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2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2018

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is, like all S-Class models before it, the epitome of the luxury car. This is the flagship among flagships, embodying everything Mercedes-Benz has stood for throughout its 100-year-plus history: Absolute sophistication, peerless engineering, crushing power and cutting-edge technology.

The range encompasses high-performance soft-tops and long-wheelbase, super-luxurious all-wheel-drive sedans. This is far more than any rival can offer.

There are so many features, it would take a book to cover them all. The seats don't just offer a massage function, it's a "hot stone" massage. Fragranced, ionized air wafts through the vents. There's a system that makes speed humps virtually disappear.

As we approach the era of autonomous cars, the S-Class already has several functions. Adaptive cruise control, active steering, blind spot monitoring and collision prevention can all work together to help keep occupants, other road users and animals free from harm.

The S-Class is also a complete pleasure to drive and sit in. The ride is unruffled, the hand-crafted cabin is serene and the engines feel effortless.

What's New for 2018?

The S-Class has received a comprehensive mid-cycle revamp. A range of updated engines brings new trim levels. The nose and tail have been redesigned, with different bumpers and lighting, while the 2-door AMG variants have grilles evocative of the AMG GT supercar. The steering wheel has been redesigned. The infotainment system is updated. And the "Energizing Comfort" feature is also standard -- it combines various elements (like air conditioning, cabin fragrance system and massaging seats) to combat driver fatigue. The plug-in hybrid sedan skips this model year. An upgraded version is expected for 2019.

What We Like

Tech features galore; amenities we never knew we needed; astonishing acceleration; confident handling; impeccable refinement; attention to the finest details

What We Don't

If there's anything, it's too trivial to remember

How Much?

$90,895-$251,895

Fuel Economy

The S 450 has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V8 making 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. This connects to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts fuel consumption for the rear-drive sedan at 19 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. All-wheel drive (called 4Matic) adjusts those figures to 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.

The S 560 deploys a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 developing 463 hp and 516 lb-ft. This is connected to the 9-speed automatic transmission. Consumption is 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (rear-wheel drive) or 17 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (all-wheel drive).

The all-wheel-drive AMG S 63 features a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 generating 603 hp and 664 lb-ft. It uses a 9-speed automatic transmission and achieves 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined in sedan form.

The rear-drive-only AMG S 65 rumbles with 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12, linked to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Fuel use is 13 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined for the sedan.

The Maybach S 560 4Matic sedan (with the same drivetrain as the regular S 560) returns 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined; the rear-drive Maybach S 650 (with the same drivetrain as the S 65) achieves 13 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

At the time of writing this review, there were no EPA figures for any 2018 coupe or cabriolet versions, but don't expect them to be far from the corresponding sedan.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan is offered in S 450, S 560, S 63 AMG and S 65 AMG trim levels.

The coupe and cabriolet versions go on sale summer 2018, and are available in S 560, S 63 and S 65 forms.

The ultra-luxurious Mercedes-Maybach stretched sedans come as an S 560 4Matic or an S 650.

The S 450 sedan ($90,895) comes standard with full LED exterior and interior lighting, 19-inch alloy wheels, semi-active air suspension (Airmatic), adaptive dampers, automatic wipers with heated blades, wood/leather steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, synthetic leather upholstery (actually quite good), 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats with memory settings, cabin fragrance system, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-closing doors and trunk, 115-volt power outlet, 12.3-in digital instrument panel, rearview camera, Bluetooth, Burmester surround-sound audio system with dual USB ports, HD/satellite radio, 10GB of music storage, Wi-Fi, navigation and the Comand infotainment system with a touchpad and its own 12.3-in display.

The S 560 sedan ($100,895) has many additional luxuries, such as quad-zone climate control, multi-contour rear seats with power adjustment and massage functions, and even heated door panels and armrests. It also has several driving aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, self-parking, Magic Body Control (which reads the road surface and adjusts the suspension accordingly), 360-degree camera system and active front seat bolsters.

The S 560 4Matic coupe ($125,495) also has automatic parallel parking, sport exhaust and real leather upholstery. The rear-drive S 560 Cabriolet ($134,295) has a power-folding fabric roof, heated/ventilated front seats, wind deflector, hands-free trunk lid and keyless entry/ignition.

The AMG S 63 sedan ($148,495), coupe ($168,695) and cabriolet ($180,495) have their own exterior styling enhancements, 20-in AMG wheels, upgraded brakes, performance suspension, front and rear parking sensors, predictive adaptive dampers (Magic Body Control), self-parking system, keyless entry/start, multi-contour front seats with active side bolsters and six massage programs, hands-free trunk access with a foot sensor and Nappa leather upholstery.

The AMG S 65 sedan ($230,495), coupe ($239,895) and cabriolet ($251,895) ice the cake with V12 engines and an assortment of AMG styling and performance upgrades.

The Maybach S 560 4Matic ($169,595) and S 650 ($199,695) have almost every luxury and safety feature, along with extra rear passenger space.

Many standard items in the higher models are optional on lower trims. Additional options include carbon-ceramic brake discs and exterior carbon fiber trim (AMG models only), night vision system, dual power rear seats with folding tables on the front seatbacks and a refrigerator for the rear cabin (these last two items can't be ordered with the coupe or cabriolet).

The sedan's trunk space measures 16 cu ft., average for the class. The coupe's trunk area is 10.4 cu ft., not particularly roomy. The cabriolet's cargo space is 12.4 cu ft. with the roof up, or 8.8 when it's folded away.

Safety

Anti-lock disc brakes, an advanced stability control system and 11 airbags (front, front side, front pelvis/thorax, driver knee, rear side and full-length side curtain) are all standard. Safety technology includes a collision-mitigation system, drowsiness monitor, lane-keep assist, 360-degree camera system, night vision and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The company also includes automatic collision notification and emergency response.

Behind the Wheel

Although the S-Class is perfectly sedate under normal circumstances, every model contains a thrill under the accelerator. Even the "basic" S 450 hits 60 miles per hour from a standing start in five seconds. Naturally, the other models are quicker still.

Thanks to the standard air suspension with anti-roll technology, the S-Class stays uncannily flat through corners; the feeling is one of complete composure. The ride is regal, the seats are beyond comfortable and the audio system would make Mozart weep for joy.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Audi A8 -- A new generation is due for 2019 and will no doubt be worth the wait.

2018 BMW 7 Series -- Phenomenal. Plenty of space and luxury appointments, but will also tempt you to demote the chauffeur to part-time duties.

2018 Jaguar XJ -- Available in regular or long-wheelbase forms. Luxurious yet surprisingly fun behind the wheel.

2018 Lexus LS -- All new for 2018 and a big improvement over the previous generation.

2018 Porsche Panamera -- The driver's choice. But no less luxurious because of that.

Used Rolls-Royce Phantom -- Perhaps the only car with more presence than an S-Class, the Phantom can be acquired in lightly used condition for the price of a high-end S-Class.

Autotrader's Advice

If you have reached a point in life where you're able to buy a brand-new S-Class, then you're probably adept at making smart choices. The easy thing here is that every choice is good. It all depends on what your requirements are.

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New 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4MATIC Sedan
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader