2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class


$20,523 - $35,369

2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was new.


Interior: 8.8

Reviewers rave about the classic, opulent style and comfortable seats inside the 2012 Mercedes S-Class. Interior panels are covered in quilted leather and wood trim, giving the S-Class an old-world feel. But don’t let the classic looks fool you into thinking that the S-Class is out-of-date. Some auto writers think the S-Class’ interior tech could be more user-friendly, but even base models come very well-equipped. A full suite of standard cabin electronics includes a 15-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and hard-drive based navigation.

  • "Indeed, inside the cabin, there's nothing but subdued luxury-seemingly infinitely adjustable seats, more driver aids than you can shake a stick at, and switchgear that feels as if it were milled from solid hunks of aluminum, which it was." -- Car and Driver 
  • "First-class materials and soft accent lighting create an elegant interior ambience that's as good as it gets. Ingot-solid structural integrity adds to the appeal." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "It had a stunning deep cocoa and black leather interior package that was the equal of any interior I've ever seen, especially with the white-on-black electro luminescent S-Class gauges." -- Boston Globe 
  • "The Mercedes S-Class cabin is like a cocoon, or perhaps more appropriately a vault, that wraps its occupants in quiet, comfort and every amenity one can reasonably expect." -- New Car Test Drive 
  • "It feels contemporary, from its broad instrument shelf, which spans two-thirds of the dashboard, to the seamless row of climate switches." -- Cars.com 


The S-Class earns high praise from the automotive press for its comfortable seats. Many reviewers have driven cars that feature optional dynamic front seats, which are almost infinitely adjustable thanks to their pneumatic chambers. These seats are adaptive, and can be set to increase bolstering if the driver turns right or left. If you don’t opt for the upgraded seats, the standard ones are still impressive. They’re power-adjustable, and also ventilated and heated. Other seating upgrades include front-seat massage with four different settings, as well as eight-way power-adjustable rear seats that are heated and cooled. Four-zone climate control is also available to increase passenger comfort.

Most reviewers are impressed by the spacious front and rear accommodations. However, a few test drivers dislike that many seating adjustments are made using the COMAND interface.

  • "Our test car was loaded up for chauffer service with a back seat that could make Qatar Airlines' first class look pedestrian." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "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." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Then there are the fabulous front bucket seats that will massage you. Find the Fast and Vigorous command and feel the massage roll up and down your back. (Though the massage is neither fast nor vigorous, it still is relaxing after a tough day at work.)" -- Detroit News 
  • "The S-Class is not available in a longer-wheelbase version as are some of its competitors, but we suspect few owners will desire more than what the Benz offers." -- Edmunds 
  • "The interior is roomy, glamorous, and you sink into the seats as if they were an old armchair." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The three-place rear seat is huge. With a 6-foot, 3-inch driver, we measured more than a foot of space from front seatback to rear seat cushion." -- New Car Test Drive 

Interior Features

While reviewers rave about the posh materials and comfortable seats inside the S-Class, they’re still not all happy with its switchgear and tech features. While they like the navigation’s sharp display and the stereo’s excellent sound quality, the S-Class continues to disappoint reviewers with its COMAND interface, which controls everything from radio and navigation settings to seat adjustments through a single dial. The system requires you to work through a series of menus on the navigation screen to make adjustments, and many reviewers say that learning your way around the system takes time.

Still, most other super luxury cars come with a similar interface. Test drivers generally prefer the MMI system in the Audi A8 or the Remote Touch device in the Lexus LS, noting that they’re more user-friendly than COMAND. Despite this issue, the S-Class does feature a voice recognition system that you can use instead of COMAND for many vehicle functions. Another complaint is that the S-Class’ cruise control stalk is easily mistaken for a turn signal or windshield wiper control.

  • "Most climate functions are handled by simple buttons, but the COMAND system absorbs too many audio controls, complicating their use." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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 
  • "We don't understand Mercedes' longstanding commitment to its odd cruise-control stalk, because it doesn't work very well." -- New Car Test Drive 
  • "A standard 15-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with surround sound includes a six-CD changer, high-def and satellite radio, and full iPod compatibility. From Vivaldi to Zeppelin, it sounded superb -- in the league of the Audi A8's excellent Bang & Olufsen stereo." -- Cars.com 


With 16.4 cubic feet of trunk space, the S-Class has more space to stow your luggage than the BMW 7-Series but less than the Lexus LS or Jaguar XJ. The trunk is easy to access, and reviewers say its shape makes the space useful. However, some reviewers mention that interior storage is minimal, and that the rear seats don’t fold or offer a center pass-through to increase cargo capacity.

  • "Folding rear seat backs or a trunk pass through aren't offered. Interior storage space is disappointingly meager." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The trunk … is a decent size for this class." -- Edmunds 
  • "The trunk space is ideally square-angled and tall, and therefore holds more cases and bags than many vehicles with greater listed capacity." -- New Car Test Drive 
  • "Trunk volume is a competitive 16.4 cubic feet. Like many top-end luxury sedans, the S-Class does not offer a folding backseat. There isn't even a pass-through for skis, a feature a number of competitors offer." -- Cars.com 

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