2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class AMG S 65 Review

For the ultimate in luxury and technology, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains a top pick.
8.4 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

As the current generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class reaches the halfway point in its life cycle, it receives the customary refreshening to keep it competitive against newer rivals. Those include the BMW 7 Series, Porsche Panamera and next year's redesigned Audi A8. To its credit, the S-Class would have remained a top pick in the premium luxury sedan class without the subtle styling tweaks and added features. That's how good it already was.

A slightly more affordable S 450 model debuts this year. Its V6 is down on horsepower compared to the S 560's larger V6, but otherwise it has the same exhaustive list of features. It's the best value here. The new driver assistance features aren't as well-executed as we would have expected, or as advanced as they might be portrayed, so we're more inclined to pass on those options. What you're left with is a stately sedan with an impeccable interior and a smooth ride that keeps occupants blissfully isolated from the harsh outside world. Quite simply, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class exceeds expectations.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 S-Class has a slightly updated look thanks to a restyling of the headlights, grille, and front and rear bumpers. Inside, there's an updated COMAND infotainment system, a standard wireless charging pad, and a new Energizing Comfort system that links various car features together to simultaneously pamper occupants. Other changes include a new S 450 trim level, a new function for the suspension that promotes body stability when cornering, and a few new driver assistance systems.

We recommend

Even though the term "entry-level" may not be readily relatable to "premium luxury," the latest model addition to the stately 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup is our pick. The new S 450 makes about 100 fewer horsepower than the S 560, but it still has more power than most drivers will ever need. Sure, there's something to be said for one-upmanship at this lofty level, but exchanging a bit of power for the cost savings is worth it in our opinion. Plus, the S 450 has all of the S 560's standard features and is eligible for just as many options.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available as a five-passenger sedan, four-passenger coupe and convertible (cabriolet).

The S 450 is available as a sedan only while the S 560, AMG S 63 and AMG S 65 are offered in all three body styles. The main difference among these trims is what's under the hood.

Starting things off is the S 450 sedan. It's powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (362 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque) that sends power to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available as an option.

The S 560 has a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine (463 hp, 516 lb-ft) but is otherwise equipped similarly. The all-wheel-drive system is standard on the S 560 coupe but not available on the convertible.

Standard feature highlights include adaptive LED headlights, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a power trunklid, an air-ride adaptive suspension, keyless ignition and soft-close doors. On the inside, you get a virtual instrument panel, leather upholstery, 16-way power-adjustable front seats (with heating and memory functions), an air fragrancer and a power rear sunshade.

On the tech front, the S-Class comes with remote control over some features via a smartphone app, a wireless charging pad, a 115-volt household power outlet, a 12.3-inch display with Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system. Standard safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and a drowsy driver warning system.

The S 560 coupe and convertible add ventilated front seats, premium leather and an automated parking system but go without the household power outlet and rear sunshade. The convertible also features a folding soft top, Airscarf neck heating, and the Aircap system that deploys wind blockers atop the windshield and between the rear headrests.

Naturally, Mercedes offers a wealth of options to further solidify the S-Class' luxury status. You'll probably want the Premium package, which includes front multicontour seats with massage functions with instant heating and a surround-view camera system for the coupe and convertible while the sedan also adds ventilated front seats, power rear sunshades and the automated parking system. A head-up display is also included for the coupe and convertible. If safety is a priority, the Driver Assistance package bundles a wide assortment of advanced driver safety aids.

To keep rear passengers completely comfortable, there's the Executive Rear Seat package for the sedans with its multicontour seats with massage functions and a power-reclining right rear seat with ottoman and seat cushion airbags. There's also an optional Executive Rear Seat Plus package that replaces the center seat with a console and includes an entertainment system and refrigerated compartment.

Other add-ons include Magic Sky Control (dimming tint for the sunroof), Magic Body Control (a predictive suspension for sedans with a tilting function when cornering), a night-vision camera, a head-up display, a rear-seat wireless charging pad and a 26-speaker premium Burmester audio system.

The AMG S 63 has a sportier take on luxury with a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (603 hp, 664 lb-ft). A performance-tuned all-wheel-drive system is standard along with unique exterior treatments. The AMG S 65 ups the ante with a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 (621 hp, 738 lb-ft) and is only available with rear-wheel drive.

The AMG models include the Premium package, 20-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, an adaptive sport suspension, a sport exhaust, unique sport modes and performance apps, the surround-view camera and an IWC clock (sedan only). The S 65 adds further enticement with standard Magic Body Control, a leather headliner, the premium audio system and the night-vision system.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S 450 Sedan (turbo 3.0L V6 | 9-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall8.4 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration8.5 / 10
Braking8.5 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability8.5 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort8.5 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10
Climate control8.5 / 10

Interior

8.5 / 10

Ease of use8.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out9.0 / 10
Driving position8.5 / 10
Roominess9.0 / 10
Visibility8.5 / 10
Quality8.5 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

9.0 / 10

Audio & navigation9.5 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Driver aids8.0 / 10
Voice control8.0 / 10

Driving8.0

It's not enough for a luxury car to simply wrap its occupants in leather and wood trim anymore. Today's luxury cars have to handle themselves just as well in traffic as they do at autobahn speeds. The S 450 does exactly that with communicative, powerful brakes and a nearly transparent drivetrain.

Acceleration8.5

The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 has the lowest power output of the four available engines but it's anything but underpowered, even in this big sedan. The S 450 moves smartly away from a stop, and power smoothly builds all the way to redline. There's ample passing power, even at higher speeds.

Braking8.5

Brakes with this level of feel, control and power are usually found in sports cars. The pedal exactly communicates what the brakes are up to, even during a panic stop. The low-grip all-season tires hold back the outright braking performance, but 122 feet from 60 mph is still quite good for a big car.

