This week both Mercedes-Benz and Volvo had the media roll-out of their big luxury wagons in Europe, the E400 Wagon and V90 Estate – both coming to the US very soon. What better way to show them to you than head to head.
Wagons in large part have become passe here in the US, giving up their stage to the crossover SUV that’s more prevalent here. But they remain very popular in Europe, offering up much the same utility but with car like handling of the sport sedans they’re based on.
That’s why I like them, and why they still command a small but enthusiastic market niche here. And in such we have only a hand full of wagons available at all, every one of them from a European brand like Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.
Mercedes-Benz and Volvo now are the only two which offer full-sized top end models, both brand new designs. The first and newest is the 2017 E400 Wagon based on the all-new E-Class sedan unveiled earlier this year.
It’s big and long with a 115.7-inch wheelbase, sleek with the latest styling from the new E-Class design palette. The sloped rear gate and window are less upright than before and feature some very ornate LED tail lamps. They have a fractal quality to their lenses, sure to get noticed at night.
In North America the E400 it will launch with only a twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6 rated at 329 horsepower, driving all four wheels through standard 4MATIC and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Whether they will offer a diesel or a fire-breathing AMG variant is not yet said, but we can expect at least one of them.
Volvo will be on the grid with their own top-end family cruiser this year for the fist time in a long time with the new 2017 V90. Based on their all-new S90 sedan and Scalable Product Architecture, it’s long and sexy from head to tail sharing an identical 115.7-inch wheelbase with the Mercedes-Benz. 194
The long nose and planted rear quarters give it a very regal yet sporting character. It retains the classic and expected Volvo pragmatism in its look and feel though. Headlamps have the Thor’s Hammer design first seen in the XC90 crossover, and other new designs to come.
Under the hood of the V90 Estate will be a number of options based around the 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine. These will include a T5 front-wheel drive with turbocharged four at 250 horsepower,a T6 all-wheel drive will have the 316 horsepower supercharged and turbocharged four.
A T8 all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid is expected as well that uses uses an electric motor drive unit at the rear axle for an additional 87 horsepower, bringing to total to 407. You get maximum power and maximum fuel efficiency here. All powertrains come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Interiors of both will be sumptuous and spacious. The Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon gets the brand’s all-new optional digi-dash this year with two 12.3-inch display screens with generous swaths of wood all around.
The rear cargo hold enjoys a flat floor with power folding seats. The cargo volume according to Mercedes-Benz is 64 cubic feet, and a third-row rear facing jump seat will continue to be standard equipment.
In the Volvo you will find the brand’s new portrait format infotainment and driver interface that’s won a lot of praise from the media along with lots of aluminum and wood trims to warm up the look.
The V90 Estate also enjoys a generous flat load floor out back, though with somewhat less cargo space than in the Mercedes-Benz at 54 cubic feet. And at least at launch, a third-row seat is not available.
Both vehicles will also offer their own versions of semi-autonomous driving aids. Mercedes-Benz calls their system Drive Pilot, Volvo calls theirs Pilot Assist. Way too much to list here, but both offer up the highest levels of letting you be an unattentive and passive driver any car has yet to date.
Both the E400 Wagon and V90 Estate are due to arrive early in 2017 with pricing to be announced closer to that time. Expect them to be a lot as the wagons do tend to price out somewhat above their sedan counterparts.
When it comes to full-sized luxo-wagons, this is it. BMW no longer offers the 5-Series Touring here sadly and Audi’s Allroad just isn’t nearly as large and really kind of a different animal. And to throw in the wild card, the Dodge Magnum is also no more.