Less Is More: The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC
There are three basic ways to handle different size classes of cars if you're a manufacturer. You can make them all look completely different. You can give them certain styling cues that result in a "family resemblance". Or you can make them look exactly alike except for the size.
Mercedes usually goes the "family resemblance" route, but in their new EQ electric series, the philosophy has clearly switched to the "same sausage, different length" approach. Doubt it? Just take a look at the EQS 580 I reviewed a year ago, and its AMG variant. Park the EQE next to an EQS and the difference will show up in one metric---length. The EQE is ten inches shorter. Width and height are identical. Only 3.6 of the ten missing inches come from between the front and rear wheels, which means shorter front and rear overhangs account for the other 6.4 inches. At the wheel, the car feels tidier, easier to maneuver in tight spaces.
The EQE 500 4MATIC (all-wheel drive) weighs 464 pounds less than the EQS 580 I drove and even with 114 fewer horsepower (402 vs the EQS 580's 516), the EQE still gets to 60 miles per hour from a standing start in 4.5 seconds. Where the EQE 500 suffers is in range. 260 miles per charge is on the low end of "acceptable" these days. For those who need more, the EQE 350+squeezes 305 miles out of a full battery, but the horsepower plummets to 288.
The biggest beneficiaries of Mercedes' decision to trim from the ends are the rear seat passengers, who get the same 38 inches of legroom that they'd get sitting in the back seat of the EQS.
The EQE 500 4MATIC base price is $87,050 with destination and that includes a lot of standard equipment, including a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.8-inch portrait-oriented OLED touchscreen for the multimedia system and navigation. Also standard: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Burmester 3D surround sound audio system, a power tilt/sliding panoramic roof, heated power front seats with memory, ambient lighting, a wireless phone charger, and a complete suite of active safety features.
A humorous side note: If you haven't set up your own profile in the multimedia center, the car simply greets you as "EQE User." It does that by on-screen text, and a voice. Someone at Mercedes, however, forgot to sweat one detail. When the car (at least our tester) greets you with audio, it doesn't say "Welcome, E-Q-E User." It says:
"Welcome eek user."
Mercedes doesn't usually screw up and Germans (as the old beer ad told us) don't do comedy, so this was an unexpected week-long giggle every time I got in the car.
But seriously, folks, there were also extra-cost options on our tester---$12,420 worth. The Sable Brown and Neva Gray Nappa leather interior was $1,370, the Pinnacle Trim level (air balance package, 100-watt USB-C package, head-up display, augmented reality for navigation, active ambient lighting and four-zone climate control) was $3,050. A driver assistance package with still more active safety features added $1,250, the Digital Light Package (digital LED headlamps, symbol projection and animation projection) was $1,100 and the Winter Package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, heated windshield and heated windshield washer system) packed on another $1,500.
As Mercedes would never say---but wait! There's more! The AMG Line Exterior Package (gloss black and chrome trim) is $2,200, Energizing Air Control Plus with HEPA filter costs $450, upgraded 20-inch wheels are $850, ventilated front seats are $450, and a star pattern grille adds $300. Supply chain issues are still a thing. Our car carried a $100 credit for "missing standard hands-free access". All told, and somewhat miraculously, the tab stopped on the sane side of six figures, at $99,470.
Getting rid of the front and rear overhangs also makes the EQE's styling work a little better, to my eye. The overall design language of the EQ cars doesn't knock me out, but the proportions are better here than they are in the EQS. Pair that with the tidier driving experience, the preservation of passenger comfort and a not-insignificant price advantage over the larger EQS, and the EQE emerges as the one to have.