Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Mercedes E350 4Matic, Part 1

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

Beige. For me, beige is the color of death. It s the color of all the OAP s (Old Age Pensioners) I encountered during my 16-year English adventure: beige jackets, beige trousers, beige skirts, beige shoes and yes, beige socks, shirts, handbags, scarves and caps. I reckon only a person ready, willing and able to quietly slip into that long good night would turn to a salesperson and say It s nice, but do you have it in beige? Our test Mercedes E350 s interior was dominated by a particularly vivid — or is that dull? — shade of beige. It brought up unpleasant memories and colored my whole experience of the car. Or, um, not.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

To say that the Mercedes E320 4Matic is a car designed for old people would be wrong. For one thing, the go-pedal is so rigorous (as in rigor mortis) only a person enjoying the vitality of youth can get the car moving; your average octogenarian would have to stand on the accelerator to create forward progress. For another, the 401K set are pretty tight with their money, what with on-going funding issues surrounding their lazy, good-for-nothing children. The E350 clocks in at $50k or so, and that s one late ass hour for our financially/chronically challenged ancestors, who only use their car to drive to church on Sundays and wonder about the Vicar s questionable sexuality. Which would account for the chairs pew-like solidity. On the other hand

The E350 s steering wheel seems to be made out of the same spongy material used for Zimmer frame handles. And it s roughly the same circumference. Thanks to nuclear power assistance, helmsmanship is easier than opening a bottle of child-proof aspirin. In fact, the E350 s steering is lighter than the finger-flummoxing fluff lingering in Grandma s candy. Although minor course corrections are amazingly accurate, once you turn the mid-sized Merc s wheel, it s as if you re riding on balloons. The effect creates a new definition of oversteer : continuing to turn a corner after you ve turned it. (Walkers, you have been warned.)

There s also the complete lack of COMMANDitude. Mercedes decision not to equip their stalwart E with one of the mouse-driven control interface thingies afflicting the S-Class and its ilk could well reflect their kind consideration for buyers who remember when computers were steam-driven. The E350 s buttons are refreshingly logical and sensibly placed. (If only they were twice as large.) And the 4Motion system makes perfect sense for our less mobile population; if you can t [remember to] change the snow tires every year, gripless all-seasons with four-wheel-drive is better than gripless all-seasons without four-wheel-drive.

Maybe I m being too harsh here. Driving a $50k car with a glove box with all the heft of a Pamper s wipes lid, and a visor mirror that wouldn t look out of place on a child s plastic compact, can put me in that kind of mood. There s no question that the E350 4Motion is a wonderfully relaxing and reassuring car when you want to go from point A to to Maybe I ve driven too many sporty cars — including AMG Mercs — to understand that most people consider quietly competent and completely numb desirable attributes in a luxury car. Or maybe it s just because I M TOO YOUNG TO DIE! [by Robert Farago]

Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Mercedes E350 4Matic, Part 2, Part 3 [internal]