The new W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan reached the USA in 2020 and re-established the Sonderklasse ("special class") Merc as the standard bearer in the luxury-sedan segment, if there were ever any doubts. It's the seventh generation of the S, and although a bevy of SUVs from the German automaker keep up with market tastes, a big, three-box sedan is still the car of choice for many CEOs and other well-moneyed folks as they rule their empires from the rear seat. Though fuel-sipping hybrids and bahn-storming S63 performance flagships are on offer, the regular 2023 Mercedes-Benz S-Class on review here, with a price starting at $114,500, is the most affordable entry point to S-Class ownership. It comes in two flavors - S500 with a 429-horsepower six-cylinder and S580 with a 496-hp V8. Both are available in a Luxury Line or AMG Line sub-trim, with the S580 also offering an Executive Line. Its natural foes - the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series - complete the all-conquering German triumvirate, but the open-minded might also consider legitimate aspirational luxury challengers such as the Genesis G90 and Lexus LS, now that American automakers have abandoned the segment.
The 2023 S-Class Sedan enters the new year with a plug-in hybrid S580e model added to the range, but we review that car separately. As for the regular S-Class, no changes are made to the car itself, except for a few new paint colors and interior upholstery options. The new year sees the inevitable price increases we've become accustomed to, but thankfully, a brand-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan's price will only be around 3% higher this year - quite a modest increase.
The MSRP of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan is $114,500 in S500 format with the Luxury Line sub-trim. Upgrading to the AMG line will cost you an additional $4,300. The S580's base price is $124,000 for the Luxury Line, while the AMG Line goes for $128,300 and the Executive Line for $140,100. These prices exclude the $1,150 destination fee.
You can read more about the S580e hybrid in our separate review of that car, but it starts at just below the V8 S580 at $122,500. It can be upgraded with the AMG Line, which begins at $126,850.
See trim levels and configurations:
The S-Class' most important job is comfort, and the W223 does this better than any S that went before it, even though air suspension has been standard since the '90s W220. Undulations are simply blotted out as if they don't exist, and it travels down rough roads with the utmost composure, never jostling or jolting the occupants. For this near-Rolls-Royce-like level of ride comfort, you might expect it to corner like a ship at sea, but you'd be dead wrong. Sure, it's no sports car, but there's little roll, the limits are high, and it doesn't pitch and squat nauseatingly when accelerating or braking. It always settles at once after a bump or a yank on the steering, and it's agile for something this big and comfortable, especially so with the optional rear-axle steering specified. Its tomb-like silence on the highway lets you enjoy the banging Burmester sound system, and the occupants are isolated from all extraneous noises. Even the engine note is just a distant murmur, and the gear changes are virtually imperceptible.
The S-Class is a superb luxury sedan, but the competition is closer than ever, and the latest S doesn't put the same amount of clear air between itself and its rivals as previous generations did. While the new 7 Series is fiercely individualistic, if not traditionally beautiful, the S seems a little mundane by comparison, with styling that fails to make a bold statement. The cabin tech is cutting-edge stuff, but the infotainment isn't always easy to fathom, and the odd switch or surface in the otherwise opulent interior is just a little low-rent - which isn't forgivable at this price level. The biggest challenge might come from within the house, with the EQS EV threatening to make the S-Class as we know it obsolete. And fledgling challengers like Genesis have risen out of nowhere and now produce superb sedans like the G90 that seriously challenge the establishment if you care to look past the badge on the hood. The S is still right up there, but it's a close-fought battle.
The S500 is probably all the S-Class anybody needs, with plenty of punch and good efficiency from its six-cylinder powertrain and virtually the same standard equipment as the S580. But the sub-$10k gap to the V8 isn't big at all, and power is a luxury feature in itself, so we'd throw caution to the wind and opt for the S580. The distant burble will remind you you're driving the V8, and all doubts will be dispelled when you put your foot down. And it will still do 25 mpg on the highway. It doesn't lack any features, but one we'd add is the $3k 3D Technology package with its stunning 3D gauge cluster, the expansive and fully featured head-up display, and the facial recognition.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan: