Mercedes-Benz gave its S-Class a major rework for the 2014 model year, smoothing out the bodywork and vastly updating the tech. The resulting S550 is an extraordinary luxury sedan that will have the competition struggling to keep up.
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As a mark of its future focus, Mercedes-Benz did away with all incandescent bulbs throughout the car in favor of long-lasting, energy-efficient LEDs.
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Where the previous version had prominent fenders, Mercedes-Benz makes the lines of the new model so subtle they get lost in the deep, black paint.
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The air suspension, which gave the previous model such a nice ride, remains, as does the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive format.
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The trunk is wide, but remarkably shallow. It looks like Mercedes-Benz traded trunk space for cabin room.
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Hidden storage can be found under the S550's trunk floor.
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It was a treat getting into these big, comfortable seats, and the experience only got better with the massage function.
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The rear seating area offers as much room as in most long-wheelbase sedans.
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Mercedes-Benz stakes a further claim to the future by fitting the S550 with an LCD instrument cluster and a very wide main LCD.
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The $350 Air Balance package adds this little gizmo that filters and perfumes the cabin air.
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The Comand interface controls work the same way as in the previous model, but get a new look, including metal function buttons.
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The superwide main LCD shows this new, detailed map. It includes 3D-rendered buildings, real-time traffic, and even which intersections have traffic lights.
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Route guidance adds the Eco route option, which optimizes fuel efficiency. However, only the Dynamic route option takes traffic into account.
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Mercedes-Benz adds its app integration feature to the S-Class, and includes a healthy sampling, from Google search to TuneIn Internet radio. Unfortunately, the connection and load times for these apps render them largely unusable.
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The TuneIn radio app lets you find different categories of online stations from around the world.
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Audio sources in the S550 are abundant, although the interface still distinguishes between broadcast and local media. Along with Bluetooth audio, the S550 includes two USB ports in its center console, one for iOS devices and one for USB drives.
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Along with a list of albums, artists, genres, and tracks, you can select music by cover art. Voice command also lets you request specific artists, albums, or tracks.
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The new current track screen shows a list to the right, and lets you easily scroll through to skip or select a specific song.
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The S550 comes with HD Radio for both the AM and FM bands.
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Burmester audio comes standard in the S550, although you can upgrade to a surround-sound version.
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Buttons to the lower left engage lane-keeping assistance and the new Steering Assist feature.
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The backup camera presents a very distinct, clear image and includes trajectory lines that help when parking.
Caption by / Photo by Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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