LOOKING FOR JUICE IN THE NEW MERCEDES EQE 350 SUV
In the government’s headlong rush to automotive electrification, driving a new electric vehicle is a combination of joy and frustration. The joy is a quietly powerful vehicle that, under the right circumstances, can be convenient and very inexpensive to operate. In our former California home on the Pacific Ocean, we had ten solar panels on the roof and a 240-volt, 40-amp EV charger in the garage. Driving an EV was pretty much cost-free for most trips thanks to that circumstance along with the generosity of fellow taxpayers.
Then there’s the frustration of EV ownership - traveling out of your zip code. In our little Silicon Valley community, it seemed that at least half our neighbors owned an electric vehicle and all who did, also had a petrol-powered vehicle. That’s because when you do travel or the utility company shuts off the power, a phenomenon that was becoming more frequent in the Golden State, you don’t want to become a pedestrian. Every time I planned an EV trip, calculating the range, topography and public charging stations along the route, it was always an adventure that included stations that didn’t work as advertised. And that was in the state with by far the most robust EV public charging network of 34,185 ports. Florida is in third place with 5,644 and New York’s 6,547 holds the number two spot.
A couple of weeks ago, we attempted to fly up to Newark from Jacksonville to visit family. United could only get us as far as Dulles so we took Amtrak and Lyft the rest of the way. Only the late John Candy was missing from this planes, trains and automobile adventure. Once settled, I ride-shared to Newark airport parking to retrieve a new Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 SUV to test around the area for the week’s visit. The off-airport parking facility mysteriously lacked EV charging so while the EQE had plenty of range displayed to get to my nephew’s apartment complex, I asked the “Hey Mercedes” user interface to direct me to a fast charger on the route. The Mercedes-Benz MBUX voice activated system is pretty competent and directed me to downtown Elizabeth, New Jersey, a destination that’s not often sought by tourists but did sport three fast chargers with one available.
Mercedes, like some other automakers with new EV models, has cut a deal with Electrify America, one of the emerging public charging companies. Although they’re popping up here and there, none of the public chargers are as prolific as Tesla Superchargers and that’s why GM, Ford and others are pivoting to Elon’s infrastructure. And Mr. Musk is happy to expand his network further and faster with our government’s “Infrastructure” support.
When I wasn’t searching for electricity, I found the new EQE 350 SUV a perfectly competent luxury vehicle both in heavy city traffic and at highway speed, although in the New York metro area they’re both stop and go. The $77,900 MSRP seemed reasonable since it included such luxury as the Burmester 3D surround sound system, but our test model added enough options to bring the total to $93,490. That’s a lot of extra gear, but I could easily live without additional “Driver Assistance” and AMG trim touches. Rivals to consider in this category include Tesla’s Model Y, Genesis GV 70 Electrified, Cadillac’s new Lyriq and the BMW iX xDrive 50. Or if you don’t want the excitement of searching for fuel, the Mercedes GLE 350 4Matic has 585-miles of range compared to the EQE’s 253 and can refuel pretty much anywhere.
We found plenty of unused TESLA chargers in a shopping center garage. Mysteriously, a single EV GO charger nearby offered TESLA and standard CCS charging
THE FINE PRINT
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580
TYPE: Dual motor, all-wheel-drive
HORSEPOWER: 288 Equivalent
BATTERY: 90.6 kWh
BASE PRICE: $77,900
AS TESTED: $93,490
ECONOMY: 82 city, 79 highway, 81 combined