2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class


$13,189 - $19,399

2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was new.


Performance: 9.2

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a choice of two engines, but reviewers say either one will satisfy the needs of most buyers. Several systems combine to give the big car the reflexes of a smaller sedan, and the brakes provide plenty of stopping power.

  • "Considering its size and heft, the S-Class is surprisingly poised and sporty, with an uncanny ability to maintain composure in bumpy turns." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The handling and performance of a smaller sport sedan." -- Edmunds
  • "Now that we've driven the S600, we can only conclude that it's the best luxury car on the road." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "In general, the new S-Class is about as quiet, comfortable and isolated from the outside world as any high-end luxury car currently available, and still offers performance that's on par with many sports cars." -- Forbes


Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Mercedes Benz S550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 making 382 hp. Reviewers say it carries the big car with ease, giving it ample power for any situation. S550 models send power through a seven-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The S600 is powered by an extraordinary 510-horsepower, twin-turbo V12. It uses a five-speed automatic, but reviewers don't tend to complain about the loss of two gears. The S550 has an Environmental Protection Agency estimated fuel economy of 14 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, while the S600 is rated for 11/17 mpg.

  • "S550's swift takeoffs support Mercedes' claim of 5.4 seconds 0-60 mph. Highway-speed passing power is particularly impressive. There's no discernible difference in acceleration with the AWD S550 4Matic. The S600 is stronger still, with abundant passing reserve. Transmission's part-throttle downshifts are quick, but full-throttle downshifts suffer a moment's delay. Both engines are silky smooth." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although the 2009 S-Class has a bulky curb weight to match its imposing street presence, any of the available engines can pull the sedan's weight with ease." -- Edmunds
  • "The S600 is communicative for its size and weight, and the addition of four cylinders and two turbochargers allows it to dispense with many big-name sports cars with ease--the S600 jets from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Despite its stolid pedigree, this is a sedan that thrills to the depression of the foot on its accelerator." -- Forbes
  • "The 5.5-liter V8 makes effortless power and the seven-speed automatic transmission shuttles from gear to gear seamlessly." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Though 5,600-pound cars are rarely athletic, Mercedes has used every trick in its arsenal to make the 2009 S-Class as balanced and agile as possible. Reviewers are impressed with the result, with many saying the car feels smaller than it is. The adjustable air suspension wins a great deal of praise, allowing the driver to choose between a pillowy-soft ride and a firmer and more poised sport suspension. Some reviewers say that an upgrade to larger wheels seems to make no difference in handling. We found nearly no complaints about the brakes.

  • "The steering is perfectly weighted, and the brakes easily modulated. The available 19-inch wheels don't offer a noticeable improvement in handling ability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The steering is fairly quick and precise with a decent heft to the wheel, though we'd still give the BMW 7 Series a slight edge in road feel." -- Edmunds
  • "Unbowed by darkness, stoically refusing to lean in corners, the iron-willed S-class also has its own way of dealing with traffic jams." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "If you do decide to get involved, the S-class eventually reveals itself as a competent handler." -- Car and Driver
  • "In terms of driving dynamics, the standard Airmatic air suspension system in every Mercedes-Benz S-Class affords a plush ride and precise handling characteristics by self-adjusting the shock absorbers at each wheel individually, according to the changing road and driving conditions, in as little as 50 milliseconds." -- Forbes
  • "The combination of Airmatic suspension and other details effectively insulates the occupants from outside noise, while not isolating the driver from road conditions, and the 4Matic, in concert with Electronic Stability Control and the vehicle's relentless mass, make the S550 a reassuringly stable winter driver." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Brake Assist Plus brakes are, in a word, spectacular in their stopping power and stopping distance performance. With the new system, the brake lights go to full brightness and pulsate in the event of a panic or ABS stop." -- Automotive.com

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