Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate 2002 - 2006 review

Category: Estate car

The Mercedes E-Class Estate is an upmarket, comfortable estate car that's also very practical

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (02 - 06)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (02 - 06)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (02 - 06)
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate 2002 - 2006 review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes E-Class estate like?

Behind those swish, upmarket looks is a practical, working estate. The Mercedes E-Class Estate's loadbay is huge - far bigger than that of an Audi A6 Avant or BMW 5 Series Touring. You're unlikely to need more than its 690 litres in everyday use, but when you do, the rear seats fold flat to free up a gargantuan 1950 litres.

The quality of the roomy cabin shines through, and most drivers should find it easy to make themselves comfortable behind the wheel. All the controls are well sited and operate with a satisfying action.


The Mercedes E-Class Estate is an upmarket, comfortable estate car that's also very practical

  • This refined, classy estate drives as well as the saloon
  • Very spacious
  • Very little but the manual gearbox doesn't suit the car so stick to automatics

Ultimately, it's handling isn't a match for the 5 Series, but it's surefooted and tidy nonetheless. In town, too, it's surprisingly practical for such a big car, with a lovely tight turning circle. However, the E-Class wagon really excels on motorways, where it chomps through the miles in complete, refined hush.

It's almost completely silent, except for the E320 CDI engine, which is noisier than you'd like if you rev it hard.

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes E-Class estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes E-Class estate?

It is expensive to buy - but second-hand prices are high because it's an excellent car and there's plenty of demand for it.

That will work in your favour when you resell, because the E-Class estate holds its value very well, and you shouldn't underestimate the importance of its sluggish depreciation. When you flog it on, it will repay the initial premium it commanded - and probably more besides - compared with less prized estates.

The fuel bill on diesels (35-38mpg) and smaller petrols (30mpg) is reasonable, while insurance costs will be lower than for a BMW 5 Series, similar to an Audi A6 Avant's and higher than a Volvo V70's.

However, service costs are less competitive - the BMW will be slightly cheaper, the V70 and A6 noticeably less.

However, you can hack the labour bill by as much as half by going to a specialist independent instead of a Mercedes dealer, according to Warranty Direct.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes E-Class estate should I buy?

The E280 (from '05 onwards) gets our vote. It's smooth, quiet, economical and has just the sort of strong mid-range response you need for serious load-lugging.

On that score, the E200K supercharged petrol and E220 CDI diesel lose out. Besides, there's no great penalty going for the E280 diesel, as it isn't that much heavier on fuel than the E220 diesel. For pre-'05 cars look for the 270CDI.

The E320 CDI diesel looks promising on paper, but it's a little thirstier and doesn't give that great a boost in performance. More to the point, it isn't as quiet as it should be.

Among the petrol engines, the 3.2 V6 and 5.0 V8 are genuinely rapid and very tempting if you can stomach the higher running costs. The E55 AMG is insanely fast: 0-60mph in less than five seconds; flush to skint takes only slightly longer.

Trim levels kick off with Classic and spiral up through Elegance and Avantgarde to range-topping Sport. Avantgarde gives all you need, in our view.

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