Say Hello to the Mercedes E450 All-Terrain

This classy wagon is a fine sport-ute alternative

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain front

There was a time when the half-timbered station wagon was the beloved mode of transportation for the All-American family.

All those mile-long, Naugahyde-lined Buick Roadmasters, Chevy Caprice Classics, Oldsmobile Vista Cruisers and Ford Country Squires.

And who can forget Clark Griswold’s metallic pea-colored Wagon Queen Family Truckster from that 1983 cinematic gem, National Lampoon’s Vacation?

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain side

Alas, our love-affair with station wagons ended with the arrival of the tall-riding SUV. These days you can pretty much count the number being offered on the fingers of two hands.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain wheelsOne of the most enthusiastic wagon makers has always been Mercedes-Benz with its practical, great-looking, great-driving, long-roof E-Class Wagon. The zany 603-horsepower Mercedes-AMG E63 S rocketship is still one of my favorite cars on the planet.

Now, to ever-so-slightly widen the appeal of the newly-improved E-Class Wagon, Mercedes has taken a leaf out of Audi’s Allroad and Volvo’s Cross Country playbook by turning it into an SUV ‘lite’.

Say “hello” to the 2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain, a new, taller-riding, beefier-looking spin on the regular E-Class wagon. It’s for those who want to stand out from the SUV crowd, yet still want practicality and versatility in their daily driver.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain dashboard

Of course there’s plenty of visual smoke and mirrors going on here. Black plastic body-cladding around the wheel arches, an inch-and-a-bit increase in ride height, and standard 19-inch wheels – an inch taller than on the regular E wagon – do a good job of visually elevating the car.

Don’t expect to go climbing up Machu Picchu, or swamp-buggying in the Everglades with the All-Terrain. With only 5.7 inches of ground clearance and summer road tires, off-roading is not going to be its forte.

That said, Mercedes’ always impressive 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard, so dirt tracks, sandy beaches and flooded Florida side streets after a Tropical storm should be easily conquered.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain front seats

And, truth be told, I don’t know any SUV-owning buddy who has ever muddied the tires dirty of their sport-ute. Grassy Little League parking lots are their biggest conquests.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain engineWhat the Mercedes offers over pretty much every tall sport-ute, is driving joy. The All-Terrain comes with Merc’s Teflon-smooth, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder. Add to this the so-called EQ Boost system which squeezes-in a 48-volt electric starter/generator between the engine and 9-speed automatic.

What this does is summon-up an extra 21 horsepower when called on, say when accelerating away from a stoplight, or passing slower traffic. It means a total of 362-horsepower and the ability to zip from standstill to 60mph in around 4.5 seconds. That’s quick.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain rear facing seats

This is one terrific powertrain package. The in-line six with EQ Boost is smoother than canola, super-refined and delivers truly seamless and linear power. It also helps return a reasonable 24mpg combined and 28 on the highway.

2021 Merc E450 4Matic All-Terrain trunk spaceInside, it’s all gorgeous Mercedes quality, craftsmanship and top-shelf materials. Lots of cool new tech too, like the twin 12.3-inch glass displays that sprawl across the dashboard. I love the Siri-esque digital assistant that responds so attentively to “Hey Mercedes”.

As a load-hauler the All-Terrain holds its own against similar-sized SUVS. With the second row of seats in place, there’s 35 cubic feet of space. Folding them flat increases it to a whopping 64 cubic feet.

And the beauty here is that the load platform is low – perfect for your canine friend to leap in and out  – and the floor itself is Kansas-flat. There’s also a rear-facing third row seat that raises out of a well in the floor. Perfect for a couple of kids.

While this new E450 All-Terrain doesn’t come cheap – base price $68,650, or $84,790 exquisitely-loaded – you’d pay around the same for its closest SUV rival, Mercedes’ GLE 450 4Matic with a $63,550 base.

I sure know which model I’d prefer. Wagons-Ho!

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