Automotive

Review: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 is "affordable" cake that you can eat

“Let them eat cake.” If Marie-Antoinette really had said that phrase, she would have said it from a Mercedes-Benz S450
“Let them eat cake.” If Marie-Antoinette really had said that phrase, she would have said it from a Mercedes-Benz S450
View 20 Images
“Let them eat cake.” If Marie-Antoinette really had said that phrase, she would have said it from a Mercedes-Benz S450
1/20
“Let them eat cake.” If Marie-Antoinette really had said that phrase, she would have said it from a Mercedes-Benz S450
There are few things as luxurious as a motor coach that deserves that name
2/20
There are few things as luxurious as a motor coach that deserves that name
The 2018 S450 is the Bugatti Royale against today’s Model Ts
3/20
The 2018 S450 is the Bugatti Royale against today’s Model Ts
The big 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-450 may be the new base model in the S-Class lineup, but it’s bringing true pampering to the more well-off masses as such
4/20
The big 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-450 may be the new base model in the S-Class lineup, but it’s bringing true pampering to the more well-off masses as such
All of the over-the-top luxury aside, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 is a great sedan
5/20
All of the over-the-top luxury aside, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 is a great sedan
The bigger S-Class sedans have far more power than does the V6-equipped S450, but that doesn’t mean that the smaller engine is no match for the big sedan
6/20
The bigger S-Class sedans have far more power than does the V6-equipped S450, but that doesn’t mean that the smaller engine is no match for the big sedan
Few luxury makes can really match what the Stuttgart designers have put into the S-Class
7/20
Few luxury makes can really match what the Stuttgart designers have put into the S-Class
The engine in the S450 responds wonderfully to the throttle press, launching with minimal turbo lag and lots of forward motion
8/20
The engine in the S450 responds wonderfully to the throttle press, launching with minimal turbo lag and lots of forward motion
The adaptive chassis system rolls into curves and releases off the acceleration well, giving a very predictable and stable feel to the Mercedes-Benz S450
9/20
The adaptive chassis system rolls into curves and releases off the acceleration well, giving a very predictable and stable feel to the Mercedes-Benz S450
Yes, as a flagship, the S-Class from Mercedes-Benz has a standing hood ornament
10/20
Yes, as a flagship, the S-Class from Mercedes-Benz has a standing hood ornament
Several nice technology pieces are included in the 2018 S450
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Several nice technology pieces are included in the 2018 S450
Those who want the back seat of the 2018 S450 just as creme should opt for the Executive Rear Seat Plus package with its right rear seat ottoman, massage functions, and more
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Those who want the back seat of the 2018 S450 just as creme should opt for the Executive Rear Seat Plus package with its right rear seat ottoman, massage functions, and more
Airline-style flip-out service trays, wireless charging, and rear seat entertainment control are also in that Executive package for the back seats of the 2018 S450
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Airline-style flip-out service trays, wireless charging, and rear seat entertainment control are also in that Executive package for the back seats of the 2018 S450
We note that drink holders and small item storage in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is lacking in usefulness
14/20
We note that drink holders and small item storage in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is lacking in usefulness
Comfort and luxury are paramount in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 and it has both in copious amounts
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Comfort and luxury are paramount in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 and it has both in copious amounts
The standard back seat offers a bench for three, though that third will be cramped and uncomfortable
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The standard back seat offers a bench for three, though that third will be cramped and uncomfortable
The new COMAND interface for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 rides in a 12.5-inch display screen that dominates the center dash
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The new COMAND interface for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 rides in a 12.5-inch display screen that dominates the center dash
The driver’s virtual gauge cluster rarely has glare and can be easily customized for better viewing
18/20
The driver’s virtual gauge cluster rarely has glare and can be easily customized for better viewing
The COMAND knob interface for the infotainment has a touch-sensitive top for entering information quickly
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The COMAND knob interface for the infotainment has a touch-sensitive top for entering information quickly
A turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine outputs 362 horsepower (270 kW) and 359 pound-feet (487 Nm) of torque to power the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450
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A turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine outputs 362 horsepower (270 kW) and 359 pound-feet (487 Nm) of torque to power the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a luxury favorite in the large sedan market, competing with finesse and ease against some competent and strong rivals. For 2018, the S-Class gets a bit of a refresh and introduces the new 2018 S450 model as the entry mark for the large sedan's line.

