Overview

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Overview (Final Score: A-)

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class defines the super luxury sedan segment. There aren't many rivals in the very high-end luxury classes. Most of them are German, but the S-Class sets the standard by which others are judged.

For the 2018 model year, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sees a light refresh and the addition of a new entry-level S450 model.

The 2018 S-Class didn't need any changes to remain the benchmark for the automotive upper crust. This year's changes serve to solidify the car's top position. There are a few chinks in this super luxury car's armor, but they are few and far between.

Until you have driven the S-Class, it's difficult to convey the kind of uber-luxury and sumptuous ride quality this sedan has. These qualities are accompanied by an unusually astute carriage and excellent drivetrain.

Major upgrades to the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class are to its front fascia, infotainment, interior comfort options and driver's aids. The 2018 S-Class is available as a five-passenger sedan, four-passenger two-door coupe, and a cabriolet (convertible). Trim levels include the S450, S560, AMG S63 and AMG S65. Each trim point denotes a powertrain change and all are available in all three body styles, except for the sedan-only S450.

What We Love About the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class:


  • Excellent interior with every bit of expected perfection

  • Top-notch drive quality and power delivery from any of the available powertrains

  • Comfort that sets standards for the luxury classes


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class:


  • Limited trunk space with the premium stereo upgrade

  • Low resale values for the class


 

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Exterior View (10/10)

When it comes to uber-lux, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class helps define the genre. The S-Class' well-defined, svelte look comes from a combination of Teutonic simplicity and luxurious sculpture.

In the heyday of super-luxury vehicles, the genre was defined by the ostentatious way that elements such as wood, chrome, metal and precious metals were combined to glimmer. Since then, things have tempered, and the new showcase of wealth is in simple beauty and quiet comfort. The only hint of those heyday years in today's S-Class is the standing marquee on the hood, a light eyebrow raise to the masses in a world where hood ornaments are no longer the norm.

The 2018 S-Class has a sculpted, beautiful body with simple lines and curvature to denote its luxury status without calling too much attention to itself. It is a car that speaks of class, not upper-class snobbery. And it carries itself with style and grace rather than pomp and circumstance.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (10/10)

When it comes to interior finery, excellence of design and perfect materials choices, the super luxury class is second to none. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class uses only the finest materials and has impeccable design quality. This begins with large door openings with a low step-in and high ceiling to make entry and egress comfortable, and continues with excellent seating and plenty of comfort and convenience at hand.

The very roomy cabin of the S-Class, whatever its design, is thoughtfully appointed. The driver and front passenger will find wonderful seating with plenty of adjustment to suit their needs. In the rear, seating ranges from more than adequate to beyond executive-level pampering, depending on the body design and package options.

A few changes for the 2018 model year include welcome modifications such as the cruise controls being moved to the steering wheel and the deletion of the annoying dongle they were on before. The infotainment, nestled in a very large screen that's integrated beautifully with the dashboard design, sees a few changes as well. Otherwise, the S-Class remains as it was in terms of design.

The digital instruments are clear, easy to read and adjustable. We like the driver's position for its comfort and grace, as well as its bolstering when spirited driving begins. Adjusting bolsters, which dynamically change according to the car's G-forces, aid this immensely.

Options in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class range from simple to ultra-luxurious. The rear-seat captain's chairs with a lounger on the passenger's side and airport-style fold-out trays are the top of the heap there. As is the in-cabin Energizing Comfort system, which combines seat massage, heating and cooling, ambient lighting and air scents to create a full experiential mood in the car.

Trunk space in the 2018 S-Class is about average for the class, at a large 16 cubic feet. The deep, wide trunk is suitable for carrying about anything from checked luggage to multiple golf bags. Upgrading to the premium stereo knocks about 4 cubic feet off the trunk's size.

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Technology (9/10)

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has the latest in Mercedes' COMAND interfaces, controlled primarily through the command knob near the shifter at the driver's right hand. The knob doubles as a touchpad interface, allowing for easy use of most of the infotainment system's interface.

There's a learning curve to the user interface, but it's not steep. Most of it involves learning which menu contains which items. A smartphone app is also standard (free to download) to interface with the infotainment and some of the car's in-cabin systems, such as navigation and climate controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is the 12.3-inch display and wireless phone charging. The Burmester surround-sound system is standard equipment, with possible upgrades for more sound quality.

Most of the expected standard safety and driver convenience technologies, including lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and so forth are standard equipment in the S-Class.

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Fuel Economy (9/10)

Fuel economy depends on the model and powertrain chosen, but most of the options available for the 2018 S-Class are on par or better than the segment's averages. The S450 model is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway. The S560 is rated at 17 mpg city/27 mpg highway, even with all-wheel drive.

