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.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available as a sedan, coupe and convertible. As of this writing, there is no specific information on the coupe or convertible, but we expect that they will receive an update similar to the sedan's.
The sedan lineup is offered in S 450, S 560, AMG S 63 and AMG S 65. The related Mercedes-Maybach line of ultra-luxury sedans is covered in a separate review.
Starting things off is the S 450. 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 bigger turbocharged 4.0-liter V6 engine (463 hp, 516 lb-ft) but is otherwise equipped similarly.
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 audio system. Standard safety features include frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and intervention, and a drowsy driver warning system.
Naturally, Mercedes offers a wealth of options to further solidify the S-Class' luxury status. You'll probably want the Premium package, which includes ventilated front multicontour seats with massage functions and instant heating, power sunshades for the rear passenger windows, an automated parking system and a surround-view camera system. 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 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 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. 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. The S 65 adds further enticement with standard Magic Body Control, a leather headliner, the premium audio system and the night-vision system.