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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
It's not surprising that neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has crash-tested the 2013 Mercedes S Class. But with a long-established reputation for occupant safety and advanced safety features--and one of the models, globally, with an extremely low fatality rate--there's no reason to think of the S Class as any less than a safety standout.
All versions sold in the U.S. come with dual front, front side and rear side airbags, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control; active head restraints; adaptive brake lights; and PRE-SAFE, which prepares the car when an accident is imminent, by locking doors and tightening seatbelts, and preparing the brakes for full application.
Cars with the ABC suspension include programming to help the S Class compensate for heavy crosswinds by adjusting suspension stiffness. Advances to the S Class' stability control now include torque-vector braking, which applies braking to the inside rear wheel to tighten cornering; it's standard on all models except the S 400 Hybrid.
Attention Assist, an alert system that senses drowsy drivers and blinks a coffee-cup icon to suggest a rest stop, is standard on all but the S 400 Hybrid. Other available features include Nightview Assist PLUS, a night-vision system that uses infrared sensors to call out unseen obstacles on dark roads; Lane Keeping Assist, which uses electric power steering to nudge the car back into the driving lane when it senses a slip over the lines; blind-spot monitors; automatic headlights; and adaptive cruise control. The S Class can also be fitting with parking assist, which judges parallel-parking spots and suggests ones in which the car will fit.
Outward visibility is quite good for the S Class sedans. Front and rear parking sensors, as well as an available rearview camera further improve parking safety.
The S Class wows with its safety technology, even though there aren't any crash-test scores in.