Release date: Available now
Price: From $74,900; $85,900 as tested.
Power: Single-motor front-wheel drive and dual motor all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 288 hp, 402 hp
Battery Range: 305
Top Speed: 130mph
Smarts: MBUX, CarPlay, Android Auto, augmented reality navigation
Mercedes is progressing full steam ahead into the world of electric vehicles. The automaker continues to unveil electric companions of its gas-powered lineup with the resolve of a company determined not to be caught flat-footed when the majority of the car-buying public embraces EVs over traditional forms of propulsion.
Enter the EQE, the less expensive but still well-equipped electric Benz. With an EPA-rated range of over 300 miles, the German automaker is battling range anxiety with a large 90.6 kWh battery pack and luxury for days.
The EQE is the second luxury Mercedes EV to land in the United States. The EQS may have all the bells and whistles you would expect from an S-Class-level electric vehicle, but the reality is that the EQE delivers more than enough German opulence for most buyers. It does this while delivering 303 miles of range during our test, nearly on par with its EPA rating of 305 miles.
For our tests, Mercedes loaned us the all-wheel-drive 2023 EQE 500 4Matic. As expected, the additional traction afforded by the additional motor and two more wheels gripping the road resulted in some impressive acceleration. Mercedes states that the vehicle will do zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. We have no reason to doubt this thanks to the vehicle’s 402 horsepower but more importantly, its 633 pound-feet of torque. It’s a quick sedan that has no problem merging onto literally any freeway you may encounter.
What’s more important is that the power is coupled with the luxurious ride quality you’d expect from the German automaker. Cornering and acceleration were top-notch, yet never at the expense of a smooth ride.
Helping to navigate the vehicle around town is Mercedes' decision to add rear-wheel steering up to 10-degrees to the rear wheels. At this point, if a company is building a large sedan, SUV, or truck and not giving potential owners this option is a mistake. Where this system really shines is in parking lots and when you miss a turn and have to make a U-turn to get back onto your route.
Our test vehicle was equipped with the standard 12.8-inch portrait display. We found it to be responsive, bright, and easy to use. It’s equipped with a fingerprint scanner that drivers use to access their personal profiles. Helpful when multiple drivers are using the same keys but want the vehicle to adjust to their settings when they sit down.
Mercedes’ voice recognition system is still one of the best on the market, but it’s important to realize that certain voices and accents might trip up the vehicle. We found it to be helpful, easy to use, and except for a few instances able to correctly address our queries or commands.
The reality is that the EQE is, like the EQS before it, a solid luxury sedan from a company that has a long history of delivering opulence to its customers. While the charging rate is slower than some of its competition, its 300-plus mile range and comfortable ride make it a wonderful vehicle for around town or on the highway.
Mercedes EQE: Release date, pricing, and trim levels
The 2023 EQE is available now in three trim levels. The 350+ offers a rear-wheel drive option starting at $74,900. It ships with 288 horsepower and 391-pound feet of torque.
Stepping up to the 350 4Matic adds all-wheel-drive to the mix via a second motor which bumps the torque to 546-foot pounds but keeps the horsepower at 288. This additional traction and low-end power will set you back $77,900.
Finally, the EQE 500 4Matic we tested starts at $85,900 and is an all-wheel drive beast with 404 horsepower and 633 pound-feet of torque.
All of these trim levels ship with a 90.6 kWh capacity lithium-ion battery pack and according to EPA results shared with us by Mercedes, have a range of 305 miles. This last bit is odd, because it seems as though the 350+ should have a higher range than the other two more powerful trim levels. While our test 500 4Matic vehicle handily met its EPA estimate, the actual EPA fuel economy site still does not have the EQE listed as a vehicle at the time of writing.
Mercedes EQE: Range, battery, and charging
All EQE trim levels ship with a 90.6 kWh battery pack and have an EPA estimated range of 305 miles.
While test driving the EQS 500 4Matic in a mixed environment of highway, city, and back roads, we came away with a range of 303 miles. Essentially on par with what Mercedes has told us the EPA said.
The EQE supports DC fast charging up to 170 kW at compatible charging stations. Mercedes says that it can go from a 10 to 80 percent state of charge in 32 minutes. The fact that Mercedes is currently using a 400-volt system means that its charge rate can’t compete with offerings from Audi, Porsche, Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia. All of which support charging above 200 kW.
Yet when running errands a DC fast charger was more than enough to top off the vehicle while shopping or grabbing a bite to eat. The vehicle’s 305 miles of range should also offset some of that slow charging during long drives. 300 miles is about six hours on the road and a nice sit-down meal after driving six hours makes sense.
For level 2 at home and around-town charging, the vehicle has a 9.6kW onboard charger which Mercedes says can fill the battery from zero to 100 percent in 9.5 hours. Which is more than quick enough for overnight charging.
Mercedes EQE: Interior and Cargo Space
While the powertrain is different, the interior of the Mercedes EQE should feel familiar to anyone that’s been in the automaker’s vehicles over the past few years. The seats are comfortable yet supportive, both in the front and rear of the car. Everything control-wise is where it should be although we do wish there were some physical climate controls.
If controls can’t be found in the infotainment system, it’s likely they’re on the steering wheel. There’s a lot going on but everything is clearly marked and can be mastered within a few days.
Head and leg room in the front and back are ample. The rear sitting area should please those looking for something to treat their passengers as they are driven around town. Our vehicle was outfitted with Nappa leather and wood trim. It’s what you would expect from the luxury automaker and the entire fit and finish was a masterclass in making sure an owner feels like they’re getting their money’s worth.
For all the fun of transporting friends and family, the sedan has 15 cubic-feet of trunk space. Unlike the EQS which has essentially a hatchback-type opening, the EQE trunk lid is that of a typical sedan. It’s fine, but the larger opening area of the EQS is nice when trying to place larger items in the back of the vehicle.
Mercedes has caught some flack for a few photos of the system at night where ambient lights and settings seem to create a bit of sensory overload. The reality is that those settings (especially the brightness) can be adjusted and we found no real issue with being distracted by the interior of the vehicle at night. That is after a few days of adjustment, at any rate, though you may catch yourself sitting in your driveway trying to come up with the perfect color combination for your night driving.
One issue that is concerning is rear visibility. Out of the rearview mirror, the rear window is far smaller than it should be and reduces the ability to see what’s going on behind the car.
Mercedes EQE: Tech and safety features
Mercedes has killed the trackpad in the center console this time around. Instead, it moved the infotainment display closer to the driver as it refreshed its lineup. It’s much easier to reach while driving than the previous setup so Mercedes definitely made the right choice. RIP Trackpad.
Still, it would be nice to have hardware-based controls for climate. Fortunately, the controls for heating and cooling are anchored in the same spot in the infotainment system and that allows for muscle memory to build up while adjusting the climate.
All the screens in the vehicle are bright, responsive, and even in bright sunlight easy to read. The MBUX system is one of the best on the market and the Zero Layer feature reduces the clutter of an infotainment screen and surfaces only the items you’ll likely use while driving. Front and center is the map and navigation which is really what most drivers are looking for while cruising about.
If you’re not a fan of looking over at another display while behind the wheel, the dash cluster supports full-screen navigation. More minimalistic views are available in the cluster which is a nice change from some of the more intense layouts seen on other vehicles.
The Mercedes Voice assistant continues to evolve and in our tests is better than in-car offering from both Alexa and Google Assistant in-car offerings. Responses were quick and typically exactly what we looked for in terms of car controls, navigation, etc. That said, these systems can have issues with certain voices and accents, so you should get an individual test at a showroom to see if Mercedes can decode your own voice.
As you would expect, wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported while the vehicle itself is littered with USB-C ports. Wireless charging upfront is also standard.
