2018 Mercedes-Benz S-class

There’s many a reason that the Mercedes-Benz S-class is considered the benchmark for luxury cars. Its fit and finish quality is perfect, its powertrains buttery smooth, and its cabin packed with both the most luxurious and most high-tech features available today. In addition, Mercedes-Benz regularly updates its venerable flagship with the latest and greatest. Anybody who’s somebody is a regular passenger in this world-class sedan, and it’s an easy choice for buyers who won’t settle for anything but the best. Yes, it’s expensive, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that has never been truer than when said about the S-class.

What’s New for 2018?

Despite only subtle exterior differences, the 2018 S-class represents a thorough refresh compared with the 2017 model. That year’s 4.7-liter V-8 and 6.0-liter V-12 are replaced by a 362-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 (badged S450) and a 463-hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 (badged S560). The V-12 lives on in the Mercedes-AMG S65 and the Mercedes-Maybach S600, both reviewed separately. Last year’s plug-in hybrid model, dubbed S550e, is discontinued. Eventually it will be replaced by the S560e, which will provide more electric-only driving range. A new optional active suspension allows the S-class to lean up to 2.7 degrees in a turn to help minimize passenger discomfort. Inside, occupants are coddled with a new feature Mercedes calls Energizing Comfort that is meant to rejuvenate occupants by engaging all five of their senses.

A new steering wheel provides updated controls for cruise control and infotainment, while a new standard wireless charging pad for compatible smart devices takes up residence on the center console. The S-class also benefits from an updated digital gauge display and infotainment screen, composed of two 12.3-inch screens integrated into one monolithic display; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now both standard features. Outside, the S-class receives a new grille, a revised front bumper with more aggressive air intakes, and new LED headlamps. Borrowing technology first unveiled with the E-class, the S-class now offers the same semi-autonomous driving tech but ups the ante with some clever features such as automatic lane-changing capability and the ability to use map data to prepare for corners, roundabouts, and intersections.

What Was New for 2017?

A nine-speed automatic transmission replaced the seven-speed unit in the V-8–equipped S550. Mercedes-Benz’s clever Magic Sky Control variable-opacity sunroof debuted on the S-class as an optional feature.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

Last year’s pick was the S550, which no longer exists. In its place is the S560, which is powered by a new 4.0-liter V-8 with two turbochargers. We’d recommend this engine if it weren’t for the new S450 and its much more fuel-efficient twin-turbo V-6. Starting at $90,895, the S450 is pricey despite its positioning at the bottom rung of the S-class ladder, so we’d be light with the options. We would, however, consider the $2250 Driver Assistance package to equip our chosen S-class with the new semi-autonomous driving capability, which requires adding the Premium package for $5000:

• Massaging front seats with heat and ventilation
• Self-parking feature with 360-degree exterior camera
• Power side-window sunshades for the rear seat
• Keyless entry and push-button start

At $98,145, our well-equipped, rear-wheel-drive S450 is one of the most comfortable and technologically impressive sedans on sale today. All-wheel drive is available but pushes the price up by $3000 and over the psychologically uncomfortable $100,000 mark.

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