S350 BlueTec 4MATIC (a diesel, all-wheel drive model)
What’s New: The S550 is now outfitted with a new 4.6-liter direct-injection 8-cylinder engine. New for this year a more fuel-efficient 7-speed automatic transmission compliments the new engine. And a brand new all-wheel drive system known as 4MATIC is available on the S550 model for the 2012 model year.
Pros: The S-class is available in a variety of configurations, depending on one’s budget and luxury needs. Consumers can opt for a gasoline, hybrid or diesel engine. We had an opportunity to review a S550 with approximately $30,000 in options.
Our luxurious S-Class was outfitted with a Sport Plus Package, which included 20-inch AMG wheels, high-performance tires and front and rear bumper side skirts, giving our big body luxury sedan a more athletic profile.
And our rear occupants were spoiled by Mercedes-Benz optional Rear Seat Package, which included 8-way power rear seats, a 4-zone automatic ventilation system and heated (and ventilated) seats.
And from a safety stand point, our S-Class was equipped with an optional Driver Assistance Package, which included a radar-activated cruise control system, an active blind-spot system and an Active Lane Keep Assist System, which alert the driver via the vibration of the steering wheel, if the big body sedan crossed the striped road lines. In fact the optional system even helps to steer the vehicle back over the line.
Furthermore, audio enthusiasts will be wowed by the orchestra-like, 15-speaker world-class Bang and Olufsen Sound System. It’s almost like having a live traveling concert hall in one’s vehicle.
Finally, the S-Class we reviewed included an optional Splitview dual-content screen, which allows both front seat occupants to view two different programs on the same screen in which houses the navigation system. So that means that the driver can view the navigation system on the left side of the screen, while the front- passenger can view a movie, with a wireless headset, on the right side of the screen. And the movie won’t distract the driver, since the driver is only capable of seeing the navigation screen. Yes, only in a Mercedes would you find such a feature.
Cons: With the array of standard and optional features on the S550 we reviewed, it can be overwhelming for some. . In fact, the Command electronic system uses a control knob, which operates the audio and navigation system.At times, it feel as though a personal in-car training specialist is needed to ride alone, updating one on how to use all of the gadgets. Having this vehicle will definitely require to set aside some additional time for product training from an extremely knowledgeable product specialist from the Mercedes store.
Furthermore, we did find the optional multicolor front seats, with the massage system, to be somewhat annoying. Every time we went around a corner, turning the steering wheel, the active side seat bolsters would literally encapsulate the sides of our body. It literally felt as though ‘Big Brother’ was literally riding along with us.
The Verdict: The Mercedes S-Class, the flagship for the brand, has always been considered the standard for luxury cars. Lexus, Jaguar, Audi and BMW and even Porsche all target the S-class as the standard to strive toward for their flagship sedans. The sculpted exterior design, with its bulging wheel wells, resembled that of premium class limo.
Also Mercedes’ signature Airmatic suspension automatically helps the driver find the optimum balanced ride and comfort via the use of selecting from a comfort or sport setting. Added to that the S-Class is available with every high-tech feature that is currently available on the market. The only feature we noted was missing from the extensive luxury option list was an automotive parallel parking system. However, the folks at Mercedes probably feel as though in this price point you should have a chauffeur or should be in a position to valet your vehicle, never opting to parallel park.
And just like the price range, horsepower for the S-Class series ranges from a 240- horsepower outfitted in the diesel model to 621-horspower packed into the S65AMG series, which starts out at a price of $212,000. Yes, there is a price point and an array of engines along with other amenities which are available in this premium class priced vehicle which complements its extensive engineering. While there are a number of competitors in the market place, there isn’t another flagship vehicle on the road like a Mercedes that offers the prestige, engineering and the array of high-tech features.
Audi A8, BMW 7-series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS and Porsche Panamera
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com . Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.