Steering7.5

There might be a bit too much isolation built into the steering since there's not much in the way of feel. That's not to say it isn't accurate, though, and the S 450 can be steered with confidence at sedate or elevated speeds. The steering weight changes with the drive mode, but there's not much of a difference.

Handling8.0

The all-season tires are the limiting factor because the big Benz has solid composure and decent balance even when driven with some aggression. Comfort mode allows some body roll, but Sport essentially dials most of it out, keeping the S 450 almost flat through fast corners.

Drivability8.5

This powertrain delivers on the luxury car experience. If driven serenely, you'd be hard-pressed to notice upshifts, and requests for aggressive acceleration return quick and decisive downshifts. Changes in throttle calibration are virtually transparent and matched well to the selected drive mode.

Comfort8.5

Mercedes blends traditional luxury, using wood and leather, with modern technology to create one of the most luxurious automobiles on sale today. We could do without the overpowering air freshener and its gimmicky mood scents. But from the seats to the ride, this Benz is hard to top.

Seat comfort8.5

Our tester was equipped with the Premium 1 package, which gives front-seat occupants heated and ventilated seats with active bolsters and an array of massage options. Rear passengers have to go without the massaging seats (those are optional) but are still held in a high level of comfort.

Ride comfort8.0

Comfort mode provides fairly exceptional body control and ride comfort, even at high speeds. Sport mode seems slightly out of character for the S 450, but it does good work on a twisty road. The run-flat tires do their best to spoil the good ride and don't effectively soak up sharp bumps.

Noise & vibration9.0

The S 450 is nearly silent under all circumstances but excels at highway speeds where all passengers could have a conversation with no need to raise voices. Only the run-flat tires bring any sort of disturbance into the cabin, but that can be easily canceled out by the audio system.

Climate control8.5

The circular dash-mounted vents provide good coverage and adjustability, and the system works quickly and efficiently to get the cabin to the desired temperature. Rear passengers also get a decent amount of airflow.

Interior8.5

The highest priority in the S-Class is passenger comfort, and it doesn't matter whether you sit in the front or the back to soak it all in. From the moment you get in to the moment you get out, the S 450 takes care of its occupants like almost nothing else.

Ease of use8.5

There's a lot to a modern S-Class, so it behooves the owner to delve into the many menus. That said, the Benz is fairly easy to figure out thanks to a logical menu structure, quick response times and ergonomic controls. Only the pressure-sensitive steering wheel nubs seem unnecessary and difficult.

Getting in/getting out9.0

Whether you're athletic or you have limited mobility, any seat in the S-Class is a breeze to get in or out of. All doors, though solid, are easy to open and offer a soft-close function. And the leather seats, while providing excellent support, are easy to slide over.

Driving position8.5

You sit closer to the windshield in the S-Class than you might expect, but the position gives the driver a better sense of control over the big Benz. The seat seems almost infinitely adjustable, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes to make drivers of varying heights very comfortable.

Roominess9.0

Any passenger will be hard-pressed to complain about personal comfort or space. Rear-seat legroom is beyond generous, but it should be noted that adding a third rear passenger is not advisable since the center seat and seatback are narrow and rather firm.

Visibility8.5

Mercedes-Benz managed to provide an extremely solid chassis while retaining relatively narrow window pillars and door frames. The sloping hood makes it a bit tough to estimate the front end of the car, but the high-resolution surround-view camera system makes navigating tight spaces a breeze.

Quality8.5

The build quality, both inside and out, is nearly impeccable, as you'd expect from a flagship luxury car. The leather work is excellent on both the dash and the seats, and not a stitch is out of place. The only disappointment is the plastic surrounding the storage bin and cupholder covers.

Utility8.0

Passengers' comfort is clearly prioritized over cargo space, but the S 450 still offers a nicely sized and easy-to-open load-and-close trunk. Storage inside is ample, and most everything can be hidden away behind the attractive, if slightly plasticky, wood veneer.

Small-item storage8.0

There's adequate storage space in the front of the cabin to hold plenty of small items. But the S 450 can also usually conceal everything, including the size and layout of compartments, behind its wood veneer. Front and rear door storage are padded, and rear-seat passengers have center-armrest storage.

Cargo space8.0

With 16.3 cubic feet of trunk space, the S-Class has more room than the Audi A8 (14.2 cubic feet) but trails the BMW 7 Series, which offers a very generous 18.2 cubic feet. The rear seats do not fold, but there is a center seat pass-through. The trunk is, of course, power-operated.

Child safety seat accommodation8.0

Isofix anchors are concealed but clearly labeled, and access is straightforward. The amount of space in the rear seats should make mounting even the largest car seats relatively easy.

Technology9.0

This is where the S 450 distinguishes itself from the competition. And even though our test car wasn't fully optioned, it still offered a mind-boggling array of entertainment and safety features. The fully configurable digital dashboard is second to none, as is the remarkable audio system.

Audio & navigation9.5

The navigation and audio controls are located on the center-mounted 12.3-inch display. The crisp graphics and sheer size of the display make it easy to discern information at a glance. Live traffic proved accurate, and the standard 13-speaker 540-watt Burmester audio system is one of the best we've encountered.

Smartphone integration8.0

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported and worked seamlessly, although the graphics of both systems pale in comparison to what the S-Class offers. Bluetooth phone and audio connections were quick and faultless.

Driver aids8.0

Our test car has the Driver Assistance package, which includes enough assists to all but navigate most roads by itself. We found the technology to be interesting but often too conservative in some applications, often going well below the speed limit on gently curving roads.

Voice control8.0

Both Siri and Google voice recognition are available when Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is connected, but the built-in Mercedes voice controls work fairly well. The system only occasionally got tripped up when we attempted to say a street or street number.

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.