Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain [W213] (2017 - 2019) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

With the E-Class All-Terrain, sold between 2017 and 2019, Mercedes aimed to offer a compelling option in the market segment for large, luxurious executive estates with 4WD capability and SUV-style looks.

Models

5dr Estate (3.0 diesel [E350d])

History

Here's a Mercedes E-Class Estate you might want to get muddy. Yes really. With this E-Class All-Terrain, launched in 2017, the company finally entered the market segment for executive estates with 4WD capability and SUV-style looks. There's not really any social stigma in driving a conventional SUV these days, but nor for many buyers is there any real reason to do so. Here, in principle at least, was a more sensible option that gave its customers most of same kind of capability and versatility but with subtler packaging.

Mercedes usually isn't slow to enter new market niches, but there are exceptions to that rule. For example, the brand couldn't offer you any sort of mid-sized SUV until their GLC model was launched in the Spring of 2016. And, for people buying in that car's segment who needed light off road capability but didn't want an SUV, the company had never, prior to 2017, provided a contender to take on Audi's A6 allroad, a model that by the time of this Mercedes' launch had been in production since the turn of the century and had since been specifically taken on only by a series of large Volvos. This E-Class All-Terrain finally filled that niche, offering its Audi rival more direct competition with more of the prestige and badge credibility that likely wealthy buyers in this narrow market segment wanted.

You have to wonder though, why it took Mercedes so long to make it, this model launched here late in 2017, 18 years after the original version of the A6 allroad. It wasn't as if development of this derivative was very taxing for the Stuttgart engineers. Virtually all of the elements needed to create it were already available from various parts of the standard E-Class Estate line-up - primarily of course, the 4MATIC permanent 4WD system. To be specific, only 5% of the parts used to create this All-Terrain variant were different from those of a standard all-wheel drive E-Class estate.

But of course that doesn't tell the whole story. The 4MATIC system on an ordinary 'W213'-series E-Class was designed merely for extra tarmac traction. Here, mated to more capable tyres and higher ride height settings on the standard AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension, it could offer this car proper capability on the kind of rocky forest track to your weekend country cottage that would either defeat or damage an ordinary executive estate. Plus this All-Terrain model is a prodigious tower and it'll feel a really clever choice in a snowy snap. In short, this is, as one writer observed, the automotive equivalent of a GoreTex jacket over a business suit. It sold only until 2019 and wasn't replaced when Mercedes facelifted the 'W213'-series E-Class range in 2020.

What You Get

The aesthetic changes made to create this rough road-orientated E-Class variant are mercifully subtle. And appropriate. After all, you'll probably be buying this car because you don't want an SUV. The changes that have been made are most evident at the front, where the twin-finned front grille has broader vented central spokes more like those you'll see on the brand's GLA and GLC crossover models. From the side, the differences over any standard well-equipped E-Class Estate model are limited to the black plastic trimming used around the wheel arches and a lower side skirt highlighted by a chromed strip.

Inside, the cabin is pretty much as it would be in any other well-specified E-Class Estate, features unique to this variant restricted to floor mats with 'All-Terrain' lettering and the rather bright 'light carbon grain' aluminium trim that's used across the dash and into the doors. Some original buyers preferred the alternative 'black open-pore ash wood' or 'metal weave' finishes as an alternative. Standard for All-Terrain buyers is the 'COMMAND Online' centre dash infotainment system with its classy 12.3-inch monitor. Also included is a virtual instrument binnacle display of the same size, creating one huge 'floating'-style screen that flows right across the dash and is that's framed by subtle ambient lighting.

In the rear, the first thing you find is more than ample space. If the front passengers have their seats at the lowest setting, you might find room for your feet slightly limited, but otherwise the rear footwells are big and broad. The boot features a powered tailgate. The hatch raises to reveal the largest luggage area in the class, rated at 640-litres. To give you some perspective on that, rival Audi and Volvo models can offer only 565-litres and 560-litres respectively. Small wonder that Mercedes was the only brand in this segment able to offer the option of a couple of extra boot-mounted chairs, though for some reason, this 'All-Terrain' variant couldn't be fitted with that option. If you're able to flatten the main parts of the back seat, you'll do it via the neat buttons you'll find on either side of the cargo sidewalls (and you'll find further ones just inside the rear doors). Once you've activated these, a capacity of up to 1,820-litres can be freed up.

