Car review:  2011 Mercedes-Benz E Class Cabriolet
On the plus side, the E550 feels planted in corners. It's low-slung, which helps, and there's very little body roll.

Like other Mercedes cars, the Cabriolet has a way of making the cruising experience serene. You can take the E550 up to 70 mph, but it hardly feels like it's making an effort. It seems to be saying, "Is that all you got? I can do this all day." There's a substantialness to the car that's reminiscent of Mercedes' S-Class full-size sedan.

There is one glaring issue with the convertible, and that's shudder in the body. It's not so excessive that I wouldn't recommend this car because of it, but there's more than I was expecting.

Cabin

The E550 Cabriolet's cabin is similar to the sedan's, an interior that garnered praise in a recent Cars.com luxury sedan faceoff. It features materials quality and an attention to detail that's expected in this class but sometimes not delivered. The center of the dash is a little busy-looking, with its multitude of buttons, but the rest of it has that timeless Mercedes design that should age well.

The leather-covered front seats have firm, supportive cushions, and apart from some mild soreness near my hips, I was comfortable after a three-hour drive. My E550 had the optional multicontour seats, which add adjustable air bladders in the front seats for tailored lumbar support and side-bolster width.

The front seats also have some of the longest seat cushions I've ever seen. The cushions stretched nearly all the way to the back of my knees (I'm 6-foot-1) and provided quite a bit of welcome thigh support. If you'd rather have less, the multicontour seats include an adjustment for the driver.

The convertible has two rear seats separated by a cupholder console. The seats are decently sized, but the rear of the cabin is short on legroom, and passengers other than small children might need to bum some space by getting their compatriots up front to move their seats forward.

Cargo

The trunk measures 11.5 cubic feet, but if you want to lower the top you'll have to pull down a partition from the upper part of the cargo area that reduces total trunk space to 8.8 cubic feet.

The partition is taller than ones in other convertibles, meaning that it takes up valuable trunk height -- so much that I wasn't able to fit my small suitcase in the trunk with the partition lowered (it wasn't a problem at all with the partition out of the way).

Safety

The E550 Cabriolet comes standard with numerous airbags. They include front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags up front that deploy from the doors, pelvic airbags for the front occupants, and a driver's knee airbag. Side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional.

Also standard are antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, active front head restraints, pop-up roll bars and Mercedes' Pre-Safe system. Using sensors in the brake assist and stability systems, Pre-Safe aims to better prepare occupants for an impending collision by cinching the front seat belts, adjusting the front passenger seat for better seat belt and airbag orientation, and closing the side windows. The optional Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system includes Pre-Safe Brake, which automatically brakes the convertible if a car in front of it slows or stops suddenly, and it prepares the brakes for full stopping power the moment you press the brake pedal. If you don't brake hard enough, an audio-visual warning will ensue.

Attention Assist, a technology designed to detect when a driver becomes drowsy and activate alerts, is also standard.

E550 Cabriolet in the market

The E550 Cabriolet starts at $64,800, and the as-tested price of our test car was $74,910 with options. That may seem like an extravagant sum -- until you look at the convertible's two primary competitors: the BMW 650i convertible and Jaguar XK convertible, both of which start at more than $85,000. There's no question these two cars are luxurious, powerful and stylish, but so is the E550 -- and for a whole lot less. I didn't think I'd ever say this about a Mercedes-Benz, but against these competitors, it's actually the value choice.