KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/29/2011
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan isn't just a means of transport, it's a status symbol, a message to all who look upon it that its owner has arrived and arrived big. Setting the benchmark for the industry, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan comes in a variety of flavors, although the S550 is so loaded with features and power it's absurd to classify it as a "base" model. The S-Class lineup includes a super car in the V12-powered S600, the all-new clean diesel S350 BlueTEC, the environmentally-sensitive S400 Hybrid and two Teutonic terrors outfitted by AMG, the S63 and S65 AMG. In all, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class line continues to offer the best in performance, safety, comfort and prestige. Then again, for a car with a starting price for the least-expensive model well over $90,000, one would expect no less.
You'll Like This Car If...
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the ultimate and universal automotive badge of style and success. With its rich interiors and plethora of amenities, the 2012 S-Class is one of the few cars that might be more enjoyable to ride in than to drive.
You May Not Like This Car If...
While the 2012 S-Class sedan's luxury credentials are not in question, some may find the car's image more Wall Street than Rodeo Drive. If you're a young entrepreneur who has made it big, a more exotic Maserati Quattroporte, or even the Audi S8, might feel a little less conservative.
What's New for 2012
Diesel power comes to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan with the introduction of the new S350 BlueTEC sedan. The S550 receives a new 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged engine producing more power and better fuel economy than last year's 5.5-liter V8.
When driving the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, one experiences two very distinct personalities. On the one hand, the S-Class is a surprisingly agile automobile, contradicting its enormous size with a highly responsive chassis and such clever electronic assists as MB's Active Body Control. On the flip side, there is the passenger experience which, for some owners, means they experience the S-Class only from the back seat. The 2012 S-Class sedan floats over road imperfections and cocoons its occupants from nearly all external noise. The new 4.6-liter V8 is silky smooth, delivering its 429 horsepower through a newly-improved 7-speed automatic transmission. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system (AWD) is standard on the S350 BlueTEC, which offers better fuel economy and acceleration than the S400 Hybrid. Those who equate performance with prowess will likely enjoy the S600's V12 engine or, better still, the 4.3-second zero-to-60-mph run and 186-mph top speed of the S65 AMG. Those with strong environmental concerns can still ride in luxury in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid. 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
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan's 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 loads in order to maintain directional stability through strong lateral wind gusts.
Located atop the 2012 S-Class' center stack, 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.
2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Details
Following the tradition of the great European sedans, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior is a study in reserved elegance and clean design. Seating in the S-Class provides exceptional head, hip and legroom plus nearly prefect seating positions and ergonomics. If you can't get comfortable in an S-Class, you should take up walking. Technology is the buzzword for the S-Class interior, with such interesting features as an available Splitview display that allows the driver to view one source, such as navigation, while the passenger can enjoy another, such as a DVD movie. The S-Class seats are covered in premium leather with elegant sewing and stitching patterns. Rear-seat passengers can enjoy a host of amenities, including DVD entertainment and climate and audio controls.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is little changed from last year, retaining its athletic bulging fenders, graceful arching beltline and aero grille with stand-up hood ornament. LED-style daytime running lights (DRL) line the lower half of the headlamps, while integrated turn signals reside outside the side mirrors. Toward the rear, there is a slight hint of BMW in the raised bustle-style trunk lid, but the horizontal-striped tail lights are pure Mercedes-Benz. The S400 Hybrid and S350 BlueTEC trims wear additional badging to set them apart from the V8 trim levels.
Notable Standard Equipment
The roster of notable standard equipment for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan 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 the automatic climate control includes separate settings for the front footwell area. Standard safety features include 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 airbag for the driver. The S400 features a hybrid gauge and an animated flow-of-power graphic display.
Notable Optional Equipment
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S550 sedan 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 showcase and masterpiece.
Under the Hood
The 2012 Mercedes Benz S-Class sedans now offer the broadest range of power, performance, and fuel economy to date. The S550 will, to many, be the most appealing of the model line due to its smooth and strong 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged gasoline direct injection V8, yielding 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, and its lower price; it's neither under- nor over-powered. The S600 and the AMG models can be a bit overwhelming, while the S400 Hybrid feels somewhat labored during harder acceleration. A nice middle ground is the S350 BlueTEC, which features a V6 turbodiesel with 455 lb-ft of torque and an impressive 31 mpg highway fuel economy rating. For those who prefer an eco-friendlier alternative, they should opt for the S400 Hybrid, but expect a significant compromise to performance.
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
455 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31
3.5-liter V6 Mild Hybrid
295 horsepower (net) @ 6,000 rpm
284 lb-ft of torque (net) @ 2,400-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25
4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8
429 horsepower at 5,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque at 1,800-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/25(rear-wheel drive), 15/24 (AWD)
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V12
510 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
612 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
536 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
590 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12
621 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
738 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Mercedes Benz S-Class ranges from around $95,000 for the S550 to over $210,000 for the S65 AMG. The S400 Hybrid starts around $92,000, while the S350 BlueTEC begins closer to $93,000. To ensure that you get the best price on your 2012 Mercedes-Benz 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 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is another prolific flagship automobile: The BMW 7 Series. The 7 Series is more of a driver's car than the S550, but does not offer quite the same level of elegance or prestige. And Audi's A8 and S8 probably take top honors for most impressive interior design. For that extra boost in status, the S550 starts at about $9,000 over the 7 Series and A8. When it comes to residuals, however, the 7 Series is the winner in the long run, with the Audi A8 in a close second staying just above the S-Class over time.