The big 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-450 may be the new base model in the S-Class lineup, but it's bringing true pampering to the more well-off masses as such. Standard features include an air-ride adaptive suspension, soft-close doors, a virtual instrument cluster, leather upholstery, and lots of technologies and driver's aids. We'd also recommend upgrading to add the Premium package with its Energizing Comfort system that blends massaging seats, heating, ventilation, and an air fragrancer to add to the ambiance. These all go well with the already-standard 16-way power seating up front.

Those who want the back seat to be just as creme should opt for the Executive Rear Seat Plus package with its right rear seat ottoman, massage functions, and more. Airline-style flip-out service trays, wireless charging, and rear seat entertainment control are also in that package. You may never hear from that back seat driver again, with all of those goodies to distract.

"Let them eat cake." If Marie-Antoinette really had said that phrase, she would have said it from a Mercedes-Benz S450. When driving a svelte machine like this one, it's almost possible to forget that the rest of the world is tooling around in far less classy machines. The 2018 S450 is the Bugatti Royale against today's Model Ts.

The adaptive chassis system rolls into curves and releases off the acceleration well, giving a very predictable and stable feel to the Mercedes-Benz S450
The adaptive chassis system rolls into curves and releases off the acceleration well, giving a very predictable and stable feel to the Mercedes-Benz S450

All of that over-the-top luxury aside, though, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 is a great sedan. For the driver, it offers solid dynamics, strong acceleration, and a beautiful experience behind the wheel. A turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine outputs 362 horsepower (270 kW) and 359 pound-feet (487 Nm) of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, through a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive ("4Matic") is available.

The engine in the S450 responds wonderfully to the throttle press, launching with minimal turbo lag and lots of forward motion. The transmission shifts precisely and quickly, as a German vehicle's gearbox should, and handling is supple and responsive. The adaptive chassis system rolls into curves and releases off the acceleration well, giving a very predictable and stable feel to the Mercedes-Benz S450 while retaining the sportiness expected when spirited driving is the goal.

The bigger S-Class sedans have far more power than does the V6-equipped S450, but that doesn't mean that the smaller engine is no match for the big sedan. Quite the contrary. It's more than enough to get the blood moving and add a grin at the prospect of an open, winding, country road.

Then we add on comfort to the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450, which it has in spades. Few luxury makes can really match what the Stuttgart designers have put into the S-Class. There are no more comfortable seats than those found in the S450, while the smoothness and lack of noise and vibration are almost decadent compared to what most motorists are used to putting up with.

The new COMAND interface for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 rides in a 12.5-inch display screen that dominates the center dash
The new COMAND interface for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 rides in a 12.5-inch display screen that dominates the center dash

Several nice technology pieces are included in the 2018 S450, starting with adaptive cruise control as standard. Notable is the fact that Mercedes-Benz finally moved the controls to the steering wheel where they belong, dumping the blind and often knee-bumped steering column dongle that was used before. The driver's virtual gauge cluster rarely has glare and can be easily customized for better viewing. The head-up display is equally well done and easy to optimize (via the infotainment interface). The optional surround-view camera system is recommended as well, making parking and maneuvering in tight spaces far easier in this big sedan. Semi-automated parking comes as part of the Driver Assistance package in the Premium upgrade.

The new COMAND interface for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 rides in a 12.5-inch display screen that dominates the center dash. This screen, which is well-integrated into the dashboard's design, is controlled through a command knob below and just off-center from the shifter. The top of the knob is touch-sensitive for entering information quickly, while the menu system is somewhat upgraded from the previous generation of the infotainment system for easier use. Advanced safety aids such as crash mitigation and pedestrian detection are available in the Driver Assistance package upgrade.

Our chief complaints in the 2018 S450 are with small details, and are mainly because the large sedan classes have upped the game in some respects and the S-Class has not yet caught up to that. One key point is in storage, especially cargo (trunk) space and small item stowage. The trunk is about average at 16 cubic feet (450 liters), but opting for the better sound system knocks four cubes from that figure. The trunk itself is a bit low to load things into as well. Small items are another problem, with the primary phone slot up front being only just big enough for today's average smartphone – the phone will likely slide when accelerating hard. Likewise, drink holders can be a bit cramped when multiple passengers are involved.

All said, though, those are small complaints. We find nothing to fault in the drive quality, feel, luxuriousness, and overall excellence shown in the 2018 S450. This is a great car to drive and it proves that some of us might be able to eat cake. Without having to behead anyone.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450 starts at US$89,900 and was priced at about $140,000 as we drove it.

Product Page: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S450

1 comment
Tom Lee Mullins
I am glad you put 'affordable' in quotation marks. I guess 'affordable' is a relative term; depending on you are talking to. There are other Mercedes Benz cars that are really nice and way more affordable than that.