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Car Tech Video: BlueTec-powered Benz brings together luxury and efficiency

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Car Tech Video: BlueTec-powered Benz brings together luxury and efficiency

7:01 /

If you're not too hung up on dashboard apps, the Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec is the total package, balancing gobs of torque and real-world performance, great highway fuel efficiency, and nearly autonomous driver aid tech.

It's the unofficial vehicle of Hollywood car chase bad guys. It is the sinister anonymous black Mercedes sedan. But this Mercedes E-class is packing a clean diesel, so I guess it's the official vehicle of eco-conscious green-thinking Hollywood car chase bad guys. I'm Antuan Goodwin. Let's hop behind the wheel of this 2014 E-250 BlueTec and check the tech. Now, in the cabin, you've got a nice blend of materials and some nice seats which is pretty much what you'd expect from a car that starts at about $51,000, but Mercedes is gonna nickel and dime you on some of the options. For example, this push button starter, $650 option. That's something that comes standard on a Hyundai Veloster. You'll also pay extra for the ventilation in the seats and a little bit extra for this driver seat which has massage settings and some active bolsters that are gonna kind of cup your sides when you go into a corner. It's a little weird, but I do like that feature and I don't mind paying a little bit more for it. Now, the standard infotainment system in this car is gonna be Mercedes' COMAND system. It hasn't changed very much in the past 10 years and that's the very bad thing because we don't really like this interface a lot and it's kind of hard sometimes to tell exactly where the things are hidden in this navigation system. For example, if you want to stop a route, you don't go under route, you go under destination. If you want to change your audio source, you pop into your audio source and then you don't get a list of sources, you have to come down underneath this sort of drop down menu and scroll through all of your audio sources. And admittedly, there are a lot of audio sources. We have iPod connectivity, but Mercedes still uses a 30-pin connector and you can't plug Lightning to the USB adapter into the standard USB port. So, you're gonna have to buy a 30-pin to Lightning adapter and that's gonna actually give you some pretty bad sound quality and you don't really like the fact that Mercedes is doing that. But you're also getting good voice command in this vehicle. You can actually press the button and say the entire address in one go. The problem is that when you're on the road and you've got road noise, I found the system needs a lot of correcting. You can also get Mercedes' Mercedes apps and their mbrace telematics system in this vehicle. That's gonna add things like Facebook integration or Yelp integration, but we found that it's really sluggish and really annoying and you definitely don't wanna spend your money on it. Now, the tech that you won't wanna skip is the safety tech. We've actually got one package, the driver assistance package. It's gonna add a lot of this in one Phillips screw, and in that, you're gonna get Mercedes' Distronic Plus system. That's their adaptive cruise control/pre-collision detection system that's gonna use forward-facing cameras and radar to look out of the front of the vehicle and maintain a safe-driving distance from the vehicle in front of you. And if a pedestrian steps out in front of you, you can detect that too and even bring the vehicle to a stop if you're going at a slow enough speed or slow you down a little bit so that that you don't completely plow over the guy. Now, that Distronic Plus system is also gonna tie in Mercedes' steering assistance system and lane keep assist system, so that when you activate the adaptive cruise control, those systems come on automatically. It doesn't just beep at you when you start cruising out of our lane and into the next one. It'll actually add a little bit of steering to actively keep you in the middle of the lane. We've also got another option package that's gonna add Mercedes' park assist system, that's their automatic parallel parking system that you can active to allow this vehicle to steer itself into a parking spot. That's also gonna add a really cool around view camera system, similar to the one that we've seen on Infiniti and Nissan vehicles, but it adds a couple of different camera views -- a detailed front view, a detailed rearview -- and you kind of scroll through those with the COMAND wheel and it's really good for just kind of nudging and squeezing your car into a really tight spot. Those cameras are very cool. You're gonna take control of this 7-speed automatic transmission not with a console-mounted shift lever, but with this steering column-mounted lever. It's a little bit of a three on the tree here, but instead of one, two, third gear, you've got the park, reverse, neutral, and drive. Now, the E-class is a big sedan with a lot of room in the engine bay for a big engine, but don't let this giant plastic cover fool you. Underneath it is a pretty small 2.1-liter twin-turbo diesel engine. That's a four-cylinder engine. The output is gonna be 195 horsepower which is pretty impressive if you're comparing it to a Honda Accord, but that torque is gonna be 369 pound feet of torque coming out of this thing and that's impressive no matter how you slice it. That's gonna be made it to a one option 7-speed automatic transmission and that's gonna get you an estimated 28 miles per gallon in the city, but this is a diesel. It's meant for cruising. So, the big number here is the 45 miles per gallon that you are gonna expect to get on the highway when you're just kind of cruising down the road. That's a really good fuel economy number for a vehicle of this size. Now, while we're at the front of the vehicle, let's take a minute to look at the headlamps. We've got equipped a $1,500 headlamp package that's gonna add LED headlamps. That's a full LED array to replace the standard HID lights. Now, these lights are going to steer into the turns when you turn the wheel or when you're going down the road. We've also got a zero dollar option which is a rarity in this car. It's a sport package. It's gonna add a sport tune suspension and a unique front end with a unique grille and this sort of chrome front wing. Now, on the road in the E250 BlueTec, and man, it is nice to be a bad guy. This is a comfortable car. Now, the interesting thing about the diesel engine is there's not a lot of power on paper, but it's that torque number like I said that you really wanna care about. Having that much torque on demand really low in the power band means that you don't really have to rely on that 7-speed transmission to do a lot of shifting when you wanna roll on the power. You actually do have paddle shifters if you should decide that you want to do some shifting of yourself for some sporty driving, but if you actually just fire off a quick downshift after a couple of seconds of not shifting, it will revert back to its automatic mode and shift for you again. Generally speaking, I've been very happy with the comfort and quietness of this vehicle and the efficiency that I get without having to sacrifice having power on tap when I needed. Diesel is the way to go for this kind of vehicle. All right, now, the 2014 E250 BlueTec is gonna start at $51,400 and it's pretty well equipped at that price. You're getting a lot of car for the money and you're also getting that 45 miles per gallon on the highway which is so awesome. Now, ours has a lot of safety tech which you want and a lot of convenience tech that you want. We've also got a lot of app tech which you don't want. Skip that and you can go all in CNET style for $66,025. Again, still a pretty good deal and you're getting a lot of car and a lot of efficiency for the price.

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