Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review
Edmunds expert review
All flagship luxury sedans are fantastic, but maybe you want just a little bit more. Take a drive in a 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We think this iconic sedan is a step above in terms of refinement and luxury, while the S-Class coupe version is every bit its two-door equal. Read more to find out why this is one of the finest automobiles in the world.
What's new for 2016
Since the 1970s, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has represented the pinnacle of automotive excellence and a benchmark for the rest of the automotive landscape. One could even argue that Mercedes has led the way from the very beginning, when company founder Karl Benz invented the car.
Today, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan and coupe are every bit the benchmarks that their illustrious forebears were, boasting an unparalleled blend of engineering, technology and luxury that permeates everything from the suspension to the stereo. This is a car that can essentially drive itself in stop-and-go traffic while giving you a hot stone massage and automatically adjusting the suspension to counteract bumps in the road before you drive over them. That's just a random sampling of its bag of tricks. There are six models, two body styles, six seat massage selections, 12 music sources, 24 speakers, four interior fragrances, 11 airbags and up to four enormous display screens. Engine power, meanwhile, ranges from 436 horsepower to 621.
We could go on, but suffice to say, the S-Class sedan and coupe are easily among the finest automobiles sold today. Indeed, the sedan feels like a step above traditional, admittedly less expensive competitors like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ, especially in terms of overall interior ambience and opulence. In a way, it feels closer to more expensive, upper-crust flagship sedans like the Bentley Flying Spur. Similarly, the S-Class coupe is best compared to the Bentley Continental GT, as there are no other apples-to-apples competitors. Either way, it's impossible to imagine being disappointed by an S-Class.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available as a sedan and coupe. Both body styles are available as S550, AMG S 63 and AMG S 65, while the sedan adds an additional S600 and S550 Plug-In Hybrid. Each of the models corresponds to a different engine. The new Mercedes-Maybach S600 is reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the S550 models includes an adjustable air suspension, all-LED lighting (including adaptive headlights and automatic high beam control), automatic wipers (with advanced washers and heated blades), keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control (with air purification and cabin fragrance systems), 12-way power front seats (with heating, four-way lumbar and memory settings), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather seat upholstery, "MB-Tex" simulated leather interior trim, auto-dimming mirrors, soft-close doors, a power trunk lid and a power rear sunshade. A panoramic sunroof is standard on both body styles, but the coupe's can be upgraded with optional Magic Sky Control, which applies varying degrees of tint at the push of a button.
Standard electronics features include the COMAND interface (with two 12.3-inch display screens and a touchpad/rotary knob controller), a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, traffic information, voice controls, an in-car WiFi hotspot, Mercedes mbrace telematics and a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system with a six-CD/DVD changer, two USB audio inputs, an iPod/media player interface, HD and satellite radios, TuneIn Internet radio and 10GB of digital music storage.
The sedan version differs with 18-inch wheels. The coupe has 19-inch wheels, all-wheel-drive, front and rear parking sensors, an automatic parallel parking system and upgraded leather upholstery. All are available on the sedan.
The sedan's Premium package adds the front and rear parking sensors, and automatic parallel parking system. It also includes hands-free trunk opening, power rear side window shades and heated and ventilated active multicontour front seats (with additional adjustments, six massage programs and rapid heating functionality).
The coupe's Premium package adds the active multicontour front seats, a head-up display and a surround-view parking camera system.
The S 63 AMG includes all of the above, but gets a different engine and transmission, 20-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension components, performance brakes, more aggressively bolstered seats and styling differences.
The following are options on the S550 and the S 63 sedans. The Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control (with steering assistance and automated braking and accelerating) and a variety of electronic safety aids (detailed in the Safety section below). The Rear Seat package adds four-zone automatic climate control, rear seatbelt airbags, upgraded headrests, a power right-rear footrest and power-adjustable rear seats (available separately). The Executive Rear Seat package adds "multicontour" rear seat adjustments with memory settings and extra passenger-side recline. The Warmth & Comfort package also provides the power-adjustable rear seats, but adds heating and ventilation, front and rear heated armrests and a heated steering wheel. The Sport package adds different exterior styling elements and 19-inch AMG wheels.
The S550 and S 63 coupes also can be had with the Driver Assistance package and their own Warmth & Comfort package, which has heated rear seats and a heated wood and leather steering wheel.
Stand-alone options on the S550 and S 63 sedans and coupes include 20-inch wheels, a night vision system, upgraded leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, an in-car WiFi hotspot and a 24-speaker Burmester 3-D surround-sound audio system. The Magic Body Control suspension, the surround-view camera, heated rear seats and a rear seat entertainment system with individual screens and COMAND remotes can be added separately to the sedan models. Headlight assemblies accented with Swarovski crystal are available separately on the coupe models.
All of the above options are standard on the S600 and S 65 AMG. The latter also gets the S 63's AMG-specific performance items.
Stand-alone options on all S-Class sedan models include a head-up display, a refrigerated rear center console, a heated windshield and a split-view front center display screen (also available on the coupe: driver and passenger can see different things). The Executive Rear Seat Package Plus splits the rear seats with a full-length center console complete with heated and cooled cupholders and airplane-style fold-out tray tables.
There are also a variety of special "designo" paint, leather colors and trim types available. Carbon-ceramic brakes can be added to the AMG models.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 models are powered by a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that produces 449 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic is standard. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the sedan. "4Matic" all-wheel drive is optional on the sedan and standard on the coupe. At the Edmunds test track, a rear-wheel-drive S550 sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is quick but ultimately on par with similarly powered flagship luxury sedans. A S550 coupe 4Matic in our testing reached 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg combined (17 city/26 highway) for the standard sedan, with 19 (16/26) for the 4Matic sedan and 19 (16/24) for the 4Matic coupe.
