Looking and feeling like a three quarter-scale S-Class, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 sits in the middle of the E-Class range. It offers significantly greater performance than base models while being more approachable (and affordable) than the souped-up AMG version. Potent yet poised, spacious and sumptuous, the E450 is close to the ideal luxury sedan and a stellar alternative to traditional rivals like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
Fresh off a 2021 midcycle update, Mercedes-Benz made minimal changes to the E-Class for 2022. Automatic high beams are now standard, as is a heated steering wheel in the AMG E53. Rounding out the list of alterations, nautical blue metallic paint (a $750 option) joins the palette and gives this example a dark, almost brooding appearance.
Helping make the E450 the most well-rounded E-Class is a smooth I6 nestled under the hood. This turbocharged unit displaces 3.0 liters and is augmented by an EQ Boost mild-hybrid system, which helps improve efficiency and performance. Altogether, this engine delivers 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, enough kibbles and bits to get the stately E450 to 60 mph in a curt 4.9 seconds. That performance is aided by a responsive but occasionally lumpy nine-speed automatic transmission. Upshifts can feel ragged, and downshifts are often quite noticeable while rolling to a stop.
According to the window sticker, you can expect 23 mpg in city driving and 30 mpg on the highway. Combined, this sedan is rated at 25 mpg, though in mixed use I'm getting a skosh more than 21 mpg. That standard all-wheel-drive system doesn't do much to help with fuel economy, though the seamless stop-start system certainly does, at least in urban driving.
The E450's engine is pleasant enough even if it doesn't feel quite as potent as the numbers suggest. It's also not as smooth as BMW's latest straight sixes and it makes sickly noises at higher revs. Sorry, Mercedes, but the Bavarians have you beat, though not by much.
My tester's optional, $1,900 air suspension system gives the E450 a surprisingly variable personality. In the Comfort driving mode (my preferred setting) this car glides along with a magic-carpet ride, absolutely smothering roadway imperfections. Despite the smoothness, body roll in corners is minimal and the steering is still surprisingly crisp, factors that make this sedan feel significantly smaller than its near-200-inch length would suggest. Switch to Sport or Sport Plus and the E450 stiffens noticeably, though it's still impressively refined. Naturally, these modes liven up the steering and powertrain for a more connected feel, though no matter which one you choose -- or how fast you're driving -- the interior remains quiet as a moment of silence.
Improving safety and reducing stress, this E450 features the $1,950 Driver Assistance Package. This options group includes a bunch of goodies like blind-spot monitoring, active braking assist with cross-traffic alert and a pre-collision braking system. Adaptive cruise control with lane centering is bundled, and it works as advertised, even if the centering function is soft and never makes it feel like the vehicle is locked in its lane.
As you'd expect for a Mercedes-Benz, this car's cabin is beautifully built and finished. Soft plastics abound, the open-pore ash wood accents look stellar and even the MB-Tex seating surfaces do a convincing job imitating real leather. Two grades of genuine cowhide are available, though they both cost extra. About the only low-rent aspect of this car's cabin are some of the climate controls. They feel a bit loose and make a hollow clicking sound.
With this car, engineers emphasized passenger comfort over cargo-hauling. The trunk clocks in at just 13.1 cubic feet, which is a decent amount of room, though a Nissan Versa is actually a couple cubes more capacious. Opening things up a little bit, the split-folding rear backrest allows you to carry longer cargo with ease and the power-operated trunk lid is one of the quickest in the business, zipping open or closed in the blink of an eye.
No matter the seat, your backside is well cared for in the E-Class. There are adult levels of space in the rear and the sedan's front chairs are supple, yet supportive. I love how Mercedes mounts the primary seat controls on the door panel where you can easily see them. I also appreciate the power-extendable lower cushions, which are great for taller folks. Unfortunately, the front seats in this E450 are only heated -- such a privation, I know. If you want ventilation or massage functionality you have to pay extra, ditto for a heated steering wheel.
What you do get for no extra outlay are two beautiful 12.3-inch screens, one for the reconfigurable instrument cluster and another touch-enabled display for infotainment and related functions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The MBUX multimedia array is pretty and performant, but it's not the easiest system to use. Poke around for a few minutes and it's simple enough to figure out where things are located and how they work, but there's a lot of functionality here and quite a few ways of interacting with the system.
Unquestionably, the worst way to use MBUX is with the steering wheel's touch-sensitive controls. Not only are too many virtual buttons crammed on each spoke, they often don't respond to inputs. The plus pads, in particular, are too small, making it frustrating to cycle through radio presets or swipe across the home screen, as the system often misinterprets what you want or simply ignores you like an impertinent toddler. The touchscreen itself or the control pad on the center console are vastly superior.
Two options groups help burnish this E450's luxury creds. The $2,300 Premium Package brings automatic parking, a sharp 360-degree camera system and a lovely Burmester sound system to the table. Cutting down on noise and heat intrusion is the $1,100 Acoustic Comfort Package, which adds increased cabin insulation and laminated glass. Available options not fitted to this example, and features you may want, include a power sunshade, heated rear seats, a wireless charging pad and a HUD.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic starts at $63,800 including $1,050 in destination fees. This example is gussied up with just shy of 10 grand in options, which inflate the total to a not unreasonable $73,350. That price is right in line with an Audi A6 Prestige 55 TFSI and BMW 540i xDrive, though the E-Class is more engaging than the former and ritzier than the latter.
A few minor gripes notwithstanding, the 2022 E450 4Matic is superb. Opulent and refined with a pleasant overall demeanor, it's an easy recommendation and a smart choice if you're considering a luxury sedan. There aren't many surefire things in life, but the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is practically guaranteed to please.