range such as that found on Sirius' Symphony channel.
With a push of one of the oval buttons, we were able to call up information on: the current satellite radio station; current road and direction of travel; real-time turn-by-turn directions from the GPS navigation system with distance to the next turn, direction of the next turn (in the form of a bright white arrow), and the name of the upcoming street we were to turn onto; phone status; and readouts on speed, current gas mileage, and range to empty.