Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,500 – $33,000*

2001 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2001 Mercedes-Benz S500

2001 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior

2002 Mercedes-Benz S500

2002 Mercedes-Benz S500

  • Acceleration
  • Build quality
  • Entry/exit
  • Passenger room
  • Refinement
  • Ride
  • Fuel economy
  • Navigation-system controls

Ranking as a world-class luxury-sedan benchmark, the S-Class substitutes technological sophistication for its predecessors’ unapologetic size and uncompromised material. High resale values translate to lofty prices at the luxury used-car lot.


Mercedes-Benz introduced its redesigned, rear-drive luxury sedan in spring 1999, as an early 2000 model. Trimmer in dimensions than its predecessor, the S-Class contained even more leading-edge technology. A closely related CL500 coupe companion joined the lineup early in 2000.

An inch or two smaller in all dimensions than its predecessor, the sedan weighed some 500 pounds less. Front head room decreased only marginally, and leg room was a bit greater than before.

Six-cylinder and V12 models were dropped, at least for the time being, leaving only two V8 sedans: an S430 with a 4.3-liter engine and an S500 that held a 5.0-liter V8. Both engines drove a five-speed automatic transmission that had a separate shift gate for easier manually selected gear changes.

An air-bladder system replaced the prior coil-spring suspension, able to adjust damping to suit the road surface. The driver could select sport or normal settings, as well as automatic level control. All-disc antilock braking included Mercedes’ Brake Assist feature. Traction control and an antiskid system also were standard. Rear side airbags were standard, and curtain-type airbags deployed along all side windows to protect occupants’ heads and shoulders in a side impact.

A standard satellite-based navigation system included an in-dash video display and voice-controlled response. Mercedes’ TeleAid emergency assistance system also was standard. Rivals included the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Lexus LS 400/430.

Yearly Updates

2001 S-Class
A new limited-edition S600 sedan with a V12 engine joined the S-Class lineup for 2001. To save fuel, the V12 was capable of deactivating six of its cylinders when full power was not needed. The S600 got exclusive interior trim and unique high-polish wheels.
Also new was an S55 AMG sedan, packing a 354-horsepower, 5.4-liter V8 engine. Created by Mercedes’ performance division, the S55 featured 18-inch wheels and aero lower-body styling. An optional Sport Package for the S430 or S500 delivered an AMG appearance and included a firmer suspension.
Both the S55 AMG and the S600 had Active Body Control with coil springs, with electro-hydraulic rams that counteracted body lean during hard cornering. That system was optional on other models.
A Distronic “smart” cruise-control option used radar sensors to automatically adjust speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicles ahead. The standard COMAND in-dash video system controlled audio, navigation, and phone functions. TeleAid now included door unlocking and vehicle diagnostics services. A new internet-based “InfoServices” option displayed news, sports, weather, and other user-selected information.
2002 S-Class
Except for a more powerful maximum-cooling setting for the air conditioner, little was new for 2002. Power seats added a third memory setting.
2003 S-Class
S430 and S500 were offered with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive. The S55/CL55 AMG models gain supercharging boosting their 5.4 V8 by 138 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. New for the flagship S600 is a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V12 with an extra 131 hp and 199 lb-ft vs. last year’s nonturbo 5.8 V12. Modified by Mercedes’ in-house performance team, AMG models had 18-inch wheels, aero body addenda, and uprated brakes; other models offered a Sport Package option with similar looks and tires.
2004 S-Class/CL-Class
Mercedes-Benz introduced a 7-speed automatic transmission on the S430, S500, and CL500 in 2004. Also new this year is a navigation system that uses DVDs instead of CDs.
2005 S-Class/CL-Class
All-wheel drive at no extra cost makes 2005 news for Mercedes’ largest cars. For 2005, the S430 and S500 offer Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive as a no-charge instead of extra-cost option.
2006 S-Class/CL-Class
A new base sedan with a 6-cyl engine joins the roster of Mercedes-Benz’ largest cars for 2006. The newcomer is the S350 with a 241-hp V6. CL-Class is unchanged.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Only two engines were available in 2000. In the S430 sedan, a 4.3-liter V8 made 275 horsepower, while the S500 got a 302-hp, 5.0-liter V8. For 2001, the new S600 got a 5.8-liter V12 with a 362-hp rating. The high-performance S55 AMG, also added for 2001, held a 354-horsepower, 5.4-liter V8 engine. In 2003 Mercedes supercharged the 5.4 to 493 horsepower. The V12 shrunk to 5.5 liters, but with the help of a supercharger it also made 493 horsepower and whopping 590 pounds-feet of torque. Initially, all engines worked with a 5-speed automatic transmission. A 7-speed automatic was added as an option to the 4.3- and 5.0-liter V8s in 2004. For 2006, a new base sedan with a 241-hp V6 joins the roster.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.7/227
Engine HP 241
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 258
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/260
Engine HP 275
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 295
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic
7-speed automatic

