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Review: 2018 Mercedes S450 4Matic

When most of us were kids, the cry of “Shotgun!” rang out every time your mom or dad drove you and your sibs around. Nobody wanted to ride in the back. Everybody recognized that the cool spot was up front with the grownups.

But when I drove the Mercedes S450 around for a week, every one of my passengers whined to get INTO the back seat. That, it seems, is the seat of power in the S450.

Take a ride back there and you’ll understand immediately.

Hey, it’s not like the rest of the car is sloppy. This large sedan practically demands respect and awe. Not only is the drive magnificent, but the luxury oozes out so much that it attaches to your body and lingers for a good hour after you exit.

The Basics

When you see the S class badge, you simply nod and recognize that you’re getting the cream of the crop in the Mercedes stable. Style, comfort, power, and more-than-sufficient sexiness.

You can really beef up to the S560, which injects some additional horsepower, but really? You’ll save a few bucks with the 450, and all of the same options and packages are at your disposal.

My ride sported a 3.0-liter V6 that kicked out more than 360 horses. Rear-wheel drive is the standard, but I threw a tantrum until they gave me the 4Matic, which delivers power to all four tires. Hey, this is Colorado. When I move to Florida I’ll settle for the baby brother.

The Drive

Some luxury cars go heavy on the style and comfort, then totally let you down when you put it in Drive. No way with this machine.

Everything from the get-up-and-go to the steering and the overall handling just scream Fine German Engineering. The twin-turbo power plant driving the 9-speed automatic transmission not only gets you where you’re going fast, it’s about as smooth as you could ever imagine.

This big car will gallop from 0 to 60 in about five seconds. And with all that power you’d think it might be loud. Nope. Even accelerating to highway speed it just purrs.

The Inside

A friend of mine always raves about his leather recliner. He paid big bucks for it, puts his butt in it every night, and swears it’s the most comfortable chair ever invented.

Well, I’ve sat in his chair and in the driver’s seat of the S450. His dumb recliner doesn’t have massage functions. The S450 does. His living room beast doesn’t have ventilation, for both summer and winter. The car’s seats do.

I wonder if I could just sell my house and move into the S450?

Besides the comfortable seats, all of the other materials are top of the line, too. The craftsmanship oozes, and every convenience has been added. Operating everything from climate to sound is a breeze, with intuitive controls and a perfect layout.

Gotta love the hot combo of wood and aluminum, with gorgeous stitching on display, too.

The car is 17-feet long, so do we need to talk about roominess? No, we don’t. But we DO need to talk about . . .

The Incredible Back Seat

This is what all of my passengers fought over. In particular, the right-rear seat.

Sure, it’s an option, but a footrest? And reclining capability, along with an additional center-storage bin with airplane-style trays that swing out in front of you? Complete audio and video, its own massage functions, and – wait for it – a fridge?

That’s right, there’s a refrigerated storage compartment. I insisted we stop and get a bottle of wine just so we could use it. Some complain that it takes away a little space from the trunk. To which I reply: Then give up golf and eliminate the need for suitcases AND clubs.

Your back-seat experience is exactly like flying in first-class across the ocean.

It’s impossible to ride around in that back seat and not feel like an oil sheik or tech baron. If they’d install its own steering wheel I’d drive from back there.

The Tech

The S450 is already super sweet, but opt for the extra goodies, including top-notch safety additions like the surround-view camera. That thing is pure magic, and one of those improvements that are starting to spoil drivers. Once you drive with it for a while you can’t imagine going back to a car without it.

How about Magic Sky Control? Okay, it’s a goofy name, but with the push of a button you can lighten or darken the glass of the sunroof. It’s like my uncle’s glasses that would automatically darken when he went outside. We poked fun at him – and yet the same function in a sunroof is wonderful. Can’t explain the difference. It just is.

Back-seat tech includes twin video monitors, one for each passenger. There is something funny about these; they come with remote controls. You’re literally sitting inches away from them, but you need a remote?

We have become ridiculous creatures.

There are so many other options and toys. Let me put it this way: My test vehicle’s options added up to $50k. Not the whole car sticker – just the options. Mercedes is determined to give you the greatest ride of your life.

The Bottom Line

I drive a lot of test cars, and I’ve been doing it since the 90s. In all those years, and across all those miles, I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun as I had with the S450. That’s largely based on the thrill of watching my passengers grin as they played with the five-star-hotel-on-wheels.

Granted, you’re gonna pay handsomely for the privilege. We talked about it and decided that this car is great for families, sure. But it’s MADE for someone who has already arrived, if you know what I mean. This is the car you want to be chauffeured around in, my friend.

Yeah, the driver has a good time and can appreciate one of the best rides on the road. It’s luxurious, no doubt. But I’ve found the car I want to retire in.

The Details

2018 Mercedes S450 4Matic Sedan
3.0L V6 biturbo, 362 horsepower
Mileage: 18/28/22 combined
MSRP: $92,900
As tested: $141,845

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer


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