2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class AMG S 65 Review
Edmunds expert review
Simply put, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the finest cars in the world. There's no need for qualifiers like "for the money" or "within its class." Now available in sedan, coupe and convertible body styles, every Mercedes S-Class delivers a world-class blend of engineering, technology and luxury that permeates everything from the suspension to the seats. This is a car that can scan the road ahead for bumps and actually alter the suspension to make sure you don't feel them. It can help you avoid collisions and drive for you on the highway. And, for good measure, you can sample from six seat massage settings, four fragrance scents, as many as 24 speakers and five powertrains that range from 436 to 621 horsepower.
Really, we could continue waxing poetically about the S-Class, but the fact of the matter is its greatness is evident. Just look at the multitude of available features, its eye-opening performance figures and pictures of its elegant interior. The only way it falls short relative to other flagship luxury sedans is the driving experience; if you want some driver engagement, you can do better than the isolating S-Class. But that's a matter of taste rather than a fault. And as for the coupe and convertible, they really have only one competitor: the Bentley Continental GT. When you're cross-shopping with a Bentley, you know you're in rarefied air.
Indeed, the S-Class sedan also seems a little closer to that upper echelon of luxury automobiles than other flagship sedans out there. Everything about it just seems a little more advanced and overtly luxurious than an Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ. Even the Bentley Flying Spur, which is as decadent as it gets, can't match the master Benz's technology and engineering. So, you won't find many reasons to not buy an S-Class here because it's impossible to imagine being disappointed by one of its many gilded models.
Few cars on Earth are available with as many safety features as the Mercedes S-Class. Standard equipment includes stability and traction control, crosswind assistance, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, front side pelvic airbags and a driver knee airbag. Standard electronic safety features include a drowsy driver 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 AMG S 65) includes an active blind-spot monitoring 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 the accelerator in stop-and-go traffic and keep you in your lane. Effectively, it drives for you on a gridlocked freeway.
The Executive Rear Seat package now includes a special seat-mounted airbag in the right rear seat that prevents its occupant from sliding forward under their seat belt. 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 AMG S 63 sedan stopped in 108 feet, which is typical for a performance car on summer tires.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class consists of three body styles: sedan, coupe and convertible (Cabriolet). Each is available in S550, AMG S 63 and AMG S 65 trim levels; the sedan is additionally offered as the S550e plug-in hybrid and the S600. Each trim level is tied to different engines. There is also a related long-wheelbase Mercedes-Maybach S-Class reviewed separately.
Besides the expected array of features you'd expect to find in a luxury sedan of this caliber, the S-Class comes standard with 19-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, adaptive LED headlights and running lights, a panoramic sunroof, a power trunklid, 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment and memory functions, leather upholstery, MBTex simulated-leather interior trim, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a cabin air-purification and fragrance system, a power rear sunshade, two 12.3-inch display screens (for the instrument cluster and the COMAND electronics interface), a navigation system, two USB ports, HD and satellite radio, and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system. The S550e plug-in hybrid is equipped identically.
Key standard feature differences for the four-passenger S550 coupe are its 19-inch AMG sport wheels, sport exhaust, sport steering wheel and upgraded leather upholstery. The S550 convertible differs with its fully powered soft top, different 19-inch wheels, the Aircap pop-up wind deflector, keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free power trunklid, and heated and ventilated front seats.
Besides its V12 engine, the S600 adds the Magic Body Control adaptive and anticipatory suspension, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, a night-vision camera display, an automatic parking system, a surround-view parking camera system, upgraded leather interior trim throughout the cabin, heated and ventilated multicontour front seats (with adjustable and active side bolsters and six massage programs), heated armrests, the Executive Rear Seat package (heated four-way power outboard rear seats with memory functions, massage and a power right rear footrest), four-zone automatic climate control, power rear side sunshades, a dual-screen rear entertainment system (each has its own COMAND remote), and a 24-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
All of the above extra features on the S600 are optional on the S550 sedan models within packages or as stand-alone items, and all but the extra backseat functions are available on the two-door body styles.
