Full 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review
What's New for 2014
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is all new for 2014.
The best or nothing. It sounds like a load of marketing schlock, but that's exactly what Mercedes-Benz set out to create with the all-new 2014 S-Class. Ever since this nameplate debuted in the 1970s -- and indeed even before then -- Mercedes' flagship sedan has been a hallmark for automotive excellence and a benchmark for the rest of the industry. This is the car that's sought after by luxury sedan buyers from every corner of the world.
The 2014 Mercedes S-Class delivers a blend of technology and luxury that permeates everything from the suspension to the stereo. This is a car that can scan the road ahead for bumps and actually adjust the suspension to counteract them, making the ride even more comfortable. It can detect potential collisions and react to them before you do. And for good measure, there's an interior fragrance dispenser (four different scents are available, should you care to know), six seat massage selections, 24 speakers and either 449 or 577 horses under the hood.
And perhaps best of all, this elite full-size luxury sedan is designed and crafted to an opulent degree. More so than in the past, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class feels like a step above traditional competitors like the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series in its design, quality and technology. Arguably, it's now the middle ground between those cars and top-echelon sedans from Bentley or Rolls-Royce, which makes sense since it not only replaces the last S-Class but also the defunct Maybach ultra-luxury brand.
So is the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class the best automobile in the world? That's a difficult statement to verify, but it's without question one of the finalists. This is a car that all others in its segment will be compared to while representing a glimpse into the future for the entire Mercedes-Benz brand.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a full-size luxury sedan. It's presently available in a single S550 model (with either rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive), but hybrid and high-performance S63 and S65 AMG models will be introduced later. Seating for five is standard, but a two-person rear seating configuration lowers capacity to four.
Standard equipment on the S550 includes 18-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, automatic adaptive LED headlamps, LED running lights and taillights, a rearview camera, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, an electronic trunk closer and soft-close doors. Comfort and convenience features include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 12-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, front seat memory functions, leather upholstery, MB-Tex synthetic leather interior trim, LED accent lighting and a power rear sunshade.
Standard technology features include the COMAND electronics interface, twin 12.3-inch configurable displays on the instrument panel, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Mercedes' mbrace2 telematics system (including smartphone app integration), an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system with USB/iPod audio interface, HD radio, satellite radio, TuneIn Internet radio, a six-CD changer and digital music storage.
The later-arriving S63 AMG differs with a more powerful engine, a different transmission, 20-inch wheels, AMG-tuned mechanical components, more aggressively bolstered versions of the standard seats and slight styling differences.
Options are plentiful. The Premium 1 package (standard on the S63) adds active "multicontour" front seats (ventilation, upgraded heating, six massage settings, adjustable bolsters and shoulder supports), hands-free trunk access, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parallel parking and power rear-side sunshades. The Warmth and Comfort package adds heated armrests and door panels, a heated steering wheel and four-way power-adjustable outboard rear seats with memory functions, heating and ventilation (many of these features are available separately). The Rear Seat package adds four-zone auto climate control, a power right rear footrest and rear seatbelt airbags. The Executive Rear Seat package adds "multicontour" rear seats, a right-rear recliner-style footrest and greater adjustment than the Warmth and Comfort package offers. The Executive Rear Seat Package Plus replaces the center seat with a full-length center console complete with fold-out tray tables and heated and cooled cupholders. The Air Balance package adds a cabin fragrance system.
Other options include extended leather interior trim, a surround-view parking camera, adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, an automatically adjustable Magic Body Control suspension, a rear refrigerated box, a rear-seat entertainment system with twin displays and a 24-speaker Burmester 3D surround system. There are also several packages available that bundle emergency communications, information and apps.
A pair of Sport packages adds body cladding and either 19- or 20-inch wheels to the S550. Different 20-inch AMG wheels can be added to the S63.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 comes with a 4.6-liter turbocharged V8 good for 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, and 4Matic all-wheel drive is an option. Mercedes estimates that it will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city/25 mpg highway).
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter turbocharged V8 that produces 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. A specialized seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. Mercedes says it will hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, which would be on par with the SLS AMG supercar.
Every 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class includes advanced antilock brakes (predictive braking, automatic brake drying, hill-start assist, traffic-light hold feature), stability and traction control, a radar-based collision prevention system, a driver inattention warning system, front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver-knee airbag. The mbrace2 communications system includes automatic collision notification, an SOS button, stolen vehicle location, geo-fencing (which allows owners to set boundaries for other household members who drive the car), alarm notification and remote door lock/unlock.
The Driver Assistance package adds an advanced blind-spot assist system (will help steer you back into your lane if you fail to heed its warnings), lane-keeping assist and an adaptive cruise control system that includes steering assist and automatic braking. Also optional is a night vision alert system that shows pedestrians and animals that may not be visible in the headlights.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cabins of most flagship luxury sedans feel like bigger, fancier versions of "lesser" models, sharing a general design aesthetic and many control components. Not so the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. There is a clear differentiation between it and other Mercedes models, indicating that this is a special car that exists above the rest. Even things like the seat control buttons are bespoke to the S-Class. More importantly, however, there is an elegance and sense of opulence in this highest-price Benz that make it feel more like a competitor for a Bentley than a BMW 7 Series.
Beyond aesthetics, few cars can approach the new S-Class sedan's comfort and infotainment features. The standard seats are lovely, but you'd be nuts not to select the Premium 1 package's multicontour seats with their additional adjustments, ventilation and six massage settings. That's right, six. One even simulates a hot stone massage by utilizing the seat's heating elements. And just in case your rear passengers are the jealous sort, the same opulent front seat features (including adjustments) are available in the enormous backseat. Plus, you can add an entertainment system, airplane-style pop-out tables and even a fridge.
All those infotainment functions are controlled by the latest iteration of Mercedes' COMAND system, which remains one of the most user-friendly around (even if its immense number of functions renders it a tad overwhelming at first). Compared to the setup in other Mercedes-Benz models, the S-Class sedan's upgraded COMAND interface features a colossal, crystal-clear central screen with all-new graphics and a different physical button layout (buttons for frequently used functions are now grouped around the main control knob rather than on the dash). Immediately adjacent is a new instrument panel, which houses a full set of digital gauges. The result is a truly contemporary cabin that offers ample functionality while keeping buttons to a minimum.
The trunk, as you might expect from a 17-foot-long sedan, is sufficiently large at 16.3 cubic feet.
Effortless. That's how the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class feels when you're behind the wheel. The steering is fingertip-light, and when equipped with lane-keeping assist, it will even subtly steer the car for you. Still, you'll be surprised at how adeptly this very large sedan will hunker down and go around a corner.
You may think you've enjoyed a comfortable ride before, but it most likely pales in comparison to the adjustable air suspension fitted standard to the S-Class. Not only does it iron out bumps, there's not a hint of floatiness, which is a requirement for a car designed to cruise effortlessly at triple-digit Autobahn speeds. Plus, the ride gets even better with the optional Magic Body Control. Utilizing a windshield-mounted camera, the car detects bumps and other imperfections in the road ahead and automatically adjusts the air suspension to compensate. We're not exaggerating when we say large speed humps can feel like pebbles.
The way the S550 gets up to speed is also, well, effortless. Acceleration from the turbo V8 is ferocious, yet its noises are reduced to a whisper inside the cocoon-like cabin. You're more likely to hear the S63, but it's not as vociferous as other AMG models. You're also more likely to get in trouble with Johnny Law since it gets up to speed quicker than many sports cars.