2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Review: Luxury Land-Yachting

Luxury, elegance, state-of-the-art tech. These are all terms that are perfectly embodied by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Much like the M3 has been the compact sports sedan that all rivals try and often fail to beat, the S-Class is the ultimate in the luxury sedan segment, a market that the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 can only dream of dominating in the way Mercedes does. The best of its kind, the S-Class is available with either a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 or a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, producing 362 and 463 horsepower, respectively. Changing your own gears is something reserved for the proletariat, so a nine-speed automatic is the only transmission available, with motivation sent to either the rear wheels only, or all four. If you have around $100,000 floating about for luxurious transportation, this should be the first vehicle you consider.

Read in this review:

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 S-Class Sedan?

A new plug-in hybrid variant is available, a model we review separately, but the regular versions have been lightly refreshed with more standard equipment for the 2020 model year. Active parking assist, push-button start, and keyless entry are now all factory-fitted features that previously formed part of the options list.

Pros and Cons

  • Unrivaled comfort and ride quality
  • Impressive acceleration
  • Exquisite interior appointments and craftsmanship
  • Long list of standard features
  • Multiple configurations and customization choices available
  • Rolls-Royce rivaling luxury features
  • Expensive base price
  • Vague steering
  • Some options require multiple other selections, inflating price heavily

Best Deals on S-Class Sedan

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S450 Sedan
3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$94,250
S450 4MATIC Sedan
3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$97,250
S560 Sedan
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$104,450
S560 4MATIC Sedan
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$107,450

S-Class Sedan Exterior

If gaudy styling and brash excess are traits you seek in your luxury limo, the S-Class will disappoint. Understated class and elegance are this car's hallmarks, from the tight shut lines and creased doors to the lightly chromed rear diffuser and twin exhaust tips. "Stardust" LED taillamps add more flair for those keen-eyed enough to notice their subtle design, while the front also boasts LED lighting and a classy double-barred chrome grille. The signature three-pointed star atop the graceful hood indicates that this is one of Merc's luxury cars and that driving dynamics will take a back-seat to ultimate comfort and composure. 18-inch wheels are standard, but you can opt for 19s or 20s if you so desire. A panoramic sunroof is standard, however, and makes the roomy interior feel even airier.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Front View Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Side View Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Front Angle View Mercedes-Benz
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Dimensions

The S-Class could hardly be considered a truly luxurious vehicle if legroom were at a premium. Hence, its length of 206.9 inches includes a wheelbase spanning 124.6 inches, allowing both front and rear occupants to be generously accommodated. A body width of 74.8 inches ensures that no elbow-butting occurs, while a height of 58.9 inches is enough to make climbing in and out a graceful affair. Curb weights vary depending on engine and drivetrain, with the base S450 model tipping the scales at 4,542 lbs. In 4Matic all-wheel-drive trim, this increases to 4,685 lbs. The S560 with its larger V8 clocks in at 4,718 lbs, with its all-wheel-drive sibling topping out at more than 4,850 lbs.

  • Length 206.9 in
  • Wheelbase 124.6 in
  • Height 58.8 in
  • Front Width 63.9 in
  • Rear Width 64.5 in

Exterior Colors

A total of 13 different colors are available to customize the paint of your S-Class, with only two of them adding any extra cost. Designo Diamond White is $795, while the solitary matte option, designo Cashmere White, is $3,950. The remainder of the palette is similarly restrained, with Black being the only 'dull' choice - all others are metallic. Options include Iridium Silver, Magnetite Black, Lunar Blue, Diamond Silver, Selenite Grey, Dune Silver, and Obsidian Black. For that mafia boss look, we'd opt for one of the regular black options, but Ruby Black, Emerald Green, and Anthracite Blue have a similarly slimming and subtle effect with just a hint of pizzazz.

