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Top Luxury For Less | W221 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been a game changer for the luxury sedan market. With each new model segment, the Mercedes flagship delivers the latest in luxury technology, best in class power output, and a sleek luxurious design that tops it’s competition. It remains to be the most popular choice when buying a full-size long-wheel base sedan. The S-Class comes in a variety engine configurations with the AMG models featuring powerful hand-built engines with fantastic handling capabilities for a vehicle of it’s size. Once you sit and drive an S-Class you will see why so many people choose the it.

The current generation (codenamed W222) has a base price of $95,650 (as of 2016) for it’s base S550 model, with it class-topping AMG S65 model reaching well over $200,000. Quite a lot of money.



The previous-gen S-Class Gives You Top-Of-The-Line Luxury for Less

The previous generation S-Class was produced for model years 2007 through 2013 (codenamed W221). Meaning it’s been almost Ten Years since the first model year of the W221 S-Class came out. It features a sleek, classic design inside and out that still remains up to date to this day, with a posh high-quality leather/wood interior, advanced technology and luxury amenities that still aren’t found traditional cars today.

The beauty is with the previous-gen S-Class, it tends to depreciate quickly which means, many can actually afford the beauty of S-Class at a price thats more in reach. Depending on your budget, you have a variety of models to choose from.  If your budget is lower you can drive a nice, lower-mileage 2007 S550 model or if your budget is a little on the higher side you can go for a little more prestige with the V-12 powered S600, or more performance while maintaining the luxury with the range-topping S63 or S65 AMG models. Whichever model you choose, you’re getting top of the line for less, than what similarly priced new cars would cost. The logic? You can get more by purchasing a pre-owned.


Used Mercedes S-Class Review

We’ve taken some time to experience and drive some pre-owned S-Class models all from S550 to S65. The car is really ahead of the game in almost every aspect. First, the overall design/style of the car (even the early model years) still remain up-to-date compared to similar model years from BMWAudi, and Jaguar competitors. Even when it’s competitors received full re-designs in later years, the S-Class design still remained ahead of the game and received a mid-cycle refresh in 2010 to the cosmetics.

Early model W221 S-Class showing its available night-vision function on its full color multi-function display in it’s modern gauge cluster. Not available in competition models.

Second, the build quality of the vehicle is very high. For all models, most previous owners have shown to take good care of their S-Class during the time of ownership. We’ve seen some problems with a few that were not maintained properly, but for most models when taken good care of, the car will hold up very well even with higher miles. Inside, the leather ages well, the wood trim doesn’t faded or peel, buttons haven’t peeled, and all the electronics function properly. Mechanically, the reported problems have been low compared to Audi, Jaguar, and BMW with similar engines, even AMG engines have shown solid durability.

Third, the advanced technology and luxury amenities are also ahead of the game. Some features you won’t even find in competitors today, like the available split-view entertainment system allows the driver to see a navigation map from his point of view, while the passenger watches a movie from her point of view, both on the same screen and no the driver can’t see the movie playing. Other first in class you will find not available on similar model year competitors are Panoramic Moonroof, Multi-Contouring Seats that adjust as you turn the vehicle, Night-vision, massaging seats, and more are all features you can enjoy in the S-Class, some are optional but won’t affect the price substantially if it is equipped with these delightful options.

Finally, the engine performance is still very competitive. In 2007 the base S550 model debuted with a potent 382-HP V8 engine to begin with, eventually upgrading to 420-HP Twin Turbo V8 in 2012. However with the AMG models, the S63 and S65, these cars can still compete with current generation performance cars having 518 HP in the S63 and 605HP in the S65 when they debuted in 2008.


Models & Pricing

The S-Class came in a few configurations and engine options for the W221 body style. Regardless of what your budget is, the S-Class remains affordable to almost any budget with some early S550 models costing less than $20,000. In 2010, the S-Class received a cosmetic update (aka a facelift) with redesigned door mirrors, LED lighting, and minor updates to the interior making the price slightly more on the used market. Earlier model years can be sucessfully retrofitted to have the more updated look. Below is a list of each model with pricing for 2007-2009 models, and model years 2010-2012.

The Most Common – S550

2009 Mercedes S550 (pre facelift model) with Sport Package Shown

Engine: 5.5L 382-HP V8 (2007-2011) / 4.7L 429-HP Turbo V8 (2012-2013)

The S550 is the most common model on the market. It features a potent V8 engine as standard with a 7-speed automatic transmission, and an all-wheel drive option. The S-Class comes with a healthy amount of standard equipment, but some of the more luxurious features we’re optional and may not be available on some models when shopping for a new S550. However, since you’re shopping used, most models are equipped with those optional luxury features. For the money you get a fine modern luxury sedan with smooth driving and up to date technology.

Pricing – Low: $17,500 (high miles) Average: $25,900 | 2010+: $33,500

The Prestige – S600

2010 S600
2010 Mercedes S600 (facelift model)

Engine: 5.5L 510-HP Twin-Turbo V12

The S600 is V12 big brother of the S-Class and offers the finest in luxury. The Twin-Turbo V12 power-plant is quick to accelerate this luxury saloon smoothly. It looks very similar to the S550, with subtle but refined upgrades on the outside. Inside you get a posh interior that is held to higher standard than it’s base model sibling with all luxurious features as standard, and upgraded leather seating. Sport styling isn’t available on the S600 per Mercedes tradition.

Pricing – Low: $22,000 (high miles) Average: $35,000 | 2010+: $50,000


The Performance – S63 AMG

2008 Mercedes S63 AMG (pre facelift model) shown with optional panoramic moonroof. (credit: Pinnacle Motorcars)
2008 Mercedes S63 AMG (pre facelift model) shown with optional panoramic moonroof. (credit: Pinnacle Motorcars)

Engine: 6.2L 518-HP V8 (2008-2010) | 5.5L 536-HP Twin-Turbo V8 (2012-2013)

The AMG division of Mercedes takes the S-Class further by putting in a powerful hand built V8 engine with tuned driving dynamics that make this luxurious masterpiece ready to take on the road that lies ahead. When the S63 first came out, it had a naturally-aspirated 6.2L V8 engine, then upgraded to 5.5L Twin-Turbo monster power plant. Both engines are a pleasure to drive and have solid reliability. With the S63 you will find more luxury amenities with higher-end materials and finishes as standard.

Pricing – Low: $32,000 (high miles) Average: $38,000 | 2011 (5.5 turbo engine): $53,000


The Flagship of the Flagship – S65 AMG 

2010 Mercedes S65 AMG (facelift model shown) – Photo Credit: Jalopnik

Engine: 6.0L 605-HP Twin-Turbo V12 (2008-2011) | 6.0L 621-HP Twin-Turbo V12 (2012-2013)

The S65 AMG is the best of the best, an luxurious sedan with one of the most powerful motors ever put into a sedan. A Twin-Turbo V12 powers this monster putting down over 600-HP and over 700 lb/ft of torque. With the S65 you will find most luxurious amenities as standard.

Pricing – Low: $41,000 (high miles) Average: $55,000 | 2010+: $62,000


The Fuel Efficient – S350 Bluetec & S400 Hybrid

2012 Mercedes S400 Hybrid Shown

Engine: S350: 3.0L Turbo-Diesel V6 | S400: 3.5L V6 Gas Engine with Electric Motors

These two fuel efficient models aren’t very common and we’re released in the U.S. until 2010. If you must have one you will certainly enjoy the fuel savings in luxury. Some features are not standard being that it comes in below the base S500 model.

Pricing – Low: $27,000 Average: $32,000