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Drive and Review: 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class on Everyman Driver

Boasting spectacular levels of luxury and state-of-the-art technology, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan is the German company’s flagship and a rolling statement of success. Although its storied history is partly responsible for that prestige, the latest generation looks to improve on its impressive predecessor in every way, making it an Editors’ Choice winner. The new S-class has grander proportions, an even richer interior, innovative safety equipment, and some seriously futuristic features.

The highlights include a 3D gauge cluster, a massive OLED touchscreen, rear-wheel steering for better maneuverability, and an active air suspension that makes cornering smoother and keeps passengers safer in the event of a collision. A pair of turbocharged powertrains and standard all-wheel drive should ensure that the 2021 S-class sedan can whisk you to business meetings or gala events on time, but its indulgent amenities and lounge-like back seat could be a reason to be fashionably late. (Source: Car and Driver)

Script from video above: Let’s snuggle up with 7th generation Mercedes-Benz S Class. Oh, and snuggle we shall. Sure, we’ll find space for criticism but when reviewing an S Class there are just so many neat features to discuss. Case in point, the heated and ventilated front seats have 18 motors, six fans, and 10 massage programs with two intensity levels. We’re gonna use that hashtag quite a bit. As expected, the interior is lush.

The materials, textures, and arrangement ooze class, which is likely the least appealing way to say something is classy. What’s this? A head rest pillow? In back it’s more of the same. Comfort, quality, and space. On a quick practical note, the trunk is 13.8 cu-ft large. That is 1 cu-ft smaller than a Honda Civic’s trunk. Weird. And back to the fancy stuff. Look at those screens! There’s a 12.8-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. I’ve observed in other reviews that Mercedes’s MBUX infotainment system is not the most intuitive interface I’ve used.

But I do like the ability to make requests via several methods. Touchscreen, this controller, touchpads on the steering wheel, or with my voice. “Hey, Mercedes. Destroy my enemies”. If this were my car, I’d get used to using those voice commands since the dash’s minimal use of buttons means you’ll have to interface with the center screen for many vehicle functions. The icons are large and easy to press but Mercedes has put a lot of effort into making MBUX usable, so you may as well exploit the system’s abilities.

And now, just for fun, let’s bust out a lightning round of the S-Class’s primo standard features. Let’s see, the “base” S 500 Luxury Line features an air suspension, 6 USB-C ports, a 15-speaker Burmester audio system, this panoramic sunroof, a brilliant 360 degree camera system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto, wireless phone charging to match, a full-range of active driver assist technology, pop out door handles… …and soft-close doors, because the arms are made for typing not pushing doors closed. That is an exceptional amount of luxury and technology on a base car and, oh wait, I’ve just seen the price tag. The least expensive S 500 4Matic sedan starts at nearly (text: ~$110,000), not including destination charges.

No, that is not cheap…(pause)…better show the soft-close doors again. How bout we move on to the powertrain. All-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission are standard, as is a 3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine making 429 horsepower (429 hp, 384 lb-ft). You can also opt for a twin-turbo 4-liter V8 (496 hp, 516 lb-ft). Here are the fuel economy figures for each (S 500 3.0L I6 19city/28hwy, S 580 4.0L V8 17city/25hwy) With either engine you’ll enjoy a 48-volt mild-hybrid system dubbed EQ Boost, which as I’m saying it doesn’t sound like something drivers would typically enjoy.

But, compared to the intrusive shaking displayed by many automatic engine start-stop systems, the S-Class’s velvety shut-off behavior is legitimately enjoyable. EQ Boost also allows the engine to occasionally shut down while cruising down the road. Where mild hybrid tech is concerned, EQ Boost is a neat one. (#BlueBookLyfe) As we’re gliding along in comfort mode, the S-Class rides like it’s in low-earth orbit.

I’m fairly sure there’s a road down there but, based on the lack of vibrations, this could also be some sort of simulation. Choose sport mode and the S-Class drives more like a car with more strict body control while still redacting any of the road’s harshness. I suppose we should also hit on the S-Class’s exterior styling. In pictures it can look conservative but in person I will say, it has presence. Here are some lingering shots so you can form your own conclusion. If the S-Class’s 6-figure base price doesn’t make you balk I’m guessing a few grand on top of that won’t offend your sensibilities. With that in mind, you can upgrade your S-Class with the racier looking AMG Line or the V8 exclusive S 580 Executive Line, that adds a 3-screen rear-seat MBUX interface, electrically adjustable rear seats, 4-zone climate control, a rear steering system that’ll make maneuvering in tight parking lots easier.

What else should you consider? Obvious alternatives include the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Lexus LS, and Porsche Panamera, Genesis G90 perhaps…all of which are, to varying degrees, less expensive than the S Class. But let’s not get bogged down by pragmatic details like price and resale values. Can’t we just behold the Mercedes-Benz S Class for the ultra-indulgent technological wonder it is. Yeah, that’s the stuff.

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