  • designo Diamond White
  • designo Diamond White Metallic
  • designo Cashmere White Magno (Matte Finish), Requires additional 6-8 weeks production time.
  • Dune Silver Metallic
  • Black
  • Magnetite Black Metallic
  • Obsidian Black Metallic
  • Iridium Silver Metallic
  • Lunar Blue Metallic
  • Ruby Black Metallic
  • Diamond Silver Metallic
  • Emerald Green Metallic
  • Selenite Grey
  • Anthracite Blue Metallic
  • Selenite Grey Metallic

S-Class Sedan Performance

The S-Class is not intended for drag-strip dominance, but you're unlikely to find yourself wanting when you put your foot down or, more likely, tell your driver to step on it. The base model's 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 provides 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque - sufficient motivation to whisk you from 0-60 in just five seconds flat; but, if you opt for the 4Matic version, two-tenths will be shaved from that time. The S560's twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is the one you really want, however, with 463 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque allowing you to execute sprints in the mid-four-second range, whether you have rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Top speed across the range is limited to 130 mph, but that's more than enough. What is remarkable about the S-Class, regardless of which model you opt for, is its power delivery. You never feel a punch in your back, with the feeling of acceleration dulled by excellent noise insulation and an adaptive suspension system that reads the road ahead to prepare for any bumps. It's not difficult to put your foot down and unwittingly end up on the wrong side of the law.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Front View Driving Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Rear View Driving Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Engine Mercedes-Benz

Engine and Transmission

The S-Class is available with a choice of two engines: a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 developing 463 hp and 516 lb-ft. The base version's output may seem a little low at first, but one drive in the S450 will confirm that the V6 is perfectly capable of getting the full-size sedan's hefty body going without feeling strained. Whether accelerating from a standstill or overtaking slower traffic on the freeway, the S450 never feels underpowered, with the excellent nine-speed gearbox flicking between cogs with poise and grace in an almost imperceptible manner.

Step up to the S560 and you may even question why the want for an AMG model exists. Turbo lag is almost non-existent, and acceleration is effortless. Should a dispute with fellow crime bosses turn ugly, the S560 will get you out of trouble in a hurry, with little drama and a wave of power that never seems to run out as the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. When cruising in top gear, noise and vibration all but disappear, meaning that you can remain insulated even at speeds in excess of 100 mph. The S-Class, whichever motor you choose, is blessed with the rare gift of being able to get into triple figures so effortlessly that only a glance at the speedo will convince you that you're indulging in low flying. The character of the V12s of old may be gone, but efficiency and comfort are vastly improved.

  • Engines
    3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas, 4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Mercedes calls its optional adaptive air suspension system Magic Body Control (available on non-4Matic variants only), and that isn't an overstatement. The system can read the bends coming up ahead and prepare the body so that the car remains flat and level, ensuring that occupants are left unaware of the severity of road conditions. However, even the standard adaptive air suspension does a fine job of cosseting occupants and insulating them from imperfections and pockmarked asphalt. It's among the reasons that the S-Class has remained the benchmark in full-size luxury vehicles.

In the past, such glorious comfort would require a trade-off in the handling department, but the S-Class pushes boundaries here too. Change your settings to Sport mode and everything will firm up for a tauter and more dynamic ride. This is still an S-Class, so its weight and vague steering can't be fully overcome, but the car won't give you crash-inducing understeer unless you behave totally recklessly either. Braking is another area in which the S-Class shines, with appropriate pedal travel and feel allowing you to make consistently calm stops every time. Naturally, a more lithe and athletic experience will be had in something like the E-Class, but overall, there's very little to fault on the S-Class. It does exactly what is expected of it and will prevent total boredom when you need to go quickly, as well as avoid spilling your champagne when you're coasting along quietly.

