Overview & Reviews
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is as synonymous with state-of-the-art luxury and safety features as it is with country club prestige. Mercedes has used its flagship sedan to pioneer many modern technologies, such as airbags, antilock brakes and stability control. Yet as the brand's largest sedan, the S-Class has also offered the most room for rear-seat passengers, making it a favorite of wealthy dads and heads of state alike.
The current Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues that tradition established by its many innovative forbears and remains one of the most desirable choices for a flagship luxury sedan. Besides its wealth of features, opulent interior and bulletproof construction, the S-Class also stands out with an unmatched number of engine and model choices. From the diesel-powered S350 with its epic range and commendable fuel economy to the flagship S65 AMG with its twin-turbo V12 and intense performance, there is a little something for everyone in this lofty price bracket.
Current Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The current Mercedes-Benz S-Class is distinguished by aggressive fender flares and a stately profile that's emphasized by a rising character line. The cabin is elegant, with a minimal number of buttons thanks to the multifunction COMAND controller mounted between the seats.
There are six trim levels that correspond to engine choice. The range starts with a pair of fuel-efficient options. The S350 Bluetec features a diesel-powered V6 good for 240 horsepower and 25 mpg combined. The S400 Hybrid comes with a small electric motor that aids its gasoline-powered V6 to the tune of 295 total hp. Fuel economy is strong for a full-size luxury sedan at 22 mpg combined, but that's obviously worse than the slightly quicker and cheaper S350.
For a more traditional S-Class experience, the S550 is the bread-and-butter model that produces 429 hp from its twin-turbo V8. Next up is the S600 and its 510-hp twin-turbo V12. Finally, there are the high-performance, range-topping AMG models. The S63 AMG (536-hp twin-turbo V8) and S65 AMG (621-hp twin-turbo V12) get AMG-specific suspension, steering, brakes and styling elements. All S-Class models are equipped with an automatic transmission (seven speeds in all but the V12 versions, which have a five-speed unit) and rear-wheel drive. The S550 can be had with "4Matic" all-wheel drive.
We could list the number of standard and available features on the S-Class, but we would be here all day. In short, if there's a feature you can think of, you can probably get it on Benz's flagship. Those who intend to frequently carry around passengers should pay special attention to the wealth of backseat comfort and entertainment options available.
In reviews, we've found that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains a regal car regardless of which numbers line its trunk lid. If you want fuel economy from your high-luxury sedan, the S350 delivers, while the V8 and V12 models get you swifter 0-60-mph times. The S-Class doesn't handle as crisply as some other competing flagships, but it has a luxurious cabin and a balance of competent handling and a serene ride that is second to none. In total, the S-Class may be priced higher than its competitors, but its superior craftsmanship, engineering and attention to detail should make it worth the extra dough.
Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class Models
The current, fifth-generation S-Class debuted in 2007. Not much has changed in terms of design or features, but Mercedes has altered the engine lineup considerably. Until 2010, only the V8- and V12-powered models were available. The S400 Hybrid debuted for 2010, while the S350 Bluetec dawned for 2012. The S550's V8 was different in prior years as well; from 2007-'11 it was a 5.5-liter V8 good for 382 hp. From 2007-'10, the S63 AMG featured a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 that produced 518 hp. Earlier S65s also had "only" 604 horses.
The fourth generation of the S-Class ran from 2000-'06 and was lighter and sleeker than the massive version that preceded it. Two versions were offered initially, both V8s: the S430 (275 hp) and the S500 (302 hp). The V12-powered S600 (362 hp) debuted a year later, as did the AMG version, the S55 (354 hp). A midcycle refresh in 2003 brought lightly revised light clusters, the availability of all-wheel drive (called 4Matic) and a big boost in power for the S55 and S600 (both rated at 493 hp). A seven-speed automatic came on line in '04. Hitting both ends of the spectrum for 2006, the S350 brought back six-cylinder power (241 hp) while the S65 AMG offered no less than 604 hp.
This model was quite popular and pretty steep depreciation means they are actually quite affordable. In reviews of the time, our editors were impressed by the car's spacious interior and state-of-the-art safety features. Downsides to this generation included a complicated control interface (the COMAND system) and some interior materials that seemed too low in quality for Mercedes' flagship.
Running from 1992-'99, the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class represented a big step in the ultra-luxury direction. Fitted with dual-pane windows and the availability of V12 power for the first time, this S-Class gained nearly 600 pounds compared to the previous car. Four trims were offered, ranging from the S320 (228-hp inline-6) and S420 (275-hp V8) to the S500 (315-hp V8) and S600 (389-hp V12). If you are considering the purchase of one of these, be forewarned that (as with any complex, high-end luxury vehicle) a clean Carfax report and an impeccable maintenance record are musts.
The S-Class cars of the second generation (1981-'91) were offered in turbodiesel (300SD, 350SD/SDL), inline-6 (300SE/SEL) and V8 (380 SE/SEL, 420 SEL, 560 SEL) versions. This is the generation that introduced cutting-edge safety technology such as airbags and antilock brakes as standard equipment. Perhaps the least desirable of the lot are the 380 series, which made just 155 hp and were prone to timing chain failures. Chances are good that if you find a used 380-series, it will have been retrofitted with a double timing chain. Diesel versions are known for their incredible longevity and it's not unusual to find an example with mileage approaching 300,000 or more on its original powertrain.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 535.00
Best of the Best - 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By "J" in Connecticut - December 24 - 7:10 pm
I test drove the BMW-750 and Audi S8, no contest, the S550 wins by a knockout. I got the obsidian black- with-savanah cashmire interior and 19 inch wheels. Critics of the exterior look ought to get examined. This car is fabulous looking. The interior is a masterpiece, and "command" is now so simple and intuitive. Performance is so smooth and effortless, this is a driver's car. I also got the "dynamic rear view moniter', what a great safety devise and... "keyless go", what a plesure that is. This car takes the "luxury" sedan to a new level.
The best car I have ever driven - 2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By S-10E55 - December 24 - 10:00 am
This car is worth every penny. It will beat any Ferrari or anything from Italy and for sure anything from Bavaria.
Pay to Play - 2001 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By S500 - December 11 - 11:46 pm
The car has been amazing to drive over the past two years, I purchased it with 50,000 miles thinking I was getting a steal, but in the past year the radiator has cracked and my front right air suspension went out. Both were close to 2 grand in repairs. When it's running good its fantastic, but be careful past the 8 year mark
Powerhouse on wheels - 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By Jacob - November 29 - 12:33 am
I have owned 3 different models of the S class since the 1999 one, and this one by far tops all of them. This reminds me of the 1999 tank S class, except nimbler and more sophisticated, with all its electronics. The power delivery is excellent for a car its size and the interior is pure bliss. The new S class is once again the ultimate luxury sedan.
Be aware - 1995 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By nick - November 14 - 11:46 am
I've sold my '95 BMW 740i (V8) to save a money on fuel. The real mileage in town just 20 mpg, only 24 mpg on freeway. Don't fall for the 40 mpg lies! Car lacks stop and go power in the city. Auxiliary fan low speed was the reason it ran hot. No cup holders, parts cost fortune, not even close to Bimmers I've had. Car from the 90's, outdated, slow. I lost money on repairs I'll never get back. Hard to re-sell because its unknown and rare model in US.
Too Many Glitches for $100k car - 2001 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By JS - November 13 - 4:00 pm
This has been a love-hate relationship. The dealership has been great about fixing things, but now that I'm out of warranty with 57k miles, it seems like too much is going wrong. Tire pressure sensors, AC failures, oil leaks... despite all that, it's the most comfortable ride I've ever owned. Great balance between smooth handling/feel and keeping in touch with the road.
BEST CAR OF THE WORLD, PERIOD. - 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By Omi - November 9 - 10:00 am
There is no car in the world that can beat Mercedes-Benz. That car is build for generation. These car goes over 500,000 miles with recommended maintenances. People who don't like Mercedes should look forward to themselves, instead of vehicle. If you are not satisfied with Mercedes-Benz of Stuttgart, Germany then you are not satisfied with your LIFE.
Land Yacht - 1995 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By JamesT - November 1 - 6:10 am
Purchased new and maintained meticulously through the dealership. No worn out parts or service necessary, just preventative maintenance over the years. For a V12 this vehicle performs like it should; excellent fuel mileage for 12 cyl 3.5 ton car and amazing amenities. Rides nice drives nice still feels like new every day at almost 302k miles :) I recommend Mercedes to anyone!
Rough start to a great ride - 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By jlightfoot - October 31 - 6:02 am
At 570 miles the pulley on the alternator wore a hole in the bottom radiator hose. I was 450 miles from home in west Texas. The dealership took a hose off a new car on the showroom floor to get me on the road, however it turned out the water pump had an incorrectly formed flange. The nearest water pump was 10 days away in Germany. They rented me a car to finish my journey. Once the new water pump came in and the old one was replaced the dealer I bought the car from in Dallas sent a truck 250 miles west to pick up the repaired vehicle, haul it 450 miles back east to my driveway. The service was incredible and Mercedes has my highest praise. Just returned from a 2,000 mile trip to Minnesota.
745i Has NOTHING on the S-Class - 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
By Adam85 - October 28 - 2:00 am
The 2002 S430 is by far the best luxury car we've ever owned. We had a 2000 740i for two years, and we were very disappointed with the new 7. The new 745 looks like a Dodge Stratus is about the most confusing car I've ever driven. The S-Class is a much better luxury car. It has a classy design, fabulous interior, and all the bells and whistles you would expect for 80K.