Used 1997 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review




what's new

Side-impact airbags debut in all S-Class cars this year. S-Class coupes get new front bumpers. All cars get new alloy wheels. A Parktronic system is available for those who aren't comfortable parking their $100,000 car in a smaller space. Mercedes' outstanding Automatic Slip Reduction (ASR) traction control system is finally available on the S320s. Lastly, a rain sensor system is now standard on all models. (It adjusts the speed of the wipers to the intensity of the rain.)

vehicle overview

Big Mercedes sedans have always been the ultimate automobiles. They scream success, are engineered to be driven hard, and keep the general public at bay. The S-Class projects confidence, prestige, and a certain amount of cold indifference.

Starting at just under $70,000 for the surprisingly speedy S320 six-cylinder sedan, and topping out at double that price for a S600 12-cylinder behemoth, the S-Class doesn't seem much like a mega-buck automobile on the inside. The switchgear feels relatively chintzy, the flimsy dash panel above the central vents is totally unacceptable in a car of this caliber, and the cheesy terry cloth fabric covering the lower dash feels and looks low rent.

Ergonomics are slightly marred by a plethora of confusing pictographs. Otherwise, the dash layout is perfect, as is the seating position. Step out and close the door; the thunk as it shuts exudes quality craftsmanship. The exterior styling is slab-sided and massive, making the car look fat. Aside from the traditional grille, the S-Class is devoid of exterior character, more so than the pedestrian Lexus LS400, and in startling contrast to the BMW 7-Series.

For 1997, Mercedes has introduced a host of luxury upgrades to help protect occupants, and to make their job of driving easier.

The S-Class costs more than just about anything printed in this book, and although the car is nice, we don't think it is quite that nice. If you've got this much money to spend, take a look at the new Jaguars or the BMW 7-Series; they might just make you happier.






edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.