2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • World-class performance, state-of-the-art safety features, spacious and comfortable cabin.
  • Complicated COMAND system, standard V8 models not as much fun to drive as BMW 7 Series.
List Price Estimate
$2,587 - $5,750

Used S-Class for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class appraisal values can range from $1,671 - $5,048.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

With sizable increases in performance, safety and refinement, Mercedes-Benz has shown that it's not about to take a backseat to anyone else in the premium luxury sedan market.

2003 Highlights

For 2003, there is more power for the S55 and S600 models, both of which now put out nearly 500 horsepower. Also Pre-Safe, a system that detects an imminent impact and quickly adjusts seating positions as well as seatbelt tension to better safeguard the occupants, debuts. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system becomes available on the S430 and S500 and a minor freshening inside and out are meant to keep these big Benzes near the top of luxury car buyer's shopping lists.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2003 S500
FRANK,12/01/2008
S500 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 5A)
Excellent vehicle. has power style and ride. I get 24 miles/gal highway. Not good in snow. Other than regular oil change very little maintenance cost. Excellent sound and heating system. Handles well.
Supercar performance, with heated leather seats
Yagotta B. Kidding,10/30/2017
S600 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A)
The S600 twin turbo is heck of a value, albeit a surprising and even strange one. On one hand, you have a $150,000 car with every top-shelf feature of 2003. On the other hand, the car now costs less than $10,000 if you shop well. I bought mine, a fixer-upper in some ways, for considerably less than that. As you'd expect of a car in this category, it's sumptuously comfortable, both in front and in back. Its power is almost scary; drop the hammer and you launch. Turbo lag is minimal because M-B used the right size turbos for this engine. Even off the line, the car can throw you back in your seat. Floor it at 30 mph, and it will definitely do so. That's what a performance car is supposed to do. This is one of the very few V-12 cars that I would consider as a daily driver. In good repair, an S600 twin turbo is reliable enough to trust going coast to coast. This is in contrast to its immediate predecessor, the 5.8L naturally-aspirated engine, which anyone should stay FAR AWAY from. That problematic engine is why Mercedes came out with this new 5.5L turbocharged engine. Unlike the older one, *this* one is quite reliable. Mine has done several long road trips with no problem. It also comes with the excellent and reliable 5-speed transmission. This is one of the few car transmissions that was ever designed to handle that much torque and more, all day, every day. However, certain parts for an S600 are not cheap. Remember, this car originally cost $150,000, and the maintenance can reflect that. Getting an S600 to a state of good repair, if it has not been treated properly, can be several thousand dollars. Here are the potential trouble areas. 1.) The ABC (Active Body Control) hydraulic suspension feels great when it works. But when (not if) it breaks, you're looking at a very expensive repair, up to $12,000. The S55 AMG also has this issue, so be aware of it. Mine did fail on me. So, I replaced it totally with a very good coil-spring conversion and added an anti-sway bar, for a *lot* less money. The car continues to handle very well, without the high maintenance problems of the stock suspension. 2.) Igition coil packs are $1,400 for each side if they go bad. There are some out there who can repair them for (at present) $750/side, but that's still some money. The ignition transformer, if it goes bad, isn't cheap either, at $700. 3.) Valve cover gaskets are somewhat labor-intensive. Also, the vacuum hoses do eventually need replacing due to the heat the engine generates. Likewise, engine mounts are best done at a shop with a lift. Fortunately, all this only needs doing every 12-15 years or so. 4.) Fuel economy is what you'd expect from a 4,500 lb supercar with 500 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. It *is* a supercar, and any car like this will be a bit thirsty. For what it is, though, the fuel mileage is not bad. It's like Rolls Royce buyers: "if you have to ask about gas mileage, you can't afford the car." This car is best owned by someone willing to do at least some of his or her own car maintenance. I consider having access to a STAR Diagnostics System pretty much mandatory for owning one of these cars. I do all of my own maintenance. Therefore, I saved a lot of money getting my car to a state of good repair. Now that it's there, though...this car needs...basically nothing. Seriously, the only thing I have to do now is the same regular fluid/filter and brake pad maintenance that any other car needs. A well-maintained S600 is not only great to drive, it's also surprisingly inexpensive to maintain. But you *MUST* do the proper maintenance! This is not a car to cheap-out on the maintenance with; don't do that. After I got through with everything, I spent about $14,500. For that price, I have a car that outruns Porsches, Ferraris, and even certain Lamborghinis, for thousands less than a new Honda Accord. And it does so with heated *or* cooled leather seats...both front and back. The power delivery is deliciously smooth at *any* RPM, thanks to those 12 cylinders. The engine is so naturally torquey at low RPM that sometimes you forget that it's turbocharged. At this point, I just get in the car and drive it. And believe me, this car is *fun* to drive. Is it what I'd call, "Honda reliable"? No, not quite that level; that'd be the V-8 versions of this car, the S430 and S500. But it's not far from it; I'd say it's close enough. It's better than most American cars, that's for sure.
Straight Line Speed and Comfort
S600 Owner,10/16/2009
S600 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A)
Have owned the car for about a month now and I am no sure I still love it. The straight line speed is second to none, I have driven ferraris that won't throw you back in your seat like this does. Being able to spin the rear-wheel at any speed under 50mph is incredible. Burnouts are as simple as turning off traction control and giving half throttle. However, the handling does not compare to the BMW 760Li I own. The understeer is so overwhelming it is almost dangerous, you are stunned the first time you take an off ramp at 50 and the tires begin to squeal yet the car keeps traveling in the same direction-scary. Also, driving in the rain is asking for trouble, traction control MUST stay on.
2003 S430 purchased 2006; good overall value
Chris Hudson,03/21/2016
S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
Driving this car a routine number of miles (in my case about 130,000 mi over 10 years), the residual value of around $2000 in casual-sale value is very thin for what the value actually represents. No news flash here: at that valuation, the car is of far more use and value to me than a sale could bring and I will maintain and hold it so long as that is true. Oct. 2018 update: no significant change; this machine has been a good value long-term and the car keeps doing what one would hope at 228,000 miles- keeping on.

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested

More about the 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Overview

The Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is offered in the following submodels: S-Class S55 AMG, S-Class Sedan. Available styles include S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A), S500 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 5A), S430 4MATIC AWD 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A), S500 4MATIC AWD 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 5A), S55 AMG 4dr Sedan (5.5L 8cyl S/C 5A), and S600 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A). Pre-owned Mercedes-Benz S-Class models are available with a 4.3 L-liter gas engine or a 5.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 302 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes with rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a unlimited yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Classes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Can't find a used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Classs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz S-Class for sale - 12 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $10,346.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz for sale - 7 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $11,630.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz S-Class for sale - 8 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $7,735.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for sale - 5 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $14,085.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz S-Class lease specials