2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid Review
A posh interior, best-in-class fuel economy and impressive cabin and safety tech make the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid stand out, but it still stumbles when it comes to performance. Edmunds writes, “The S400 Hybrid is obviously slower and has a less natural-feeling brake pedal, but otherwise it drives just like you'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz.”
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid impresses reviewers with best-in-class fuel economy and an opulent, roomy interior. Reviewers also love its balanced ride and adjustable air suspension. They say that it’s comfortable, but can handle more spirited driving in Sport mode. Still, performance isn’t exactly where the S-Class Hybrid shines. It’s not as nimble as the BMW 7-Series Hybrid, and it’s not as quick either. And while the Lexus LS Hybrid may be a closer match in terms of handling, the Lexus is also quicker off the line. Reviewer opinion is also mixed on the steering system, which some say feels numb. Additionally, most reviewers don’t like the spongy feel of the S-Class Hybrid’s regenerative brakes.
Inside, however, it’s a different story. The S-Class Hybrid offers the plush interior you’d expect in Mercedes’ flagship sedan. The cabin features classic design cues with leather seating and Eucalyptus wood trim. The seats are roomy and comfortable at all four corners. Additionally, this Mercedes provides a long list of standard tech and comfort features that include navigation, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, heated and ventilated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
Not all reviewers, however, are floored by the S-Class Hybrid’s tech features. Some say that Mercedes’ COMAND interface is not the easiest to use. Many audio, navigation and comfort functions are set using COMAND, and simple tasks like seat adjustments require you to work through on-screen menus using the controller. Passengers more than six feet tall might also like more headroom. But like all super luxury hybrids, the biggest hurdle is likely the price. At $91,000, this Mercedes is the least expensive hybrid in the class, but there are much more affordable super luxury cars.
Other Cars to Consider
Hybrid shoppers with super luxury car tastes might also like the Lexus LS Hybrid, which outperforms the S-Class easily, but trails it in terms of fuel economy. The Lexus’ EPA-estimated 19/34 mpg city/highway can’t quite match the Benz’s 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Another detractor for the Lexus is the price: At $91,000, the S-Class Hybrid is already expensive, but the LS Hybrid is even more so, starting at over $111,000.
If you’re looking for even better performance, the BMW 7-Series Hybrid is quicker and more nimble than both the Lexus and the Mercedes. At about $102,000, the Bimmer also splits the price difference between the two, but can’t match the S-Class Hybrid in terms of fuel economy. The 7-Series Hybrid gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
Porsche will also be launching a hybrid version of the Panamera in the months to come, which some shoppers might want to wait for. Starting at $95,000, the Panamera S Hybrid will likely be the nimblest of the pack. With a manufacturer-estimated zero to 60 time of 5.7 seconds, the Porsche will be significantly quicker than the Benz, but not as fast as the BMW. Fuel averages for the Panamera Hybrid are not yet available from the EPA. However, keep in mind that the base V6 Panamera already matches the S-Class Hybrid’s annual fuel costs with 18/27 mpg city/highway fuel economy.
That means that the Panamera and the S-Class Hybrid are tied for best in class fuel economy, but with a base price under $75,000, the Panamera is much less expensive.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid: The Details
The 2011 Mercedes-Bens S-Class Hybrid comes in just one, well-equipped trim-level: the S400Hybrid. Starting at $91,000, standard equipment includes an adaptive air suspension, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, navigation, Bluetooth and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with HD and Satellite radio, as well as an iPod interface.
- "Luxury sedan customers who are also interested in decent mileage would be foolish to ignore the six-cylinder BMW 740Li, which costs a whopping $15,000 or so less than this Benz, earns competitive EPA numbers (17/25 mpg), and is significantly quicker." -- Automobile Magazine
- "This least expensive S-Class is perhaps the most compelling. Though lacking the orbit-altering torque of the S550, this V6 Hybrid is nearly as strong around town, costs less and gets impressive fuel economy." -- Consumer Guide
- "While the S-Class is a large car, it’s easy to drive and offers a superb ride - just the ticket when the open road beckons and you have a lot of miles to cover without stopping." -- Road and Track
- "A nearly 2 1/2 -ton luxury tank, replete with all of the comforts and conveniences of the modern, high-end car, that has seats for five people and a trunk big enough to carry all of their stuff, that gets a combined 22.5 miles per gallon." -- Washington Post
- “Remember that this S400 represents a very light dose of hybridness.” -- Motor Trend