Mercedes-Benz S-Class W222 (2013-present): Review, Problems, Specs
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has dominated the luxury sedan segment for most of its existence and the latest W222 generation launched in 2013 has taken the nameplate's dominance to new heights. The sixth-generation S-Class remains the default choice in the full-size luxury sedan segment, breaking a record in its first year on the market, with more than 100,000 sales. It offers an unrivaled combination of luxury, technology, comfort and refinement, with AMG versions adding breathtaking performance to the mix.
- Supremely comfortable and refined ride
- Unique combination of luxury and technology
- Powerful engines
- An array of safety and entertainment features
- S 550 (U.S.)
- S 350 d (Europe)
- Very expensive optional extras
- Too sophisticated for some users
- Some competitors are more fun to drive
Stay Away From
- Eccentric color combinations can affect resale values
Known Problems & Recalls
- Mercedes-Benz recalled in November 2013 certain 2014 S 550 sedans to inspect and correct the front seat belt anchor fitting.
- Certain 2014 S 63 AMG and 2015-2016 S 63 AMG 4Matic models were recalled in October 2015 to update the engine control unit software.
The S-Class offers many engine options, especially in Europe, where customers can get a diesel (S 350 d) and a diesel-electric hybrid (S 300 h). In the U.S., the entry-level model is the S 550 e plug-in hybrid, which pairs a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo gasoline engine with an electric motor for a combined power output of 436 hp. The S 550 features a 4.7-liter V8 biturbo engine rated at 449 hp while the S 600 comes with the 6.0-liter V12 biturbo unit that delivers 523 hp. The Mercedes-AMG lineup includes the 577 hp S 63 4Matic and the range-topping 621 hp S 65.
As you would expect, the S-Class is about supreme comfort and refinement. All models get standard air suspension, which delivers a "magic carpet" ride, particularly with the optional Magic Body Control system. The latter uses a windshield-mounted camera to detect road imperfections that lay ahead, automatically adjusting the suspension's response. However, the S-Class does never feel floaty in corners, and you will be surprised of how precise the 2.2-tone luxury sedan handles. Obviously, AMG models are as sporty as a car in this class can get. The steering is rather light, and the acceleration is effortless with all engine variants.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS performed a crash test with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The flagship sedan wasn't assessed by the Euro NCAP either, so there's no data about how the S-Class performs in various crash scenarios. There's no need to worry, though, as the S-Class offers an array of safety features. These include advanced antilock brakes with predictive braking, automatic brake drying, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, a radar-based collision prevention system, Attention Assist, front and rear side seat airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag, among other features.
The high level of comfort offered by the air suspension isolates passengers from everything that is wrong with the asphalt. The suspension absorbs big potholes like pebbles while engine and road noise perceived inside is insignificant. If you must drive the S-Class, you should know that it's very easy to find a comfortable driving position, thanks to an electrically adjustable seat that moves every which way. Rear passengers get the best treatment, with Mercedes-Benz offering two configurations – a three-seat bench or two individual chairs separated by a center console.
Everything is top-notch in the S-Class from a quality point of view. Mercedes-Benz only uses the finest materials for its flagship sedan, which clearly distinguishes itself from the brand's smaller models. The S-Class is a special car sitting above the rest of the line-up and the automaker makes this very clear with details such as the bespoke buttons and switches. Overall, the S-Class oozes opulence and bespoke elegance that makes it look more like a competitor for the Bentley Flying Spur than the BMW 7-Series.
The S-Class offers plenty of room for passengers and their luggage, particularly in longer wheelbase configurations. The range includes a standard wheelbase model, a long-wheelbase model, and the Mercedes-Maybach models which offer an even longer wheelbase. On top of those, Mercedes' sub-brand also offers the ultra-long and luxurious S 600 Pullman. At 16.3 cu-ft, the trunk is large enough for a luxury sedan. The controls are rather intuitive to use, especially if you've owned S-Class models before. However, customers who are new to the model and brand will need to adjust to the transmission lever located on the right side of the steering column.
Mercedes' latest and most advanced COMAND infotainment system comes as standard on the S-Class. One of the most user-friendly systems offered in this class of vehicles, COMAND pairs a big central screen with a digital instrument panel, a rotary controller and a touchpad. This setup allowed Mercedes-Benz to keep buttons to a minimum inside the S-Class, giving the cabin a modern and elegant look. Still, basic functions like climate control, navigation, radio and telephone have dedicated buttons, which means you won't have to browse through the menu if you don't want to.
In the United States, the most fuel-efficient model is the S 550 e, with a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg. However, with the electric motor working full-time the S 550 e theoretically returns 58 mpg combined. The S 550 is rated at 20 mpg combined while the S 600 and the AMG models return around 15 mpg. Europeans are more spoiled for choice when it comes to fuel-efficient engines, with the diesel-electric S 300 h averaging as low as 4.3 l/100 km while the diesel S 350 d returning 5.3 l/100 km over the NEDC cycle.
For most people, the standard features offered on the S-Class are more than enough. For example, the S 550 comes with the Airmatic adaptive air suspension, all-LED exterior and interior lighting, panorama roof, Burl Walnut, wood/leather multifunction steering wheel, Keyless-Start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch twin 5-spoke alloy wheels and leather upholstery, among many other things. Features worth having from the huge list of optional equipment include the Magic Body Control suspension (standard on S 600 and S 65), as well as the Premium 1 Package that includes active multi-contour front seats with ventilation, upgraded heating, six massage settings, adjustable bolsters and shoulder support.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn't come cheap, with the 2016 S 550 and S 550 e starting from $95,650 in the United States. That's about the same as the all-new 2016 BMW 750i ($94,400). The S-Class obviously is not cheap to run either, but if you're in the market for such a vehicle, you probably won't care. The S-Class stands above its direct competitors, and sales figures attest that. However, the recently redesigned BMW 7-Series is a strong rival that may steal some customers from Mercedes-Benz.