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

Category: Executive car

The Mercedes E-Class leads the pack for refinement and space

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

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

The Mercedes E-Class lopes along with regal smoothness, smothering bumps and shutting out noise almost completely. Good as it is to drive, though, the BMW 5-series is definitely better.

The huge and very comfy cabin is adorned with wood, even on the entry Classic. It isn't as barge-like as previous Es, so while passenger space remains good, rear headroom is perhaps a touch tight. That said, the boot is still a cavern.


The Mercedes E-Class leads the pack for refinement and space

  • Has just the right image
  • Smooth and comfortable
  • BMW's 5-series is - just - better to drive and quicker

The huge range of engines and trims makes buying any E a maze. And, if that's not enough, the number of options available when the car was new means you'll rarely find two used cars alike.

The smaller engines and lower-spec models are the most common and also represent strongest value. Most have auto gearboxes and they're so smooth we'd shy away from manual shifts. In any case, the foot-operated parking brake makes hill starts a wrestle if you also have a clutch to deal with.

Ownership cost

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

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

Owning an E-Class is never going to be cheap, but you can reduce bills by finding a good independent garage for servicing and repairs. Check, though, that they follow Mercedes schedules and use proper branded parts rather than cheaper copies to keep your warranty intact.

The car decides its own servicing schedules based on how it's driven, and tells you when work is due. However, a major service is needed every three years, so the smart move is to go for a car that's just had this done.

Engines and transmissions are durable, so there's no real need to budget for repairs on them. But, the E's complex electrical systems have caused grief for too many first owners, and threaten nasty bills later on.

Fuel economy is reasonable: 30mpg for the E200, up to 40mpg for the diesels and mid-20s mpg for the E280 and E350. The only really scary ones are the E500 or E55, which barely reach 20mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes E-Class saloon should I buy?

Five petrol engines, three diesels and four trim levels make choosing the right E-Class a potential headache. Fortunately, sticking with the smaller engines and entry-level Classic trim buys you 99% of what's best about the car at a value price.

Buy from Merc dealers or reputable non-franchised specialists, stick with the E200 petrol or the E220 diesel, insist on an auto gearbox and you can't go wrong.

If you have cash to spare, the E280 petrol or diesel Elegance/Avantgarde have extra kit and added power, but we wouldn't stray further up the model list because the bigger, more powerful engines don't suit the car's wonderfully relaxed nature.

As well as that, you should pick the colour of your car carefully. Pale metallics look best and fetch the most come resale time, whereas dark blues and greens look dull and are consequently worth less. Similarly, a fully documented history and only a couple of previous owners help shore up values.

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