There is one irrefutable truth about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class: this car is old. The current iteration of S-Class (codenamed the W221) has been on sale since 2005. In the eight years since, competition from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Porsche have made life a bit more difficult for the halo car with the three-pointed star.
It doesn’t take long to see evidence of that age. The W221 uses an older version of Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system, and features that were once the cutting edge now look dated. The full-color TFT screen on the gauge cluster, once an incredible, industry-leading feature, is now available on the Dodge Dart.
But here’s the thing: the S-Class can still amaze you, even in its old age. On the road its poise is nearly unassailable, a combination of the Airmatic suspension, the seven-speed automatic transmission, and the Pinkberry-smooth diesel engine. Sure, the forced-induction six-cylinder gasoline engines in the Jaguar XJ 3.0, Audi A8 3.0T, and BMW 740Li have more oomph, but the Merc’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, with its 455 lb-ft of torque, puts the others to shame in its ability to waft you away from a stop or around slower-moving traffic.
It’s no small feat that this car is still a big player, even at the ripe age of eight. It’s also a sign of things to come: the W222 bows this summer, and it’ll probably amaze us all over again.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
I have a soft spot in my heart for the old dear. Sure, the BMW 7 Series goes around tight corners more quickly, but who buys something this big with the idea of going around corners quickly. Mercedes-Benz simply is more at home with this sort of car, and in the end, they truly do it best. I’ve got to say, though, that throttle tip-in with the turbo-diesel V-6 is substandard. I think we’ll be seeing more of that sort of thing as automakers try to meet ever-more-stringent fuel efficiency requirements.
Todd Lassa, Executive Editor
I wasted a great opportunity. Instead of speeding across this great country in supreme comfort, with great style, while burning minimal hydrocarbons and enjoying one of my last chances behind the wheel of a new “W221” S-class, the S350 Bluetec sat in my driveway almost the entire weekend I held its keys. This is proof that I really love my family, and that my toddlers really don’t love impromptu road trips — even in one of the best road-tripping vehicles on the market.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I’ve never flown first class, but I imagine it’s a lot like driving an S-class — just without massaging seats and a Harman/Kardon audio system.
Christopher Nelson, Road Test Editor
2013 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC
MSRP (with destination): $93,905
PRICE AS TESTED: $108,660
3.0-liter DOHC turbo-diesel V-6
Horsepower: 240 hp @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 455 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
WHEELS AND TIRES:
19-inch aluminum wheels
255/40R-19 100V Continental ContiProContact tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
Cargo: 16.4 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 41.9/42.3 in
Headroom (front/rear): 37.8/38.5 in
Andorite Grey/Black and Sahara Beige
Keyless entry and ignition
Interior ambient lighting
Automatic dual-zone climate control
Power rear sunshade
Electronic trunk closer
Heated and ventilated front seats
Wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel
Power-folding exterior mirrors
Auto-dimming rearview mirror and exterior mirrors
Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio system
SiriusXM satellite radio w/6-month trial subscription
mBrace w/trial subscription
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Burl walnut wood trim- $325
Power rear side-window shades- $750
Panoramic sunroof- $1090
Heated steering wheel- $490
Splitview screen- $710
Sport package- $5900
19-inch AMG aluminum wheels w/all-season tires
Sport side skirts, and front and rear fascias
Rear seat entertainment- $2450
Rear seat package- $3040
Power adjustable rear-outboard seats
Automatic 4-zone climate control
Heated and ventilated rear seats
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Sport package plus one- $6650
Bang & Olufsen audio system- $6400
2012’s Premium 2 package, which included parking assist and keyless ignition, is now standard on the S350 BlueTEC.