KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
No car better defines the word "flagship" than the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan. This large luxury cruiser sets the benchmark in creature comforts, cutting-edge technology, and robust performance for the upper strata of the automotive world. Headlined by the mainstream S550 model, the S-Class lineup also comprises the uplevel S600, as well as a pair of obscenely-powered AMG models. But this year, there's also a green addition to the vehicle line. By delivering combined fuel economy of 25 miles-per-gallon, Mercedes' first gas-electric hybrid, the S400, gives Benz buyers the opportunity to be both socially-conscious and well-pampered at once. Except for an affordable price, the S-Class now truly does have it all.
You'll Like This Car If...
The 2010 Mercedes Benz S-Class, above anything else, offers supreme comfort in the form of plush seats, lots of elbow room, a soft ride, and a plethora of amenities. Driving the S-Class is very nice, but riding as a passenger is simply divine.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you relish the open road, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class may not be the driver's car you're looking for. Something more along the lines of the sportier BMW 7 Series might be more your style.
What's New for 2010
New for 2010 is the S400 HYBRID model. Aesthetically, the S-Class receives a mild facelift and a few interior enhancements, including an innovative split screen interface shared by the driver and front passenger. New Torque Vectoring Brake and crosswind stabilization further improve the sedan's surefootedness.
The 2010 Mercedes Benz S-Class offers two very distinct on-road experiences. For the driver, it belies its size at higher speeds with an unreasonable level of agility, thanks to a highly responsive chassis and Benz's Active Body Control (ABC). For the passenger, it simply feels like it's floating above the pavement rather than actually touching it. Power delivery from the 5.5-liter V8 is silky smooth with lots of brawn throughout the rev band, and the seven-speed automatic transmission is the perfect mate for this engine. For even more performance – outlandish performance – there's the V12-powered S600, or a choice of two completely over-the-top AMG models. Going in the other direction, more progressive buyers may opt for the S400. With its seamless mild hybrid powertrain and modest 3.5-liter V6 engine, this green luxury car offers a nice, easy feel with ride and handling similar to the S550.
Active Body Control (ABC) with Crosswind Stabilization
This active suspension continually adjusts to the irregularities of the road, allowing the S-Class to optimize driving dynamics while offering an unprecedented level of ride quality. Crosswind stabilization adds further balance to the car by distributing wheel load in order to maintain directional stability through strong lateral wind gusts.
Atop the centerstack, this innovative dual screen interface allows the driver and front passenger to view different content at the same time. For example, the front passenger can watch a movie while the driver utilizes the navigation system.
The cabin of this saloon is luxurious and classically handsome. It offers ample room at all seating positions, near-perfect ergonomics, and loads of user-technology. The layout is the same as the previous year, but there are a few mentionable enhancements and tweaks. The redesigned middle console now houses an optional SPLITVIEW display that allows the driver and front passenger to view different content on the same screen at the same time. Seats now enjoy a fresher appearance thanks to new seams. Navigation, rear-seat entertainment, and ambient lighting have all been upgraded, but perhaps unnecessarily. Regardless, this interior is more complete than ever.
The sheetmetal is the same as last year's, but the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class features some subtle revisions that deliver a more updated appearance. Up front is a more aero grille and revised LED lighting (similar to Audi's string of pearls). Its profile is inhabited by new mirrors and wheels. And, out back, the S-Class features more integrated tailpipes and taillights featuring a new "Stacked C" design. The S400 model wears additional badging to identify it as a hybrid, of course.
Notable Standard Equipment
The roster of notable standard equipment begins with Mercedes' COMAND multi-media interface with CD/DVD player, SD card slot, and USB interface. Music is piped in via 14-speakers wired to a 600-watt harmon/kardon surround sound system. Seats are covered in rich leather, and there's automatic climate control with separate settings for the front footwell area. Standard safety includes such technology as ATTENTION ASSIST, which monitors driver alertness; Torque Vectoring Brake, which initiates rear wheel braking for greater stability through corners; a PRE-SAFE pre-collision system; and a knee bag for the driver. The S400 features a hybrid gauge and an animated flow-of-power graphic.
Notable Optional Equipment
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S550 has an enormous list of optional equipment and features, many of which fall under the category of Assistance Systems, high-tech driver aids that primarily have a focus on safety. There's Speed Limit Assist, which recognizes speed limit signs and alerts the driver of the posted miles-per-hour. Crosswind stabilization counters the effects of gusty weather and helps keep the car on its intended path. Night View Assist PLUS spots pedestrians in low-light situations, and radar-based DISTRONIC Plus Adaptive Cruise Control helps maintain a safe distance with traffic ahead. This sedan is nothing short of a technological Tour de Force.
Under the Hood
The 2010 Mercedes Benz S-Class now offers its broadest range of power, performance, and fuel economy yet. The S550 will still be the most appealing of the model line due to its smooth and strong 5.5-liter V8, yielding 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It's neither under- nor overpowered. Conversely, the S600 and the AMG models are a bit overwhelming, while the S400 Hybrid feels somewhat labored during harder acceleration. But the S550, with its seamless 7-speed automatic transmission can get this 4,600-plus pound behemoth from zero to 60 in the high-five second range. For those who prefer an eco-friendlier alternative, they should opt for the S400 HYBRID, but expect a significant compromise to performance.
382 horsepower at 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque at 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23(RWD), 14/21 (AWD)
5.5-liter V12 Twin Turbocharged
510 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
612 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1800-3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17
518 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18
6.0-liter V12 Twin-Turbocharged
604 horsepower @ 4800-5100 rpm
738 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17
3.5-liter V6 Mild Hybrid
295 horsepower (net)
284 lb.-ft. of torque (net)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2010 Mercedes Benz S-Class ranges from $89,000 for the S400 HYBRID to over $205,000 for the S65 AMG. To ensure that you get the best price on your S-Class, be sure to check out our Fair Purchase Prices, which show you what consumers in your area are currently paying for theirs. The closest competitor to the S-Class is another prolific flagship automobile: the BMW 7-Series. The 7-Series is more of driver's car then the S550, but does not offer quite the same level elegance or prestige. For that extra boost in status, the S550 starts at about $9,000 over the 7-Series. When it comes to residuals, however, the 7 Series is the winner in the long run, staying just above the S-Class over time.