2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Consumer Review: Sleek, powerful, problematic

2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

73 Total Reviews

S430 Sedan (4.3L V8 5-speed Automatic)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sleek, powerful, problematic
By Lawman on


2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)


This is my 5th Benz, but first S-class. The car is beautifully designed and well-appointed. Handling is excellent, comfort is superb. It is one of the greatest highway touring machines ever made. At the same time, there have been irksome quality issues. I have had the car about one year, and in that time have endured five major (and costly) problems. A sensor malfunctioned in the trunk, effectively immobilizing the car. The gear shift assembly jammed in park and had to be replaced. The air seal struts developed a leak and had to be sealed. The V-belt broke during a highway drive, lost all power and the engine promptly overheated. Disappointing. Fuel economy is good, 26 highway.

Best Features

Interior is posh and extremely comfortable. Exterior design is handsome. GPS system is very good, although need to change disks is a nuisance. Voice recognition for audio commands is fun and it works well. When the car runs well, it is exceptionally smooth and powerful -- a joy to drive.

Worst Features

Surprisingly cheap plastic at bottom (frame) of seats. Better to have fewer electronic gizmos and ensure that those retained do work. Allow autonomous operation of radio (now linked to COMMAND/GPS system).
Recommend (2) (1)

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