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U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Performance Review


Performance: 9.1

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a lineup of muscular engines, with certain high-performance options that rival supercars in power. It also boasts a balanced ride and handling, with about average fuel economy for the class.

  • "Regardless of which S-Class you end up buying, the driving experience won’t be disappointing. It’s simply a matter of degrees." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Today's luxury cars have to handle themselves just as well in traffic as they do at autobahn speeds. The S 450 does exactly that with communicative, powerful brakes and a nearly transparent drivetrain." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The base V-6 and V-8 variants each excel at being driven in a serene and stately manner befitting their class. … Nobody buys a luxobarge like this for track days, but the S63 will happily oblige those who do, even boasting a telemetry app that connects to your phone to give you lap times, segment times, etc." -- Motor Trend (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The base Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the S 450, comes standard with a 362-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The S 560 comes with a 463-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that helps deliver powerful acceleration and refined, timely shifts.

The S 560e is a plug-in hybrid that combines the standard twin-turbocharged V6 engine and an electric motor for a total of 469 horsepower.

S-Class AMG models are incredibly fast and muscular. The AMG S 63 has a 603-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. An AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission is standard in this model. The AMG S 65 has a 621-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12 engine and an AMG-tuned seven-speed automatic. The Mercedes-Maybach S 650 features that same powertrain.

Fuel economy is about average for a super luxury car. The S 450 gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. S 560 models are rated at up to 17 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. AMG S 63 models get between 17/27 mpg and 15/24 mpg. Fuel economy goes as low as 13/21 mpg, achieved by the Mercedes-Maybach S 650.

At the time of writing, fuel economy estimates are not available for the S-Class 560e plug-in hybrid.

  • "Although the S-Class is perfectly sedate under normal circumstances, every model contains a thrill under the accelerator. Even the 'basic' S 450 hits 60 mph from a standing start in five seconds. Naturally, the other models are quicker." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 has the lowest power output of the four available engines, but it's anything but underpowered, even in this big sedan. The S 450 moves smartly away from a stop, and power smoothly builds all the way to redline. There's ample passing power, even at higher speeds. … If driven serenely, you'd be hard-pressed to notice upshifts, and requests for aggressive acceleration return quick and decisive downshifts." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The 4.0-liter V8 makes the nearly 2.5-ton sedan feel positively lithe, and the transmission manages that power smoothly until switched into Sport or Sport+ modes, which add a bit more character and crispness to the otherwise quick shifts. Accelerating hard in this massive sedan is all but irresistible because of how improbable it feels to hustle this mass so swiftly." -- Autoblog (2018)

Handling and Braking

The S-Class boasts a plush, comfortable ride and well-controlled body roll around turns. A few critics note that there isn't a lot of steering feedback, but the car is still easy to pilot with accuracy. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "There might be a bit too much isolation built into the steering since there's not much in the way of feel. That's not to say it isn't accurate, though, and the S 450 can be steered with confidence at sedate or elevated speeds. The steering weight changes with the drive mode, but there's not much of a difference." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Thanks to the standard air suspension with anti-roll technology, the S-Class stays uncannily flat through corners, providing the feeling of being completely composed." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "The suspension is pliant and easygoing, with enough body control to encourage swift driving on b-roads. … The S560 seems to corner completely flat, a sensation that might seem strange to those accustomed to the reassuring feel of slight body roll." -- Autoblog (2018)
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2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

MSRP: $94,250 - $235,600

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