Courtesy: Mercedes-Benz Wieck
USA Today -- Car shoppers considering a new Mercedes-Benz face a blizzard of choices when it comes to the new E-Class, which accounts for one out of five of the brand's luxury cars sold in the U.S.
There will be 15, count 'em, 15 different E-Class vehicles.
Is that too many? Mercedes officials apparently don't think so.
The new E-Class will come as eight sedan choices and two wagon choices, including the E400 hybrid and E63 AMG S performance models. There are also three coupes and two convertibles.
There is a choice of two-wheel drive as well as 4Matic (four-wheel drive), and now consumers can choose between a gasoline engine or diesel.
Where to start? That would be the base E250 BlueTec with a 2.1-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel at $52,325 including a $925 destination charge. The base E350, with a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, is $500 more.
The 2014 lineup launch started this spring with sedans and wagons with the V6. The hybrid as well as the coupes and convertibles will hit showrooms this month.
The AMG sedans and wagons are due in August followed by the diesel in September that could get as much as 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
In the past, diesels accounted for about 5% of sales but adding a 4Matic diesel to the lineup might increase the take rate, says Bart Herring, general manager of product management.
The average E-Class buyer is 58 years old with a household income of $192,000 and married but only a third have children.
Technically this is a mid-cycle upgrade, but the modifications include a new engine and technology as well as styling changes inside and out.
Style-wise, there is greater differentiation between the luxury and sport models for 2014. The Mercedes star remains perched atop the hood of the luxury edition but on the sport version it is integrated for the first time into the grille. The sport model accounts for 85% of sales.
The cars have a new hood, bumpers, lights and wheel design as well as a redone instrument cluster and materials.
Intelligent drive is the umbrella under which Mercedes combines a number of safety and driver-assist technologies in which sensors, cameras and radar enable the car to take over and steer or stop or accelerate to avoid collision if a warning does not prompt the driver to take the necessary evasive actions.
"We're taking a small step towards autonomous driving," Herring said.
When Mercedes introduced its technology package in 2000, the price was an extra $3,700. Today, there are many advancements and the price has fallen to $2,800, Larsen said.
Mercedes has 100% of the luxury wagon market in the U.S. because everyone else has abandoned wagons for utility vehicles and assorted crossovers.
Mercedes sold 1,726 wagons last year, up 10%. Herring said wagons represent only 2% of E-Class sales in the U.S. but the automaker has no intention of abandoning this loyal customer base or risking losing them.