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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
For years, the S-Class has been among the vehicles with the lowest rates of accident fatalities, and it enjoys a long-standing (and global) reputation as one of the safest vehicles. That reputation is backed up in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class models with comprehensive safety features, such as front and rear side airbags; full-length side curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; active head restraints; adaptive brake lights; and the PRE-SAFE system, which tightens seatbelts and locks doors when it senses an imminent collision and can now apply full braking force to mitigate injury and damage from accidents.
There are also a host of top-tech accident-avoidance features, including Attention Assist, which detects sleepy drivers and asks them to pull over for a rest via a coffee-cup icon; Nightview Assist PLUS, which uses infrared sensors to highlight unseen objects ahead on dark roads; Lane Keeping Assist, which alerts drivers wandering out of their driving lane and nudges them gently back on track; blind-spot alerts; adaptive cruise control; and automatic high beams.
Even though the exterior of the current S-Class is a step curvier than before, we've found visibility to be excellent. Front and rear parking sensors, as well as an available rearview camera further improve parking safety.
A longstanding reputation for occupant protection, combines with some of the latest accident-avoidance developments, allow us to point to the 2011 S-Class as one of the safest sedans—even if crash-test scores aren't available.