Premium midsize car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $7,800*


1990 Mercedes-Benz 300CE 2-door coupe


1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 4-door wagon


1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 4-door sedan


1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 2-door convertible


1990 Mercedes-Benz E-class interior

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Fuel economy
  • Price

Service and maintenance can be expensive, but the assurances of longevity compensate in the long run. Strong resale value keeps prices high on the secondhand market.

Overview

Mercedes-Benz’s midsize lineup in 1990 consisted of a 300CE coupe, 260E and 300E 4-door sedans, and a 300TE 4-door station wagon. The 260E sedan used a 158-horsepower, 2.6-liter 6-cylinder engine. A new 217-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline six with dual camshafts went into this year’s 300CE coupe. Other models got a single-cam 3.0-liter inline six, rated at 177 horsepower. A turbocharged 5-cylinder diesel engine arrived in spring 1990, in the 250D sedan. Automatic full-time 4-wheel drive appeared for the 300E sedan and 300TE wagon. All models got a new fuel-injection system this year. All models had a driver-side airbag, and a passenger-sized airbag was optional. Antilock braking was standard across the board.

Yearly Updates

1991 300/E-Class
Two traction improvements arrived for 1991. ASR, Mercedes’ traction-control system, became optional on the rear-drive 300E sedan, 300CE coupe, and 300TE wagon. ASD, an automatic locking differential, could be installed on the 300D 2.5 Turbo (a diesel-powered sedan).
1992 300/E-Class
Two new models arrived, holding V8 engines. The 400E borrowed its twin-cam 4.2-liter V8 from the bigger S-Class, making 268 horsepower in this installation. A high-performance, limited-edition 500E sedan also went on sale with the same 5.0-liter V8 used in the Mercedes 500SL. A passenger-side airbag was standard on the 400E and 500E, optional on others.
1993 300/E-Class
A convertible and two new engines arrived for 1993. The lineup now consisted of the 300D 2.5 Turbo; a 300E 2.8 sedan with a new 2.8-liter twin-cam engine; 300E sedan; 300CE coupe; 300TE wagon; and 300CE Cabriolet with a new 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine. Rounding out the line were the 400E and limited-edition 500E, with V8 power. All models now had dual airbags.
1994 300/E-Class
Mercedes renamed its midsized models E-Class this year, simplifying and condensing the lineup. Models now included an E320 in all four body styles, plus E420 and E520 sedans with V8 engines. Grilles, hoods, headlights assembles, trunklids, and taillamps were restyled. 4Matic models were gone. A 300D sedan arrived in spring of 1994, as an early ’95 model, with a new 134-horsepower 3.0-liter diesel 6- cylinder engine.
1995 300/E-Class
Only a handful of equipment changes marked the 1995 models, as Mercedes-Benz proceeded with the introduction of a redesigned E-Class for ’96. The limited-production, high-performance E500 sedan, with a 5.0-liter V8, was dropped.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

All midsize Mercedes models were rear-wheel drive with a 4-speed automatic transmission, but engine choices through the years have been complicated. Most cars had inline 6-cylinder gasoline engines, of 2.6-, 2.8-, 3.0- or 3.2-liter displacement. Diesels have been available in two sizes, and two V8 models have been offered.

Turbodiesel ohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 121
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

26/31

26.3

Diesel dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 134
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

26/32

25.1

ohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.6/159
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/24

ohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 177
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 188
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/23

17.2

ohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.8/173
Engine HP 194
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 199
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

NA

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 217
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 195-201
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/32

Road Test

Acceleration with 6-cylinger engines ranges from tepid to adequate. Gathering passing power at 40-60 mph requires flooring the throttle at times, and then you endure a long pause before the transmission reacts. An early 300E 4Matic averaged 18.7 mpg. Adding a V8 engine was just what was needed to make the Mercedes-Benz sedans match the acceleration of the Japanese-built Lexus LS 400 and Infiniti Q45. Throttle response at midrange speeds is noticeably stronger than in 6-cylinder models, though the automatic transmission sometimes shifts with an unseemly jerk.

E-Class sedans are not very space-efficient, considering their 110.2-inch wheelbase. Front leg room is generous, but in the back it’s only adequate. Because of rear-wheel-drive, with its intrusive drive-shaft tunnel and a rather narrow interior, three adults will find a tight fit in the back seat. Trunk space is adequate, however.

You can expect a stable, well-controlled highway ride, as well as precise steering and capable handling. With 4Matic 4-wheel-drive (available until 1994), it’s virtually impossible to break the wheels loose. Even when you try to do so on wet pavement, this car sticks like glue. For drivers who don’t need that much traction, ASD and ASR provide additional grip when it’s needed, helping to maintain steering control.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 52

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.9 183.9 68.5 54.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.5 18.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 35.5 41.9 24.8
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.9 183.9 68.5 54.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.4 18.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.0 36.8 41.9 28.6
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.2 187.2 68.5 56.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.6 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 36.9 41.7 33.5
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.2 188.2 68.5 59.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
76.7 19.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.4 36.8 41.7 33.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 E-Class 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 141
Injury 67
Theft 200

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may delay shifting into Drive or Reverse, and may be corrected by installing reformulated Mercedes-Benz transmission fluid. (1990)
Automatic transmission
Description: Harsh and erratic shifts are often due to a damaged dust cover on the vacuum modulator for the transmission. (1990-94)
Brakes
Description: Brake squeal at low speeds (under 10 mph) may activate the antilock brake system. (1990-93)
Clutch
Description: Sticking clutch pedal on 300 SL could be due to fluid boiling in the slave cylinder. (1992)
Exhaust system
Description: Possible exhaust leak at the oxygen sensor caused by damaged catalytic converter. (1990-91 diesel)
Hard starting
Description: Hard starting, misfires, and poor drivability could be due to insulation flaking off of underhood wiring harness. (1990-95)
Oil leak
Description: Oil enters the air filter. There are revised valve covers with improved oil separators available for the 3.0-liter engine. (1990)
Rough idle
Description: Stretched timing chain may cause noisy engine, rough running, hard starting, power loss, and oil loss. (1992-94)
Convertible top
Description: The locking tabs for the convertible top tend to wear and should be checked every 15,000 miles. (1990)

Recall History

1990 300
Description: Bolts used for brake-strut support do not meet specification and may break, resulting in deterioration of steering and braking.
1990 300
Description: Under certain operating conditions, plastic cover of preresistor for auxiliary fan may melt, which could result in underhood fire.
1991-92 400E
Description: If car is restarted soon after shutoff and charcoal canister is saturated with fuel, fuel vapor may be expelled onto electric-auxiliary radiator-fan preresistor; under certain conditions, that preresistor could become hot enough to ignite the fuel.
1992 w/”ASR” automatic slip control
Description: Plastic brake-hydraulic hose was misrouted too close to preresistor for auxiliary cooling fan, which becomes hot under certain conditions; could cause hose to melt and leak brake fluid onto hot preresistor, resulting in possible fire.
1992-95 E Class 124
Description: Front passenger metal footrest can, over time, abrade through wiring harness, causing short circuit; wires might then overheat, engine may stall, or airbag could inadvertently deploy.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.