After a slow start, Mercedes is finally plugging into the electric vehicle revolution. It’s been barely a year since it introduced its first long-range model, the flagship EQS sedan. Now, it’s racing new models to market. By this time next year it will offer an SUV version of the EQS, the little EQB crossover, and both sedan and SUV versions of the EQE.
I headed out to Denver earlier this month to get my first ride in the midsize sedan, the all-electric equivalent of the familiar E-Class, spending a long day driving it out from the Mile High City up into the foothills of the Rockies. Here’s a look at what I discovered.
There may come a time when we don’t need to mention Tesla when talking about each and every new battery-electric vehicle that comes to market. We just haven’t reached that point yet. And Mercedes’ product development team was clearly aware of that as they pulled together the all-electric sedan now known as the EQE.
Love it or hate it, the extreme design makes the existing Tesla line-up look almost plain by comparison. As with the bigger EQS, however, the design does create some sacrifices in terms of interior space. The cabin, meanwhile, is plush and bears the sort of lavish detailing you’d expect of a Mercedes — though your eyes will certainly be drawn to the high-tech instrument cluster, especially if your EQE is equipped with the optional Hyperscreen.
Overall, this is an extremely high-tech package and can take time to get familiar with. But the EQE 350 drivetrain is easy to love. It’s quick, smooth, and offers the sort of range luxury buyers will expect.
At first glance, you might confuse the new EQE for the bigger EQS sedan. Both adopt the same, curvaceous “one-bow” design language. It minimizes aerodynamic drag and results in some of the lowest drag coefficient numbers of any vehicle on the road. But I’ll leave it to say the look is “polarizing.”
At just under 195 inches in total length, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 is up to a foot shorter than the EQS — depending upon the model you’re comparing it with. The midsize sedan has a width of about 83 inches including the mirrors, and a height of 58.7 inches. The wheelbase comes in at 122.8 inches. And the sedan weighs in at a hefty 5,192 pounds — about a half ton of that made up of its long-range battery pack.
With the EQE the one-bow design translates into a short, low nose, a steeply raked windshield and aggressively curved roofline. But the midsize sedan gets a stubbier back end.
With no need to feed air to an internal combustion engine, a sealed panel replaces the conventional grille on an EQE. The base trim adopts a glossy black look, with an optional panel lit up by dozens of small, Mercedes tri-stars.
The clamshell hood, incidentally, is completely sealed. Supposedly, only a Mercedes mechanic can open it. That might seem odd, but there’s really no need to access it. EVs require only the most minimal maintenance and there’s a pop-out port on the left front fender to make it easy to handle the only common task: loading fresh windshield washer fluid.
Both the EQE and original EQS share their basic exterior details, including wide lightbars highlighting the front and rear. Beyond noting its smaller dimensions, the most immediate difference with the midsize sedan is the use of two small triangular accents lamps atop the LED headlights. The EQS boasts three.
As I slip inside the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 for the first time, I find my eyes immediately drawn to the big Hyperscreen in my test vehicle. It spreads across the instrument panel, nearly 5 feet, from pillar-to-pillar. But there’s a lot more to appreciate about the electric sedan which, even in base trim, has been outfitted like a more high-line E-Class.
The familiar, turbine-style air vents are relegated to the corners of the IP, with thin horizontal louvers doing most of the work of climate control system.
The diamond-stitched seats are attractive, plush and comfortable — and surprisingly supportive as I later learned flogging the EQE on winding mountain roads outside Denver.
With no driveshaft tunnel, Mercedes designers found extra space to play with, coming up with a floating, two-level center console providing plenty of extra storage space.
If there is a downside, it’s the compromise required of the sedan’s one-bow design. As with the bigger EQS, the main problem is rear-seat headroom. At 6’2”, I found myself feeling a little claustrophobic in the back seat. Ironically, the design creates a massive amount of trunk space.
My other complaint centers around the way the digital gauge cluster is positioned. Unfortunately, the layout is a bit awkward and to make it easy to read I found I had to accept a less-than-perfect position for the steering wheel.
Initially, Mercedes is launching the new sedan with one powertrain option, the EQE 350 relying on a single motor driving the rear axle. Pulling power from a 90.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, it generates 288 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
Though the automaker rates the EQE 350 at 660 kilometers — or just over 400 miles — per charge using the global WLTP standard, the EPA rating is expected to come in closer to 300 miles, a more realistic number, based on the way Americans drive.
According to Mercedes, you can take a drained battery up to a 100% charge in 9.5 hours using a 240-volt Level 2 charger. Plug into one of the newer DC fast-chargers and you’ll go from 10 to 80% in about 31 minutes.
As with the bigger EQS, Mercedes will expand the powertrain options during the next year. An EQE 500 4Matic is in the works and, as the name suggests, it will be an all-wheel-drive package with motors on each axle developing significantly more power. But for those looking to push extremes, an AMG EQE is also on tap. It’s expected to deliver as much as 677 horsepower, and will launch from 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package, Mercedes revealed earlier this year.
