Where Luxury and Technology Meet
Traditional. Elegant. World luxury standard. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4MATIC are these and much more. The S-Class debuted in 1972 and the seventh generation of this flagship sedan was introduced in 2021. Synonymous with luxury, for many people the S500 has been the pinnacle of car ownership for five decades.
Being Handed the Keys
I was handed the keys to experience for a week what luxury competitors have been judged against. After cruising through Southern California I came away appreciating what $127,300 gets you, which is a lot. Never in an ostentatious way, though, as the S500 doesn’t scream “look at me, I am an exotic car,” but more of a whispered confident elegance as it glides along.
The traditional design has been aerodynamically updated with a coupe-like roofline while retaining the long commanding hood. The subtle looks with smooth sides feature flush door handles that pop-out and are illuminated when the driver approaches. When putting the S500 in drive and pulling away, you hear a distinctive click that reassures the door handles have retracted and will not be grabbing the wind as you whoosh down the road.
The front grille sets the tone for the S500 as the flagship vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. The exterior doesn’t yearn for attention, but that is on purpose as the S500 owner appreciates the conservative, elegant design. The appeal is that those in the know will recognize the S500 for what it is, and those who don’t, hopefully will.
Interior: Where Opulence and Technology Meet
The interior is beautiful during the light of day, but reserve your approvals for the dark of night when the 64-color active ambient lighting (a $790 option) gives the S500 many different feels. The lighting automatically adjusts depending on the exterior brightness, and plays nicely against the Sienna Brown Nappa leather, black crystal finish, and dark wood that graced our test car.
As is expected on a luxury car, the S500 has power everything, including the heated and ventilated front seats that have memory and heated armrests. The Comfort Headrests offer the softest head support you will find. The driver has an Energizing Comfort health and wellness system to boost attentiveness and to reduce stress and fatigue. The customizable settings use the functions of the climate control system, the seat settings of heat, ventilation and massage, lighting and music to enable a wellness environment tailored to the mood and need of the passengers.
Those sitting in the rear are not forgotten as they get heated seats and armrests, heated neck warmers, electronic memory seats, USB and power ports, ventilation controls, and power side and rear sun blinds. Everyone can get a massage and sit beneath a panoramic sunroof being soothed by the air cabin fragrance system.
The dash features a 12.8-inch horizontal OLED (organic light-emitting diode) touchscreen that houses the navigation and the 710-watt Burmester 3D surround audio system. A 1,750-watt 4D Burmester system is optional with 31 speakers. An OLED display works without a backlight as it emits its own visible light. The benefits are it produces deep black levels and offers higher contrast than a LED system while using 30% less energy. Make sure to visit the Mercedes-Benz dealership in the evening to get the full impact of the touchscreen. The 15-speaker system has a combination of mid-range, bass, tweeter and surround speakers for SiriusXM, FM radio, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Bluetooth voice commands for the radio and the telephone are part of the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) voice assistant system. There are also near-ear speakers in the front seats that can be personalized. An example would be that only the driver can hear turn-by-turn navigation directions.
The heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel has capacitive touch controls for audio, telephone and the smart cruise control. The radio can also be controlled by voice commands (“Hey Mercedes”) and the touchscreen. The system has a learning curve that isn’t too difficult and is well worth mastering to get the most from the excellent sound quality and vast array of comfort features available to those in the cabin.
The 12.3-inch 3D digital color instrument cluster has multiple views that provide a wealth of information. It is too involved to go into here, so make sure your Mercedes-Benz dealer sales representative walks you through it completely. The glasses-less 3D is impressive and adds uniqueness to the S500 for this highly customizable screen.
The augmented reality head-up display (HUD) is probably the best we have seen. The AR allows the driver to see the HUD from any angle, so when the driver’s head moves so does the HUD. The HUD has a focal point of 33-feet out onto the road, and what Mercedes-Benz says is a display area that corresponds with a 77-inch monitor. Repeating here, but get to know your dealer sales rep really well as there is so much to learn about the technology on the S500.
