2009 Mercedes-Benz S550

If I ever come into a huge pile of cash, I'll go straight to a Benz dealer and pick up an S-class. I've been in love with this generation of S-class ever since I first had the chance to drive one more than three years ago. This car still feels every bit as special today as it did back in 2006.

The S-class is an enormous car, but it feels at least one whole size smaller from behind the wheel. Our Four Seasons long-wheelbase 7-series feels much larger (partially because it has a longer wheelbase) around town and in the parking structure. This S550 never felt larger than an E-class from behind the wheel--although anyone lucky enough to steal time in the rear seats would attest to a magnificent improvement in legroom over any E-class.

I can now admit that the entire time I spent driving our Four Seasons BMW 750Li back to Michigan from California I was secretly thinking the S-class would have been a better ride. I much prefer the linear acceleration of the Benz's normally aspirated engine to the BMW's laggy-then-explosive thrust from its twin-turbo mill. Mercedes' active body control feels a bit more normal than any of BMW's fancy new dynamic drive control settings. And the cooling function on the Benz's front seats is much, much quieter than BMW's system.

Aside from the six-figure price and the sudden shift in national opinion toward both fuel economy and the type of people who can afford these luxury cars, I can't find much to complain about here.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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