Mercedes-Benz updated the E-class for 2010, but only released the sedan and coupe at that time. For the 2011 model year, it follows up with this convertible, available as the E550 or E350.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
1
of 21

LED parking lights are a new feature on the E-class, and this Cabriolet's aggressive-looking grille and air dam hint at the taut driving experience.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
2
of 21

Mercedes-Benz unveiled this engine, a 5.5-liter V-8, in 2005, and has since used it in many different models. Although responsive, it is not the most efficient, turning in mediocre fuel economy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
3
of 21

Typical for a convertible, the E550 Cabriolet is a two-door. Because of the lack of B pillars, extenders automatically push the seatbelts out within reach of driver and front passenger.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
4
of 21

Mercedes-Benz used a cloth top, as opposed to the increasingly common retractable hard top. A headliner inside of it helps dampen external noise.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
5
of 21

Our car came with AMG wheels, a pricey option.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
6
of 21

The suspension in the E550 Cabriolet is sport tuned, leading to a ride that is more rigid than soft.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
7
of 21

Rear leg room is a little tight, suggesting that the car should only occasionally be used for more than two passengers.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
8
of 21

Fit and finish seemed good in the cabin, with leather and wood trim. A controller for the navigation and audio systems sits on the console.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
9
of 21

Mercedes-Benz used to put a phone keypad in this pod, but in the E550 Cabriolet it is used for the convertible controls. We had a hard time finding them at first.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
10
of 21

The steering wheel has a satisfyingly thick feeling, and it moves the nose of the car around with some precision.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
11
of 21

Mercedes-Benz's gauges have a classic look, but an LCD in the speedometer can show trip, audio, navigation, and other information.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
12
of 21

The seven-speed automatic transmission has Manual and Sport modes, both activated by buttons. The Manual mode button is near the shifter, whereas the Sport button is somewhat lost on the dashboard among climate controls.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
13
of 21

The hard-drive-based navigation system renders landmark buildings in 3D.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
14
of 21

The POI database shows Zagat ratings for some restaurants.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
15
of 21

Entering an address involves selecting letters along a horizontal bar, which can be a little tedious.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
16
of 21

The interface for the phone system also uses the horizontal bar treatment for digit inputs. The system can copy over a paired phone's address book, letting you use voice command to dial by name.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
17
of 21

HD radio is standard in the E550 Cabriolet.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
18
of 21

The iPod interface works quickly, although it is a little spare in design. The iPod connector is inconveniently placed in the glovebox.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
19
of 21

This Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system delivers finely detailed sound quality.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
20
of 21

The audio system includes 12 speakers, even putting one down low, in between the rear seats.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET
21
of 21
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)