Looking for something to do this weekend? The Scottsdale Pavilions at Talking Stick may be worth a look. Located on Indian Bend Road & the Loop 101 freeway, this is the biggest shopping complex in the state, with plenty of stores, a large movie theater, and plenty of restaurants to dine in. My focus here though, is the McDonald’s Rock n’ Roll show that takes place every Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in their parking lot. Two decades ago it started out as a classic 50’s event, with older cars and music. It has expanded dramatically, and on a good day up to 500 cars and motorcycles might show up. Any make, model, and year is welcomed if it is something the viewers will find interesting.
With this in mind, I thought the E-350 Mercedes Benz Sport Wagon Mercedes loaned me might fit. There are not too many of these around. If the styling didn’t get attention, the $70K price sticker on the window did. In all fairness, the starting tab is $58K, but as always there are options to lighten the wallet. My favorite extra was the high output headlight system. Not only are these bright on high beam setting, the entire light assembly swivels, turning the same direction as the steering wheel which works great in tight high-speed corners. The 360 degree camera system is worth having too, giving a birds-eye view of the entire vehicle. Handy for parking in tight spaces. I think I could have lived without the heated seats though, especially in July!
Since this family wagon is built on the E-350 sport sedan chassis, it performs like a sport sedan as well. I left Scottsdale and took a brisk trip on the winding roads of a local lake. This car really sticks in tight corners. The 3.5 liter V-6 puts out 302 horsepower, and is hooked to a 7-speed automatic gearbox. Fast enough. Since this was the all-wheel drive version, staying put on the wet roads wasn’t an issue. For those with small children, there is a third row seat that faces to the rear window, giving them a nice view of the world passing by. Complaints? Well, I didn’t care for the “ECO” mode, which automatically comes on when the car is started. It cuts the engine at stoplights to save fuel. It’s very annoying, and I don’t think anyone who can afford a car like this is worried about saving five cents worth of gas on their next trip. The gimmick can be turned off, thankfully. Also there was no sport mode setting for the transmission, which is unusual for this class of German car.
Overall, the Mercedes E-350 wagon might be worth a look if you want the storage utility and 4-wheel traction of an SUV, but prefer a lighter passenger car. And you can always park it in the “Mercedes” section at the Pavilion car show.