The 6 Best and Worst Mercedes E-Class Years on the Market! [Data-Backed]

The 6 Best and Worst Mercedes E-Class Years on the Market! [Data-Backed]

The prestige of owning a Mercedes that is the suit-and-tie equivalent on four wheels while having enough power to play with the Bimmer boys can only ever be felt inside the cabin of an E-Class.

Standing the test of time, the E-Class has had a good run so far, but now the question is which model years can consistently give it their all, and which ones would rather let you trip and fall?

If you’d rather not pay more for premium repairs on your already-premium German car, let’s take a look at the best and worst E-Class model years that money can buy below! 

What are the best and worst Mercedes E-Class years?

The best Mercedes E-Class model years are 2008, 2012, and 2020, while the worst ones come from 2006, 2010, and 2017.

The best and worst Mercedes E-Class years are determined by their average consumer/expert ratings, reliability reviews, and the number of complaints posted for each year.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a well-sought-after nameplate in the German automaker’s range of vehicles. Considered a midrange model with top-class features and design, it remains a solid Merc for luxury and comfort several decades down the road.

But with a diverse range of engines and configurations to choose from, not every E-Class model year will be up to par, especially when we’re talking about the used market.

While the E-Class’ rich history dates all the way back to its 1953 W120 predecessor, we’ll be focusing on more recent generations and their respective model years that are either worth buying or completely avoiding.

Such noteworthy model years include the 2020 model of the W213 (5th) generation, the 2012 model of the W212 (4th) generation, and the 2008 model of the W211 (3rd) generation.

In contrast, those that you’re better off skipping are the 2017 (W213), 2010 (W212), and 2008 (W211) models.

Stick around as we delve into the different facts, stats, and reviews of these Mercedes E-Class model years that make them the best and worst iterations of the go-to German luxury car!

What are the best Mercedes E-Class model years?

The best Mercedes E-Class model years are 2008, 2012, and 2020 thanks to a balance of higher average consumer/expert ratings, fewer complaints about severe reliability problems, and good offerings of luxurious features.

2020 Mercedes E-Class (W213)

2020 Mercedes E-Class (W213)

The 2020 Mercedes E-Class is one of the newest model years on this list and also one of the best out of the W213 generation, and we’ve got the numbers and reviews to back that up!

Consumer and expert rating averages for the 2020 model are the highest out of all W213 (5th-gen) model years, such as 4.2/5 on KBB, 4.3/5 on Edmunds, 9.5/10 on Car and Driver, and 79/100 on J.D. Power.

The 2020 Mercedes E350, in particular, ties the 2021 and 2022 models by the number of complaints on CarProblemZoo at only 5, second only to the 2023 model year which received 2., however, has zero complaints listed for the 2020 E350 model year, giving you an idea of just how reliable this specific year can be.

All 2020 E-class models have been made standard with blind-spot monitoring, yet also come with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, exterior LED lights all around, and a lot more.

The number of luxurious tech features skyrockets even more as you opt for packages such as the Premium package, Energizing Comfort package, Acoustic Comfort package, and Driver Assistance package.

For instance, things like collision avoidance and lane-keeping assists are all part of the Driver Assist package, but it kicks it up a notch by having the cruise control automatically steer or pull the car over if the driver snoozes off behind the wheel.

2012 Mercedes E-Class (W212)

2012 Mercedes E-Class (W212)

The 2012 Mercedes E-Class is not only regarded as one of the best years of the W212 generation but also one of the best E-Class years period.

Alongside the 2012 model’s generous offerings of high-class features is its simple yet effective formula of superb reliability plus class-leading safety ratings, earning the trust of many satisfied owners.

Consistently high consumer ratings and reviews are one of the 2012 E-Class’ strong points, such as 4.7/5 on KBB, 4.5/5 on Edmunds, and 84/100 on J.D. Power, which is, to note, the highest recorded for any E-Class model year on the latter site.

Helping this model propel itself to such heights is a multitude of standard features such as a 7-inch infotainment screen, an 8-speaker audio system, LED DRLs (daytime running lights), electronic stability control, and electronic brake assist.

The options and packages are also pretty jam-packed for this model year, giving you access to stuff like a radar-activated Pre-Safe Brake system (part of the Distronic Plus Safety Package) and self-adjusting suspension for just about any road surface.

The amount of luggage space is also very much applaudable for every sedan (W212) or wagon (S212) body style in the 2012 lineup, earning it good marks in practicality for a luxury car as well.

2008 Mercedes E-Class (W211)

2008 Mercedes E-Class (W211)

Going to a slightly earlier model, the 2008 Mercedes E-Class from the “W211” (3rd) generation deserves a podium on this “best years” list for its impressive display of long-term reliability and luxurious features ahead of its time.

With stellar consumer ratings like 4.6/5 on KBB and Edmunds and 81/100 on J.D. Power, the 2008 E-Class has not only held its own but even puts newer model years to shame in the satisfaction department.

Standard features for this model year include a Harman Kardon audio system, Burl Walnut wood trim, a glass sunroof, electronic stability control, and a total of 8 front and rear airbags, nothing short of an automobile bearing the Silver Arrow.