Additional options include Magic Sky Control (a panoramic sunroof with dimming glass tint), a refrigerator box for the rear, in-car Wi-Fi, and the Splitview COMAND screen that allows the driver and passenger to see different things.
The AMG S 63 has an exclusive performance V8 engine, plus special AMG tuning for the all-wheel-drive system, transmission, suspension, brakes and exhaust. To the S550's standard equipment, it comes standard with the heated and ventilated multicontour seats, upgraded leather, the automatic parking system and a special IWC analog clock in the dash.
The AMG S 65 is essentially fully loaded apart from the optional Executive Rear Seating package, Magic Sky Control and the Wi-Fi hot spot. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional on both AMG trim levels.
The 2017 Mercedes S550 is powered by a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that produces 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on every S550. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the S550 sedan and Cabriolet, while 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard on the coupe and optional on the sedan. In Edmunds testing, this base engine rocketed a S550 sedan from zero to 60 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds, while a coupe did it in 4.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) for the S550 sedan, while opting for 4Matic or another body style results in a drop of 1 mpg in combined driving.
The S600 has a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that pumps out 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. It has a seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Mercedes estimates that it'll hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (13 city/22 highway).
The AMG S 63 has a turbo 5.5-liter V8 good for 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Every version of it has a special AMG seven-speed automatic and 4Matic all-wheel drive standard. Mercedes estimates that the various AMG S 63 body styles should hit 60 mph in just under 4 seconds. EPA estimates for the sedan and coupe are 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway) and 17 mpg combined (14 city/22 highway) for the convertible.
The AMG S 65 has Mercedes' classic turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 good for 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. It also has AMG's seven-speed automatic, but because it is rear-wheel-drive only, its limited traction results in a slightly slower 0-60 time than the AMG S 63. Don't let that fool you; it will never feel slower. Its EPA fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (13 city/22 highway).
On the other end of the spectrum is the S550e plug-in hybrid that uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, an electric motor, a seven-speed automatic and lithium-ion battery pack to produce a total of 436 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. When its estimated all-electric range of 12 miles is depleted, it returns an estimated 26 mpg combined.
Effortless. That's really the best way to describe driving 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. 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.
Now, you may think you've enjoyed a comfortable ride before, but it most likely pales in comparison to the S-Class' standard adjustable air suspension. 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. Using a windshield-mounted camera, the car detects potholes and other imperfections in the road ahead and automatically adjusts the air suspension to compensate. We're not exaggerating when we say it'll feel as if you're slicing through speed bumps rather than going over them.
As for engine choice, every S-Class is substantially quicker than you'd expect from such an enormous car. It's really power delivery that's the biggest difference. You'll be able to tell the V8 and V12 models apart by the way they dole out their power and torque, while the AMG models are showier in the noises they make.
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 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Even though the new E-Class has borrowed a few design cues and controls, the S-Class remains a special car that exists above the rest. There is an elegance and sense of opulence 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 their 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 and convertible, but even their backseats are generously sized for a two-door car. Plus, the coupe's lack of side roof pillars provides a wide-open, windows-down driving experience that few other cars can match. You'll also find the convertible's top-up or top-down driving experience impressively serene, especially with the standard Aircap wind deflector raised.
All of the S-Class' many infotainment functions are controlled by the latest iteration of Mercedes' COMAND system, which is reasonably user-friendly given the immense number of functions it's tasked with. Just make sure to spend a lot of time trying things out and asking questions of your Mercedes salesperson or dealership concierge.
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 S550e plug-in hybrid also has a smaller trunk (12.2 cubic feet) because of its battery pack. The coupe's trunk is on the small side for a coupe, especially such a large one, at 10.4 cubic feet. The Cabriolet is a bit better at 12.4 cubes, but it's reduced to 8.8 when the roof is lowered.
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.