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New Mercedes-Benz E-class drives itself, sometimes (pictures)

Mercedes-Benz launched the 2014 E-class at the Detroit auto show, offering the car in a huge range of styles and fitting it with the most advanced driver assistance features.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET
DETROIT--Mercedes-Benz launched an update to its E-class at the 2013 Detroit auto show, unveiling a broad array of models including a coupe, convertible, wagon, hybrid, and an AMG version. Despite the differing body styles, the different examples of the E-class will mostly share the same, advanced technology, including driver assistance systems that will take over in heavy traffic. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-class will be available this spring.
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Among the models, Mercedes-Benz showed a hybrid version of the E-class, the 2014 E400 Hybrid. It uses the same system as the S400 Hybrid, a direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to an electric motor. The engine produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the electric motor adds its own 27 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Don't expect spectacular fuel economy. Although Mercedes-Benz did not announce numbers for the E400 Hybrid, the S400 Hybrid only gets 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
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Among the sedan models, Mercedes-Benz will also offer the E250 diesel, the E350, and the E550. The E400 Hybrid will be the second most powerful. The list of driver assistance features, relying on a stereoscopic camera system and millimeter wave radar, is extensive. Both adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist combine to, as Mercedes-Benz says, "semi-autonomously follow in-line traffic." Mercedes-Benz offered few details of this system, but has previously talked about a system designed to drive the car in heavy traffic. The system in the E-class probably only works up to a certain speed, and may require the driver to keep a hand on the wheel.
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The headlight styling has changed substantially, putting all front lighting under a single lens. LED headlights are available as an option.
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The sedan's rear roofline looks surprisingly conservative, and hearkens more to the stately lines of past Mercedes-Benz models than some of the sleeker, new designs. This model also incorporates a glass roof.
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This wagon, or estate, version of the E-class will also hit the market as an E350. It features a direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 along with an all-wheel-drive system, standard. There will also be an AMG S model with 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.
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The coupe version of the E-class shows off a much sportier look than the sedan. It will come as the E350, with all-wheel drive an option, or the E550, using a direct-injection 4.6-liter V-8 twin turbo. A convertible version, based on the coupe, will be offered as an E350.
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The E63 AMG version gets a twin turbo 5.5-liter V-8, producing 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, along with a seven-speed automatic transmission using Mercedes-Benz's SpeedShift technology, which virtually eliminates hesitation or slush during gear changes. An all-wheel-drive system, tuned for performance, comes standard.

Mercedes-Benz also came up with an E63 AMG S model, with power boosted to 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

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The E-class retains the Mercedes-Benz Comand interface for cabin electronics, with a center LCD and a controller on the console.
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For the E400 Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz places a power meter on the left side of the instrument cluster.
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The cabin electronics in the new E-class include the same online features launched last year in the newest SL550.
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An option in the E-class sedan and wagon models will be a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. In this application, Bang & Olufsen mounts its distinct acoustic lenses on the doors, near the base of the A pillar.

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