The S-class is Mercedes-Benz's flagship sedan, the pinnacle of luxury. Since its 2007 model update, it has sported V-8 and V-12 engines. But upcoming European CO2 regulations caused Mercedes-Benz to explore a lower emission model, hence the S400 Hybrid.

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The S-class has picked up some minor styling updates since the 2007 model, such as greater use of LEDs. Note the LED parking lights across the lower intakes.

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The power plant, based on a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, uses a mild hybrid system comprised of a 20 horsepower motor and a lithium ion battery pack. The S400 Hybrid represents the first use of lithium ion battery chemistry in a major production hybrid vehicle.

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The S-class fits four in extreme comfort, and easily carries five occupants. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of leg room, no matter how far back the front seats are set.

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Our car came with this AMG wheel package, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the hybrid, and adds almost 6 grand to the price.

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The ride quality, on the S400 Hybrid's air suspension, is exceptional. A button takes the car from Comfort to Sport modes, the latter tightening up the suspension and counteracting body roll.

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The trunk capacity of the S400 Hybrid is undiminished, as the battery pack is packaged into the engine compartment.

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Mercedes-Benz does an excellent job keeping the dashboard simple and clean, even hiding the six-disc CD changer behind a panel.

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At slow speeds, the steering feel is over-powered and light, suiting the luxury character of the car. But at high speeds, the steering communicates more road feel.

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Drivers can view a variety of information in the center of the speedometer, including trip, music, navigation, and this hybrid power flow graphic.

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The adaptive cruise control works exceptionally well, even bringing the car to a full stop when the car ahead comes to a halt. The driver doesn't need to touch the pedals in stop and go traffic.

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The speedometer is not a physical gauge, merely an animation, and gets replaced by this view when night vision is activated. The speed indicator is shown along the bottom of the display.

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The Mercedes-Benz COMAND interface uses this big metal knob to control screen inputs. Buttons around the knob offer quick access to navigation, audio, and seat adjustment.

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Mercedes-Benz added new 3D maps, rendering buildings in city centers, to its navigation system.

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The navigation system shows traffic information, including flow and incidents. With a destination programmed, it will dynamically route around bad traffic.

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Mercedes-Benz includes Zagat restaurant ratings in the navigation system's points of interest database.

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The audio system includes HD radio, delivering high quality audio from broadcast sources. The stereo also has iPod integration, satellite radio, and onboard hard drive storage.

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The iPod integration lets you search for music by album, artist, and genre.

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The Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system sounds spectacular, delivering excellent music reproduction from its 600-watt amp and 15 speakers.

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The rear-seat entertainment package includes screens behind each headrest, and wireless headphones.

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A rearview camera includes distance lines, but they don't show trajectory.

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A blind-spot detection system shows this red icon in the side view mirror when a car is in the lane next to the S400 Hybrid.

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