Techy features galore; amenities we never knew we needed, such as hot-stone massage and a built-in aroma atomizer; clean dashboard design with available snazzy finishes, such as metalized wood or quilted leather; satisfying acceleration despite bulk
Simple tasks require use of an overly complicated menu system; despite impressive speed, car feels big in corners; creating a truly lavish interior experience requires optional trims on top of 6-figure starting price
The S-Class is completely redesigned for 2014
All in all, the newest generation of S-Class manages to uphold the luxurious mystique of Mercedes-Benz's top-dog sedan. It's sleek, loaded with a delightful excess of luxury features and surprisingly capable of whipping lesser cars at stoplights -- especially when ordered with the pricey-but-sexy AMG package. But most buyers will most appreciate how the S-Class helps them forget the world and become coddled in Mercedes-Benz's cushy, cocoon-like automotive environment.
On top of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550's lengthy standard-equipment list, the range-topping model adds new standard items for 2014, including collision-avoidance features, a 13-speaker Burmester sound system, ambient LED lighting and twin 12.3-inch, high-resolution screens on the dashboard and instrument cluster.
New options include what Mercedes calls Magic Body Control, which uses stereo cameras to scan the road surface ahead and adjust suspension damping accordingly. Available massaging front seats offer a hot-stone option, while a rear-seat package brings luxurious touches such as reclining seats and tray tables. An Air Balance Package includes fragrance, ionization and filtration functionality. Also available is an active parking system that forces the driver to trust in the car as it spins the steering wheel and creeps into a spot. The S550 can also be ordered with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Opt for the more aggressive S63 AMG version, and you'll savor the splendor of a 557-horsepower twin-turbo V8 that churns an amazing 664 lb-ft of torque. That model is mated with a more aggressive all-wheel-drive system, and comes standard with the S550's Premium Package, which includes keyless entry, massaging, heated and ventilated seats, and rear-window sunshades. On top of other standard equipment such as torque vectoring for better handling and a high-performance brake and exhaust system, the S63 can be ordered with ceramic brakes and a more thorough seat-massaging function.
|Basic||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
Audi A8 -- Audi has expanded its lineup of late, and the $75,100 A8 model is now a sibling to the sleek A7, which is available in a performance-focused RS7 variant. The A8 offers solid competition in this stratospheric category, delivering a fresh -- if somewhat conservative -- face in this otherwise staid segment. Regardless, there's plenty that should attract luxury-car buyers to the Audi A8.
BMW 7 Series -- The BMW 7 Series starts at $73,600 and offers a wider spectrum of cars compared to Mercedes-Benz's S550 and S63 variants. More focused on road feel, the BMW might be the car of choice for those who enjoy attacking a twisty road. But when it comes to overall differences between these two German sedans, it becomes more of a choice between the BMW's contemporary approach and Mercedes-Benz's typically classic treatment of luxury.
Lexus LS -- Though most of the Mercedes-Benz's lineup has become more driver-focused, the S-Class has inched towards Lexus territory in terms of its isolated ride characteristics and detachment from road feel. But the $71,990 Lexus still feels definitively Japanese and logically executed, making the Benz more rewarding for drivers and sybarites alike.