The AMG S63 and S65 models fare far worse in mpg returns, given their large engine displacements. Buyers of the convertible models can expect slightly lower fuel economy due to vehicle weight gains as well.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (9/10)

There are not yet any reliability ratings published for the 2018 S-Class, but the mechanically identical 2017 model year received a J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study rating of "Better Than Most." Recalls in 2017 were for safety items and have not been repeated for 2018.

We think that the S-Class will continue to be considered very reliable.

Safety (8/10)

There are no crash test results to indicate how safe the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class might be. It's unusual for high-end luxury class vehicles to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. There are no crash test results from the 2017 or 2018 model years.

Our score here is based on the large amount of standard safety equipment on board the 2018 S-Class, as well as the availability of even higher-end technologies if buyers wish to have them. The size of the S-Class and its equipment indicate that it would do well in crash testing.

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Performance (10/10)

Everything about the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is about combining luxury with performance. The S450 model is powered by a well-done 3.0-liter V6 that outputs a turbocharged 362 hp to a nine-speed automatic transmission that is quick on the shifts. The S560 model uses a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 that produces 463 hp to the same transmission. All-wheel drive is optional on the S450, and standard on the S560 with the exception of the S560's cabriolet model.

The huge-displacement AMG models are over the top with their power outputs. The AMG S63 is rated at 603 hp from its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. Its nine-speed automatic makes 0-60 mph sprints of 3.4 seconds realistic. In the AMG S65, things are even more eye watering when the 6.0-liter V12 in pumps its 621 hp to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Four second 0-60 times are possible in most of that model's configurations.

Where the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class also shines is its superb handling and beautiful ride quality, which changes dynamically through excellent tuning. Curves, corners and stop-and-go's are all handled very well in the S-Class, especially the sedan models with their wonderful weight balance.

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Pricing and Value (8/10)

Value is, of course, subjective and the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is an extremely expensive machine. In the high-end luxury classes, value is perceived by comfort, drive quality and perception of excellence. The S-Class has all of that in abundance.

Resale values and other metrics are rarely considered when purchasing a vehicle in this segment, so the relatively low resale return isn't likely a concern for most buyers. Those purchasing an S-Class as a limousine are likely expecting years of service from the vehicle, and its high dependability expectation should play to that.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)

Competitors in the ultra-luxury sedan segment are mostly fellow German makes.

The BMW 7 Series is a close competitor and worthy of consideration against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A bit lower on the totem, the Audi A8 is also a high-end option that might be worth a look. The same goes of the well-done, but stylistically dissimilar Porsche Panamera.

The end result of these cross-comparisons will be that the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the luxury model that sets the standards for the class. The Porsche is a bit sportier, the BMW a little larger and the Audi a bit cheaper, but the Mercedes-Benz is the benchmark. We reckon it will remain so for some time and have no complaints, as the S-Class is a beautiful, very well-wrought vehicle.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Convertible - AWD
AMG S 63 AMG S 63 4MATIC Cabriolet 8 Cylinder AWD 179500
Convertible - RWD
S 560 S 560 Cabriolet 8 Cylinder RWD 133300
AMG S 65 AMG S 65 Cabriolet 12 Cylinder RWD 250900
Coupe - AWD
S 560 S 560 4MATIC Coupe 8 Cylinder AWD 124500
AMG S 63 AMG S 63 4MATIC Coupe 8 Cylinder AWD 167700
Coupe - RWD
AMG S 65 AMG S 65 Coupe 12 Cylinder RWD 238900
Sedan - AWD
S 450 S 450 4MATIC Sedan V6 AWD 92900
S 560 S 560 4MATIC Sedan 8 Cylinder AWD 102900
AMG S 63 AMG S 63 4MATIC Sedan 8 Cylinder AWD 147500
Maybach S 560 Maybach S 560 4MATIC Sedan 8 Cylinder AWD 168600
Sedan - RWD
S 450 S 450 Sedan V6 RWD 89900
S 560 S 560 Sedan 8 Cylinder RWD 99900
Maybach S 650 Maybach S 650 Sedan 12 Cylinder RWD 198700
AMG S 65 AMG S 65 Sedan 12 Cylinder RWD 229500

Comparison of 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class with Similar Cars

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class MSRP Invoice
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class $89,900 $83,607
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2018 BMW 7 Series $83,100 $77,785 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS 2018 BMW 7 Series
2018 Audi A8 $82,500 $76,726 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS 2018 Audi A8
2018 Maserati Granturismo $132,975 $0 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS 2018 Maserati Granturismo
2018 Cadillac CTS-V $86,495 $82,170 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS 2018 Cadillac CTS-V
2018 BMW M5 $102,600 $95,920 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS 2018 BMW M5

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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