By KBB.com Editors
The flagship sets the standard for a carmaker's lineup, as it's a showcase for the best the company has to offer. Though there are a couple of higher rungs on Mercedes' sedan ladder (the rare, V12-powered S600 and the even more-rare AMG performance models), the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550 is the mainstream top of the list. With the premium V8 and recently redesigned 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, the vehicle is equipped with arguably the most popular combination of features to be found on a big Mercedes in the U.S. market.You'll Like This Car If...
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers its owners a masterful vehicle. Drivers will enjoy the smooth powertrain and taut handling. Passengers will appreciate the first-class legroom and sumptuous creature comforts. The question becomes: Is it better to drive, or to be driven?You May Not Like This Car If...
This is a big car in all respects – particularly the rear seat and trunk areas. If you don't regularly carry passengers in back (or don't plan on spending much time there yourself), you're carrying around a lot of surplus sheet metal in an S-Class sedan.What's New for 2009
New for 2009 is the addition of paddle shifters to the S-Class' steering wheel, while the S550 receives heated and ventilated front seats, a power trunk lid, wood and leather steering wheel and new 18-inch wheels. The optional Distronic Plus system now includes Blind Spot Assist and Park Assist. Among Park Assists many features is the ability to inform the driver if the vehicle will fit into an intended parallel parking space.Driving It Driving Impressions
With premium luxury cars, owners might likely be in the rear seat, being driven, instead of up front, being drivers. It's a rare car that is equally satisfying in either role, but the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class certainly qualifies. The 5.5-liter V8 makes effortless power and the seven-speed automatic transmission shuttles from gear to gear seamlessly. The combination of the Airmatic Semi-Active air suspension and other details effectively insulates the occupants from outside noise, while not isolating the driver from road conditions, and the 4MATIC, in concert with the Electronic Stability Program and the vehicle's relentless mass, makes the S550 a reassuringly stable winter driver.Favorite Features
Cabin Comfort/Ride Quality
Whether in the front seats or the rear, the S550 is an enormously comfortable car. The interior is quiet, spacious and accommodating, and the long wheelbase and Airmatic suspension system smooth the edges off the roughest pavement.
The responsiveness of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class belies its size. The silky drivetrain and supple chassis conspire to make this full-size car drive as if it's something smaller and sportier than its dimensions indicate.