The E550's in-speedo multifunction display was our favorite cabin-tech feature. Through it, drivers can get information on: 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 turning, direction of the next turning (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.
The E550's automatically tilting and telescoping steering wheel is furnished with four large, pushable remote-control buttons, which are used to control the car's audio settings (volume/CD track/satellite radio station), to answer and end phone calls made via the Bluetooth hands-free interface, and--most usefully in our experience--to scroll through the information shown in the multifunction monochrome display nestled in the center of the speedometer.
The E550 requires wayfarers to program destinations using a fussy, five-way rocker switch, which requires a good deal of repetitive button-pushing to enter a single destination. One of our colleagues was particularly critical of the washed-out light-blue-on-lighter-blue color scheme for the menu screens.
A button next to the shifter lets drivers adjust the E550's transmission to Comfort mode, which starts the car from standing in second gear and delivers upshifts at lower rpms for a more sedate ride. Also customizable from the cabin is the E550's Airmatic air suspension, which can be set to one of three configurations according to your preferences for hauling the 4000-pound Benz through the bends
There is an auxiliary input jack subtly installed in the glove box, while a dedicated iPod integration kit, enabling control of an iPod via the car's head unit display, is available as a dealer-installed option for an extra $321.
The interior of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E550 is a mix of old-world Mercedes styling and new-world cabin tech. Plush leather upholstery and burl walnut trim provide the framework for the car's dated-looking head unit and HVAC controls.
A midrange Mercedes-Benz feels like the high end of other automakers' lineups. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E550 executive sedan we reviewed this week inherits its engine and a good deal of its technology from the flagship S550. Nevertheless, the ride in the E550 isn't quite as smooth as that of its big brother, and the interior details definitely feel more down-market. Our full review takes a good look at the car's navigation and stereo systems, as well as the E550's performance.
For the 2007 model year, the E-Class gets a couple of cosmetic tweaks and an injection of muscle: its front end gets some Botox work and a shot of sporty grille treatment, while the engine gets a near-overdose of power in the form of a barnstorming 382-horspeower 5.5-liter engine.