Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S55 AMG Review

Fast, luxurious and technically advanced, the S-Class should continue to be a favorite of movers and shakers.




what's new

The TeleAid system is enhanced. Now reservations for travel as well as tickets for sporting and theater events can all be acquired from the considerable comfort of the S-Class' cabin.

vehicle overview

Large Mercedes sedans have always been sought-after by the elite. They scream success, are engineered to be driven hard and make a powerful statement about the owner's financial security. The current S-Class projects confidence, prestige and good taste. Last year, Mercedes bumped performance and amenities by offering the 12-cylinder-equipped S600 and sporty S55.

Sporting a coupe-like profile and a traditional oval-headlight face, the 2002 S-Class looks lean and sleek while weighing nearly 500 pounds less than the previous-generation model. Careful attention to interior packaging gives the current version a roomy cabin and a large 15.4 cubic foot trunk.

Four models are available: the 275-horsepower S430, which comes with a 4.3-liter V8 engine; the 302-horsepower S500, which boasts a 5.0-liter V8 under the hood; the S55 with a 5.5-liter V8 and 354 horsepower; and the top-gun S600, sporting a 362-horsepower V12.

All models are suited up with a fully independent four-link front and five-link rear suspension, ABS and brake assist (which reduces braking distance in panic stops), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and BabySmart child-seat protection. Eight airbags are standard, including two head-protection curtain airbags and a passenger airbag that deploys with partial or full force, depending on the car's speed at impact. Active Body Control (ABC), which debuted on the 2000 CL500, is standard on the S600 and S55 (S430 and S500 buyers can get it as an option).

Also standard on the S-Class is the controversial COMAND (Cockpit Management And Data) system, which can be directed by voice commands, steering-wheel controls or buttons near the display screen. The system controls the navigation program, hands-free cellular phone and stereo/CD controls. Another advanced feature is Mercedes' TeleAid function, which puts a driver in touch with a Protection One representative for help in emergencies, roadside assistance or general information. And this year, TeleAid's abilities have been expanded to allow travel reservations or ticket purchases to be made via this telematics system.

A smart cruise control system, called Distronic, utilizes radar sensors to keep the car at a specified distance from the car in front of it. When the car you are following slows down, the S-Class automatically cuts power and can even apply up to 20 percent maximum braking to maintain the specific distances you have set. Distronic is standard on the S600 and is optional on V8 models.

Serious performance buffs will want to check out the S55 from Mercedes-Benz tuner AMG. Non-S55 buyers can still add some sport to their S-Class by ordering the S-Class Sport package, which includes an aggressive body kit with an AMG-designed front spoiler, sculpted rocker panels and a new rear apron. AMG Monoblock 18-inch alloy wheels are also part of the package.

Other S-Class features include a Bose Beta sound system, five-speed automatic transmission, optional ventilated seats that circulate air through the cushion, and, new this year, Internet access for e-mail junkies on the go.

Feature- and luxury-laden, the S-Class makes for an attractive executive conveyance.

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.