S-Class Sedan Gas Mileage

Considering its weight and size, one may expect the S-Class to be utterly despicable in the gas mileage department, but the base rear-wheel-drive S450 returns respectable figures of 19/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Opting for the 4Matic version only worsens the city figures, dropping EPA estimates to 18/28/22 mpg. The S560, regardless of whether all-wheel-drive is fitted or not, returns nominally worse figures of 17/27/21 mpg. However, BMW's 7 Series is better, with its best performer, the 740i, scoring 22/29/24 mpg. Nevertheless, with a gas tank measuring 21.1 gallons, the S-Class will return an average range of between 443 and 464 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.1 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/28 mpg
* 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S 450 Sedan

S-Class Sedan Interior

Arguably the best part of any S-Class is its interior. With an opulent yet inviting cabin swathed in luxurious materials finished to the highest standard, the S-Class is arguably the benchmark in this area. The interior is no small space, but it feels even bigger than it is, thanks to a panoramic roof and a dash design that gives an impression of width. Getting in and out is an easy affair, and once seated, you'll find your backside on genuine leather that is perfectly stitched and accented by fine wood and brushed aluminum. Options like power sunshades for the rear windows, massaging seats, a refrigerator, and rear-seat entertainment screens all elevate the feeling of living the ultimate lifestyle.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Steering Wheel Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Central Console Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Steering Wheel 1 Mercedes-Benz
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Seating and Interior Space

The S-Class officially seats five, with copious volumes of headroom and legroom. The large door openings mean that ingress and egress are always dignified, but for the ultimate in rear-seat luxury, a pair of individual rear seats can be optioned, each of which will have power adjustment and memory settings. Up front, 16-way power-adjustable heated seats are standard, allowing for all body types to find a commanding driving position, but the back is where you really want to be. Here, you can even have calf rests, and if you spec the option, the front passenger seat can be controlled from the back to further expand legroom when you really want to stretch out.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.4 in
  • Front Head Room 42.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 43.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.2 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Genuine leather upholstery is standard of course, with Black, Silk Beige/Espresso Brown, and Nut Brown/Black as your no-cost options. Nappa leather is available in the same colors for $2,290, or in Porcelain too. Other options include Magma Grey/Espresso Brown, while quilted Nappa in the same colors or in Mahogany contrasted with Silk Beige costs $4,450. The most expensive choice is semi-aniline leather, at $8,600. This can be had in Silk Beige/Deep Sea Blue, Silke Beige/Satin Red Pearl, or Silk Beige/Titanium Grey Pearl. Dash and door trims are available in various wood finishes, with Black Poplar and Burl Walnut at no charge. Black Piano or two choices of natural grain ash wood in brown or black cost $800, while black with silver lines costs $1,300.

S-Class Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

The S-Class, despite its Titanic-like proportions, will likely require you to have a staff member follow you in an additional vehicle if you need to take more than five carry-on suitcases with you. The trunk only boasts 12.3 cubic feet of volume, and if you spec the premium sound system, a subwoofer eats into that further. By comparison, a BMW 7 series manages 18.2 cubes despite similar dimensions and more legroom. Even an E-Class, which is significantly smaller overall, can fit 13 cubes of stuff in the trunk.

In the cabin, front occupants get a pair of cupholders, along with space to charge one's phone wirelessly. The door pockets are decent enough and the center armrests also hide a reasonable bin. In the back, the same cupholders can be optioned with heating and cooling, and a refrigerator box can also accompany the center console here. If you don't spec individual rear seats, the door pockets and fold-down armrest will have to suffice.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Rear Angle View Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Side View 1 Mercedes-Benz
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Rear View Driving 1 Mercedes-Benz
  • Trunk Volume
    12.3 ft³

S-Class Sedan Infotainment and Features

Features

A wide range of optional features helps the S-Class fit its uber-luxury limo bill, with choices of features including front and rear heated seats both with massaging functions, ventilated front seats, heated front armrests, and a heated steering wheel. Quad-zone climate control, rear wireless charging, heated and cooled rear cupholders, and a heated windshield are also available. Even as standard, the equipment list is impressive, with a pair of 12.3-inch digital screens sitting atop the dash, one of which is exclusively dedicated to servicing the driver with information that a traditional cluster usually would. If that's not enough to monitor vitals, a head-up display can be added. Other features you get on all S-Class models include AIRMATIC adaptive sir suspension, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights with ultra-wide beams, 16-way heated front seats, soft-close doors, 64-color configurable ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, an electronic trunk closer, and safety features like a drowsy driver warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, crosswind and blind-spot assists, collision preparation and impact noise reduction, and a rearview camera with active parking assist. Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, rear-collision preparation, active blind-spot and lane-keep assists, an infrared camera, and evasive steering.