Mercedes EQE: The drive
Moving quickly and smoothly is essentially the job of the EQE. It does both with ease. Those looking for EV torque and acceleration will be pleased that both those are here in the luxury sedan. Hitting the accelerator from a stand still or while on the freeway both resulted in enough oomph to satisfy the need to catch up to traffic or overtake other drivers.
The suspension does a fair job sucking up all the crevices and holes in the road to minimize the impact on the driver and passenger. There is the extra weight of an EV to contend with and that does lead to some very minimal bounce, but overall, the EQE glides along the road exactly as it should for a vehicle in the mid-tier luxury market.
Cornering, while not sportscar tight, is ample for backroads as long as the vehicle isn’t pushed too hard. The average driver will find it more than adequate around hairpin turns coupled with elevation drops. More impressive is the vehicle’s in-town capabilities. Yes, 10 degrees of rear-wheel steering makes short work of tight corners out in the wild, but the benefit of the system really shines while cruising through a parking lot or making a quick U-turn. Once you’ve become accustomed to rear-wheel steering you’ll be aghast that you ever had to deal with the inanity of only two wheels turning on a large vehicle.
Then there are the brakes. The good news is that you get three levels of regenerative braking and an automatic regenerative braking mode. Those are all fine and give you additional control over how you send power back to the battery while driving. The issue is that the brake pedal moves on its own while using regenerative braking. When you lift off the accelerator the EQE determines how much you would have depressed the brake to initiate the current level of slowing down. It sounds smart until you move your foot to where you think the brake will be and realize it’s lower than you expect.
It’s unnerving. You mostly get used to it, and though it never feels like a safety issue it is annoying.
Mercedes EQE: Navigation and driver assistance features
Mercedes has worked hard to make sure you get where you’re going. One way it has done this is via optional augmented reality. Fortunately, you don't have to wear special glasses for the feature to get you where you’re going. Instead, Mercedes has outfitted the vehicle with an in-car monitor that tracks your eyes so that the system can correctly place the navigation arrows in the correct spot on the windshield.
We found this system to be far better at turning you onto the right road in confusing situations than audio or traditional map-based visual cues. We’ve used this system before in Europe where roundabouts have anywhere from two to eight exits and the floating arrow on the windshield got us on the right track the majority of the time.
This is in addition to navigation via the infotainment and dash cluster. All of the navigation can be controlled with your voice including adding waypoints along a route.
For driver assistance, Mercedes has one of the best systems on the market. It features solid lane-centering and adaptive cruise control that benefits from being patient in its acceleration when a spot opens up ahead. Cut ins and being cut off by other drivers were deftly handled by the EQE.
The Mercedes system also adjusts the speed of the vehicle while in adaptive cruise control to compensate for the roadway including curves. If the vehicle feels you’re traveling too quickly for an upcoming curve it will slow the vehicle down. It can be overly cautious in its speed ratings, but we’d rather it err on the side of caution.
Mercedes EQE: Verdict
The EQE falls short of delivering on the promise of a luxury vehicle in a number of instances, but those same instances are problems across the entire EQ lineup. The weird ghost braking, 400-volt system, and less-than-ideal visibility via the rear window are also issues with the EQS and braking on the EQS SUV. It’s a series of conscious decisions made by the automaker that diminishes our enjoyment of their new suite of electric luxury vehicles.
Yet as a whole, the EQE is a solid entrant into the world of luxury EVs. Owners will get a majority of the features found on the more expensive EQS while saving nearly $30,000. The rear wheel steering, all-wheel drive, and finely tuned suspension deliver a wonderful driving experience for the money while the interior reminds us why people pay so much for a Mercedes-Benz.
Tech wise, the vehicle’s optional Hyperscreen setup feels like overkill, but you can save some money with the regular center display that delivers everything except a passenger screen experience. The new Zero Layer MBUX feature reduces the amount of clutter found on the display while the voice assistant continues to impress with support for most natural voice queries and commands. If you’re looking for the Mercedes sedan experience in an EV below the $100,000 mark, the automaker has delivered it.