2019 Mercedes E-Class Sedan vs. 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes E-Class Sedan have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes E-Class Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The rear seatbelts optional on the E-Class Sedan inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Active Brake Assist in the E-Class Sedan as “Superior.” The 3 Series Sedan scores at most only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

To help make backing safer, the E-Class Sedan’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The E-Class Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the E-Class Sedan and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Mercedes E-Class Sedan is safer than the 3 Series Sedan:

 

E-Class Sedan

3 Series Sedan

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

173

549

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Femur Force R/L

1.4/1 kN

3.4/3.4 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Tibia index R/L

.43/.4

.65/.82

Tibia forces R/L

3/2 kN

3.4/4.2 kN

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the E-Class Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2018, a rating granted to only 28 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 3 Series Sedan was last qualified as only a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

There are over 10 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the E-Class Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the E-Class Sedan has a 180-amp alternator. The 3 Series Sedan’s standard 170-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The E-Class Sedan has more powerful engines than the 3 Series Sedan:

 

Horsepower

Torque

E 300 Sedan 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

241 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

E 450 4MATIC Sedan 3.0 turbo V6

362 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

AMG E 53 Sedan 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid

429 HP

384 lbs.-ft.

320i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

180 HP

200 lbs.-ft.

330i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

248 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

340i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

322 HP

330 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the E 300 Sedan is faster than the 320i (automatics tested):

 

E-Class

3 Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.5 sec

6.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.9 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.4 MPH

90.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The E-Class Sedan 300’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan Diesel’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 15 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The E-Class Sedan 450/AMG 53’s standard fuel tank has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 15.8 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes E-Class Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the 3 Series Sedan.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the E-Class Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:

 

E-Class

AMG E 53

320i/330i

340i

Front Rotors

13.5 inches

14.6 inches

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

14.2 inches

11.8 inches

13 inches

The E-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:

 

E-Class

3 Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

154 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

106 feet

115 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the E-Class Sedan has larger standard tires than the 3 Series Sedan (245/45R18 vs. 225/50R17). The E-Class Sedan’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (F:245/40R19 & R:275/35R19 vs. F:225/40R19 & R:255/35R19).

The E-Class Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 3 Series Sedan’s standard 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the E-Class Sedan has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the 3 Series Sedan.

Suspension and Handling

The E-Class Sedan has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The E-Class Sedan’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The E-Class Sedan’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the E-Class Sedan’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the 3 Series Sedan (115.7 inches vs. 110.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the E-Class Sedan is 3.1 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 3 Series Sedan.

The E-Class Sedan 4MATIC handles at .93 G’s, while the 340i pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The E-Class Sedan 4MATIC executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the 330i (25.1 seconds @ .77 average G’s vs. 26.3 seconds @ .7 average G’s).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the E 300 Sedan 4MATIC is quieter than the 340i xDrive:

 

E-Class Sedan

3 Series Sedan

At idle

38 dB

41 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the E-Class Sedan a Mid-size car, while the 3 Series Sedan is rated a Compact.

The E-Class Sedan has 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear legroom and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the 3 Series Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the E-Class Sedan offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 11% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

The E-Class Sedan has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the 3 Series Sedan, the E-Class Sedan has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The E-Class Sedan’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the E-Class Sedan to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. Its standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The E-Class Sedan’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the 3 Series Sedan’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the E-Class Sedan has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the E-Class Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the E-Class Sedan keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The E-Class Sedan offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Mercedes E-Class comes in coupe, convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the BMW 3 Series isn’t available as a coupe, convertible or station wagon.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mercedes E-Class Sedan and the BMW 3 Series Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The E-Class was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The 3 Series hasn’t been picked since 2014.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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