2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class Review

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3 Reviews
2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

Coupe, Cabriolet, and Maybach versions—and even a Plug-In Hybrid—make the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class far more diverse and adventurous than it used to be; it's now not just a flagship sedan, but a family of flagships.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is no longer the flagship of the German automaker's lineup; it's a complex set of flagships, with coupe, cabriolet (convertible), and sedan versions, and powertrains including all-wheel drive versions, high-performance AMG versions, and even a new S550e plug-in hybrid.

Although not everyone will pick the same model, or the same build, the S-Class remains the one to get when you value technology, engineering, and some of the most advanced active safety and occupant protection in the world—perhaps a bit more than lavish, hand-crafted displays of wealth and "bespoke" exclusivity.

Last year a new coupe joined the lineup; and for 2016 there's an S-Class Cabriolet, including an excellent three-layer soft top, a wondrously complex climate-control system, and the much-loved Airscarf system, which wafts just the right amount of warm air to your neck, allowing you to enjoy chilly yet beautiful spring or fall (or winter) days. And yes, even the cabriolet can now be equipped with all-wheel drive.

The coupe remains a stunner, flaunting a striking profile and a unique roofline compared to the sedan. Details are familiar but bolder, with arching character lines that look crisper, and a tauter, more horizontal look to the rear styling. In front, the S-Class Coupe gets details that are much like those of the Sedans, with a more upright, broad-set grille, angular full-LED headlamps (which can host 47 Swarovski crystals), and large air intakes.

Inside, the coupe and sedan are more in sync, although they're not identical. We'd say it's the same design in the Coupe, only mapped to a slimmer form. In both cases, it's radically different than the layout of the previous, fifth-generation S-Class, with a clean, twin-tier horizontal look adorned with high-contrast materials, round vents, and more brightwork and accents.

The S550 models have a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine, teamed to a 7-speed automatic with paddle shift controls and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive (dubbed 4Matic) for sedans, or all-wheel-drive only for coupes. These models make 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and It's the epitome of a luxury-flagship powertrain, an effortless performer, in tandem with the standard air suspension.

One of the best—among the S-Class' many features—is the available stereo camera that predicts the road surface ahead of the S-Class, giving it adaptive control over the ride quality in a way that works so well (provided it's in Comfort mode) that it feels rather magical.

While the S-Class was first launched in just one guise: the S550, with a twin-turbo V-8, it's been joined by a high-performance S63 AMG 4Matic model, and flagship S600 and S65 AMG models. The S63 AMG gets a larger, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, making 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque (and all-wheel drive)—and the quickest 0-60 mph acceleration in the lineup, at 3.9 seconds—while the rear-wheel drive S65 AMG has a twin-turbo V-12 making 621 hp and 738 lb-ft.

The new S-Class Coupe in particular emphasizes driving enjoyment, though its luxury-first nature dissuades you from sports car-style shenanigans.

And there is, by the way, another model that takes off in a dramatically different direction. The Mercedes-Maybach S600, priced around $190,000 to start, brings an opulent look aiming at Rolls-Royce, pushes all of the technology and feature buttons at once, and adds 8 inches in total length for a truly limousine-like cabin.

Meanwhile, the S550e Plug-In Hybrid offers a fresh take on the S-Class family, to please those who might want to impress their dinner guests with all-electric motoring, perhaps, if for short distances. The S550 will go for 12 miles in all-electric mode, and with an 85-kw electric motor system packaged with the transmission, its powertrain makes a combined 436 horsepower and it can dash to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Or in "normal" driving, it'll return 26 mpg combined.

For those who would rather be driven, the First Class Rear Suite option for sedan models is just that—as close as you'll come to the front of the plane while you're riding in the back of the car. If anything, the finishes used in the S-Class are more beautifully crafted than ever. The tiny knobs that control its round vents aren't as sensually pleasing as the chrome pulls on a Bentley, but the quilted leather dash and silver-toned trim are as glamorous as anything Mercedes has ever made.

In many respects, the S-Class is aiming to be a little more charming this time, to counter the stoicism we can count on it to have, generation after another. Inside, this new approach is most evident, and it takes a real cynic to find fault with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' passenger comforts. The ergonomics are occasionally fiddly, yet you'll find superb front seats, easy access for those in back, and a fillip of first-class accoutrements.

From blind spots to surround-views, there are camera and/or radar sensors for everything, it seems. The adaptive cruise control can steer its way along in stop-and-go traffic, or order a stop from a brisk pace when it senses a pedestrian or an animal in the road. Don't expect it to be tested by either of the U.S. safety agencies, but do expect these models to have some of the best real-world records for protection, as it's always been.

The whole Mercedes lineup has become less and less clinical, and in these latest models it's taken a new, very plush form. The new S-Class' pillowed, scented, remote-controlled, app-enabled, silver-graced cabin is its most sensually appealing ever. Every cubic inch is filled with systems to nurture passengers, and it's fitted with reclining rear seats, airline-style work trays, dual, 12.3 high-resolution screens for the driver and the car's infotainment systems. The seats have a warm-stone massage mode; Burmester sound systems are a pricey but achingly gorgeous upgrade.

On the new S-Class Cabriolet, you'll find many of the same features, but most notably the excellent AirScarf neck-level heating system—a must for any chilly spring or fall day when you want to put the top down.

The primary gasoline version in the lineup, the S550, scores 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 20 combined, according to the EPA. Add 4Matic all-wheel drive and the score drops just slightly to 16/26/19 mpg for the sedan; the S550 4Matic Coupe rates 16/24/19 mpg.

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September 4, 2016
For 2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

The best I've ever owned in My 83 Heard.

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Elegant, smooth And finely finished. The power and quickness aré suprising. I love shocking The Mustang diversas with The aceleración.
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June 12, 2016
2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan Maybach S 600 RWD

comfortable

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Very easy to handly comfortable and fast movement .
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June 12, 2016
2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan Maybach S 600 RWD

comfortable

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Very easy to handly comfortable and fast movement .
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May 17, 2016
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class 2-Door Coupe S 550 4MATIC

an amazing vehicle

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a beautiful automobile both in and out. All categories are outstanding. A large engine does reduce fuel consumption but is still pretty good. I get 27 mpg on the road.
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April 18, 2016
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan S 550 RWD

A long lasting auto,I am well pleased.

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car has every option except 4 Matic (we live in Florida) Ride and handling are better than expected. It's a 550 so the fuel economy is not that great.But went to North Carolina and averaged 23.5 MPG not too... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class

The best S class among the five that I have owned

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Wonderful thought given to the comfort and technology that the best cars would need.Quiet and easy to drive.Adequate power and overall excellence in materials and workmanship. Could use a bit more power and... + More »
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March 8, 2015
For 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Love only begins to say it

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Front seat or back seat there is a bit of a relationship formed for even the shortest time. We are drivers and passengers often of the usual competitors and this car makes them seem like low end beat about... + More »
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December 23, 2015
2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan S 550 4MATIC

Nice car but not sure it's worth the price!

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Big, quiet, comfortable car with good performance and lots of room.
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May 12, 2015
2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan S 550 RWD

Best Car ever

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Great Car smoothest ride and comfortable dr. Needs improvement system on GPS Should go for Heads up System
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April 28, 2015
2012 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan S 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

The most amazing ride you will ever experience.

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For one of the most comfortable and fuel efficient rides you will ever experience, the 2012 S class is tops for the money. We have been riding in the S350 for over 17 months. We could not be happier with the... + More »
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