2018 Mercedes-Benz E220d All-Terrain Review
Paul Horrell’s 2018 Mercedes-Benz E220d All-Terrain Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
IN A NUTSHELL: With all the luxury and safety of the Mercedes E-Class, the All-Terrain adds estate-car space and versatility, plus a surprising degree of crossover 4×4 ability.
2018 Mercedes-Benz E220d All-Terrain
Pricing $109,900+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Engine 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel Power 143kW at 3800rpm Torque 400Nm at 1600-2800rpm Transmission 9-speed automatic Drive four-wheel drive Dimensions 4947mm (L); 1861/2065mm (W without/with mirrors); 1497mm (H) Turning Circle 11.90m Seats 5 Kerb weight 1920kg Towing capacity 2100kg (braked) 750kg (unbraked) Fuel Tank 66 litres Thirst 5.7L/100km (combined cycle) Fuel diesel Spare Yes
IN EUROPE, BUT NOT IN OZ, there’s an E-class Estate. It’s spun off the corresponding sedan. What you can get here is this, the All-Terrain. This takes the Estate and crossbreeds it with some SUV genes.
On air suspension and bigger wheels, ground clearance is up by 29mm. That suspension can be raised some more when you need to go over rough ground. Full-time AWD helps too.
The styling is given a ruggedised go-over. The grille looks like a spare part from one of Benz’s SUVs, and there’s underbody protection and plastic arch extensions.
What’s the interior like?
Up front, it’s indistinguishable from the E-class saloon, which means it’s roomy and beautifully finished. All the furniture and fittings feel solid, and lovingly made of top-grade materials.
Mercedes seats famously adjust through a vast travel and range of directions, so any shape of driver ought to be able to find a comfy position that supports well over long drives. Electric adjust and memory are standard.
The cockpit’s standout feature is the pair of 12.3in borderless screens, joined into a panorama display. The graphics are beautifully resolved. You can configure them to show info on entertainment, navigation, climate, car functions and so on in a bewildering array of combinations.
The main instrument display is a part of the system, so you can go for a realistic facsimile of conventional dials, or switch to various kinds of part-analogue part-digital graphics.
Moving aft, we have a rear seat that’s got plenty of space and comfort for two adults – indeed more headroom than the saloon. The armrest contains cup-holders and a book-sized storage box. The rear also gets air-conditioning vents and reading lights. But like all traditional Mercedes, foot space is limited for the unfortunate third person straddling the transmission tunnel.
Moving aft again gets us to the nub of the estate-car business. The boot has a vast flat floor, even if it isn’t as deep top-to-bottom as some SUVs. The boot-lid is electrically powered, which makes it, as with all electric tailgates, annoyingly slow to open and especially close. If you’ve filled the boot and the tailgate hits a bulging squashy bag near the closing point, it assumes it’s something fragile and stops. Leaving you to shove it closed anyway. I find these electric tailgates more trouble than they’re worth.
The rear of the roller-blind luggage cover rises upwards as the fifth door lifts, so there’s a good deep opening without you having to detach the blind. That’s well thought-out. Another nice touch is an underfloor compartment.
The boot has lights, a 12V socket, bag hooks, a small elasticated net in the side wall, and a big net that helps tie down small objects across the whole floor. This fixes to the strong chromed hinged retaining eyes set into the floor.
Two little switches right by the open tailgate need just a gentle tug for the head-restraints to drop and the seat-backs fall forwards. This makes for a vast flat floor, a full 1m wide even at its narrowest point and over 2m long at floor level.
A heavy steel rail runs along the back of the rear seat, and this contains both the luggage blind and a stout net that unfurls so its top corners fix to the ceiling to stop your doggie making any unscheduled appearances among the passengers. Fold the rear seats away and the same rail can fixed behind the front seats, so your canine friend has even more room to roam. Repositioning that rail is a heavy and cumbersome operation, mind.
What’s the infotainment like?
This complicated system, and its two huge screens, has several input methods. A horn-shaped touchpad is mounted down by your thigh, and it has controller wheel beneath it. Also there’s a series of buttons under the screen, plus a five-way pad on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Oh and voice activation. At first it’s too many, and they can each mostly do what the others do. In the end you’ll settle on one that suits you and largely ignore the rest.
Not that it’s without irritation. I found the steering-wheel control too sensitive, and kept brushing it with my hand when rounding city junctions, which made unexpected and unwanted things happen to the navigation or entertainment.
