The S-Class four-door spans a wide gulf at the top of the Mercedes range. The biggest Benz sedan-short of the princely Maybach 57 and 62-the S-Class spills over the $90,000 mark in its least expensive form and more than doubles that in AMG tune.
It works hard for that money with styling that percolates with emphatic curves and precisely drawn lines. The S-Class has veered from bank-vault thick lines in the early 1990s to a more feminine sculpting late last decade to the current shape, a more masculine mix of crisp creases and subtle arcs. It's not entirely cohesive, but the S-Class' sheetmetal conveys great road presence, especially from the rear quarters, where the perfectly blistered fenders intersect with a rising bumper line.
This year the sedan gets a reshaped grille, new and smoother front bumpers, new rear bumpers, and LED turn signals in the headlamps. AMG versions also wear a new grille (louvered on the S65), deep air dams, and new 19- and 20-inch wheels. Hybrid versions can be identified by their round fog lamps and daytime driving lights.
Aesthetics are calmer and more relaxed inside the S-Class, where a wide, ornately grained wave of wood bridges the cabin. It's capped by a large LCD screen for secondary controls and adorned by a minimum of buttons and switches. Gauges are lit in bright white. The shift control sits on the steering column, which frees the dash from the clutter that afflicts some competitive cars. Only a glitch or two disrupts the cabin's design clarity. Were you nodding in agreement at the tacked-on ergonomic pad behind the COMAND controller? Yes. Yes, you were.
Automobile: "I know several people who aren't huge fans of the S-class's styling, what with its sculpted fenders and such"
Cars.com: "strong visual presence is highlighted by a sleek front end"
Edmunds: "aggressive wheelwell flares and a wedge-like profile"
Kelley Blue Book: "understated elegance is the theme on the inside"
Cars.com: "beautiful burl walnut wood graces the dash, doors and center console"
Edmunds: "meticulously crafted interior"
Cars.com: "leather instrument panel cover and classy chrome power window buttons"