What the experts say about the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Long a benchmark in the high-flying world of executive saloons, the mighty Mercedes-Benz S-Class unites advanced technology and comfort in one enviable package. For 2018, the sedan is sporting its sharpest look ever, with driver assistance features aplenty and some day spa luxuries.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn’t drive. Rather, it glides — quickly and gracefully. The sedan comes in several trims (and will also welcome the fun-loving coupe and cabriolet body styles in mid-2018). The S450 runs on a 362-horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The S560 and ultra-posh Mercedes-Maybach S560 get a 4.0-liter V8 that delivers 463 horsepower. For maximum thrills, you can get the 603-horsepower Mercedes-AMG S63, or choose between the top-of-the-line models, the Mercedes-Maybach S650 or the Mercedes-AMG S65, which deliver 621 horsepower using a handcrafted AMG 6.0-liter V12. Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system is available on most models.

As much fun as it is to drive, the car can also drive itself for extended lengths without human intervention, although it should be noted that the driver must pay attention to the road at all times. Using the brand’s Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist systems, which use cameras and sensors and cull from map and navigation data, the S-Class can drive like a human, or better. The new model can read the route ahead and slow the car if the GPS detects an impending curve or your intended highway exit. The sedan can also change lanes on its own at speeds between 50 and 112 mph, reading traffic signs to stay within the posted speed limit.

Inside, Mercedes has strived to provide an urban sanctuary with spa-like services derived from its optional ENERGIZING Comfort system, which features six 10-minute programs designed to promote feelings such as warmth, vitality, and joy. Pick a desired mood, and the system springs to life, scanning and classifying music based on beats per minute, customizing interior lighting from 64 color gradients, and deploying the heating, cooling, or massage functions accordingly. It supplements the experience by releasing a scent such as citrus or leaves through the climate control system. Sit back, relax, and sink into the fluffy pillows sewn into the headrests.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has not been rated by either of the two federal safety agencies, but it comes with all of the latest safety features Mercedes offers: lane keep assist, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, park assist, traffic sign assist, active braking assist, and more.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class starts at $89,900.

What the experts are saying

Elegant simplicity

“The latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class confirms its hierarchy, not just within the brand’s impressive line-up but really across the entire automotive spectrum. Everything from performance to technology to luxury is among the best you can buy, at any price, which has been an S-Class trademark for decades. I applaud Mercedes-Benz’ ability to offer a rich, yet easy-to-comprehend, range of engines and trims on the 2018 S-Class. Many modern luxury brands have mistakenly assumed ‘more is better’ when it comes to model designations. With the new S-Class you basically have, ‘lots of luxury, lots of luxury and performance, or even more luxury’ depending on which route you take. With the growing popularity, and profit potential, of luxury nameplates throughout the globe, the latest S-Class helps position Mercedes-Benz for a promising future.” – Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book

First-class experience

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the whole package: brains, beauty and brawn. Its sleek exterior styling and uber-connected interior cabin are matched with either turbo V6 or V8 engine options that deliver smooth, yet abundant, power. Adding the additional luxury of peace of mind, the advanced driver assistance technologies like MB’s Active Distance Assist cruise control and Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function are demonstrations of the brand’s ability to combine safety and technology to elevate the luxury experience. The newest edition of the S-Class will leave the luxury buyer wanting for nothing.”  – Carrie Kim, managing editor at autobytel.com

Traditional luxury

“It’s difficult to think of a premium luxury sedan without picturing the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It’s been the standard-bearer in this segment for decades thanks to its stately appearance, impeccable ride quality, opulent interior and cutting-edge technology. For 2018, the new entry-level S450 breaks with V8 tradition with its twin-turbocharged V6 engine—a move that other manufacturers have already undertaken. From behind the wheel, one of the only clues that it’s not a V8 is the slightly less appealing sound. Otherwise, it has plenty of power and drives much the same. The kicker is that the S450 costs about $10,000 less than the S560. In its base form, it’s remarkably luxurious and adding options or stepping up to more expensive variants serve to further the premium experience. Compared to the sportier BMW 7 Series, the S-Class trends instead towards traditional luxury. The forthcoming Audi A8 splits the difference but has both beat when it comes to technology with its Level 3 automated driving system. The good news is, any of these choices are excellent in their own way.” – Mark Takahashi, senior writer at Edmunds