Even back then, the 2008 model already came with top-notch safety tech such as the “Pre-Safe” system, which comes with self-adjusting front seats, seatbelts, and windows when anticipating a collision.

Although it can be as well-mannered and civilized as you want it to be, there’s still quite some performance to be had both under the hood and while riding on its sophisticated suspension.

This is especially true when you really tunnel down into its sportier trims and packages, which grant you access to powerful V8 engines (as in the AMG trims), adjustable air suspension and dampers, sport brakes, and many other goodies.

With the amount of flexibility and personalization you can already have with a 2008 model, there’s an E-Class for everyone without having to pay for today’s premium price tags. Just be sure to find a well-maintained example with the features you desire.

What are the worst Mercedes E-Class model years?

The worst Mercedes E-Class model years are 2006, 2010, and 2017 due to a combination of lower consumer/expert ratings on average, numerous complaints about various reliability issues, known recalls, and safety concerns.

2017 Mercedes E-Class (W213)

2017 Mercedes E-Class (W213)

While the Mercedes “W213” is generally considered to be a reliable generation for the E-Class overall, it can still be useful to know which year is the “worst” of the best so you can avoid it and opt for better years.

In this instance, the worst of the best would be the 2017 Mercedes E-Class, which received the lowest consumer and expert ratings on average compared to the years that came after it.

As for the ratings, the 2017 E-Class scores a 4.2/5 on KBB, 3.8/5 on Edmunds, 9/10 on Car and Driver, and 79/100 on J.D. Power. Again, not really that bad, but just not as good as that of its successors.

Several owners of certain 2017 Mercedes E300 models have pointed out a number of issues with the car’s electronics, such as the radio not working, the windshield wiper motor breaking, and a malfunctioning backup camera.

The infotainment system can also feel a bit cluttered and a steep learning curve for new Mercedes owners. Some owners particularly loathe the navigation/GPS, which can be quite unpolished and complicated to operate compared to earlier systems.

2010 Mercedes E-Class (W212)

2010 Mercedes E-Class (W212)

Getting yourself a 2010 Mercedes E-Class model may be tempting given its seemingly high ratings, but just like the 2017 model previously discussed, it also has quite a bit of flaws, some of which are even safety hazards.

Despite receiving ratings of 4.7/5 on KBB and Edmunds and 83/100 on J.D. Power, the 2010 model was still subjected to numerous reported complaints and several recalls, making long-term reliability uncertain for this year. 

The 2010 E350 as well as other similar models in the E-Class lineup were known to have defective airbags, which are, in turn, part of the large-scale “Takata airbag” recall that affected millions of vehicles worldwide.

This model year has also received reports of rusting on the rear subframe and other connected suspension components, such as the control arm bracket. Rusted parts can potentially break off and affect the car’s handling, yet another safety risk for this year.

Some owners have also complained about issues with the steering, and it just so happens that there is also a recall (10V459000) stating that certain 2010 E-Class models are equipped with power steering systems that can potentially lose fluid.

So while the 2010 E-Class has no shortage of luxurious features on board, safety is still a bummer for this model year, and you would not have absolute peace of mind owning something that can do the opposite of what you’re paying for. 

2006 Mercedes E-Class (W211)

2006 Mercedes E-Class (W211)

2nd-generation W211 E-Class models can be a delight to own and drive even for their age, but just make sure you skip the problematic 2006 model year as much as you can.

For one, it’s not the most well-put-together example of a W211 model year due to a large number of complaints about its engine and fuel system.

When we take a look at the 2006 Mercedes E350 model, which racked up a total of 473 complaints on CarProblemZoo, most of its reported problems include fuel leaks and the smell of gas fumes from inside the cabin.

Furthermore, the 2006 E-Class was also involved in a recall (08V303000) about how an incorrect software calibration can cause a check engine light (CEL), inaccurate fuel gauge and speedometer readings, and no display of a stuck fuel level sensor.

As a result, there is also a chance that the electrical fuel pump may not disable and stop delivering fuel in the event of a collision as it’s intended to, which can be considered another fire hazard.

As far as engine problems are concerned,  2006 E-Class models equipped with either the M272 V6 or M273 V8 are notorious for their balance shaft issues, which cause other symptoms like a check engine light, a P0016/P0017 code, misfires, and stalling.

Mercedes E-Class Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
3rd Generation (W211) (2003 to 2009)20082006
4th Generation (W212) (2010 to 2016)20122010
5th Generation (W213) (2017 to 2023)20202017

Consumer/Expert Ratings for All Mercedes E-Class Model Years

Mercedes E-Class Model YearKBB Consumer RatingEdmunds Consumer RatingCar and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating
20234.2/5 4.1/5 9/1079/100
20224.2/5 4.3/59/1078/100
20214.2/5 4.5/59/1078/100
20204.2/54.3/5 9.5/1079/100
20194.2/54.3/5 9/1080/100
20174.2/5 3.8/59/1079/100
20164.7/54.5/5 N/A83/100
20134.7/54.4/5 N/A81/100
20124.7/54.5/5 N/A84/100
20114.7/54.2/5 N/A83/100
20104.7/5 4.7/5N/A83/100
20084.6/54.6/5 N/A81/100
20074.6/54.6/5 N/A82/100
20064.6/54.7/5 N/AN/A
20054.6/54.8/5 N/AN/A
20034.6/54.6/5 N/AN/A

What are the common problems of a Mercedes E-Class?

