Used 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Consumer Reviews

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Pros
Cons

2003 S500

FRANK, 12/01/2008
20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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.

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Straight Line Speed and Comfort

S600 Owner, 10/16/2009
15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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.

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Farewell to all that

Jersey guy, 04/03/2010
18 of 19 people found this review helpful

Owned the car for 3 yrs, bought used at 38,500 mi. Beautifully styled exterior and luxurious, comfy interior -- wonderful to look at and to ride in. However, I have never owned a more problematic Benz (this is my fifth). Most of the issues were electronic defects, most notably gear shift that jammed in "P" because of defective sensor, which took dealer months to figure out; A/C sensor needed replacement after a few yrs; the V-belt broke apart on the highway, causing loss of power; front-end vibration required new engine mount; air suspens. struts replaced; CD remote multi-changer stopped working -- and more. I bid farewell to the car today, more in sorrow than in anger.

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2003 S430 purchased 2006; good overall value

Chris Hudson, 03/21/2016
S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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.

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S600 SuperCar

San Jose MBZ, 11/30/2004
8 of 8 people found this review helpful

If you're looking for a large Sedan that is fun to drive, this is it! The torque is nothing less than incredible! This is not a sports car, it's a big sedan that goes 0-60 about as fast as a Ferrari. Seats are extremely comfortable. Much more so than my wife's CL500 upgraded seats. The "Keyless Go" has failed 4 times in 1.5 years. Everything else is superb. If possible, get this model over the S500. You won't be sorry. A great understated car!

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Supercar performance, with heated leather seats

Yagotta B. Kidding, 10/30/2017
S600 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A)
12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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.

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Only The Best, Will Do!

aflame, 10/17/2003
7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Why didn't I drive this car before? My wife took our first test drive, riding in the back seat. Her opinion, "I have never paid much attention to cars, before. This is the only car I have ever really wanted!" If you drive this car, you won’t be able to enjoy any other automobile. You can have the S500, and other models. Our S430 frequently gets over 29 mpg, on trips, and 22-25 in city driving. Specifically, I got 29.4 mpg, driving from Memphis to Cincinnati. I have driven my 1990 Miata over 70,000 miles; yes, I still have it; and, yes, I'll keep it till I die; however, the S Class takes the same turns, almost as fast as the Miata; and, it doesn't lean as much.

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Mercedes= quality- Not anymore sadly

budrow2, 05/24/2015
S600 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A)
23 of 27 people found this review helpful

I always wanted a S600 Bi turbo but the 130K price it wasn't in the cards. So I oped for a 10 + year old model (2003) with about 90k miles for about $10,000. I have owned a E420 and C280 both very good vehicles and lasted well into the 250K mileage range. Unfortunately the S600 is not well built at all. I will start with the interior: Drives side door window regulator broke lose from the door itself, cheap rivets holding it on. RR passenger door lock not working. Hood & trunk struts wore out. Rear trunk assist pump failed. Exterior/mechanical issue; ABC system not working, bad accumulators and valve block, coil pack right side failed, valve covers leak, transmission conductor bad.

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I miss my BMW 750iL

motts71, 12/22/2011
10 of 11 people found this review helpful

I miss the quick warm ups, the handling, and the performance of my BMW. The Mercedes rear window defroster works very slowly, the car takes a long time to warm up. It is strictly a luxury car. I do like the fact that it has had fewer trips to the dealer than the BMW, but it is not as enjoyable to drive. Oh yes, the windshield washer tank keeps leaking so I always have a malfunction showing on the dash, and when that shows, you cannot access the other features of the car's computer.

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A comfortable ride, a safe car to be riding in.

Donald, 02/11/2018
S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
12 of 14 people found this review helpful

This car would be very safe in a collision,haven't experienced it . Mileage on the open road driving 72 miles per hour is reasonable at 27 miles a gallon. You will need to use a premium fuel no less than 89 octane. Using the recommended oil in the engine I change it every 6000 miles the oil consumption is zero at that rate. Excellent engine, lot of smooth power. A nice car that you need to maintain to last a long time. I only have 86000 miles on this 2003 S-430. I hope get much more from this car.

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Sleek, powerful, problematic

Lawman, 07/15/2008
8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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.

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Close to Perfection

benzlover, 11/12/2002
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

After having owned both a Lexus LS400 and a Jaguar XJ8, I have finally found perfection in an automobile. This is quality and luxury at its best!!

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Unlike any other

Zachmbenzfvr, 12/22/2002
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Having owned this car for about three weeks I can say that it is one of the best if not the best Mercedes I have ever owned. I have not experienced any problems with my car at this moment. This car is very spirited and I only wish I would have put my name on the list for the s600. This thing is quick as it is, with 100+ more horsepower, this car would be a rocket. But oh well, My baby is just fine the way she is.

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Luxury no verve, but kudos in the snow

Daniel W., 06/26/2007
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

The car is heavy, very heavy and the drive lags with the 4.3 liter V8. The interior luxury appointments are what you would expect from an S-Class, top notch, especially the optional Bose entertainment system. Particularly impressive is the car's handling and poise in the snow. Three inches of fresh powder could do nothing the upset or throw off the ride, and the car tracks as well in the snow as it does on dry pavement. The optional airmatic suspension does well to firm up the ride and limit body roll on the first of the two settings, but the sport setting provides a rude ride not fit for even the liveliest drivers. I would recommend the S500 4m, or for more sport and fun a 7 series BMW.

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Best so far...

carlover14, 04/02/2003
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

This is my third S-Class, and it is the best one to date. The materials are much improved over the previous generation and now having been with the COMAND system for 3 years, it has become intuitive. The ride is incredible and all the electronics (albeit somewhat worrying me reliability wise) have been working flawlessly and easily. If MB keeps building them like this, a Mercedes is all I'll have until I die.

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A truly great automobile

Rodney S. Cain, 06/15/2006
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

This is my 4th new Mercedes. I have had diesel and gas models, I have had the SL models, and S models. They are a pleasure to own and to drive. Very reliable, and with their weight and ample power they make all roads,hills,and curves seem like an expressway. Best money I have ever spent on cars. Regardless of age, mileage, or type, I have enjoyed the car. Never got out of one and felt that I was tired of the drive. I oft times take it for a drive, just for the pleasure of driving it.

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The Best of the Best

Steebie, 03/16/2003
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

This is my second S430 in three years, and the 2003 has really improved, especially the command system. The trunk pop out handle allows you to close the trunk without one fingerprint on the finish. Sound system is the best of the best, and comfortable ride can't be beat. The 2003 is the best yet.

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Best Car I Have Ever Owned

john, 02/21/2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

I bought this car 6 months ago and have not had any major complaints so far. The interior is very comfortable and the fact that it comes standard with navigation, leather, and heated front seats was a huge bonus. It handles very well, and even though it is rear wheel drive, it has shown to be pretty reliable in the snow. Definitly a "looker". The only thing that I dont like is the occasional knocks and bump that I hear in the doors and ceiling. That happens on all cars but I didn't expect it from this one. And the brakes create excessive brake dust and cause a high pitched sceech when applying the brakes. It's always fixed but still a nuisance.

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1st time

WE-R-1, 07/18/2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

An outstanding auto on the open road. Eye catching vehicle with a smooth and quiet ride, handles well, plenty of cabin room. Been in shop 4 times for power assist problems with trunk (on last trip, power assist doors went on blink as well). Scheduling another appointment- this time trunk will only open with valet key. Noisy front seats remedied after 3rd try with replacement of plastic seat guides. Cup holder design poor. Navigation system- too many key strokes and street info on CD is paltry. Still love the vehicle, but frustrated by the mutiple vists to repair items that I would not expect on a vehicle with less than 32000 miles- let alone a MB.

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2003 S Class

Hawk1, 06/19/2003
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Magnificent car in every respect except reliability!! The vehicle was delivered to me with no refrigerant in the air conditioning system. It required service to charge the system within the first week of ownership. No leaks were detected by the service technician. Seven weeks later the AC failed again. The system maintained the charge, but another component of the AC system failed. Parts are on order but this means another trip to the service department--three within the first two months of ownership.

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S 430 -The greatest

1namil, 09/13/2003
4 of 5 people found this review helpful

I have had this car for 18 months. It is the most perfect automobile I have ever owned.I have searched, ever since I have had it, for an imperfection. I have never found one.I am a senior. I may be just lucky but I dont think so.The ride is the best. I have not changed the wheels from the factory installed. I fear this may change the ride. The GPS Nav.system is outstanding. I am a retired test pilot having used these sysems for many years in large jet aircraft. I first looked at this system with a jaundest eye. But after using it I am extremely impressed with the professional performance.

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When only the best will do

Barry D, 09/23/2006
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

These cars are expensive to buy and maintain, but it really is the best car on the road. I traded my 2000 S500 in on the '03 with 4matic. The 4matic tends to drag or hold back compared to my rear drive, but it is great in the rain and snow. The '03 update really changes the look of the car inside and out. Fuel economy is not much better than a Range Rover. I'm averaging about 15 mpg, and I do a lot of highway driving. My rear drive got much better fuel economy. My car also has the sport package which also changes the look of the car quite a bit. It was next to impossible finding a 4matic with the sport package in a good color, but they are out there. A great car to buy used, save a ton!

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A best buy

The Young Looker, 05/02/2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Definetely a real good deal when buying used ( low mileage ). Besides the car's still a real good looker, the 2003 430 can provide exceptional comfort, nothing a car of it's age can. Performance is not significant, however is not underpowered. Those who desires performance might go with the 500 or the twin turbocharged 600. Watch for driver's side electronic seat, it might be disfunctional due to aging. Others, are exceptional

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2003 S430 4matic - Lorinser Package

Palm Desert, 02/11/2008
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

This was my dream car since 2000. At the price starting at $80K, I thought it would just remain a dream. I was blessed to have this used 2003 S430 this 12/2007. Its everything I expect it to be and more. Real quality & luxury.

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Never Again

Neveragain!!!!, 08/25/2003
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

I've had the car for a 1 1/2 years and have had nothing but problems and only 8,500 miles. Malfunction in the air bags repeatidly and a broken window when they returned it to me. Every time it was serviced for a problem, it came back with another one!!! Quality Control is laughable as I just got it back AGAIN and the airbag light once again is on!!!! BEWARE!!! Most disappointing car I've ever had!

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why theres is no recall on 2003 mercedes

kishor baran, 07/08/2016
S500 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 5A)
7 of 13 people found this review helpful

I was driving on freeway and front body went to ground almost 90persent 2003 Mercedes s500 have same problem and dealer should fix this problem

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Best in Class

smherlin, 01/07/2003
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

I was a previous E320 and a short lived '03 E500 owner. After being disappointed with the size of the E500 I traded up to the S430. I am pleased with the restyle and love the interior.

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best vehical purchace of my life

rsb, 09/13/2003
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

amazing speed and power, almost as fast (0-100) as my ferrari 2000 360 spyder

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s430

DoubleT, 05/27/2004
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

I traded in a 2001 LS430 for the S430. The Lexus was a little too pretty, could not corner and terribly boring to drive. The S430 now has 18000 miles on it, no visits to the dealer except for one oil change. It drives like a BMW with the quality of the Lexus.

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STAY AWAY

gr-1, 09/14/2003
2 of 4 people found this review helpful

many problems with power steering front end navigation and oil leakes

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Black Beauty

spanishteacher, 02/18/2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Traded in my much loved 2002 S55 AMG for a 2003 S600. It is much improved, especially the dash design and the nav system. I was on a waiting list for 10 months. It was worth the wait! Looks great in the teacher's parking lot at the school where I teach.

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The Best Mercedes Benz I have owned

KV, 02/21/2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

This is the best I have driven, ever. Having owned more than 25 MB's including numerous S class. In the last six years, this is my 8th. MB's all from Schumacher European in Scottsale, AZ(including 2001-S430; 2002-S500 and now 2003-S500). This is the finest automobile, I have ever owned or driven in my life so far. While it may be a bad news for the Schumachers and our sales advisor David Mykytiuk, I have personally treasure this car. I have decided never to sell this finest automobile. I would not take an even trade of a new Rolls Arnage on this car.