Powertrain: Smooth and Efficient
The S500 has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder good for 429 horsepower (hp) and 384 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. The 9-speed automatic transmission, with five driver-selectable drive modes, drives all four wheels—4MATIC in Mercedes-Benz speak. The drive modes of Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual are used to modify the driving and performance, suspension and steering. Comfort is the default setting, but experimenting with the different modes will make your driving more interesting.
If you want more power, step-up to the S580 that comes with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that puts out 496 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque through the same transmission and also driving all four wheels. Both engines have 48-volt mild hybrid electrification that adds up-to an additional 21 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque through EQ Boost. The 48-volt system also improves fuel economy, especially on the highway.
The EPA rates the S500 3.0-liter at 21 mpg city/30 highway/24 combined. In 274 miles of driving through Southern California and using the air conditioning at most times, we averaged 27 mpg, but on a 150-mile all-freeway run using the adaptive cruise control set to 65 mph, we averaged 32.8 mpg.
Driving, Handling and Comfort
The 2022 S500 continues its tradition of being one of the most comfortable and quietest cars on the road. Tipping the scales at 4,740 pounds, it won’t be confused with a sporty sedan, but will deliver one of the nicest rides. Suspension systems include E-Active Body Control utilizing road scanning cameras, air suspension to control ride height, electronic stability control and rear-axle steering. This last one is offered with either 4.5-degrees or 10-degrees of steering that will take about one inch off the turning radius. If this doesn’t seem like much, the S500 has a 126.6-inch wheelbase and measures 208.2-inches long. When trying to maneuver a 17-foot car, that rear-axle steering is appreciated.
The turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and the assistance of the 48-volt mild hybrid moves the S500 zero-60 in 4.8 seconds, which made the 2+ tons quicker than could be expected. As noted, the S500 isn’t a sporty sedan but it does handle corners with a refined ease. Being shod with Pirelli PZero 285/30 high-performance tires on 21-inch AMG V-Multispoke wheels helped take corners above the posted speed limit with no body roll. Stopping was solid by four wheel anti-lock brakes with active brake assist.
Safety, Warranty and Pricing
The S500 has an extensive standard list of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and a semi-autonomous driving system. Safety technology includes front and rear passenger cells, front and rear airbags, and the Pre-Safe Impulse Side protection. Using radar sensors to recognize a potential side impact, the S500 can raise the suspension up-to 3-inches in a few tenths of a second so the door sill can absorb more of the side impact because it is in a higher position.
The S500 comes with these 4-year/50,000-mile warranties: Basic, Corrosion Perforation, Powertrain and Roadside Assistance.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic has a base price of $112,150. Clean Fleet Report’s test S500 had $15,180 in options, making the final price $127,330. All prices include the mandatory $1,050 destination and delivery charge.
Observations: 2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic
The term luxury is tossed around pretty loosely in the auto industry. What exactly makes a car “luxurious?” Leather seats once was all it took, but not anymore. Most cars labeled as “luxury” should be considered “premium,” as that next step takes more than adding a few fancy bits and pieces onto a base model.
Make no mistake, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic is a luxury car, and one that others are held against.
When climbing behind the wheel of the S500 there is an immediate appreciation of this being a fine automobile. The classic styling, an impressive interior, a long and deep list of features and conveniences (far too many to go into in this review) and the mild-hybrid giving it respectable efficiency sets it alone for those looking to be pampered in style.
Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.
Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Mercedes-Benz.
Other Luxury Looks:
Flash Drive: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
Road Test: 2022 BMW i4 M50
Road Test: 2019 BMW 745e PHEV
News: Audi Adds Q4 E-tron Sportback
Flash Drive: 2023 Cadillac Lyriq
Road Test: 2022 Lincoln Corsair PHEV
Road Test: 2021 Lexus LC 500h Hybrid
News: Infiniti Qs Inspiration
Road Test: 2022 Acura RDX SH-AWD
Road Test: 2018 Genesis G90
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected]