Mercedes-Benz has updated the mainstay E-Class lineup of midsize luxury cars for the 2014 model year, the latest in a barrage of products from the German automaker. Like the others, this one is also designed to keep rival BMW at bay in the global sales race. I recently had an opportunity to sample one of the nearly 15 new variants of the E-Class, the E350 4Matic wagon, at a drive event in Ann Arbor, Mich. With the E-Class representing 20% of Mercedes-Benz's sales in the U.S., this is an important car for the brand, so it has to be right.
Thankfully the company already had a strong contender to begin with. For 2014, the changes to the E-Class are subtle but thorough. A new front and rear design is smoother and more integrated, and the rear doors and quarter panels no longer feature the bulbous fender of the previous model. The overall look is still recognizably Mercedes-Benz, but sleeker and leaner. Two distinct front-end looks are available for the sedan and wagon: Sport puts the three-pointed Mercedes-Benz star in the grille, and Luxury mounts it more traditionally to the front of the hood. In addition to the sedan and wagon, the E-Class is also available as a coupe and convertible; they're slated to reach dealerships at the end of this month.