STUTTGART, Germany – The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will arrive at U.S. dealerships next spring with an upgraded interior and Active Lane Change Assist, a feature that nudges it down the road toward autonomous driving.
As the next generation E-Class nears its debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show in January, Mercedes is gradually releasing more details about the redesigned midsize luxury model, although no full exterior photos are yet available.
The new interior, neatly slotted between that of the flagship S-Class and the sportier C-Class, strikes a balance between classic elegance and high-tech functionality.
Depending on trim level, top-drawer materials include natural wood trim, soft leather on the ergonomically designed seats and door panels, and padded touch-points all around.
The interior is lit exclusively by LEDs, with an available 64-color ambient lighting package that allows for a host of personalized scenes.
The dashboard is dominated by a pair of 12.3-inch high-definition color displays located next to each other. The one in front of the driver is configurable into three instrument-cluster designs – Classic, Sport and Progressive – while the central screen can be also be customized to reflect driver and passenger preferences.
The screens are controlled by touch-sensitive buttons built into the steering wheel, which respond to finger swipes like a smartphone, by a touchpad on the center console, by the Mercedes COMAND controller or by hands-free voice commands.
The infotainment system is appropriately high-end, topped off with an available Burmester 3D surround sound system with 23 speakers and 1,450 watts of output.
“With the interior of the new E-Class, we are giving a new interpretation to the concept of contemporary luxury,” said Hartmut Sinkwitz, head of interior design, in a statement. “We have designed a spacious and intelligent interior. True to Mercedes-Benz’s design philosophy of sensual purity, it employs technological innovation and high-grade equipment to create an exceptionally emotive experience for driver and front passenger.”
Equally innovative is the driving technology available in the 2017 E-Class, including the new Active Lane Change Assist, which is part of the larger Driving Assistance package.
With this system activated, whenever the driver holds the turn signal for more than 2 seconds the car will automatically change lanes – as long as the vehicle’s cameras and radar sensors don’t detect another car or obstruction in the way.
Active Lane Change won’t function if the sensors locate an obstacle that will be in the destination lane within 3 seconds, if the system can’t find any lane markings, if the driver countersteers, or if the vehicle’s speed is less than 50 mph or more than 112 mph.
Competitors to the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class include the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the Lexus GS.
Mercedes says that pricing will be announced closer to the U.S. on-sale date.
Edmunds says: The interior and technology in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class should make it an attractive choice in the midsize luxury segment.