Plus, if the driver wants the biggest area of the screen to show a map, there’s no provision for the passenger to quickly choose a different radio station or music track. The passenger first has to press the ‘radio’ or ‘media’ shortcut button. It’s possible to put a navigation map into a subsidiary screen area and move the entertainment to the bigger screen. But if you do that, the map becomes non-zoomable.
In short, there’s too much redundancy in many of the controls, but too little flexibility in the layout.
The system does supports Apple Carplay, but switching between that and the Mercedes native operating system is convoluted. Plus with Carplay active you have two clashing graphic styles across the dash.
A tempting option, albeit in an expensive package with the dual sunroof and head-up display, is a wonderful Burmester sound system.
What’s it like on the road?
Most of the time it’s amazingly close to the E-class saloon. OK, so what’s the saloon like? It sails down the road with imperturbable dignity. It does what you ask, but it doesn’t make demands of you.
Despite the old badge, this 220d engine is part of Merc’s all-new powertrain family. And it gives all the performance you’ll need, getting from nothing to 100km/h in 8.0 seconds. But it is only a four-cylinder diesel, albeit the most refined of that type, and you might want more at the price.
We suspect that later on, if the All-Terrain sells well, Merc will bring its new straight-six diesel to the car. (Currently though the overseas versions have the old V6 diesel and that’s off the pace.)
You can’t grumble at the automatic transmission. It’s has nine ratios. It swaps between them pretty well imperceptibly, and the programming does a good job of choosing a ratio that matches acceleration to the demands of your right foot.
The steering is well-damped and fluid. There’s little road feedback or liveliness, let alone nervousness. Which makes it sublimely easy to drive smoothly. But it isn’t about having fun – this car doesn’t talk to you or goad you on. In fact if you do push it hard, it behaves with dignity and consistency, which is why over the years Mercedes have been a favourite off-duty car for race drivers. Nothing upsets it.
Though it’s higher off the ground than the saloon, the All-Terrain is only a little slower to react, and lurches side-to-side a whole lot less than SUVs do.
Ride comfort is superb at speed, the chassis casually brushing off the insults of a bad road. In town it’s mostly very supple too, but when the tyres hit certain sizes of ridge the suspension can get caught out. Because of the self-levelling air springs, it’ll never sag its backside.
At a cruise this is a sublimely quiet car. You seldom get distracted by any roar from the tyres over the road or the bodywork through the air. The engine of course pipes down too because it’s barely ticking over at 100km/h. Or even at the 150 they commonly use in this car’s native continent.
Off-road settings come by a console button. The sir suspension rises up by another 20mm (though it drops again above 35km/h) and all the ESP and traction thresholds are adjusted. It’ll tackle a stony dirt track or some mudded shallow ruts without complaint.
What about safety features?
ANCAP has reported on the saloon version and it’s hard to see why the Wagon should be any different. It scored a five star Safety Rating, doing especially well on the side impacts. The only significant demerit was ‘marginal’ for rear passenger chest protection during a full-width front crash.
The Driving Assistance Plus pack (standard in Oz) includes pretty well all Mercedes’ near-autonomous tech.
Some of it you’d classify as kit for fatigue-reduction. This is what Merc calls Drive Pilot. While the adaptive cruise control is on, it’ll nudge the steering to help keep to your highway lane. It will also actually steer itself for half a minute or so, either by following road markings or the vehicle in front, even if the road gently curves. But this isn’t wholly reliable so you need to supervise and keep your hands on the wheel. If you don’t, it tells you off. If you still don’t, it assumes you’ve keeled over and slows itself to a stop at the roadside.
But much of the package can justifiably be called safety kit. That includes autonomous braking for there’s a vehicle or pedestrian in your path, and blind-spot warning. Various systems that take account of traffic ahead, behind and to the side, and attempt to avoid collisions or mitigate them by nudging the steering towards a gap, braking and pre-tensioning the seatbelts.
Standard LED headlamps change beam shape according to conditions, and blaze wonderfully bright.
Merc’s excellent head-up display is also on the options list, to help keep your eyes on the road. It shows speed, navigation arrows and safety warnings. When relevant, phone and entertainment info pops up too.
So, what do we think?
The sacrifices you pay for the All-Terrain’s increased versatility are pretty miniscule. The loss of refinement or driving quality versus the sedan version are far smaller than an SUV would ask of you. (Especially when you consider Merc’s SUV offering in this size class is the clunky GLE.) Of course the All-Terrain won’t bash through hardcore off-road trails or tow a three-tonne trailer, but even so it’s a car with more ability than most of us need. The alternative – even oddball – image is either going to attract or repel you, and nothing we can say will change your mind.