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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
fuel economy is slightly less than its contemporaries, but that's probably not a major purchase issue
Kelley Blue Book
handling and ride dynamics are impressive
passing power is particularly impressive
a performance treat
Experts at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class performs well—which is good, considering the price tag on this baby.
Cars.com says that any one of the options in the S-Class's engine lineup is "powerful and makes this big sedan lunge forward when you mash the gas pedal to the floor." The 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class provides a total of four different engine options. The S550 comes with a 5.5-liter V-8 with 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque; the S600 has a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12, with 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque; the S63 has a 6.3-liter V-8 with 518 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque; and the S65 AMG gets a powerful 6.0-liter V-12 turbo, which creates a whopping 604 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque.
Even the smallest of the available engines in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz creates a driving machine that maintains "stunning performance," says Edmunds: "Zero-to-60-mph times range from the low-four-second to low-six-second range—seriously quick by any standard, let alone when one is referring to a large luxury sedan." Cars.com calls driving that version of the Mercedes-Benz 2009 a "performance treat," and Kelley Blue Book highlights its "effortless power." The smallest engine on the S550 achieves 0-60 in just under six seconds: "Mercedes-Benz cites a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.4 seconds for the S550, which is stunning considering the sedan's 4,465-pound curb weight," Cars.com reports. On the other end of the range, the 6.0-liter V-12 turbocharged engine powers into the four-second range, which explains why ForbesAutos notes that in the S-Class, acceleration is "brisk but smooth."
All of the trims use automatic transmissions. ConsumerGuide is impressed with the automatics' performance: "downshifts are quick," and "passing power is particularly impressive." The V-12 engines are paired with five-speed transmissions, while the V-8 models use seven-speed transmissions. Cars.com points out that the seven-speed transmission in the S-Class "performs in a purposeful, quiet way." Mercedes offers an all-wheel-drive option on the S550.
Most of the powerplants get EPA-estimated 11 mpg city and 17 mpg highway; the 5.5-liter V-8 achieves a slightly better 14/21 mpg on the rear-wheel-drive version and 14/20 mpg on the all-wheel drive. As Kelley Blue Book puts it, "fuel economy is slightly less than its contemporaries, but that's probably not a major purchase issue."
Edmunds states that overall, "handling and ride dynamics are impressive." All of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class models have a very absorbent, well-settled ride that manages to soak up small potholes with little jarring inside the cabin and remain remarkably quiet. ConsumerGuide likes the combination of comfort and control, saying "the suspension offers Sport and Comfort firmness settings; Sport makes the ride slightly more taut but at little sacrifice in comfort"; they also appreciate how the S-Class models' "suspension automatically adjusts for firmness and load leveling."
Yet thanks to a host of electronics, the S-Class also handles quite well—and gets tauter and more responsive in AMG editions. The standard Airmatic suspension has adaptive damping to adjust quickly to rough roads or fast driving on switchbacks. Cars.com contends that even though the 2009 Mercedes-Benz measures in at 17 feet, it's "pretty easy to maneuver through heavy, fast-moving highway traffic and feels rock-solid doing so." ForbesAutos notes its "secure handling," while Car and Driver adds, "All models are nimble for big cars, but the S63 AMG adds a new level of athleticism to the line."
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz isn't just for appearances—it's also a strong performer.