2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid Interior
This interior review was written when the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid was new.
Super luxury car interiors seldom disappoint, but the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid stands out. Inside the S400 Hybrid, you’ll find a design that looks classic when compared to the sleek cabins of the BMW 7-Series Hybrid or Lexus LS Hybrid. Quilted leather covers the interior panels, while Eucalyptus wood trim finishes off the distinctive cabin.
But don’t let the classic design cues fool you -- the S-Class Hybrid is loaded with interior tech. A full suite of cabin electronics includes a 15-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and hard-drive based navigation. Despite these attributes, not all reviewers like the COMAND system, which controls most cabin electronics through a single knob, and requires you to navigate on-screen menus to make selections. A few also mention that taller passengers may want more headroom.
- "Gauges are large and clear. Features and their related controls are in abundance; nearly all require some study to understand, and many divert the driver's attention." -- Consumer Guide
- "The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been the standard-bearer for luxury for several decades and the latest incarnation upholds that tradition in grand style." -- Edmunds
- "The S400 Hybrid is a beautiful car in terms of craftsmanship.” -- Washington Post
The S-Class Hybrid’s comfortable seats have impressed reviewers. Many have driven models that feature Mercedes’ optional dynamic front seats, which are almost infinitely adjustable thanks to their 11 pneumatic chambers. These adaptive seats can be set to increase bolstering when the driver changes direction. If you decide to skip the upgraded seats, the standard ones are still impressive. They’re 14-way power-adjustable, and also ventilated and heated. Additional seating upgrades include options such as front seat massage with four different settings and eight-way power-adjustable rear seats that are heated and cooled. Four-zone climate control is also available to increase passenger comfort.
Most reviewers like the S400 Hybrid’s comfortable accommodations, but a couple note that some taller folks may want additional headroom. On the downside, the S-Class Hybrid requires you to make seating adjustments through the COMAND interface – a feature that is disliked by many reviewers.
- "The S-Class affords outstanding room and comfort. Only the very tall will find headroom lacking due to this car's sloping roofline and intrusion from the sunroof housing. Seats offer fan ventilation, automatic-inflating side bolsters, and a relaxing massage function." -- Consumer Guide
- "Space is plentiful in any seat and added creature comforts like heated and ventilated seats with massage features are sure to please even the toughest of critics." -- Edmunds
- "The seats with their massage mode and the dynamic bolsters fit snugly and securely and allowed both driver and passenger to remain in the saddle for those long stretches between fuel stops." -- Road and Track
Test drivers love the luxurious accommodations of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid. The standard leather seating and Eucalyptus wood trim are lush, and should satisfy almost any buyer. Reviewers also approve of the S400’s 15-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo system and navigation display which gets the nod for its excellent graphics.
However, not all test drivers are sold on the all of the S400’s tech features. The S-Class Hybrid carries Mercedes’ COMAND interface, which disappoints some reviewers. Its uses a single dial to control everything from radio and navigation settings to seat adjustments. You have to work through a series of menus on the navigation screen to adjust these vehicle settings, and many say that the system requires time to master. Still, not all dislike COMAND. One reviewer says that it was likely the best system on the market.
The S400 Hybrid does feature a voice recognition system that you can use instead of COMAND for many vehicle functions, but if COMAND turns out to be a deal-breaker for you, don’t overlook the BMW 7-Series Hybrid. Many reviewers comment that BMW’s iDrive system has become much more user-friendly in recent years. Another option is the Remote Touch device in the Lexus LS Hybrid, which many say is also easier to use.
- "The Comand system's infotainment controller is very intuitive and still strikes me as one of the best on the market, even after half a decade." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Most climate functions are handled by simple buttons, but the COMAND system absorbs too many audio controls, complicating their use. It also governs a daunting array of navigation, phone, seat, suspension, and cruise-control adjustments. Further, COMAND's response to inputs via the center console knob or dashboard buttons is frustratingly slow." -- Consumer Guide
- "With exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, the cabin features top-notch materials and exacting construction. The COMAND electronics system uses a control knob and screen to work most entertainment and navigation functions, but the lack of physical dash buttons (like those in the E-Class) tends to complicate the operation of frequently used functions." -- Edmunds
- "The COMAND system also benefits from continuous improvement and is more intuitive and easier to use with each generation." -- Road and Track
Normally, hybrid versions of non-hybrid cars compromise some trunk space to make room for their batteries. This is not the case with the S400 Hybrid. The hybrid Benz’s Lithium-ion batteries, which are smaller and lighter than Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries, do not need to be placed beneath the trunk. The Lithium-ion cell of the S400 lives under the hood with the engine, meaning that the S400 Hybrid has exactly the same trunk space as non-hybrid S-Class models. At 16.3 cubic-feet, the S400’s trunk is one of the largest in its class. However, the rear seats of the S400 do not fold to expand storage space. Some test drivers have complained that the S-Class Hybrid lacks significant interior storage, if you’re looking for a car with more space to stow your gear inside the cabin, check out the Lexus LS Hybrid.
- "The trunk is large, usefully shaped, nicely finished, and includes an underfloor storage bin. Lid hinges dip into cargo area but are covered. A power trunk lid closer is available. Folding rear seat backs or a trunk pass through aren't offered. Interior storage space is disappointingly meager." -- Consumer Guide
- "Mercedes was able to locate its smaller and more energy dense Li-ion battery pack, which consists of thirty-five cylindrical cells supplied by the French firm Saft, in the engine compartment, leaving the S-class's 16.3-cubic-foot trunk intact.” -- Automobile Magazine