2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec: First Drive

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While there are a number of new diesel models for 2014, diesels are nothing new for Mercedes-Benz. Yet at first blush, making the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup—the one that packs a new four-cylinder diesel—the entry point for mainstream luxury shoppers could be seen as a gamble.

After driving the new 2014 E250 BlueTec, we'll say that it's much more likely a statement of confidence.

This new-generation 2.1-liter in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine in the E250 BlueTec is something to be proud of; it makes nearly the power (195 horsepower) and torque (369 lb-ft) as the previous 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 in last year's E350 BlueTec. That diesel V-6 makes 210 hp and 398 lb-ft, respectively. Yet the E250 is expected to target 45 mpg highway—mileage that's far better than the outgoing E350 BlueTec model's 22 mpg city, 32 highway.

While the official EPA estimates aren't yet out for the E250 BlueTec, what we saw was promising. In about 60 miles of especially spirited driving—tapping into this engine's plentiful output to make several quick passes—we averaged 34.1 mpg. Then over another 120 miles, with more ups and downs, but at lower speed, we averaged nearly 38 mpg. Set the cruise, and those numbers will easily climb into the mid 40s.

And this is with 4Matic all-wheel drive. Yes, these diesel models are now offered with a choice between rear-wheel drive (base $52,325) and 4Matic ($54,825).

Same engine as in GLK, but with stop-start

This new diesel is virtually the same as what's installed in the GLK250 BlueTec, but with the addition of Stop-Start, so that when it's at its peak operating temperature it smartly shuts off in gridlock or at traffic lights, to save fuel.

The E-Class Sedan lineup, whether with BlueTec or not, gets a modest refresh for 2014, including new headlamps, some fresher sheetmetal and trim, and perhaps most notably, a choice now between Luxury and Sport models—with Luxury models having a traditional grille and hood ornament and Sport models getting the bolder grille, with integral three-pointed star, plus sportier trims throughout.

Inside all the E-Class models, there's a new instrument cluster, plus a new design for the air vents as well as a center rectangular-framed analog clock. The steering-wheel now has a sportier flat-bottom look, with plenty of button shortcuts, as before, while the control set for COMAND has been supplemented with a few more buttons at the center console.

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