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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By Matt Degen


The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the flagship of the German luxury brand, and arguably the benchmark full-size sedan to which others aspire. For decades the S-Class has served as the transportation of choice for the world's wealthy, with each generation building on its reputation of impeccable quality, hushed manners and ample power. Prestige comes standard. Known mostly as a sedan, the S-Class is even more over the top in 2-door form as a massive coupe or cabriolet. Mercedes-AMG variants (reviewed separately) bring substantial performance, while those seeking extravagance on another level will get it in spades in the ultra-luxurious Maybach variants. A new V6-powered base model arrives for 2018 with a lower price, but at nearly $91,000, it's anything but cheap.

You'll Like This Car If...

You know you've arrived. If the rest of the world hasn't caught on, they surely will when they see you in a new S-Class. This flagship Mercedes is a rolling testament to monetary success. Aside from prestige, the 2018 S-Class remains a fantastic car both to drive and to be driven in.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If the S-Class' nearly 6-figure cost gives you pause, you might consider the all-new Lexus LS, Genesis G90, Acura RLX or Volvo S90, all of which can be had for far less. The S-Class' archrival BMW 7 Series also begins about $10,000 less. Also all-new is the Audi A8, which promises a higher level of self-driving capability.

What's New for 2018

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup gets a mid-cycle refresh for 2018 that includes a new V6 base model called the S 450, while S 560 models receive a new, more powerful V8. A host of active safety and driver-assistance features also come to the S-Class, bringing Level 2 autonomous-driving capabilities. All models receive interior and exterior updates, and the world-first Energizing Comfort system that aims to bring comfort, vitality and even joy to the driver via climate, fragrance and seat massage.

Driving It Driving Impressions

No matter which S-Class you choose, it's like piloting prominence on wheels. The question is to what degree do you want it? Starting with the new S 450, even in base form the 362-horsepower V6 has more than adequate muscle to hustle this full-size luxury sedan. The 0-60-mph mark arrives in just around five seconds, which not long ago was sports-car territory. Still, there's something natural about a V8 S-Class, and the 463-horsepower S 560 has all the scoot you'll likely ever need. Yet for those who need more -- in so many ways -- there's the V12-powered Mercedes-Maybach S 650, which drips with locomotive-like torque. Power aside, the non-AMG S-Class isn't all that lithe, and it's not for flinging about. It is at its best quietly shuffling driver and passenger about with serenity and stretching. Better yet, let it do the driving. We did just that escaping Manhattan. With the adaptive cruise and steering-assist systems on, the S-Class literally drove us up the Henry Hudson Parkway, pacing the vehicle ahead, even when it came to a complete stop, and steering as needed. As if that weren't enough, it gave a massage while doing so. Later, in higher-speed situations and along narrower roads in Connecticut, the S-Class tended to drift in lanes more than we liked, so we intervened. We're not quite at the point where the cars can replicate human drivers, but the S-Class is another step forward in that march.

Favorite Features

ENERGIZING COMFORT CONTROL
Called a world-first feature, this system aims to refresh, relax or invigorate the driver through six programs. Select one, and the S-Class plays mood music, adjusts the climate control and in-cabin fragrance system optimal settings, and activates the seat massage. One of them even guides you through stretching exercises behind the wheel.

4-PLACE SEATING
If you're more inclined to be chauffeured in an S-Class sedan, this is the option for you. It replaces the 3-person rear bench with two individual seats with power adjustment, including a footrest for the right seat. Similar to first-class seating in a jet, each seat has a folding tray table and even heated and cooled cup holders.


For vehicle details and pricing notes… Read More
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