When Mercedes-Benz launched its updated S-class as a 2007 model, it showed off some astounding new tech, including night vision and adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a full stop. Two years later, not many automakers have caught up with this kind of tech, although Mercedes-Benz hasn't quite caught up in the areas of iPod integration and Bluetooth phone support.
The exterior of the S550 presents a unique style for a sedan. Subtle fender arches evoke an older, classic style while the curved roofline and grille lend a modern look. Not many modern sedans stand out like the S550.
The 2009 S550 relies on the same 5.5-liter V-8 launched for the 2007 model. It's not great on fuel economy, but does an excellent job moving the car with its 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
This model is equipped with an expensive sport package that adds AMG wheels. The car also comes with an air suspension with an Active Body Control option. The result is a suspension that can go from comfort to sport modes at the push of a button.
The S550 comes standard with navigation, high-end audio, and a phone system. This big metal knob is the hardware portion of the Comand interface, which lets you select the various cabin tech functions on the car's LCD.
The S550 can be had with a number of optional driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, called Distronic Plus by Mercedes-Benz. It lets you set a cruise control speed, but will slow the S550 down to match the speed of slower cars ahead.
Night vision is one of the more remarkable technologies in the S550. The car has an infrared camera and projector mounted in front, with the camera receiving infrared light bounced off objects ahead of the car. It lets you see much further in dark situations than you can with the naked eye.
The S550 gets a new navigation system from the one offered at launch. This hard-drive-based system has high-resolution maps and performs quickly. It also shows traffic conditions, but unfortunately doesn't warn about traffic jams on the road ahead.