What are the common problems of a Mercedes E-Class

Common Mercedes E-Class problems include engine balance shaft issues, fuel leaks, defective airbags, and faulty seats and seat belts.

Interior and electronic problems of the E-Class include fading wood trims, a complicated infotainment system, and a faulty backup camera.

Engine Balance Shaft Issues

Engine problems can be one of the most expensive and unsafe ordeals you can have on a car, and in the Mercedes E-Class case, its Achilles’ heel is the balance shaft.

Balance shaft issues are most commonly reported on E-Class models equipped with either the M272 V6 or M273 V8, with the 2006 model year receiving the most complaints.

Owners of such models typically experience an illuminated check engine light (CEL) accompanied by reduced engine performance, which most likely means the car has been put into “limp mode” to avoid further damage.

Failure of the balance shaft can cause other symptoms such as a P0016 or P0017 trouble code, timing chain issues, misfiring, rough idling, rattling noises, starting difficulties, and engine stalling/shutdown.

The M273 V8s, in particular, also have a known problem with the idler gear sprocket, and just like the balance shaft, it’s believed to fail prematurely due to manufacturing defects or poor quality of materials used.

Fuel Leaks

Fuel leaks are another major reason for concern about the Mercedes E-Class, with the number one symptom being the strong smell of fuel from within the cabin.

The source of the leak can come from worn-out fuel gaskets, the fuel pump, the fuel filler neck, or other damaged parts of the fuel tank assembly. The smell of the gas fumes can also be more noticeable after just refilling your car.

The 2006 model is the most commonly associated model year for fuel leaks, and there have also been instances where the leak can start to wet the area underneath the front or back seats.

In addition, a fuel pump-related recall has also been issued for certain 2003 to 2008 E-Class models, wherein an incorrect software calibration number code (SCN) can cause the fuel pump to not deactivate during a collision.

Thus, there is a risk that the fuel pump will keep delivering fuel in the event of a crash, yet another fire hazard.

Faulty Safety Features (Airbags and Seats)

Despite being well equipped with safety features, certain Mercedes E-Class models still come with faulty airbags and seats that fail to live up to the safety standards expected of a luxury car.

Various E-Class coupe, convertible, sedan, and station wagon models manufactured between 2009 and 2017 have been fitted with the infamous Takata airbags, which were known to have defective inflators.

These inflators can potentially rupture in a crash, which can eject metal fragments into the cabin and increase the risk of injury to the occupants.

Other E-Class models have also been observed to have malfunctioning power seat controls and seat belt mechanisms. 

The reason for this is faulty contacts within the electronics of the equipment, which can fail to properly transmit signals needed for safeguarding the occupants. 

Other Interior/Electronic Issues

While filled to the brim with premium and luxurious amenities, the Mercedes E-Class interior has its fair share of flaws, some of which can pop out sooner than you’d expect.

The gorgeous interior Burl Walnut wood trim can, unfortunately, start fading prematurely, while the infotainment system can be a bit convoluted to learn for first-time owners.

Several owners also report other interior or electronic-related issues like panoramic sunroof problems, a faulty backup camera, a non-working radio, and a broken windshield wiper motor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most reliable year of the Mercedes E-Class?

The most reliable years of the Mercedes E-Class are 2008, 2012, and 2020 due to having fewer major problems reported, which, in turn, keeps their repair and maintenance costs lower than that of other more problem-prone years.

RepairPal rates the 2008, 2012, and 2020 E-Class model years all a 4/5 in reliability, while J.D. Power gives them 85/100, 88/100, and 83/100, respectively, all classified as “Great” in Quality and Reliability rating.

What is the lifespan of a Mercedes E-Class?

The average lifespan of a Mercedes E-Class is about 200,000 to 250,000 miles (322,000 to 402,000 km), though this can depend on the exact model, how well-maintained it is, your driving habits, how frequently you drive, and climate conditions.

Is the Mercedes E-Class expensive to maintain?

According to CarEdge’s estimates, maintenance and repairs for the Mercedes E-Class will cost an average of $11,224 for the first 10 years, or about $1,122.4 per year. However, this can vary widely depending on the model and year.

For instance, RepairPal states that a Mercedes E350 model will cost about $788 for annual maintenance and repairs, which is about $188 cheaper than the $976 average in the luxury full-size car category.

However, this still makes it $136 more expensive than the $652 average for all vehicle models.  

Is the Mercedes E-Class a safe car?

The Mercedes E-Class has received numerous 5-star safety ratings from the NHTSA for several model years, such as 2017 to 2023 (W213), and 2024 (W214).

Safety and driver assist features for the latest (2024) Mercedes E-Class include PARKTRONIC active parking assist, active brake assist, active lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and the PRESAFE package.