There are some brands that signal luxury, power, and performance with their very names. Mercedes-Benz is one such brand, and their S-Class sedan – the automaker’s flagship car – is one such make. Last year, the S-Class saw the addition of the S-400. This year, the line includes the new S-350 Bluetec, which is also a return to diesel engines.
The exterior of the S-Class got a minor facelift last year. For 2011, the same basic appearance has been retained, but the S63 AMG received new 20-inch twin five-spoke wheels and the S400 Hybrid received new 18-inch 10-spoke wheels, while the entire line (except the S400) now sports LED daytime running lights.
Inside every S-Class Mercedes you’ll find shiny chrome and warm wood accents and seating for up to five people (including the driver). The usual console-mounted gearshift has been removed, and now there’s a steering column-mounted selector for Park, Drive or Reverse, while drivers who crave manual control can use steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to adjust the automatic transmission.
Other tech and comfort features include the “mbrace” telematics system (standard across the class), a split-view dashboard screen that offers different content for the driver and front passenger, a command system with a control knob in the center console, and a 6.5-inch in-dash screen, and the option for an infrared night-vision system that puts the instrument cluster display into black and white.
Other optional features of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class include massaging front seats, an infrared night-vision system that puts the instrument cluster display into black and white, a lane departure warning system, and a system that monitors “driver drowsiness.”
Depending on which 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class car you choose, there are a variety of engine choices. The S350 comes with a 241-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V-6 and all-wheel drive. The S63 AMG, built for high performance, comes with a 536-horsepower, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 with start/stop technology and the S65 AMG has a twin-turbo V-12 that pushes 621 horsepower.
The S550’s powertrain is a 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 with a seven-speed automatic transmission, and standard rear-wheel drive, though 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional, and the S600 has a 510-horsepower, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12 and a five-speed automatic transmission.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars all come with Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system which can actually adjust the front seatbelts, passenger seats, sunroof and side windows if it senses an impending collision, and the optional Brake add-on can automatically slow the car when such situations occur.
As well, the S-Class can be fitted with Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, and all except the S400 Hybrid, come standard with the “attention assist” feature (mentioned above) that alerts you when you’re too sleepy to drive.
Other, more typical, safety features include antilock brakes, a full complement of air bags, and an electronic stability system.
Because of the wide variance between types of S-Class cars, the base price ranges from $91,000 – $209,000 and the fuel economy ranges from 12-19 in the city and 19-25 on the highway.