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My 3rd S-Class, with Lexus as Backup Car

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 8/9/2015 SFPizzaMan

I have owned three generations of the Mercedes S-Class and like the ads say, this car is like no other. I've driven its smaller Mercedes siblings as loaner cars, but would never consider buying them. There is no comparison. This is the epitome of a flagship sedan for the entire industry. The 'W221' chassis design with the prominent fender arches, in my opinion, is a work of art and the most masculine design Mercedes has ever put on the road. The power surges smooth as it takes you from 0-60 MPH in 5 seconds - that is Porsche territory, but this is a car with four doors! Technology was leading edge at the time it came out, but the navigation system has become outdated compared to today's smartphone apps. The speedometer is a computer generated image and can be swapped for other information. I appreciate the nice features such as ambient lighting along the dash and doors, massaging seats, and automatic door closers. Only minor complaint is that the Harman Kardon stereo sound in the S-Class is not as good as the Mark Levinson in a Lexus and radio reception is not great for a car this expensive. The car is deceptively large so you will need parking sensors and a rear camera to aid with maneuvering shopping mall lots. All that aside, when you own a $100K vehicle, the maintenance doesn't come cheap. The brakes will wear every 10-15K miles and set you back about $400-600 for front or rear sets. The A service oil changes at $150-$250 are every 10K miles, but I did mine every 5K-7K miles. B Service oil changes are more involved and expensive, but you can save some money by changing the cabin filter yourself. Transmission changes must be done every 40K miles at about $600-800 per service. Coolant and brake fluid services are reasonable at about $150 per event. The suspension will wear and begin squeaking or making noises like a bad mattress as it get close to 100K miles. The airmatic suspension will fail at some point and cost you $1000-$1500 per suspension to replace, depending on whether you go OEM or aftermarket. During the times I experienced these issues, I had a very dependable Lexus sedan as a backup. Make sure you have about $2000 a year budgeted for repair and maintenance. For the most part, my S550 ran well until I was told that the car had a blown head gasket and became a prime candidate for a trade in. That was a major disappointment for me considering I had maintained my vehicle like clockwork. Also, the 2007-2008 model S-Classes were also prone to problems with an engine balance shaft issue and many other engine or transmission glitches. In spite of the last engine failure, I feel I got lucky with a fairly trouble free ownership experience. If you are looking for a W221 S-Class, save yourself the hassle and purchase a model year 2009 onward. At this point, I am waiting to buy the new 2014-2015 W222 chassis body style as a certified pre-owned after there is enough reliability information available.

Average Rating : 4

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