Over the years, the stately E-Class made even the worst roads feel like you were driving on velvet. But Mercedes-Benz has pivoted with the sedan’s 2017 redesign, focusing on sporty handling and fuel efficiency, and dialing back on ride comfort.

Aiding efficiency is a four-cylinder engine that works in concert with a smooth transmission to return a commendable 24 mpg overall. Yes, off-the-line acceleration is a hair slower than with the previous V6, but nobody will miss the larger engine’s thirst.

Our E300’s suspension tuning is of questionable merit. The ride is a letdown, with the E-Class challenged to absorb impacts from rough pavement. The available Luxury package should be better. Quick steering and composure in corners make handling athletic.

Inside the quiet, impeccably finished cabin are comfortable and supportive seats. The rear seat, however, is rather snug. The controls are diabolical, with too many buttons, dials, and touchpads vying for attention. Simple functions like adjusting lumbar support are multistep ordeals. Visibility and access also took steps back—sacrifices made for styling.

We like that forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard. The optional Drive Pilot semi-autonomous system can self-steer the car in some situations, but don’t let yourself lose focus on driving.

Read the complete Mercedes-Benz E-Class road test.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300

HIGHS: Agility, braking, fuel economy, quietness, front-seat comfort, fit and finish
LOWS: Unintuitive controls, tight rear seat, rear access
POWERTRAIN: 241-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine; 9-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
FUEL: 24 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $69,585

This vehicle can be outfitted with a semi-autonomous driving package. Consumer Reports believes automakers should take stronger steps to ensure that vehicles with these systems are designed, deployed, and marketed safely. Please heed all warnings, and keep your hands on the wheel. To learn more about self-driving cars, go to CR.org/selfdriving.


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.