Tech Smart Test Drive: Mercedes S-Class sets a standard for luxury

Technology

The Mercedes S-Class is the kind of car valets keep up front. It’s shown off, compared and plenty imagine being behind the wheel.

SPONSORED BY MERCEDES-BENZ

Thanks to our friends at Mercedes-Benz, I got to test drive the S-Class for a few days.

It starts at about $110,000 dollars but feels worth every penny. You don’t just sit in the seat – it surrounds you in comfort.

The interior design is classic yet bold – with big, digital screens and ambient lights that don’t just look good – they can alert you to impending danger. They flash red when you might be tempted to change lanes when another car is in your blind spot and flash blue when you adjust the temperature cooler.

The S-class is quiet, luxurious and even has a signature scent that wafts out of an ionizer in the glove compartment. It took me a bit to figure that one out since the car smelled so nice inside.

The car doesn’t drive itself, but there are multiple assistance features. They keep you in lane, adapt to speed limits when using cruise control and the car can even parallel park. My kids loved this feature.

They also loved the “Hey Mercedes” voice commands. While I used it for sensible things like adjusting the temperature and radio station, they used it to change the color of the interior lights and to wonder if Mercedes loved them back.

My biggest gripe with the car: there’s no rotary volume knob. It sounds like a little thing, but I couldn’t get over it. I kept looking and looking and never found one.

In fact, Mercedes ditched dozens of physical buttons in this car. What’s left are touch sensitive areas and sliders. They definitely take some getting used to.

As for the infotainment system, it’s well designed, responsive and I actually liked the GPS maps, a rarity in the cars I test. I’d rather use Google Maps via Android Auto or CarPlay. The Mercedes offers both, and CarPlay is wireless too.

There are cameras everywhere in this car, including a built in dashcam that can record your rides, but not automatically. You pop in a USB flash drive (USB-C!) and then you must manually start a recording before each drive. It’s a pain, but Mercedes tells me that’s due to local regulations in the United States.

There’s even a camera on the infotainment system to monitor your eyeballs for drowsiness. I never triggered it, so I’m not sure what the car’s reaction would be.

I did try the massaging seats, which are key for long drives.

Overall, the Mercedes S-Class feels like it loves you back. There are thoughtful features at every turn, making a driver feel fully in command of the road… and perhaps life at large.

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