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/303
Engine HP 302
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 339
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/322
Engine HP 354-355
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 391
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


ohc V12
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.8/353
Engine HP 362
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 391
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


Supercharged ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/322
Engine HP 493
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


Road Test

With the 2000 S-Class, Mercedes-Benz produced a leaner, sportier-feeling flagship sedan. A silken, hushed performer, it delivers strong pickup, great crosswind stability, confident handling, super braking, and an absorbent ride. Still too big and heavy to qualify as nimble, the sedan is pleasantly responsive, able to hustle along twisty roads with poise. You might notice a trace of wobble on expressways when in the wake of large trucks, and some side-to-side pitching on uneven pavement. Mild “float” can occur over big pavement dips, but that can be cured by switching to a firmer damping schedule. In any mode, the S-Class confronts rough pavement with granite solidity. Active Body Control keeps cornering lean modest.

Acceleration is swift, smooth, and nearly seamless. AMG models have robust power reserves and provide effortless passing response. An S500 yielded 16.6 mpg–impressive for this sedan’s class. Braking is strong and easily modulated. Engine, road, and wind sounds are nearly nonexistent.

Most controls are intuitive, but a daunting array of seat, climate, audio, and communications features takes time to learn. The navigation system projects route guidance into the main instrument cluster, but operation is complex. Not only does the main screen wash out in certain light conditions, but cursor-selected functions can be a real distraction. Seating is supportive and long-distance comfortable, though the benefits of “massaging” seatbacks are dubious. Head room is generous and leg room limousinelike, front and rear, but a narrow cabin discourages three-across seating in back. Outward visibility is outstanding. Primary gauges are unobstructed, but their electronic presentation is one-dimensional and does not dim sufficiently at night.


Model Tested: 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 10
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 10


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 10
Room/Comfort Rear - 9
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 3

Total: 67


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
121.5 203.1 73.1 56.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.4 23.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 38.4 41.3 40.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: S500 coupes suffer A/C failure when water damages the evaporator-temperature sensor. (2000-02)
Air conditioner
Description: The heating/air conditioning/ventilation system may malfunction and not direct air to the proper outlet or the defroster may remain on. (2000-01)
Brake wear
Description: After hard or extended braking, the car may vibrate because heat can distort the parking-brake drums allowing the parking brakes to make contact requiring new brake shoes and proper adjustment. (2000-02)
Dashboard lights
Description: The air-suspension warning light on the dash may come on because water gets into the electrical connecters and causes corrosion. (2000)
Rough idle
Description: Poor engine idle, vibration, and stalling may be caused by a defective mass-airflow (MAF) sensor.
Water leak
Description: The reed valve that drains water from the fresh-air intake gets clogged and must routinely be cleared to avoid water in the passenger compartment. (2000-02)
Description: During aftermarket window tinting, the soapy water can get into the door-control module and damage it. The module should be removed prior to tinting. (2000-01)
Windshield washer
Description: On a certain number of vehicles, the heated windshield washer hoses can overheat and melt. Although customers were being notified, check for work to have been done. (2000)

Recall History

2000-01 S-Class/CL-Class
Description: Blower motor fuse holder may be the wrong size, allowing too much heat through. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Size of electrical connector of blower motor fuse holder may be below appropriate tolerance, dissipating more heat than the holder was designed to withstand, which could result in overheating and disabling of the defroster function.
2000-02 S-Class
Description: Due to electrical malfunctions, some instruments and indicators on the dashboard do not illuminate adequately and could increase the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the instrument cluster modules.
Description: Corrosion of the active body control’s distribution hose may cause deterioration of the hose allow hydraulic fluid to leak near the catalytic converter, resulting in a possible fire. Dealers will install a new hose.
Description: Electrical connection of the heated windshield-washer bottle hose could melt and cause the surrounding plastic and insulation to melt.
2001-03 S-Class/CL-Class
Description: Certain vehicles may experience a hydraulic fluid leak due to faulty hoses. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2001-04 S-600
Description: Corrosion may occur in steel portions of Active Body Control’s high-pressure distribution hose, which may result in hydraulic fluid leakage that could become a fire hazard.
2002-06 S-Class equipped with Active Body Control (ABC) acceleration sensors on the front struts
Description: ABC sensors on either of the front struts may not transmit body movement data because of inconsistent soldering points. This could result in unexpected body movements at the front axle, which can adversely influence the vehicle’s directional stability and could lead to a vehicle crash. Dealers will inspect and replace, if necessary, the front ABC sensors in all potentially affected vehicles.
2003-04 S-Class
Description: Trunk lid springs on some cars could fail in closed lid position, so trunk would not remain in up position when raised.
2004-05 S-Class
Description: Due to electrical malfunctions, some instruments and indicators on the dashboard do not illuminate adequately and could increase the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the instrument cluster modules.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.