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2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class keeps a tight grip on the throne of our super luxury car rankings thanks to its impeccable interior, lounge-like seating, and thrilling engine choices.

Pros & Cons

  • Top-notch interior design and quality
  • Posh, pampering seating
  • Authoritative powertrain lineup
  • Supremely comfortable ride
  • Coupe and convertible have relatively small trunks
  • Overly involved infotainment system

New for 2020

  • Proximity keyless entry and automatic parking assist standard in sedan
  • Massaging front seats and a surround-view parking camera system standard in coupe and convertible
  • Optional AMG drive unit and AMG Aerodynamics package
  • AMG S 65 coupe and cabriolet no longer available

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class's #1 ranking is based on its score within the Super Luxury Cars category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a score of 9.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 42 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

9.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 10.0
Performance: 9.1
Interior: 9.1
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class a Good Car?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is an excellent sedan, and it's well-deserving of a top ranking. This super luxury car is one of the most opulent vehicles you can buy, with seats fit for a monarch, superlative materials, and a list of features that few cars can match.

Mercedes' flagship sedan doesn't ignore performance in pursuit of luxury. You can get this car with potent engines that range from 362 to 621 horsepower. A refined ride further boosts the S-Class' well-rounded driving dynamics.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

If you're prepared to spend around $100,000 – or much, much more – on what many consider the pinnacle of automotive excellence, the Mercedes S-Class should be near the top of your list. Even if you opt for one of the more expensive trims that approach or exceed $200,000, you'll probably find the cost justified.

Still, this is a class with many excellent options. Most of those also seem surprisingly affordable compared to the Mercedes. Check out range-topping cars and German rivals such as the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series for a slightly different flavor.

Compare the S-Class, A8, and 7 Series »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is part of a generation that launched for the 2014 model year. Older models will likely be much less expensive than a new S-Class. Just be aware that this Mercedes has seen some significant changes over the years.

The S-Class coupe and a plug-in-hybrid sedan debuted for 2015, and a convertible model followed for 2017. The 2018 S-Class saw the introduction of a new base trim, the S 450, and a 362-horsepower base engine.

For 2020, Mercedes makes proximity keyless entry and automatic parking assist standard across the S-Class lineup, while massaging front seats and a surround-view parking camera system are newly standard in coupe and convertible models. Finally, the range-topping AMG S 65 is now only available as a sedan. Previously, it was also available as a coupe and convertible.

If you’re considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 S-Class, 2018 S-Class, and 2019 S-Class reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 S-Class »

We Did the Research for You: 42 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 42 Mercedes-Benz S-Class reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 S-Class is the right new car for you.

This 2020 S-Class review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2014.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cost?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the most expensive model in a class of already very pricey super luxury cars. The base sedan starts at $94,250. The S-Class coupe and convertible (cabriolet) retail for $130,150 and $138,600, respectively.

High-performance AMG variants of the S-Class cost even more. These models will run you between about $150,000 and $200,000, depending on the powertrain and body style. The Mercedes-AMG S 65 sedan tops the lineup at $235,600.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Audi A8?

The Audi A8 is a pretty good car, but it's not as well-rounded as the S-Class is. All of the Mercedes' engine choices deliver satisfying acceleration, and while the Audi's standard 335-horsepower turbo V6 feels a little weak upon initial engagement, the A8's optional 453- and 563-horsepower engines match up well against the S-Class’ 560 and AMG S 63 variants. You'll probably find the S-Class’ handling a little more engaging than the A8.

Both of these cars feature premium interiors and posh seating, though the S-Class edges the A8 in both areas. The main reason to go with the Audi is cost. It starts around $10,000 less than the S-Class, but if you can afford the premium, the Benz is the way to go.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series?

The BMW 7 Series is another midpack super luxury car that's pretty good on its own, but it ultimately doesn't stack up against the S-Class. Both of these cars have a lineup of five intriguing powertrains, including plug-in-hybrid options and versions that achieve – or in the case of the S-Class, surpass – 600 horsepower. Ride quality and handling are also pretty comparable, but the S-Class comes out on top slightly for overall driving experience.

The Mercedes offers more tech features than the BMW, and while both cars have some overly complicated infotainment controls, the problems with the 7 Series’ interface stick out more. Interior quality and seating are excellent in each car. You'll have to decide if it's worth spending the extra money for the S-Class: The Mercedes’ starting price is about $5,000 more than the BMW’s.

Compare the S-Class, A8, and 7 Series »

S-Class Interior

How Many People Does the S-Class Seat?

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan seats five people. This stately luxury car has what might be the most enviable seating of any car outside of quarter-million-dollar vehicles from Rolls Royce and Bentley. The front seats can be adjusted in 16 ways to help you find the perfect position, and they're incredibly comfortable. You can upgrade the driver and passenger perches with multicontour bolsters and a massaging feature, as well as adjustable headrests.

The sedan's second row is equally inviting. There's ample legroom to stretch out, and you can outfit the car with back-seat amenities such as footrests, folding tables, massaging and power-reclining functions, and power rear side-window sunshades. You can also opt for a rear right-side executive seat, which allows you to move an unoccupied front passenger seat forward with the push of a button for extra space to stretch out.

The S-Class Maybach versions are basically a personal limousine. These swanky long-wheelbase sedans afford extra legroom and many of the added second-row niceties for the ultimate in passenger comfort.

Coupe and cabriolet models seat four people. While not as expansive as the S-Class sedan, these two-door models still have a decent amount of space for back-seat travelers to enjoy.

S-Class and Child Car Seats

The S-Class has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats.

S-Class Interior Quality

This Benz makes a strong case for being the most opulent car across all of our rankings. Premium leathers and real wood adorn most of the cabin, and nearly all other touchpoints are of the highest quality.

S-Class Cargo Space

The S-Class sedan has a near class-leading 18.7 cubic feet of trunk space. That's enough room for several medium-to-large suitcases, and a standard hands-free trunk lid aids in accessibility. However, the rear seats don't fold down to allow for hauling longer items.

Coupe models have 10.4 cubic feet of trunk space, and the convertible boasts 12.4 cubic feet when its roof is raised. Lower the roof, and volume shrinks to 6.9 cubic feet. Overall, cargo volumes for the coupe and convertible are unimpressive for a car of this magnitude.

S-Class Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2020 S-Class' dashboard is high-tech, with a contiguous display measuring more than 2 feet across. This display consists of a 12.3-inch digital instrument and gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen to the right of it. Both setups look the business, with crisp graphics, bright colors, and swift animations.

There's no touch capacity to the screens, so you're left controlling the system via a knob on the center console or an adjacent touchpad that also recognizes handwriting. Most infotainment menus are straightforward, but there are so many functions that it takes a while to learn the ins and outs of the system.

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo, navigation, and satellite radio highlight the list of standard infotainment amenities. Optional features include a 26-speaker Burmester premium stereo, a rear-seat entertainment system, rear-seat wireless device charging, quad-zone automatic climate control, and a cabin air purification and fragrance system. Also available is Magic Sky Control, which electronically adjusts the tint for the panoramic sunroof.

Read more about interior »

S-Class Performance

S-Class Engine: Choices Aplenty

You can outfit the 2020 S-Class with one of five powertrain choices, and they're all great. Even at the lower end of the spectrum, power and acceleration are formidable.

The base S 450 features a 362-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. That's a good amount of muscle to get the car going, and the nine-speed automatic transmission responds appropriately. It delivers smooth upshifts as you accelerate, and it’s eager to downshift for more power when you hit the gas pedal hard.

Next up is a 463-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, found in the S 560. This engine feels noticeably quicker than the one in the base model and is a sensible – if that word can be applied to anything about the S-Class – midrange powertrain option.

AMG high-performance models ramp things up even further, with hand-built engines and specially tuned automatic transmissions. The AMG S 63 makes 603 horsepower from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The sedan can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, while the coupe and convertible do it in 3.4 seconds. The AMG S 65 sedan has a monstrous 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine topping out at 621 horsepower, but it's more than a half-second slower in the zero-to-60 run than the AMG S 63.

Playing opposite these high horsepower versions is the 560e plug-in hybrid, which takes the standard twin-turbo V6 and pairs it with an electric motor for a total output of 469 horses.

S-Class Gas Mileage: Middle of the Road

The 2020 S-Class returns about average fuel economy for a super luxury car. In a class where efficiency is usually an afterthought, anything that's not terrible can be considered a plus.

The base S 450 returns an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. S 560 models get up to 17 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which are the same values achieved by some versions of the AMG S 63, so you're not sacrificing much in the way of gas mileage by upgrading above the base engine.

Fuel economy goes as low as 13/22 mpg and 13/21 mpg for the AMG S 65 and Maybach S650, respectively, which are both powered by a V12 engine.

At the time of writing, neither Mercedes nor the EPA has provided fuel economy estimates for the 2020 S-Class 560e plug-in hybrid.

S-Class Ride and Handling: Nice and Balanced

An air suspension comes standard in the S-Class, affording a posh and comfortable ride. This big boat glides over broken pavement, and it also stays poised around corners, with little noticeable body roll. The AMG models would be the most tempting to throw around a track or take on a winding road, but in general, the S-Class doesn't have a lot of steering feedback. Despite its size, it's easy to maneuver this Mercedes in tighter quarters.

Read more about performance »

S-Class Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Reliable?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the S-Class with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. That length is similar to what most other luxury brands offer.

Read more about reliability »

S-Class Safety

S-Class Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Super luxury cars do not usually undergo crash test evaluations.

S-Class Safety Features

The 2020 S-Class' long list of standard safety technology includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a rearview camera, and automatic parking assist.

This Benz is also outfitted with Car-to-X technology, which is one of the building blocks of the next level of vehicle automation. It lets the S-Class communicate with other similarly equipped cars and infrastructure to perform functions such as notifying you of obstacles or accidents ahead.

Most other optional driver assistance features are grouped in one available package. That bundle includes adaptive cruise control, automatic steering assist, evasive steering assist, front cross-traffic alert and braking, automatic speed limit assist, automatic lane change assist, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe Plus, which automatically rolls up the windows and tightens the seat belts when sensors detect an impending rearward collision. A head-up display, a surround-view parking camera system, and night vision assist are also optional.

Read more about safety »

S-Class Dimensions and Weight

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is between 16.5 and 17.9 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,553 to 5,205 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2020 S-Class in Germany.

Which Mercedes-Benz S-Class Model Is Right for Me?

Mercedes offers the 2020 S-Class in a half-dozen trims and three body styles: sedan, coupe, and convertible. Moving up the trim ladder generally means getting a more powerful engine, which is the notable difference between models. AMG trims are high-performance versions, and there's a plug-in hybrid, as well as luxurious Maybach-branded models.

The standard S 450 comes loaded with features, and its performance is perfectly capable. Even features that are standard in higher trims are optional in the 450, so you can simply check a box to get them added if you don't care about having a more robust powertrain.

Mercedes-Benz S 450

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S 450 is only available as a sedan, and it starts at $94,250. This model comes with a 362-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional for $3,000.

Standard features include leather upholstery, 16-way power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, front-seat memory settings, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, a hands-free power trunk lid, a panoramic sunroof, a power rear-window sunshade, power soft-closing doors, and proximity keyless entry.

The COMAND infotainment system includes a 12.3-inch screen, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo, navigation, voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, satellite radio, two USB ports, and Bluetooth.

The S-Class’ standard safety features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, driver attention monitoring, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic parking assist.

Dozens of optional features are grouped into packages or offered as standalone amenities. Some highlights include Nappa leather upholstery, a rear-seat refrigerator box, a head-up display, night vision assist, a heated windshield, a 26-speaker Burmester premium stereo, a rear-seat entertainment system, rear-seat wireless device charging, and the Magic Sky Control panoramic sunroof.

The Premium package adds multicontour and massaging front seats, ventilated and rapid-heating front seats, a surround-view parking camera system, power rear side-window sunshades, and a cabin air purification and fragrance system. The Driver Assistance package features adaptive cruise control, automatic steering assist, evasive steering assist, front cross traffic alert and braking, automatic speed limit assist, automatic lane change assist, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe Plus.

The Rear Seat package includes quad-zone automatic climate control, adjustable front headrests, and a power rear passenger-side footrest.

There are two variants of the Executive Rear Seat package. One sets you up with massaging and multicontour rear seats and an executive rear right seat. The other gets you those features, plus power-adjustable rear seats, folding tables, and heated and cooled cup holders.

Mercedes-Benz S 560

The Mercedes-Benz S 560 sedan features a 463-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine, and it has a starting price of $104,450. Standard and optional features are the same as in the base S 450 sedan. The S 560 is the first model available as a coupe (MSRP: $130,150) or a cabriolet ($138,600). The coupe is all-wheel-drive only, while the convertible is only rear-wheel drive.

Both of these models feature standard multicontour and massaging front seats, ventilated and rapid-heating front seats, and a surround-view parking camera system. The cabriolet also comes with Mercedes' Airscarf, which is a neck-warming feature designed to keep you comfortable on cool days while the convertible top is down.

Mercedes-Benz S 560e

The plug-in-hybrid Mercedes-Benz 560e retails for $109,750. It pairs the twin-turbocharged V6 engine with an electric motor for a total of 469 horsepower.

Mercedes-AMG S 63

The introduction to the S-Class AMG line is the S 63 and its 603-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This performance trim also comes with AMG-enhanced all-wheel drive, an AMG-tuned automatic transmission, a sport suspension, a performance exhaust, adaptive front sport seats, a race driving mode, and Nappa leather upholstery.

The AMG S 63 sedan starts at $151,600, the coupe at $171,400, and the convertible at $183,500.

Mercedes-AMG S 65

Only available as a sedan, the AMG S 65 carries a price tag of $235,600. It comes with a 621-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12 engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and pretty much every feature available throughout the S-Class lineup.

Mercedes-Maybach S 560 and S 650

The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class models are longer-wheelbase versions of the S-Class sedan. The Maybach S 560, which starts at $173,000, has the same powertrain as the regular S 560. The Maybach S 650 starts at $202,550 and shares the powertrain of the AMG S 65.

Maybach models have additional executive rear-seating accommodations and more upscale interior trim pieces.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class exemplifies what it means to be a world-class car. An opulent interior, sumptuous seats, ample technology, powerful engines, and a supple ride all combine to vault the S-Class to the top of our super luxury car rankings.

A high price tag may give you reason to pause, but in the end, we think this car is worth every penny.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The S-class has it all: an interior that could please a sultan, performance to please a hot shoe, and a road presence that is unmistakably majestic. It may be expensive, but if you're shopping in this segment, you'll be happy to know that you're getting every last bit of your money's worth." -- Car and Driver
  • "The S-Class continues to push the boundaries of what a luxury sedan can be, all while maintaining its commitment to safety, comfort and performance. While the BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS might be a bit more dynamic when it comes to styling, there’s a certain maturity to the S-Class’ design befitting of its place in the luxury-market hierarchy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "The … Mercedes-Benz S-Class extends its long-held dominance over the luxury car realm. As well as the archetypal sedan version, the modern S-Class range incorporates coupes, convertibles and limousines. … The S-Class is also a complete pleasure to drive and sit in. The ride is unruffled, the hand-crafted cabin is serene and the engines feel effortless." -- Autotrader (2019)
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