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Detroit Auto Show: Mercedes previews 2014 E-Class ahead of event

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After three years on the market, the current generation of the Mercedes-Benz midsize E-Class sedan and wagon will be getting an upgrade, with plans to officially reveal the cars at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show in January.

Hoping to get a jump on the event, the company on Thursday presented a glimpse at what buyers of the 2014 models can expect. In addition to the revised look, Mercedes tossed an all-new diesel powerplant option in the engine bay.

The biggest change is to the cars' front end. In a move to make the E-Class less conservative and stiff, the lines are now softer and the car has a more windswept look. The previous design of two separate headlight clusters on either side of the grille is gone, replaced by a single, more curvaceous piece housing partial LED lights.

Photos: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and wagon

The move is likely aimed at stealing some buyers (or not losing them to) arch German rivals Audi and BMW, both of whom offer competing cars with a sleeker image. The rear of the car is also cleaned up, though the overall shape remains. New taillights are the only notable change.

Under the hood, the core of the lineup remains the same. The E350 still has a 302 horsepower V-6, the E550 has the turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 making 402 horsepower and the E400 Hybrid has the same output as the E350 but with a V-6/electric motor combination. Details on the top-end E63 AMG model won't be revealed until the actual Detroit Auto Show.

But it's the diesel engine that is the big change. Gone is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 that made 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Its successor is the E250 BlueTEC with a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 190 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

Fuel economy numbers for this new diesel haven't been announced, but expect them to beat the 22 city, 32 highway mpg numbers of the outgoing V-6 diesel. The diesel will also be available in all-wheel drive form.

All E-Class models will still have a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting via paddle shifters. A fuel-saving start/stop function is now standard on all models. Also standard will be a forward collision warning system.

Stay tuned for more details on these and other models released at the Detroit Auto Show. Highway 1 will be reporting live from the press days on Jan. 14 and 15.

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Fuel-efficient VehiclesHybrid VehiclesAuto ShowsManufacturing and EngineeringAutomotive EquipmentMercedes-BenzGMC
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