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2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan is smarter and sharper

As refreshes go, this is a thorough one.

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You'll have to wait a few more years for revolution, but the current evolution is pretty swell.

Mercedes-Benz

Automakers will generally refresh a vehicle about halfway through the generation's intended run, usually comprising updates to both the car's looks and what it's packing underneath. Following a refresh of its largest S-Class sedan a couple years ago, Mercedes-Benz is now looking to its slightly smaller sibling, the E-Class.

Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday unveiled the 2021 E-Class Sedan. This mid-cycle refresh is pretty thorough, even in terms of aesthetics alone. The front end packs redesigned LED headlights that bring its look a little closer to its equivalent SUV, the GLE-Class. Out back, the taillights bear a closer resemblance to the new A-Class or CLS-Class. As usual, there are new wheel designs and paint colors on offer.

The inside doesn't change its looks much, but there are some new combinations on offer that mix beige and two different grays. New trim finishers are available too, including a revised burl walnut and a new natural-grain gray ash. There's also a wild new steering wheel design with capacitive sensors that can determine when a driver's hands have left the wheel. The "blades" that stretch out from either side of the wheel's central hub are pretty interesting, and that's just one of the new designs offered on different trims.

The real meat and potatoes of the interior's upgrades lie behind the pair of 12.3-inch screens on the dashboard. The E-Class finally picks up MBUX, the latest iteration of Mercedes' infotainment system. It really ramps up its capabilities, with a natural-language voice recognition system, multiple gauge layouts, optional augmented-reality navigation and a whole bunch more. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as well.

MBUX is always a welcome addition.

Mercedes-Benz

On the safety front, the 2021 E-Class comes standard with automatic emergency braking. Optional upgrades add active blind-spot monitoring, full-speed adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capabilities, traffic sign recognition and a surround-view camera system with active parking assist.

The E-Class sedan can be purchased with one of three different powertrains. The E350 uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 making 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, and it's available in either rear- or all-wheel drive. The E450's 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 makes 362 hp and 369 lb-ft, and that's before the EQ Boost mild hybrid's electric motor kicks in.

And then there's the E350e, which mates a 2.0-liter turbo I4 to a 90-kilowatt-hour battery and an electric motor. This plug-in hybrid makes a meaty 315 hp and 516 lb-ft, and while Mercedes didn't divulge any estimated electric-only range figures, a battery of that capacity should produce a decent figure.

If a traditional sedan isn't your favorite body style in the world, don't fret -- there's something a little more interesting available, too. The E-Class All Terrain replaces the E-Class Wagon in the US starting in 2021, although it's basically just a lifted wagon with some additional cladding. Think of it as the equivalent of a Volvo V60 and V60 Cross Country.

All E-Class Sedan variants are expected to arrive at US dealers by the end of 2020. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date.