2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic Review

The Benchmark in Sensible Opulence

You only need 10 seconds behind the wheel of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 to know it’s something special.


Engine: 4.7-liter turbocharged V8 that makes 455 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque. Transmission: Seven-speed automatic Fuel economy: 16 MPG City, 26 MPG Highway, 18.1 MPG Observed Price: Starts at $95,325 after destination charges, $116,040 as tested.

The way the leather is stitched on the doors, the choice of wood accents throughout the cabin and the finely crafted steering wheel personify wealth, quality and opulence.

And that’s the point of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship sedan. To surround occupants who worked hard to succeed with the finest things available in an automobile. It isn’t a Bentley or Rolls Royce, but the gap between the S-Class and those uber-luxury sedans is heavily blurred.

Rolling Lounge

A swath of display screens starting behind the wheel and running all the way to the front passenger seat are the most noticeable design trait. Directly in front of the driver there is a customizable 12.3-inch screen complete with fully digital gauges. A second screen of similar size sits at the top of the center console and houses Mercedes’ latest COMAND infotainment software. Always easy to use, the next generation COMAND is amazing. With large, modern displays, intuitive menu screens and quick reactions, it’s now my favorite infotainment software, trumping the previous champion: Chrysler’s Uconnect.

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SEE ALSO: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 Review

2015 Mercedes Benz S 550 4Matic 12The features available on the S-Class are almost too much. From customizing the interior colors to which scent shall be emitted from the dash, it can be overwhelming. Then there are the 16-way adjustable front seats with active side bolsters, adjustable upper shoulder portions and in-seat massagers.

Daily commute stressing you out? No problem! Select from the several different massage programs sit back and relax. Car-based massage seats have finally come into their own as these seats are the best yet at mimicking an actual massage, unlike some older system that randomly poked and prodded.

Stretching Out

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The S-Class is as much about rear seat passengers as the two in front and the new model ensures people in the back are properly coddled. Three different rear seat upgrade packages are available including the basic one installed in my test car that adds power adjustable seats with memory function and a power folding footrest.

With 43 inches of legroom and 39.2 inches of headroom, anyone short of an NBA player will fit comfortably in the back. Spring for the executive rear seat package and a pair of fold down trays are included for power meetings on the go.

There Must be Thust

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2015 Mercedes Benz S 550 4Matic 13The base S-Class is powered by a 4.7-liter turbocharged V8 that makes 455 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, available as low as 1,800 RPM and power feels even greater than the numbers suggest. At any speed, even on the interstate, the seven-speed automatic will kick down to the lowest possible gear when called upon and propel the S550 towards the horizon like a leopard chasing prey.

It’s funny to think that this is the base engine, yet still capable of propelling the 4,773-lb. car from 0 to 60 MPH in just 4.8 seconds. Three more powerful engines are also available, but does anyone really need more? I think not.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4MATIC Review

Although I doubt owners will care much, the S550 4Matic does come with impressive fuel economy ratings pegged at 16 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. But, a heavy car with a lot of power resulted in a less impressive number in my hands as I could only achieve an average of 18.1 MPG during my time with the car.

Less Like a Land Barge Than Ever Before

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2015 Mercedes Benz S 550 4Matic 10Handling for such a large sedan is better than I expected, especially considering the S550 is a non-AMG model. Mercedes-Benz really nailed the stability control electronics and 4Matic system to help rotate the big S-Class around corners quickly.

The standard “Airmatic” suspension does a great job of absorbing bumps in comfort mode. Although there is a sport setting, I didn’t notice much of a difference between it and comfort. I did notice the suspension at times could become a bit jittery over broken pavement, in a fashion that reminds me of what it’s like to sit in an old Lincoln Town Car.

Not Without Faults

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While on faults, my particular S-Class had an odd issue during cornering. Even when rounding a bend at slow speeds, the center control dial would think it was spinning even though it was not. This would cause the radio channels to change the GPS map to zoom in or alter whatever menu screen was selected at the time. It is and something that is inexcusable in any car let alone something that you pay more than $100,000 for. The other nuance had to do with the front seat cup holder cover. I closed it and struggled to make it stay open then next time. It took several tries and some fiddling to make it work properly.

Two minor issues aside, the S-Class is a lot of car for the price. Starting at $95,325 after destination charges for the base S550, the car I tested would cost $116,040 with options like the Premium Package, 4Matic all-wheel drive, AMG sport package, rear seat package and driver’s assistance package.

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The Verdict

With all the technology, comfort and speed available in the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550, high-end models like the S600 and the two AMG derivatives have become a purchasing decision based purely on bragging rights, ego and excess. More importantly for Mercedes, the new S-Class feels a step above the current crop of luxury full-size sedans.