by Michael Butler
Touted by Mercedes as the S-Class of EVs, the Mercedes EQS Sedan is the latest in a growing number of electric cars from the premium automaker and an important one if it's to stamp its mark on the luxury EV segment. Traditionally, car tech has always trickled down from top-spec models, and the same will be true for the latest swathe of EVs. While genuinely affordable EVs for the masses will arrive later, those like the EQS will lay the groundwork for those to come, and the technology we see in these uppermost echelons will be commonplace in those layman's cars in a decade's time.
Based on a new modular electric architecture that also underpins the EQS SUV and smaller EQE Sedan and SUV, the EQS is available in three variants for 2023, from 450+ to 580 4Matic, with a 450 4Matic middle-child in between. We review the Mercedes-AMG EQS separately for those seeking electric performance. In standard form, outputs range from 329 horsepower in single-motor RWD form to 516 hp in range-topping dual-motor guise, with as much as 631 lb-ft of torque on offer. These are numbers that fall shy of the Mercedes EQS Sedan's natural competitors like the Lucid Air and Tesla Model S or the all-new BMW i7. But perhaps there's more to it than mere numbers...
The most significant change for the US model is the addition of the EQS 450 4Matic model. This base-level dual-motor AWD variant benefits from 355 hp and 590 lb-ft and a 340-mile EPA range estimate.
Other than that, there are minor changes, such as the addition of optional 20-inch AMG five-spoke wheels and an improved rear seat cushion and upholstered pillows on the Pinnacle sub-trim.
The flagship of Mercedes' electric sedan fleet doesn't come cheap, and why would it? No, the EQS is a six-figure car, with the base Mercedes EQS Sedan carrying a starting price just under $105,000 before options, which can stack up quickly. An extra $3,000 gets you the dual-motor EQS 450 4Matic in base form, while the EQS 580 4Matic has an MSRP of a little more than $125,000. Rivals like the Audi e-tron GT and Tesla Model S start at a similar base price, while the BMW i7 starts at $120k. The Lucid Aid is the real fox in the henhouse, as its cheapest variants start at under $90,000.
See trim levels and configurations:
Anyone who knows about cars will tell you that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the smoothest and most refined cars on the road, period. That's why it's perhaps disappointing that a car labeled by Mercedes as the S-Class of EVs has such an unresolved suspension setup. The self-leveling multi-link air suspension at each corner could easily isolate you from the road, but seems overcome by its weight, resulting in a bouncy ride quality and an unnerving feeling under braking and sudden direction changes. Its brakes also lack feel and showcase just how heavy the EQS is. Simply put, others in the segment do it better.
Not without its redeeming traits, the EQS Sedan features rear-axle steering, which can operate up to 10 degrees, reducing its turning circle in tight spots.
From a power perspective, Mercedes has stayed away from the power wars waged by Lucid and Tesla but is not lacking by any margin. The sole RWD option is the EQS 450+ with 329 hp and 417 lb-ft, capable of 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, while the range-topping EQS 580 4Matic has two motors, all-wheel drive, 516 hp, and 631 lb-ft, resulting in a 60-mph dash of 4.1 seconds. The new EQS 450 4Matic splits the difference at 5.3 and is perhaps the sweet spot with 355 hp and 590 lb-ft.
The S-Class was once an automotive benchmark of excellence that others followed, and the EQS should have been the same. On paper, one can argue it lives up to this promise, with the Hyperscreen dashboard, advanced rear-axle steering, and a plethora of other tech. But the reality is that the EQS Sedan is a follower rather than a leader, doing nothing that can be described as class-leading. It doesn't chase big numbers or massive performance, which is perfectly fine, but it isn't the final word in space and packaging either, lacking the frunk of its rivals and not maintaining the cavernous back seat of the S-Class. The 56-inch Hyperscreen, while glitzy, is a magnet for fingerprints and glare and confuses technology for luxury - the two are not the same. But where the EQS loses out most is in the way it drives, with odd brake feel and suspension that lacks Mercedes' usual composure. It's by no means a bad car, but in a segment where we expect the best or nothing from Mercedes, this isn't the former.
This is a loaded question that comes down to more than just base trims. The base three are powertrain designations more than anything else, and in this case, the mid-spec EQS 450 4Matic is the sweet spot of performance and range without excess. We'd even be happy to skip out on the Hyperscreen, which isn't available on anything but the 580, but if this is a must-have for you, then you've already made up your mind.
From there, it's a choice of sub-trims between Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle. The Premium affords you all the base equipment described throughout this review, but the Exclusive is a good middle-ground if you spend most of your time in the front seat, with four-zone climate control, air fragrance, and massaging front seats. This is our pick. Only spring for the Pinnacle if you live in the back seat, as it gives you all the convenience of wireless charging pads, heating and ventilation, and power rear-seat adjustment, plus an extra pair of airbags.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan: