The E-Class sedan is a classically handsome vehicle. The wagon, with its extended roofline, curved rear windows, and a bumper that blends more integrally into the whole rear landscape of the vehicle, looks great. Taking in the E350 wagon, I don’t get the feeling that this is the humble grocery-getter that wagons have come across as for many years. I think—and the E wagon supports my case—that this notion is obsolete. In a time when wagons often look arguably hotter than their four-door counterparts, we should come to embrace them more wholeheartedly, rather than just relying on the “it’s more functional” argument as a justification for the rear-hatch body style.
Though the functionality of the wagon definitely doesn’t hurt its case. It is nice to be able to put large items in the rear cargo space that wouldn’t otherwise fit into the trunk of a sedan. And it really is quite a big difference. The wagon boasts 34.8 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats, versus the 15.9 of the sedan’s trunk. Put the rear seats down, and the cargo volume expands to 68.9 cubic feet. That’s big enough for the average person to sleep in, with the length of that space being about six and a half feet. The rear cargo area is also great for people who travel with dogs. Buster can have plenty of space, you can keep an eye on him, and you can keep him off your leather seats (or your lap, for that matter).
The actual roominess aside, then sense of space is also a plus. With the extra windows, the wagon has a certain airiness that can’t be found in a sedan. Sure the four-door might have a more executive feel, but it is also stuffier without that open space behind you. Visibility gets a bump in the wagon, too, as one will notice when checking the blind spot. A quick glance is all you need in order to get a sense of your surroundings. Better than a face full of C-pillar. You may now pass with confidence.
Another great thing about the E350 wagon—and this is a bit of a nostalgic one—is that it has rearward-facing jump seats. With all the childhood memories of messing around in the “wayback,” just deploying the little bench in the hatch can unleash a flood of memories. I was a bit sad that, during my time with the E wagon, I didn’t get the chance to toss a couple of kids back there to make faces at tailgaters or pump their fists in order to get the guy driving the semi to blow his horn.
Now, a lot of the childish joy of driving a wagon comes in great part from its performance. With something so functional, it seems almost unfair to other cars that it is still fun to drive. Its 3.5-liter V-6 produces 268 horsepower, which is more than enough to get all seven occupants hurtling down the highway in short measure. The 4Matic all-wheel drive keeps the wagon in check in the bends. It’s pretty grippy, and with little slippage at the wheels, this wagon can leave proper sports cars choking on its dust. To make matters better, the wagon has the same great layout for the driver, with good placement of gauges and controls. Our tester even had the dynamic sport seats that actively bolster depending on g forces—a feature we loved in the E63 AMG. Not a bad setup for some hard driving. Again, the common view of wagons as boring rides for boring people no longer holds true. When we talk about our love for wagons, the E350 included, we’re not trying to be ironic, and we haven’t let slip away our ideals about what makes a good driver’s car. It’s true love.
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