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2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review

This review was written when the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was new.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers capable performance and a posh interior, but a high price may limit its appeal.

At first glance, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class may not quicken the pulse like the Porsche Panamera, Audi A8 or BMW 7-Series. All of these rivals are either new or recently redesigned in the last few years, and while the S-Class has a stately, elegant look, it’s also had the same bodywork since 2007.

However, despite newer entries into the segment, the 2012 S-Class remains a fully-competitive luxury sedan. The returning S550 boasts a new engine that’s more fuel-efficient and more powerful, and critics love the S-Class’ spacious, opulent interior.

Shoppers looking for a bit of practicality may also like the new S350 Bluetec diesel, which takes the S-Class’ winning attributes and adds exceptional fuel economy and standard all-wheel drive. “Like all S-classes, the S350 exudes all the best Mercedes qualities,” writes Automobile Magazine. “It's spacious and luxurious, and its precision German engineering is evident in almost every detail.” 

With so much comfort, luxury and well-rounded performance, the S-Class seems a shoo-in among luxury car shoppers. However, there is one major hurdle to overcome: price. With a base MSRP that’s several thousand dollars more than many rival sedans, the S-Class doesn’t come cheap.

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Other Cars to Consider

If you’re interested in a large sedan with a posh interior, you can save thousands by considering the Lexus LS. Like the S-Class, the LS’ interior is spacious and luxurious, but the trade-off most reviewers note is the ride. The LS’ suspension is clearly geared for comfort, while the S-Class straddles the middle ground between the Lexus’ posh ride and more-nimble super luxury cars.

Luxury sedans aren’t always the most nimble, but if you’re looking for a car that’s thrilling on a twisty road, check out the BMW 7-Series and the Porsche Panamera. Base model 7-Series and Panamera models are also significantly cheaper than the S-Class, although you’ll have to opt for higher trims to match the S-Class in terms of power.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The Details

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sees some notable upgrades for 2012, which include the introduction of the diesel-powered S350 Bluetec and a more-powerful engine in the S550. S350 models come standard with all-wheel drive, while S550 models are rear-wheel drive with an all-wheel drive option. The top tier S600 is unchanged for 2012. The  S400 Hybrid is reviewed separately. See the full 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class specs.

  • "All the S-class virtues remain, but the diesel-cheaper, smarter, and as pleasurable to drive as any S550-brings real rationality and economy to the proceedings." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Our Best Buy choices are the ‘base’ S400 Hybrid, S350 BlueTEC, and S550 versions. They deliver such high levels of performance and luxury that it is difficult to justify paying so much more for other S-Class models." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Technology begets more technology and that's always been the story of the S Class. The S550 continues that story. It rides, drives and acts like a Mercedes should." -- Detroit News 
  • "Quite frankly, if your new ultra-luxury-sedan search begins and ends with a 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, you probably won't regret your decision." -- Edmunds 
  • "The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 4MATIC BlueTEC is the best long-distance cruiser money can buy in America. Period." -- Motor Trend
Review Last Updated: 10/10/13

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