Safety and Technology
It’s often said today’s vehicles are computers on wheels. That certainly applies when it comes to the Mercedes EQE. As with the bigger EQS sedan, Mercedes has loaded the 2023 EQE 350 up with an assortment of technological features. That includes the optional Hyperscreen that adds a small, third display for the front passenger. Even with the “base” system, the EQE features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a massive, 17.7-inch infotainment screen atop the center stack.
As with pretty much all new Mercedes models, the EQE features the MBUX voice assistant. Say, “Hey, Mercedes,” and it will do everything from set a destination into the navigation system to change radio stations. In fact, it’s hard to come up with any vehicle functions you can’t control by voice, though you can also use the central touchscreen or the capacitive touch controls on the steering wheel.
In keeping with the Hyperscreen design, the sedan’s head-up-display is also one of the largest on the market. It offers a wealth of information — too much, at times — including dancing arrows that seem to float 30 feet ahead of the car. Come up to an intersection and they point out precisely where you need to turn if you’ve got a destination plugged into the navigation system.
While battery cars aren’t entirely silent, they are significantly quieter than vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines. You can enjoy the lack of noise or opt for one of three “soundscapes,” “depending upon the emotions of the moment,” said Mercedes’ lead sound engineer Thomas Kuppers.
As you’d expect of a Mercedes, the EQS is loaded with advanced driver assistance systems designed to prevent dings in a parking lot and crashes on the highway. The car doesn’t have a true hands-free driving system but its lane centering technology will let you cruise along a freeway with only a light touch on the steering wheel.
Pulling out of an underground parking lot in downtown, I tap twice on the left paddle-shifter to put the EQE into the Mercedes version of 1-Pedal Mode. This sharply boosts brake regeneration — the amount of energy recaptured when braking or coasting — and makes the sedan feel like I’d downshifted an internal combustion engine’s transmission by several gears. Now, I can work my way through traffic without constantly moving from throttle to brake. I simply modulate my foot on the accelerator to maintain the pace of traffic.
As I turn onto I-70, I get my first sense of what the single-motor drivetrain can deliver — and it’s impressive. While the numbers seem modest on paper, the EQE 350 has more than enough power for me to quickly and confidently merge into the left lane which is moving at just under 80 mph. The instant torque generated by that motor can be tapped at any speed an American motorist is going to experience, whether launching off a stop light or executing a high-speed freeway pass.
Turning off the freeway as I head towards Red Rocks, I get my first chance to really flog the all-electric sedan around steep and windy mountain roads. There’s no question this is one heavy vehicle, at nearly 5,200 pounds. A comparable, gas-powered E-Class will weigh in closer to 4,000 pounds. Yet, the EQE proves to be far more nimble than one might expect — far more so than the bigger, heavier EQS. It’s no sports sedan in the current configuration but the EQE handles even harsh turns with reasonable grace. Charging into a tight series of S-curves it remains well planted with only modest amounts of body roll.
The EQE’s skateboard-like platform has plenty of potential, as Mercedes has already proven with the bigger EQS AMG package. I’d expect an even more exhilarating ride out of the twin-motor EQE 500 and AMG models to follow.
One thing that a motorist will discover is that even under flat-out acceleration, and speeds over 80, the EQE’s cabin is near tomb quiet. There’s virtually no motor noise, nor sound from wind and tires. The automaker does offer several “soundscapes” to activate, electronic sounds that respond to throttle movement to simulate an engine note. To my ear they’re too artificial but at low levels they do provide a bit of visceral feedback.
As the third Mercedes EQ product line, the EQE makes clear the German automaker is seriously committed to going all-electric. And it’s pulling off that transition in style. As with the original EQS, the smaller sedan’s one-bow design is likely to generate a fair bit of controversy though, to my eyes, it actually looks a bit better here than it does on its bigger brother. The proportions work better with the shorter wheelbase and overall length.
There is a bit of sacrifice when it comes to rear seat headroom, but the interior layout is, on the whole, reasonably roomy and more than up to Mercedes standards when it comes to design and detailing. It’s far more luxurious than anything Tesla has yet put on the road, even with its own flagship Model S. And, yet, the EQE matches its rival on the high-tech scale. I expect a sizable share of buyers — if not the majority — will opt for the big Hyperscreen system just because of the way it looks.
Learning to operate the infotainment system can take time. There’s a lot to master there and it does have its quirks. But as I’ve grown more used to the system, and the MBUX voice assistant, I’ve come to appreciate their capabilities.
The EQE isn’t for everyone. There are still plenty of luxury buyers who aren’t ready to commit to going all-electric. But it offers a solid option for those willing to make the move. At a starting price expected to come in just above $70,000 it offers another option for those who don’t want yet another look-alike Tesla.
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE — Frequently Asked Questions
When can you order the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE??
The all-electric sedan is just rolling into showrooms and dealers should be taking orders in the coming weeks.
How much is the Mercedes-Benz EQE?
The base version of the 2023 Mercedes EQE is expected to start in the mid-$70,000 range, with an EQE AMG package to follow at somewhere closer to $100,000.
Where is the Mercedes-Benz EQE built?
The sedan version will be imported from Bremen, in northern Germany. As a result, it won’t qualify for the newly revised U.S. EV incentive program. But an SUV version, set to be produced at the Mercedes plant in Alabama, may qualify for those federal credits.