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2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the flagship sedan among flagship sedans. It embodies everything that Mercedes-Benz represents, and has stood for, throughout its 100-year-plus history: absolute sophistication, peerless engineering, crushing power and cutting-edge technology.

This model has so many features that it would take a book to cover them all. The seats offer a "hot stone" massage, while fragranced, ionized air wafts through the vents. The S-Class also has a system that reads the road ahead and adjusts the suspension accordingly, so speed humps virtually disappear. These are just a few of our favorite features.

As we approach the era of autonomous cars, the S-Class already has several functions that hurry things along. The adaptive cruise control, active steering, blind spot monitoring and collision prevention features can all work together to help keep occupants, other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and animals free from harm.

The S-Class is also a complete pleasure to drive and sit in. The ride quality is unruffled, the hand-crafted cabin is serene and the engines feel effortless. All of the above applies to the S-Class coupe, as well.

What's New for 2016?

Mercedes has been revising model names lately. So S-Class AMG versions are now known as Mercedes-AMG. For instance, there's the 2016 Mercedes-AMG S63, but Mr. Benz was unavailable for comment. The S550e plug-in hybrid goes on sale in ZEV states (California, Oregon, Maine, Vermont, etc.). The only other changes are that the coupe version can now come with crystal-trimmed headlight assemblies, and the Driver Assistance package includes a new speed limiter function.

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

Infotainment interface can complicate simple tasks

How Much?

$96,575-$234,975

Fuel Economy

All S-Class models employ a 7-speed automatic transmission; AMG versions have a performance-tuned unit. The S550e, S600 and S65 AMG models are all rear-wheel drive only. The regular S550 sedan can be ordered with rear- or all-wheel drive (4MATIC), but the S550 coupe and the S63 AMG models come solely with 4MATIC.

The S550 has a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 rated at 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency puts fuel consumption for the rear-drive sedan at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg combined. All-wheel drive adjusts those figures to 16 mpg city/26 hwy/19 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive S550 coupe returns 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.

The S550e plug-in hybrid has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor for a total of 436 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard. Electric-only range is 12 miles, and Mercedes-Benz estimates it will return 24 mpg city and 30 mpg hwy when using just the combustion engine.

The S600 steps up to a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 developing 523 hp and 612 lb-ft. Consumption is 14 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

The S63 AMG features a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 making 577 hp and 664 lb-ft. It returns 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined in sedan or coupe form.

The top-of-the-line S65 AMG rumbles with 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12. If any potential S65 buyer cares about fuel economy, it's 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined for either body style.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 is offered in five trim levels: S550, S550e, S600, S63 AMG and S65 AMG. All trims are available as sedans; all trims except for the S550e and S600 are also offered as coupes.

The S550 sedan ($96,575) and S550 coupe ($122,475) come standard with full LED exterior and interior lighting, semi-active air suspension (Airmatic), adaptive dampers, automatic wipers with heated blades, a wood/leather steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, 12-way power front seats with memory settings, a cabin fragrance system, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-closing doors and trunk, a 115-volt power outlet, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a Burmester surround-sound audio system with dual USB ports, 10 GB of music storage, mobile Wi-Fi, hard drive-based navigation and the COMAND infotainment system with a touchpad-enhanced controller and its own 12.3-in display screen.

The coupe also has 19-in wheels, automatic parallel parking and upgraded leather upholstery. The S550e sedan ($96,575), the company's first plug-in hybrid, has to accommodate a battery pack, so its trunk space is only 12.2 cu ft., compared with the regular sedan's 16.3 cu ft.

The S63 AMG sedan ($144,175) and S63 AMG coupe ($164,075) 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), a 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 S600 sedan ($169,975) drops the S63's sport-themed features, but has its own grille design, 19-in wheels and numerous additional luxuries, such as quad-zone climate control, multi-contour rear seats with power adjustment and massage functions, an executive passenger-side rear seat with a power footrest and even heated door panels and armrests.

The S65 AMG sedan ($225,575) and S65 AMG coupe ($234,975) ice the cake with a more powerful V12 and an assortment of AMG styling and performance upgrades.

Many standard features in the higher trims are optional on lower models. Additional options include carbon-ceramic brake discs and exterior carbon fiber trim (AMG models only), dual-power rear seats with folding tables on the front seatbacks and a refrigerator box for the rear cabin.

Safety

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes standard with 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). Safety technology features include a collision-mitigation system with automatic emergency braking, a drowsiness monitor, lane-keeping assist, a 360-degree camera system, night-vision and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. The company also includes Mbrace telematics with automatic collision notification and emergency response.

The S-Class hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

Although the S-Class is perfectly sedate under normal circumstances, every model contains a thrill under the accelerator pedal. Even the base S550 is a rocket ship, hitting 60 mph from a standing start in less than five seconds with its seemingly endless twin-turbocharged thrust. Naturally, the other models are even quicker; V12-powered variants do a fair impression of a jetliner barreling down the runway.

Thanks to the standard air suspension with anti-roll technology, the S-Class stays eerily flat through corners, providing a feeling 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

2016 Audi A8 -- The A8 offers solid competition in this stratospheric category, delivering capable performance and a beautifully trimmed interior.

2016 BMW 7 Series -- BMW has debuted a new generation of the 7 Series for 2016 and it's phenomenal. It has plenty of flagship sedan space and luxury appointments, but it will also tempt you to demote your chauffeur to part-time duties.

2016 Lexus LS -- As always, the LS is a value proposition, providing regular luxury content for a lower cost. Its distinctive grille may not be to everyone's taste, though.

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

There's a difference between need and want. For example, the S550 is quick, civilized and well-equipped (even with no options), so it could easily be the only S-Class you'd need. But at this level, no one's going to tell you that you can't have what you want. Be sure to look out for the upcoming 2017 S-Class Cabriolet, as well.

Find a Mercedes-Benz S-Class for sale

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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.
2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader