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Driving Dynamics
I love this car! It performs flawlessly across every category. It provides endless hours of driving pleasure.
NADAguides Test Drive Team
August 26, 2014
Driving Dynamics
For years, the Mercedes S-class has been one of the major automotive benchmarks in terms of design, luxury, quality, technology, performance, and reliability. Our 2014 S550 4Matic tester hit the mark in all of these categories, as it features modern, attractive lines; a spacious cabin, where diamond-stitched leather, wood trim, and machined aluminum vents and switches abound; and dual 12.3" screens that display digital gauges, navigation information, Intelligent Drive, etc. Acceleration is quick, handling is confident and composed, and reliability... well, this is a Mercedes-Benz after all!
2014 Mercedes-Benz 1115 S-Class 26767 364389
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Expert Reviews

Stephen Williams
powered by New Car Test Drive
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been completely redesigned for the 2014 model year. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a soft-spoken style but boasts technology unheard of when the previous S-Class arrived as a 2007 model.

Essentially, the new 2014 S-Class has more of everything. Leaving alone for a moment the sumptuous perforated-leather seats, the rear-seat legroom that would accommodate a stretched-out LeBron James, the illusion that the windshield actually seems to widen out toward the top, well, there's the extraordinary safety systems and sophisticated electronics built into this iconic automobile.

The 2014 S-Class deserves a doctorate as a study in automotive technology and safety features. It is stuffed with sensors, surrounded by cameras and radar, and it can sense rough roads, pedestrians and other cars in its path, predict collisions and initiate braking. Data are collected by a stereoscopic camera able to see a 3D view of the environment up to 50 meters ahead and sense the spatial position and movements of objects ahead of the vehicle.

Mercedes calls all of these sci-fy-ish systems Intelligent Drive. Some of the components are standard, such as Collision Prevent Assist and Magic Vision Control. Others, while others such as the Driver Assistance Package and Magic Body Control are options.

The latter is worth a special mention. While the standard S-Class receives a pretty good air suspension, Magic Body Control employs the stereo camera to detect irregularities in the road surface ahead, and to automatically adjust the hydraulic suspension damping to a softer mode in a fraction of a second. The system works at speeds of up to 80 MPH. Goodbye, bumps.

The curvaceous interior is welcoming to all occupants, with fine leather and threads and a wraparound sweep to the cockpit. This is no cabin to cozy up to, but this is no sports car either.

The 2014 S-Class arrives in the U.S. in its long-wheelbase iteration (124.6-inch wheelbase, 206.5-inch overall length), making it ideal for a chauffeur-driven sedan, where it's possible to stretch out in the expansive rear seat, and on the passenger's side to recline much as in the first-class cabin of an international jet.

The all-new S-Class begins in the U.S. market with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 and S550 4MATIC and the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC.

The 2014 S550 and S550 4MATIC are propelled by a V8 that displaces 4.6 liters and outputs 455 horsepower at 5250 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque from 1800 to 3500 rpm. Zero-to-60 acceleration performance is 4.8 seconds, according to the manufacturer. Top speed is limited to 130 mph. All 2014 S550 models come with a 7-speed automatic. The S550 uses rear-wheel drive, while the S550 4MATIC is all-wheel drive.

The 2014 S63 AMG 4MATIC is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine hand-built by Mercedes-AMG rated at 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard as is a 7-speed AMG Speedshift sports transmission and an AMG ADAPTIVE sports suspension. The new S63 AMG is 220 pounds lighter than a comparable previous-generation version. This high-performance sedan is capable of 0-60 mph in a very quick 3.9 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz USA.

Options are plentiful for those who wish to extend their car payments. How many makes offer heated armrests?

Competition in this autobahn-blaster segment is robust. There are the usual suspects from Germany, including the Audi A8 and the BMW 7 Series, but they lack the cachet of the Mercedes brand (although they maintain a fashionable cachets of their own). Lexus also presents an appealing luxe alternative with its top of the line LS series.

Model Lineup
The all-new S-Class launches in the U.S. as the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550, S550 4MATIC, and S63 AMG 4MATIC. All three are sedans. (The other 2014 S-Class variants are built on the previous-generation platform.)

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 rear-wheel drive and S550 4MATIC four-wheel drive come with a 4.7-liter twin turbocharged V8 and 7-speed automatic transmission.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 ($92,900) comes standard with leather upholstery, heated front seats, the COMAND system with navigation, a panoramic sunroof, rearview camera, a complete LED lighting system. Technologies include Magic Vision control, Attention Assist, Pre-Safe, Adaptive Braking, Collision Prevention Assist, mbrace2, electronic trunk closer, soft-close doors.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4MATIC ($95,900) includes all-wheel drive.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC ($139,500) is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine hand-built by Mercedes-AMG rated at 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard as is a 7-speed AMG Speedshift sports transmission and an AMG ADAPTIVE sports suspension. The S63 AMG is equipped similarly to the other S-Class but also includes powered AMG sports seats in Nappa leather, Keyless Go remote starting, an AMG exhaust system, LED ambient lighting, and a Burmester audio system.

The dimensions of the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class are only a few millimeters different from the previous version, but this new one shaves off some bulk and has a more playful exterior demeanor. From the rear, the car presents a familiar, trapezoidal rear end, although it's busy where the rear spoiler collides with the stylized exhaust.

The front fascia is a cohesive sculptured design with a large, slatted grill and headlamps encased in the body fenders. Flared arches in the front fender melt into the bumper, and sharp character lines shape the side profile, an element called the dropping line, that defines part of Mercedes's current style language.

The rear windscreen cuts into the C-pillars, which have a powerful swoop where they meet up and evaporate into the rear shoulder.

The outer body panels and the roof are made of aluminum, and there's aluminum in the interior structure and the suspension bits. Mercedes engineers claim to have achieved a 5-percent improvement in efficiency with these materials.

The overall effect is imposing and expensive, exactly what a new generation of an S-Class should be.

While the new S-Class is defined in part by its technology and a handsome, conservative exterior, the cabin is where stylists have let loose.

Notwithstanding the stereo speaker mood lights, the softest headrest pillows in creation and the option to waft perfumed air into the cockpit, the S-Class interior is sublimely inviting.

The cockpit sweeps around the driver and front passenger, and the dash is a vista of contrasting woods (some with pearl effects), metals and soft-touch leathers, with controls and buttons that are all-intuitive but can be baffling where you first meet them.

Behind the exquisite wood-and-leather two-spoke steering wheel is one of the pair of 12-inch high-resolution color displays that sits in for the conventional instrument cluster. The circular tach and speedometer flank a computerized information panel. To the right, above the four circular HVAC louvres and a fancy analog clock, is display for infotainment, navigation and comfort functions. On the center console is the command center and rotary controller, along with direct access keys for features like the radio and navigation and the menu. A speech dialog system allows users to enter complete addresses by voice. There's also the option of having emails or text messages read aloud.

A chauffeur package is part of a $3,000 Rear Seat package so that the passenger in the right rear seat can electronically raise the footrest and recline, first-class-airline style. Another option for $2,350 offers power rear seats that can be heated or ventilated, a heating steering wheel, and heated armrests front and rear.

Of course, what's a luxo sedan worth if you can't get a massage? There's an Energizing function as well as a hot-stone component if the day's been particularly rough.

Lighting inside the S-Class is something of an art form. The colors and intensity of the LEDs ambient lights in the cabin can lend a soft, romantic glow or, turned up, convert the interior into a mobile disco. In all, there's a choice of seven colors with five dimming levels and four dimming zones.

If an unpleasant odor wafts into the cabin, the S-Class offers a $350 Air Balance Package to infuse the air with a variety of scented liquid packs, including Sport, Nightlife, and Fireside( no Burnt Rubber, alas). A high-end surround sound system from Burmester kicks in if you pony up the $6,400 option price; the standard audio system features 10 speakers.

Rear passengers also have inflatable seatbelts with buckles that rise up for handy access.

Official cargo space in the new S-Class is still to be determined, but suffice to say that the trunk will accommodate more than a couple of golf bags.

Driving Impressions
Solid and stable, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class performs as advertised: It is fast without any touch of drama, monolith-solid, and, once you figures out the buttons and the controls, awesome in terms of its tricks.

By trimming mass with extensive use of aluminum, the 2014 S-Class is a finesse-balancing act on the road, totally isolated from wind and road noise even at prodigious highway speed. The firmed-up air suspension dismisses potholes with a soft thump (we only found one pothole in Canada), and rough tarmac is history thanks to the optional Magic Body Control system. Occasionally at lower speeds in traffic, we felt an awkward little bark from the transmission as its settles into what's usually the appropriate gear, thanks to the dual-clutch.

Steering feel is light and neutral, as we'd expect in this class. Several curves set up a suggestion of body lean but didn't upset the civility in the cabin.

Peering over the long, flat hood, sightlines are excellent, as are the ergonomic visibly of the major controls.

We had the chance to experiment with some (but not all, there are too many) safety systems available in the 2014 S-Class.

The autonomous Mercedes isn't here yet, but one can option Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop & Go Pilot, which allows for hands-free driving at 37 mph, as the stereo cameras follow the car ahead, even on gentle bends, says Mercedes. The system uses both the car you're trailing, as well as road markings, to keep centered in your lane. It's all part of the $2,800 Driver Assistance Package, which also includes Mercedes's Pre-Safe Brake. Using data from radar and the camera, it will automatically apply braking at up to about 30 mph without driver input if it detects a pedestrian or stopped vehicle. Jetsons stuff.

The S550 and S550 4MATIC use a 4.6-liter that produces 455 horsepower from 5250 to 5500 rpm and 516 foot-pounds of torque from 1800 to 3500 rpm. Mercedes-Benz says these two models can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 130 mph. Fuel economy data were not available from the Environmental Protection Agency at press time.

The S63 AMG features a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with an output of 577 horsepower and 664 foot-pounds of torque. Mercedes-Benz USA claims the S63 AMG can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Completely redesigned for 2014, the Mercedes-Benz S550 boasts a seamless driving experience and cosseted luxury. The sublime, inviting interior is swathed in rich leather and wood, complete with mood lighting and aromatherapy. The S550 is fast and extremely stable at high speeds. Steering is light, there is little body lean and precise handling yet the suspension muffles the worst potholes. The S-Class is quiet underway and the driver benefits from excellent visibility.

Stephen Williams filed this report after his test drive of the S550 in Ontario.

Model as tested
Mercedes-Benz S550 ($92,900)
Basic Warranty
48 months/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Stuttgart, Germany
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
Premium 1 package ($4,500) includes Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, heated and active ventilated front seats with massage function, Keyless-Go; rear-seat entertainment system ($2,650); Magic Body Control ($4,450)
Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Mercedes-Benz S550 ($92,900), S550 4MATIC ($95,900); S63 AMG 4MATIC ($139,500)
Safety equipment (standard)
Collision Prevention Assist; Magic Vision Control; mbrace2; LED Intelligent Light System; rearview camera; Attention Assist; Pre-Safe; electronic stability control; ABS; Adaptive Braking
Safety equipment (optional)
4.7-liter aluminum twin-turbocharged V8 with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder
7-speed direct shift automatic with paddle shifters
Specifications as Tested
leather upholstery, climate control; Burmester sound system, two 12.3 inch high resolution screens for instrument and infortainment clusters; COMAND system with navigation; ambient lighting; heated front seats; electronic trunk closer; panorama sunroof; power seats with memory; rearview camera; illuminated doorsills
Engine & Transmission
4.7-liter aluminum twin-turbocharged V8 with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
455 @ 5250-5500
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
Brakes, front/rear
Suspension, front
multilink air spring, single-tube shock absorber with continuously adjustable damping
Suspension, rear
multi-link, independent
Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear
Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight
NADAguides Test Drive Review
powered by NADAguides Test Drive Review
Overall Score



One of the most technologically advanced vehicles we've ever been in, exuding beauty, luxury and grace.


Infotainment center can be a bit tricky, there are so many options.

What's new for 2014

Completely redesigned bodystyle.

Exterior Impressions

Holding reign as Mercedes flagship sedan, the S-Class is known for its effortless superiority. It has a larger radiator grille and a long hood featuring a gently sloped roofline at the rear. Taillight design is all new as well being completely encased by the body of the car. This new redesign looks much more regal than the previous generation. Our test model has the optional Sport Package with includes 19" AMG wheels with all season tires, sport bodystyling which makes changes to the front and rear bumpers as well a the side skirts.

Exterior Features

Exterior features include LED technology. This is the first vehicle in the world whose interior and exterior are bulb less and lit by purely LEDs. The new design also equips the vehicle with better aerodynamics. The exterior may be subtle, but the real showpiece is the interior.

Exterior Summary
Interior Impressions

All I can I say is wow. The interior of the S550 consistently out does itself time and time again. It is the perfect blend of opulence and forward thinking technology. Probably some of the greatest technology features we've seen to date. Every amenity you could dream of is available, although it will cost you! Our test model had upwards of $30,000 worth of additional options. All LED lighting is used, and on top of that, you have ambient lighting that is interchangeable. The infotainment center alone offers two 12.3 inch screens. The COMAND system lets you control just about every aspect of the car. It is almost overwhelming and does take some time to get used to. A Burmester® Surround Sound System comes standard, but the optional Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound System with 24 high performance 3D speakers sounds fantastic. The plush leather seats hug the body, and with the addition of the Premium 1 Package you will also enjoy ventilated from seats, keyless entry and start, parktronic with active parking assist, and active multi-contour front seats with a hot stone massage feature. Can't beat that.

Interior Features

Standard interior features include dual-zone climate control, SiriusXM Radio in addition to CD player, DVD (which can also be displayed in the COMAND center, viewable for the front passenger) SD card, two USB ports, wireless Bluetooth audio streaming and a Music Register for storing 10GB of music on the hard drive. Another extra option is the Air Balance package which is a cabin-air purification system spritzing a chosen fragrance (four different options) from your vehicle. Mercedes really left no stone untouched. Heated steering wheel, front and rear seats are also available as well as electronic trunk closer, sunshades and a panoramic roof.

Interior Summary
Technology Effectiveness
Comfort and Romminess
Driving Impressions

There really isn't much to complain about at the wheel of this vehicle. Every aspect is done right. The cabin is quiet, the ride is smooth, and when you need some power the 455 horsepower V8 engine gets this large sedan moving. If you wanted to take the next step up, the S63 would be the way to go. Not in the mood to keep your hands on the wheel? Not paying attention? No worries, the S-Class has got you covered. The Driver Assistance Package is a life saver...literally. Distronic Plus with Steering Assist allows the driver to remove their hands from the wheel and let the car steer for you. Upon testing, I was nervous to try it, but now I'm hooked. Set cruise control and let the S550 do all the braking and accelerating for you. Active Lane Keeping Assist, Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition and Cross Traffic Assist will detect a possible accident before you can react. The technology is truly incredible. Not only does it drive like a dream, its quiet, agile and hard to find a sedan that can top it.

MPG Experienced

16 CITY / 26 HWY

Driving Impressions Summary
Overall Score
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2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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