What You Pay

Prices start at around £26,000 for a typical E350d diesel All-Terrain Estate on a '16-plate, rising to around £35,500 for one of the last '19-plate cars.

What to Look For

Few E-Class All-Terrain models will actually have been used off road - if any. This model is more likely to have been bought as a tow car, but check underneath just in case. Most E-Class All-Terrain owners in our survey were satisfied, but inevitably, there were some who'd experienced problems. It's the usual things here; interior trim and electrical issues were the most commonly afflicted things that came up. Check for uneven panel gaps and paint flaws. Inspect the electrics and the air conditioning functionality - it should blow our really chilled air. As usual, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2017 E350d All-Terrain - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £123. An oil filter is around £17. A fuel filter is around £125. Front brake pads sit in the £121 bracket for a set (for rears it's around £104) - both Brembo. Front brake discs cost in the £456 bracket (Brembo). Rear brake discs can cost in the £353 bracket (Brembo). A set of wiper blades is around £79. A headlamp is around £255.

On the Road

As soon as Mercedes launched its 'AIR BODY CONTROL' air suspension system in this tenth generation 'W213'-series E-Class range in 2016, a model variant like this 'All-Terrain' derivative became possible. Air suspension is, after all, the key thing that differentiates a full-sized estate with SUV capability from a mid-sized model of this kind like, say, Volkswagen's Passat Alltrack. When driving normally, it allows this car to ride 29mm higher than an ordinary E-Class Estate - though 14mm of that increment is accounted for by the larger, more serious set of tyres that come fitted to this version. Select the extra 'All-Terrain' setting that here was added to the usual 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes system and at speeds of under 19mph, the air suspension will rise by a further 20mm. That's enough for 156mm of total ride height, sufficient to allow this E-Class to cruise across rocky tracks that would seriously damage the underside of any ordinary large executive estate car.

This model gets pretty much the same '4MATIC' permanent system that was optional on ordinary E-Class Estate models from this period, the package here set up just as it was on the fire-breathing Mercedes-AMG variants to send 31% of drive to the front axle and 69% to the rear. Potential buyers will be pleased to hear that this car can tow brilliantly too and make very good use of its standard electrically-retractable tow hitch. However, the 2,100kg total braked towing weight capacity is a little down on the 2,500kg figure boasted by Audi and Volvo rivals. Still, that shouldn't be too much of an issue for most owners, who'll appreciate the prodigious 620NM of torque on offer from the 3.0-litre 258bhp V6 diesel engine, the only one on offer to E-Class 'All-Terrain' buyers who for our market anyway, were limited to the E350d derivative. It returns 41.5mpg on the combined cycle and 179g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures), about the same as you'd get from a version of the brand's GLE luxury SUV fitted out with the same engine.

Overall

Not everyone who has to tow heavy loads or traverse muddy tracks necessarily needs an SUV. The E-Class All-Terrain offered an alternative option to large luxury 4x4s that may actually suit some adventurous dog walkers, Alpinists and caravanners rather better. It's got more interior space than a comparable large luxury SUV, feels a little less clunky to drive and has a lower loading bay that'll make it easier for dogs to hop in and out of. In short, you can see the appeal.

In summary, what we've got here is a convincing premium product for the great outdoors, if you're looking for a luxury large estate from the 2017-2020 period. As we often observe, there are always advantages in turning up late for any party and here, Mercedes maximised these to deliver an all-weather estate of this kind with a touch of extra luxury and sophistication. You're not going to be taking on the Rubicon trail in one of these, but for picking up your dry cleaning in a snowy snap, you'd have to say that it might be just about perfect. Real world challenges: there's a lot to be said for them.

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