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The best for Mercedez Benz

Rafer Aston, 01/18/2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A well balanced masterpiece, this car rides like a dream, has a host of feartures that are easy and user friendly. The distintive styling makes this car stand out form the competitors. Overall the this car is what it means to own a Mercedez. Thank the lord for this Mercedez.

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Best Automobile of the World

Om Chahill, 05/30/2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Owning Mercedes-Benz since 1975 and it has the same grace, tradition and value. No automobile in this universe can beat it. Even Rolls and Bentley look after the most technological automobile, Mercedes-Benz. I believe there is only one automobile on Planet Earth to whom every automobile maker copies, which is only and only Mercedes- Benz of Stuttgart, Germany.

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comfort

hp, 05/22/2003
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Remarkably comfortable. Having moved from a bulky "luxury" SUV, I was delighted with the interior space and comfort of the big S class. The ride was also a pleasant revelation. Smooth with excellent grip. The availablity of the 4matic system should make owning a large sedan more appealing for people in snowy climates...

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awesome

melinda, 01/04/2003
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

awesome auto best MBZ ever

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Lack of pride in workmenship

Debi, 07/17/2003
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

I find the workmenship to be shoddy. There is always a knock in the drivers seat, the windshield wipers always need adjustment and as of late the telestar system is on the blink. Very discouraging.

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Should have purchased this one sooner...

Charles David Dreher, 11/20/2018
S430 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

It's November 2018, still own my 2003 S430 and it has been outstanding in every category. With just over 100,000 miles I plan to purchase a 2019 in June or a 2020 in November 2020 depending on the deal I can strike and the look and accessories of the automobile.

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Too many problems for 80k car

Doug Long, 09/16/2003
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Our car has been in the shop way too much for a car of this price. We are at 60000 now and have real problems. Will trade out in the near future...maybe a lexus

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Nice Car

Charl, 09/25/2003
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

roomy, quite, strong, confortable

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Excellent

Dr. Naik, 09/13/2003
1 of 4 people found this review helpful

it is the best car

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Best S Class

Jerry li, 09/05/2003
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

This is the best S class ever ! I love it

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s-class Sport pkg is a piece of machine

Thuan, 09/07/2003
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

The S430 with the sport pkg is just did it for me. Love it the minute driving off the lot. I couldn't afford the s500 sport or the s55 but this vehicle enough for my pocket.

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my 21st century cadillac fleetwood

xchicagoan, 09/23/2003
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

i purchased this car to replace a 1997 e-320 with 107,000 miles. what an improvement over a great car. the s- class literally floats on the road but with a good feel of the road at the same time. and to be honest, it is prestigious, which is why i call it my 21st century cadillac fleetwood, the car i always wanted when i was much younger a long time ago. furthermore, they price was discounted!!

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love it

atheavenly, 10/18/2003
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

very pleased exchanged my e class for the s class

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2002 s 500

Tabasco, 11/26/2002
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great car ,love the air ride. CD player should also be in dash. You would think that with a $90,000 car the rear seat bun warmers would be included, not an extra.

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me

fet, 06/10/2003
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

great car best car around

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S 430 - John Donnelly

john donnelly, 07/28/2003
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great Car, great look, strong, sturdy, has class

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Superb Luxury Car - Feel like a King!

Dr. Warren Bruhl, 02/17/2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

I recently purchased this 2003 Mercedes S430 with 4matic and I was pleasantly surprised how well it handles the harsh winter snows with ample reliability and confidence. The luxury interior is wonderful and it garners great respect even from my 14 year old daughter. I love the way it feels to drive this car and I have been pleasantly surprised by the gas mileage. Driving this car makes me feel secure and confident. It is a truly an executive car driving experience.

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Love that Car......

Cae, 07/30/2003
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

This vehicle is the finest vehicle I have ever owned. I do not like driving on snow or ice, this vehicle makes it a pleasure. As long as you respect the road conditions. Taking it on a long drive is like going to the corner store, never tired always just want to continue the drive.

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