Mercedes-Benz boasts that the 2014 E350 4MATIC wagon tested here is “not like every wagon in its class. It is every wagon it its class.” And it’s true. Cadillac’s CTS wagon is being eulogized, and so, in the U.S. at least, the long-roof E-class has outlasted all its competitors. Its strength is derived from its strict adherence to Mercedes’ signature traits: understated luxury, dynamic competence, and bank-vault solidity. Sure, the rest of the refreshed 2014 E-class lineup shares those signatures, but as before, the wagon’s stoic stance against mainstream style and hordes of SUVs, SAVs, and crossovers lends it a practically unmatched sense of classicism.
Now, as Then, the Connoisseur’s Selection
Living happily in the brown-tinted shadow of the 1970s-era W123, Benz wagons have always exuded a sort of timelessness. The 2014 E350 remasters this well-played formula, mixing retro chrome roof rails with futuristic LED-accented headlights and Benz’s latest styling language. Buyers can pick between equally priced Luxury and Sport design themes. Our test vehicle wore the latter, which replaces the Luxury model’s old-school grille design (and hood ornament!) and soft suspension with a lowered-but-still-not-sporty suspension, body addenda, and a modern star-in-grille design.
Although popular in Europe, the wagon body style is losing ground to crossovers and SUVs among U.S. buyers, so five-door E350s sell here in predictably small numbers. But Mercedes’ people tell us owners are fiercely loyal, and we can see why—the car harks back to a simpler, more cosseting definition of luxury. Squint at it or take it for a drive, and you can trace its lineage through three generations of E-class, and back to the W124 and W123 models that came before those. It’s really not much different from last year’s E350 wagon, which amplifies the sense of tradition about the car that we adore. We can’t say that about any crossover.