The S600 has a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 good for 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard. Mercedes estimates that it will reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (14/21).
The Mercedes-AMG S 63 gets a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that produces 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. A more performance-oriented version of 4Matic and a different, specialized seven-speed automatic transmission are standard. In Edmunds testing, the S 63 sedan hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg combined (15/23) for both body styles.
The AMG S 65 offers the mother of all Mercedes engines: a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that pumps out a prodigious 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. It has the same AMG seven-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive. Mercedes actually estimates the S 65's 0-60 time to be slower than the S 63's (blame the lesser traction of rear-wheel drive), but believe us, it will never feel slower in the real world. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg combined (14/21).
Finally, on the other end of the powertrain scale is the S550 Plug-In Hybrid. It has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 paired with an electric motor integrated within the seven-speed automatic transmission. Together, they generate a total of 436 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard. Mercedes estimates it'll reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and travel 20 miles on electric power alone. Mercedes estimates that it will return 24 mpg city/30 highway when its electric-only battery is depleted.
Every 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes standard with traction and stability control (with crosswind mitigation), antilock brakes, front and rear side airbags, front pelvic airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Standard electronic safety features include a rearview camera, a driver inattention warning system and a collision prevention system that will warn the driver of a potential collision and fully apply the brakes if necessary. Mercedes' mbrace emergency telematics includes automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle location assistance, alarm notification, an SOS emergency services button, geo-fencing for valets and teenage drivers and remote vehicle controls (via mobile app or computer) that can unlock or lock the car, for instance.
The Driver Assistance package (standard on the S600 and S 65) includes an active blind-spot warning system (will steer you back to your lane if you fail to heed its warning), an active lane-departure warning system (ditto), pedestrian recognition for the collision prevention system, a rear-impact detection and preparedness system, and an advanced adaptive cruise control system that not only matches the speed of the car in front of you, but will also apply the brakes and accelerator in stop-and-go traffic and keep you in your lane. Effectively, it drives for you on a gridlocked freeway.
Other options include a night vision system (detects pedestrians and animals through infrared sensors and displays them in the instrument panel) and a surround-view parking camera system.
In Edmunds brake testing, an S550 sedan with all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 115 feet. The S550 coupe with summer tires stopped 2 feet shorter. An S 63 AMG sedan stopped in 108 feet, which is typical for a performance car on summer tires.
Effortless. That's how the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class feels when you're behind the wheel. The steering is fairly light, and when equipped with lane-keeping assist and/or Distronic Plus cruise control, it will even subtly steer the car for you. Still, you'll be surprised at how adeptly this very large sedan and coupe will hunker down and go around a corner. So well-rounded is the S-Class sedan that it earned an Edmunds "A" rating for both the S550 and S 63 AMG. It should come as no surprise then, that the S550 coupe also earned our top "A" rating as well.
You may think you've enjoyed a comfortable ride before, but it most likely pales in comparison to the adjustable air suspension fitted as standard to the S-Class. Not only does it iron out bumps, it does so without a hint of floatiness. Plus, the ride gets even better with the sedan's optional Magic Body Control. Utilizing a windshield-mounted camera, the car detects bumps and other imperfections in the road ahead and automatically adjusts the air suspension to compensate. We're not exaggerating when we say that large speed humps can feel more like pebbles. It certainly feels like magic.
The way the regular S550 gets up to speed is impressive. Acceleration from the turbo V8 is sports-car like, yet its noises are reduced to a whisper inside the cabin. The AMG models are less audibly subdued, and the way they even more quickly pile on the speed is all the more likely to get you into trouble with Johnny Law.
The cabins of most flagship luxury cars feel like bigger, fancier versions of "lesser" models, sharing a general design aesthetic and many control components. Not so the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Even though the new C-Class has borrowed a few design cues and switches here and there, the S-Class remains a special car that exists above the rest. There is an elegance and sense of opulence here that make it feel more like a competitor for a Bentley than a BMW.
Beyond aesthetics, few cars can approach the new S-Class' comfort and infotainment features. The standard seats are lovely, but we recommend the Premium package's multicontour seats with their additional adjustments, ventilation and six massage settings. That's right, six. One even simulates a hot stone massage by utilizing the seat's heating elements. And just in case your rear passengers are the jealous sort, the same opulent front seat features (including adjustments) are available in the sedan's enormous backseat. Plus, you can add an entertainment system, airplane-style pop-out tables and even a fridge.
Those aren't available on the coupe, but even its backseat is pretty generously sized for a two-door car. Plus, its lack of B-pillars provides a wide-open, windows-down driving experience that few other cars can match.
All of the S-Class' many infotainment functions are controlled by the latest iteration of Mercedes' COMAND system, which remains one of the most user-friendly around (even if its immense number of functions makes it potentially overwhelming to use at first). Compared with the setup in the E-Class and many other Mercedes models, the S-Class' newer COMAND interface features a colossal central screen, unique graphics, a touchpad controller and a different physical button layout (buttons for frequently used functions are grouped around the main control knob rather than on the dash). Immediately adjacent to the infotainment screen is the instrument panel, which itself is an equally large display screen complete with simulated digital gauges.
The trunk, as you might expect from a 17-foot-long sedan, is sufficiently large at 16.3 cubic feet. Note, however, that the available 24-speaker Burmester high-end sound system "significantly" reduces trunk space, according to Mercedes. The S550 Plug-in Hybrid also has a smaller trunk (12.2 cubic feet) because of its battery pack.
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.