Infotainment

The infotainment system is displayed on the second of two 12.3-inch digital screens, with numerous confounding ways to control it. A touchpad controller, a rotary knob, physical shortcut buttons, steering-wheel touchpads, and voice control all have the ability to access the system. Once you understand how to navigate it, a number of features are at your disposal, including a 13-speaker Burmester sound system. SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a pair of USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and COMAND navigation are all standard. However, a CD-player is optional if digital media is too complex for you. Also available are DVD-playing rear-seat entertainment screens, TuneIn Radio, Wi-Fi, and a 26-speaker Burmester 3D surround sound system with wonderfully intricate tweeters that deploy from the A-pillars.

S-Class Sedan Problems and Reliability

The 2020 S-Class has thus far not been subject to any recalls, but Mercedes-Benz issued five in respect of the 2019 model for various issues. Two warranties are offered with the S-Class, both providing cover for four years/50,000 miles: limited and powertrain. However, scheduled maintenance costs extra.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles

S-Class Sedan Safety

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has not been submitted to either the IIHS nor the NHTSA for crash testing, but with a wealth of safety features on the standard spec lists, as well as in the options inventory, we expect that it would perform flawlessly.

Key Safety Features

Standard safety features include adaptive LED headlights with ultra-wide beams, the obligatory rearview camera, and other driver aids like crosswind assist, blind-spot monitoring, a drowsy driver alert, active parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and Pre-Safe collision preparation. Nine airbags are also standard, including rear side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag and the usual forward- and side-impact airbags for front occupants. Also available are rear seatbelt airbags and a seat-integrated airbag for the right rear seating position - if you spec the Executive rear seats. Other optional features include Pre-Safe Plus rear-collision preparation, active evasive steering, active blind-spot assist, active lane-change assist, a surround-view camera, and an infrared camera with pedestrian detection that can automatically flash the headlights towards a pedestrian if the system thinks the individual will cross into the path of the car.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan a good car?

When it comes to luxury and comfort, the only vehicles that can come close to offering the same level of restrained opulence and next-generation tech are much more expensive offerings from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and even those often fall short when it comes to offering the most advanced technology. For the price, the S-Class in any form is the best full-size luxury sedan on the market, and arguably one of, if not the safest vehicles around. With a focus on rear-seat comfort and luxury, the S-Class still manages to be a respectable driver's car too, and features like heated massaging seats, a cabin perfumer, and a long list of driver aids help make every drive a pleasant one. There are certainly more dynamic vehicles out there, and more practical ones too, but when it comes to luxury, even a Rolls-Royce can seem a little too overtly self-aware. The Merc doesn't announce its abilities with too much fanfare, yet is instantly recognizable as the class leader. That's why no one can dethrone it.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan?

Pricing for the S-Class doesn't exactly fall into the category of "loose change" unless your first name is Jeff and your last Bezos. The base rear-wheel-drive S450 is the cheapest model and costs $94,250 before the $995 destination charge. Opting for the 4Matic option costs $97,250. The V8 model, the S560, costs $104,450, while the S560 4Matic has a base price of $107,450. Fully loaded with all the amenities and options, your build cost can exceed $160,000.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Models

The 2020 S-Class is available in four basic formats, with a hybrid version also available (reviewed separately): S450, S450 4Matic, S560, and S560 4Matic.

The S450 is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The S560 is motivated by a twin-turbo V8 engine that makes 463 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, which it also sends to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic, as with the base model. Any models with the 4Matic suffix merely add all-wheel-drive while retaining the donor's specification levels, although 4Matic models don't get the option of Magic Body Control.

