Photo by Vince Taroc.
Last overhauled for the 2014 model year, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class gets a refresh for 2018 that includes new engines and an infusion of new tech into one of the most already advanced vehicles on the market.
Our tester, the S450, is new to the S hierarchy and slots in as the “base model,” though that designation doesn’t do justice to its standard features and refinement. The S450 uses the S-Class’s new 3.0L biturbo V6 engine, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and generating 363 horses and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. With an electric assist, it’s a worthy replacement for its 8-cylinder predecessor, boosting power without turbo lag.
The new 6-cylinder is good for 22 mpg fuel economy combined, which bests the 8-cylinder’s 20 mpg combined while not compromising performance.
The more noteworthy upgrades involve Intelligent Drive, advancing the S-Class further down the path of autonomous driving. These include improvements to safe forward distances, emergency stopping, lane keeping, pedestrian/object detection, traffic sign reading, parking, and automatically adjusting speed on bends and at road junctions.
The S-Class is even set up for vehicle-to-grid-to-vehicle communication when the infrastructure comes.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
So the S is capable of changing lanes with only a flick of the turn signal. But do you dare? Taking the full benefit of Intelligent Drive’s functionality on the road is, frankly, an unnerving proposition without a classroom course and a Mercedes instructor next to you. Such is the irony of using autonomous features at this stage in the game.
Creature comforts and safety features are bundled into packages, including such lavishness as a seat massage, heated armrests, and fragrance choices. However, some features that were once options are now standard, including those governing blind spots, lane keeping, adaptive braking, and adaptive high beams.
Starting at $89,900 MSRP, the S-Class comes out of the gate on the high-end in a competitive set that includes Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, BMW 7-Series, and Porsche Panamera.
For commercial fleets, the S-Class remains on the pedestal in senior C-suite aspirations.