Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 Mercedes S550The top Benz sedan shows that a big guy can still have the moves.
>> The top Benz Sedan shows a big guy can still have a few moves. Let's get into the Mercedes S550 for 2010 and check the tech. ^M00:00:10 [ Music ] ^M00:00:13 >> Now, the S-class is kind of a sad little mixed bag of cabin tech. It's one of the best systems in terms of just the quality of the interface and the way it looks when you dig down into it it's missing some stuff. For example, this car doesn't have HD radio yet, just about every other '09 Mercedes does. This is just late to the game. The navigation system has traffic of course. They were early on in this stuff and they do a good job of it. Interestingly, there is no audio option on this car. You just get the audio system. Luckily it's pretty darn good. It's a Harmon Kardon Logic 7, which is synthetic surround, 14 speakers, something like 600 watts and 7.1 surround compatible which is pretty impressive. That of course would come off of a DVD audio disc. Play the six-disc changer right here in the console and as you can see it's pretty straightforward right above a PC MCIA Card slot. You know how I feel about those. And here are audio sources, AM/FM Satellite radio of course, the CDs can go in here, DVD A's can go in there, DVD videos can go in there. And Aux refers to in this case the optional iPhone connector iPod/iPhone, which is a dealer installed accessory about 400 bucks. No USB drive in this car, which is becoming pretty common in a lot of vehicles especially those that cost near $100,000. You do have Aux jacks however. There's a set of RCAs for stereo audio and video up there in the glove box. Now, the big crowd pleaser in this car is of course night view assist, optional. We've got it in this vehicle. It only works at night. If you hit the button over here, that entire speedometer turns into a forward looking night vision camera. I've always found it kind of jarring because adjusting your focal plane from there to out on the road makes me nuts, but some folks must love it. Now, believe it or not even on a car of this price the rearview camera is optional part of a package and it does give you some information about your trajectory and where you are going. This button takes you to the most complicated seats in a car today. You've got the ability to adjust any number of the components of them. Look at all the various zones that are user addressable on those seats. Then you got the Pulse Mode, which is kind of a little, you know, message thing from slow and gentle to fast and vigorous. That's obscene and you've got dynamics seats here, tells you how much the seats will automatically bolster you against lean or dynamics in the car. You put in on 2 there and it's annoying. You can be turning in a parking lot and this thing is hanging on you for dear life. Up here in the engine room, we've got what you think we have, a 5.5-liter V-8, hence the name S550. No tricks, no turbos, no super charger, no diesel or hybrid obviously, just that good old Mercedes V-8. Puts out 382 horsepower 391 pound-feet, that's good for a 0 to 60 scoot in 5.4 seconds. Pretty good for a big good old fat ass of a car like this, but the mileage is where you'll suffer, 14/22, good enough to qualify you for a $1000 gas guzzler tax. One transmission in this car, seven-speed-automatic, it's a beautiful gear box. You do have some cheesy plastic paddles up here. The logic on this car is left for down shift, right for up shift -- you know and there's no shiftable stick because all you have is this little dainty stalk. So, this is your shifting interface right there. Parking assist system on this car doesn't actually steer anything or take over the wheel. It just tells you what to do. So, here I am pulling up alongside a spot and I've got that square P right there, which is good turn blue. Okay, that's means it's acquired and found a parking spot and now I just have to match up the lines until they're green, the yellow and the red and just follow that arc. It's using all of its sensors around the car to see if I'm making the right trajectory and not hitting anything and bingo. It beeps when I'm going all the way back and that's it. Now, I must admit the S-class always spells old man to me, but on the road, you're reminded that if this is what the old guys are driving, they still got it going on. A creamy powerful quiet ride awaits with handling and steering that belies this car's size and weight while making no silly pretensions about being a sports car. Leave that nonsense to the AMG side of the house. I can live without a lot of the styling of this car, from the pontoon front benders to that swelling pot belly thing in the center of the dash and the annoying dial pad that hides most of the control knob. I can also pass on the tail lights that look like they came off a '94 Mustang, but the cabin is a damn nice place to spend time on the way to some wine auction or whatever U.S. class drivers do when you're not leasing one of these for four figures a month. An S550 starts off around $91,000 with destination and gas guzzler tax. If you want rear camera, parktronic, and keyless go, that package is 2,000 more, but that's not the same as the parking guidance, which is part of the $2800 package that includes blind spot assist and radar based adaptive cruise. And for night view assist and those wacky dynamic seats that grab you in some funny ways, add 5,000 more. So, done up CNET style, this car is a pretty good tick over a 100 grand.