All models share the same basic standard and optional features, including heated 16-way power-adjustable front seats, adaptive LED headlights, soft-close doors, an electronic trunk closer, adaptive air suspension, and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system. In terms of styling, the S450 differs from the S560 in that it rides on 18-inch wheels as standard while the S560 gets 19s from the factory. Options available to all models include an upgraded sound system, massaging front and rear seats, a head-up display, Wi-Fi, ventilated front seats, and quad-zone climate control.

See All 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

A number of packages are available to enhance the comfort of the S-Class even further. The Executive Rear Seat Package PLUS option costs $1,950 and adds folding tables for the rear seats, heated and cooled rear cupholders, and power rear seats. However, you have to first spend $3,500 on the regular Executive Rear Seat package, which adds massaging for the rear seats. That's not all, however. To add this package, you must first equip the Warmth and Comfort package ($2,600) - with heated and vented rear seats, heated armrests, and a heated steering wheel - as well as the Rear Seat package with quad-zone climate control ($1,700), the rear-seat entertainment system with its individual screens ($2,650), and the Premium Package - massaging front seats with ventilation, a surround-view camera, power rear-window sunshades, and a perfumed ventilation system - for $3,750. In essence, Mercedes charges you over $16,000 for a package that is "sold" as a two grand option. A package that can be added on its own is the Driver Assistance suite of safety tech, that adds numerous semi-autonomous features including adaptive cruise control for $2,250. Magic Body Control, available on rear-wheel-drive variants only, is definitely worth considering to maximize the comfort of your S-Class. This feature adds $4,450 to the cost of your luxury land-yacht.

🚗What Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Model Should I Buy?

All versions of the S-Class are capable of swathing you in comfort and isolating you from the peasantry of the outside world, but we'd spend a little extra on a V8 model. Unless slippery conditions are a daily peril, we'd stick with the rear-wheel-drive S560. We'd use the extra money on the Driver Assistance package for its added safety and peace of mind, but we'd also be tempted by the multitude of options that can be added to specifically enhance the comfort of rear-seat passengers. With all of them ticked, the price does rise substantially, but by avoiding spending extra on bigger wheels and trick paint, you can still keep the price below $130k.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Comparisons

BMW 7 Series BMW
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan Mercedes-Benz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan362 hp19/28 mpg$94,250
BMW 7 Series 335 hp22/29 mpg$86,800
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan 255 hp23/32 mpg$54,050

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan vs BMW 7 Series

If you want the best, we've already ascertained that, in most respects, the S-Class is it. However, the divide between it and rivals like the BMW 7 Series is not quite as big as it always was. If price is a concern at all, the BMW is attractive, starting at $86,450 - nearly nine grand less than the base S-Class. In addition, the Bimmer has surprisingly more legroom and a considerably larger trunk, at 18.2 cubic feet versus the Merc's 12.3. However, you won't get perfumed air wafted into the cabin of your 7 Series, and the ride, although excellent, is not quite as supple as in the S-Class. Both are tech giants and both are brilliant in their own way, but for us, the S-Class has the edge, which is why we've rated it with a 9.1 CarBuzz score while the BMW only gets 8.3.

See BMW 7 Series Review

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan vs Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

If you don't need all the opulence and - some may say excessive - luxury of the S-Class, the E-Class is a competent alternative. Its looks are just as, if not more, handsome than those of the S-Class, and its base price is not much more than half that of the S-Class. You wouldn't be able to stretch out as much as in the S, but the E offers almost identical front legroom, with 41.3 inches versus the S-Class' 41.4. Headroom in the back is also just one inch worse than that of the S-Class, and it is predictably more maneuverable and lighter on gas. Despite being smaller, it also has a bigger trunk that measures 13.1 cubes compared to 12.3 in the S-Class. Most of the same standard and available driver aids are shared between the two, and the E-Class is a better car to drive spiritedly too. The S-Class is the king of its niche, but the E-Class offers similar levels of glamor for a fraction of the price.

See Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan Review

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Popular Comparisons

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan Video Reviews

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